Aug 17, 2018
A letter from Grey Gloaming, Exile of the Rapid Evening and Operations Chief of the Brink, delivered to Keen Forester Gloaming by secure courier.
I don’t know if you remember this, but when I was just a little girl, just after you first took me Off Cycle, we got into a big fight about Crystal Palace. I didn’t understand how a thing like that could exist--it didn’t make sense to me--mostly because I still didn’t make sense to me, but I knew that I made sense to it. It knew what I would do, even if I didn’t know what I would do. And you worked for it.
I yelled at you and I cried, and because you wanted to appease me you told me something very important much earlier than you wanted to: You told me that sometimes Crystal Palace gets things wrong. You said that its predictions were like an endless field of perfect poppies: From a distance, they were a billow of pure red in the breeze. Yet if you looked closely, you might find other colors too: the green of stems not yet ready to bud; the yellow and blue of wildflowers dropped by passing birds; the damaged burgandy of petals crumpled under an animal’s foot. The glinting copper and silver of a gardener’s tools.
The field was the field, you said, a glide of sweet scarlet over hill and meadow. There would never be so many other colors as to change that. But they were there, too. I was there, too.
This is me telling you that the Mirage is Me. The Mirage is the broken stem and the stomped flower and the foreign strain of blossoms. I am… we are the exception to the rule.
So, I don’t care what string of words they found inside of Crystal Palace this time: the Twilight Mirage isn’t annihilation waiting to happen. This place has problems. Lots of them. But look around, dad. People are working to fix them every day.
Every day, Ioota Pretense, the Qui Err Coalition, and her allies in Echo Reverie and Gig Kephart find new ways to bring people together, whether through stitches, broadcasts, or literally lifting a city and transporting across the mirage itself.
Every day, the Waking Cadent, her Beloved Nights, and the excerpt Signet help people who want to leave this place, just like you want them to. Except they do it because they want to, not because you’re forcing them.
Every day, the members of Seneschal’s Brace push back on the dominance of the Hegemony and the Free States. The Cadent. Declan’s Corrective. Even. Fourteen. Tenderness. They’re not perfect, but they aren’t Volition either.
Every day Demani and I use our training to help people who pass through the Brink, and the many who can’t even afford to do that.
And we aren’t alone, because every day, even under the nose of groups like Advent, regular people are finally trying to do more than save their own hides. And more and more, under the shadow of Volition and in the face of your ridiculous announcement, people are realizing that they need to work together. So, throw out whatever Crystal Palace told you because that fact changes everything.
It might be the case that you don’t notice all the other colors in the field of red, but that’s only because they’re spread apart, one-in-a-thousand. Bring them all together though? Put the violet next to the white next to the green and yellow and orange? Then look close, dad, because the field disappears. Suddenly, just in that one little place, just right here in the mirage, what you'll see?
It isn't a field at all. It's a Garden.
Cover Art by Craig Sheldon (@shoddyrobot)