Space. As the sages say, the final frontier. But not for everyone.
Wherever there is vacuum burn and the smell of ozone, wherever sapients don pressure suits to risk the frozen danger between stars, wherever there are those awesome Orion martinis, the ones with the pickled lichees instead of olives—because every civilization that has alcohol will have the martini eventually, in some form or other, as if brined fruit in clear liquor were the summit of social evolution—she is there, or has already been and gone, off seeking a new horizon, a truly final frontier. No one knows where she came from. Just that she always arrives exactly when she intends to, that her ticket is always in order, and that anyone who sails the stars belongs to her, at least for the length of their journey. She doesn’t challenge other gods for their worshippers. She gives them back as soon as the rocket lands. But while they’re in flight…while they’re in flight, they’re hers.
No matter what world she visits, her appearance is the same, only translated for the local biology, so that the sight of her is not alarming: she is always small, always slight and unassuming, attractive to the eye, and as close to female as their understanding of gender allows. She carries her own bags, talks quietly, smiles easily, and seems most comfortable when allowed to don a human skin. She is innocent and ancient, young and outside time, and she has seen things the rest of us can only dream of.
But she carries a camera, and if you can befriend her, if you can make her trust you, she’s always happy to share. She believes in curiosity without conquest, tourism without trauma, and she loves everyone she cradles in her arms of starlight and vacuum.
They say her true form is infinitely vast, the stretch of space itself, and that she is a small god by choice, limiting herself to avoid frightening the faithful she so adores.
They say her perfume smells like raspberries.
They say a lot of things.
Suisei herself says only “Have you been here before? Only I’m supposed to catch the next shuttle for Betelgeuse, and I’m afraid I may be on the wrong platform. Can you help?”
Always help her when she asks. Those she blesses always make their flights.
Trust her to be kind.
Join Lee Moyer (Icon) and Seanan McGuire (Story) Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a guide to the many small deities who manage our modern world:
I don’t get the name of this Small God. Suisei Xing? I’m sure it’s a reference to something, as most Small God names are, but I can’t place it. Can you please explain?
Suisei is Japanese for “comet” and the Japanese name for the planet Mercury. Also the name of a a Japanese space probe to Halley’s Comet.
Xing is Chinese for “OK” but just as (or more) relevant, it’s the US signage abbreviation for “crossing”.
So, all together, “Comet Crossing”, you know, like a comet streaking across the sky. :)