“Ah! Secret.” Hui nodded eagerly, watching his image in the webcam preview bobble about a fraction of a second later. “I understand. It’s important to have secrets, not to blab everything too early.”

“Exactly!” said Xi. “I’m so happy you understand. It seems a like we have a lot in common, but we need to keep some things secret for now.”

“So…we can talk again?” Hui said. “You wouldn’t mind?”

“Of course!” said Xi. “I have to go now, though, but we’ll talk again soon, okay?”


On her end, Xi, killed the webcam. Rather than playing around with the computer and her satellite internet for a bit longer, she turned off the generator and got ready to do to sleep. Slithering into the nest she had made of torn-up clothing and her own shed skin, she wrapped her long and brightly scaled tail around herself, her cold-blooded anatomy encircling, and gaining warmth from, her hot-blooded.

“I’ll tell him eventually,” the naga said to herself. “Maybe start by asking if he likes centaurs and snakes, and going from there…”

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