Joshua is a twelve-year old boy who lives in the suburbs of Seattle with his father. His mother is missing from his life, and he can’t really remember much about her. Since his father won’t talk about her, he sets out on his own to find her, his only clues being an address in an East African neighborhood of Seattle and stories she used to tell him about a space station. He often keeps his thoughts to himself.


Ayana is a thirteen-year old girl from a Somali family, now living in Yesler Terrace public housing in Seattle, at the address where Joshua’s mother once lived. She confidently straddles her Somali and American worlds, and never hesitates to go after what she wants.



Bakka is a thirteen-year old boy whose family is from Oromo, a Muslim part of Ethiopia, who also lives in Yesler Terrace. He amuses himself by talking in an Ethiopian accent, even though he has never left the United States, and convincing strangers he is a recent immigrant. He is full of energy, curiosity, and mischief..

General Shay General Shay

General Shay works for DARPA, the U.S. military’s research department. He has overseen the construction of a hyper-realistic virtual reality system called Space Station Tesla. Gruff and straight-talking, he is now on a mission to track down the virtual world’s creator, who lurks somewhere on the space station itself.

Shankar Venkatagiri Shankar Venkatagiri

Shankar Venkatagiri is a young computer science professor in Bangalore, India. He has been hired by General Shay to reverse-engineer the virtual world, yet he is being told very little about it. Although constantly amused by the absurdity of the situation in which he finds himself, his mind is always working.

Winged Jaguar

Winged Jaguar

The mysterious creator of Space Station Telsa, hiding out somewhere. The only one with the ability to appear in the virtual world as something other than human.