Finnish summer news

I’m taking my first summer holiday in two years (since you don’t get paid vacations for your first year at a new job), so I’ll probably be about as lazy and uncommunicative as I have been for the past few months. Only more sunburned.

We’re heading to the lake for a few days tomorrow, although to be brutally honest I would rather stay at home by myself. I think a lot of Finns talk big about loving solitude but time at the lake is hugely more social and a way bigger drain on my spoons than normal life even is. Still, it’s nice once you’re there, and I do like a good swim. Hopefully this mad-good weather holds.

My writing has been in the absolute fucking toilet the past couple of months, but I’m working on the second story of Anthology 4, which I have tentatively titled The Clown God. Guess what the running theme of the four stories will be!

Still, with the #SPSFC to prepare for, chances are I’ll be doing more reading and reviewing than writing for the rest of this year.

In other (political) news, the vile piece of crap at the head of the True Crims party has announced he won’t be standing again, which means the bigot party will need a new human shit-stain to be their face.

All cathartic abuse aside, he’ll still be a fixture in Finnish politics and there will always be a new face for populist bigotry. Most interesting thing I’ve seen about this change is that he has written a statement listing the real and honest reasons for his departure, but it has been sealed behind a ten-year embargo and will only be read in 2031.


So I’m willing to bet that the reasons are (including but not limited to):

  • Finland / the world is currently not ready for effective bigot party rule, ie. there are too many libs and greenies around getting in the way and it makes him look ineffective.
  • Within the next ten years populism, nationalism, isolationism and the normalisation of hate will continue to rise, until it is practically invisible. Climate collapse and the utter dispossession of the working and middle class (let alone those below the poverty line) will assist this trend.
  • His press release will basically just say “I told you so” about whatever happens in the next ten years, and claim that he would have been able to stop it and also that it was brown immigrants’, other immigrants’, LGBT+ and their supporters’ fault, in that order. Maybe the gays first, he really fucking hates the gays.

Oh well. I’m just glad he might be in the news a bit less now.

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So this is happening (#SPSFC)

So a while ago, I threw Bad Cow into the #SPFBO, the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off. In it, 10 book reviewers / book blogs read 300 fantasy books between them to decide the best self-published fantasy book of the crop.

We’re not really in with a realistic shot, team Oræl, but what the hey. I might just get some reviews and publicity out of it, as well as some contacts with the writing and reviewing world.

The question was raised: what about sci-fi books?

And so the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition was created.

The SPSFC begins!

You’d think that this would be a good thing for me to enter Eejit into, right? Stand-alone or first in a series, no anthologies, it fits.

But we just don’t roll that way here! Oh no.

Instead, in a moment of what I can only assume was caffeine-, alcohol-, sleep-deprivation- and undiagnosed-depression-fuelled overconfidence, Edpool volunteered to be a reviewer.

So, starting in a month or so (because it couldn’t start while we were on vacation, precious, could it?), you can expect a whole lot of book reviews to be dropping on this blog that has abruptly decided to hide its soap box and movie couch and pretend its handful of book reviews are the main point and that this is in fact a book blog now.

Well, 30 books in round 1 and 27 books in the semifinal round will make this a book blog before Christmas.

So stay tuned for that.

*uncomfortable, sweaty laughter*

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Municipal Elections 2021

The election I get to vote in (for now; see results) happened yesterday.

I’m still processing the results, as I imagine the officials are. But they look about as shit as I expected.


A massive, massive upswing for the racist, misogynist, LGBTphobe populist party, which is no surprise because at least half the human species is fucking borderline non-sentient. And a big upswing for Kokoomus, the main joke about which is that you can take any internet meme and replace all the text with “kokoomus” and have the meme still make sense. They’re useless as … well, as a racist, misogynist, LGBTphobe populist trying to formulate local or national policy. Which we’ve all seen, but let’s vote to see them do it again and a-fucking-gain for some reason.

Vittu. Fuck humanity. Fuck everything. Another step along a path I’ve been warning people about for fucking decades now. Might rant more later but for now this is enough to break my long blog-drought on. Nice to be back.

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Apple Sauce; or, Mommy’s Magic Ingredient

Mrs. Hatboy is at it again, while I am just being a lazy ass. Enjoy this delightful apple sauce.

Mrs. Hindle's Viands and Vittles

Mrs. Hindle has been cooking but not writing these last few weeks. Mrs. Hindle has also been cross-stitching, preparing a podcast and applying for jobs. Tidying up should also be happening, but isn’t. Let’s see if I can at least do something about the receipt backlog.

What to bring along when invited to a waffle brunch? I turned to what has become something of a trusted source of tasty recipes, The Picayune’s Creole Cook Book. I’m using the second edition published in 1901.

Waffle toppings isn’t something that historical cookbooks tend to cover, but people used to eat puddings and pour a variety of tasty sauces on those, so luckily the Picayune had a section just for pudding sauces. Presumably puddings came into turn-of-the-century Creole cuisine from an Anglo-Saxon direction. English puddings were traditionally boiled, but in the Picayune the puddings seem to be baked in the oven. Unlike in…

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The weekly round-up: A misleadingly titled blog post on many levels

Where are we at, how are we doing?

I’m doing, meh, I’m alright. Summer is properly here (it actually hit 30° C here briefly yesterday), and as nice as it is, I am still not a fan. We did a lot of various chores around the house and yard, which was tiring but worth it.

Mowing the lawn with one of these babies is a special kind of workout. Especially when you have a lumpy, rock-strewn lawn thanks to some earthworks, and four or five different breeds of grass, one of which I think is actually wool.

Writing is slow, but I’m not getting super depressed about it. Current story is shaping up to be a neat one, and the yard work gave me some time and oxygen to think about it.

I just posted up Episode 12 of Grendel’s Grief, which has been interesting to put in podcast format but mostly painful. Recording and hearing my own voice, clearly not my thing. Oh well. If you want story, that’s where it is. I might post up something else from the anthology in text form sometime but things are slow right now.

We’re trying to train our bunnies, Blackie and Snowflake, with … varied success at the eight-day mark. Snowflake is getting better, while Blackie seems to be consistently feral. Hopefully she’ll come around soon. I’ve talked to a variety of experienced bunny-owners and bunny-rescuers, and they all seem to have had the same sort of experience I did with bunnies up until these latest ones: that they’re cute and cuddly and basically fine from day one. Well, not these ones. I don’t know what the fucking pet shop did with them before we bought them, but Christ.

We’re watching Jupiter’s Legacy on Netflix, which is a quite interesting show. A bit like Watchmen meets The Umbrella Academy. We’re also re-watching the Harry Potter movies on DVD. I know the author turned out to be a bit of a sore point for the liberal netizenry in general, but oh well.

For this and more lukewarm takes, follow Edpool on Twitter. He doesn’t really care about movies.

This weekend is going to be a bust, at least Saturday we are spending at the in-laws performing a long-overdue empty-out of the farm sheds in preparation for finally repairing them. Gonna be a day. I’ll try to get some pictures but can’t promise anything because I will be depending on people with functioning cameras. My phone has been rooted for some time.

It’s my birthday on Monday. My parents were good enough to wire me some cash, so I guess it’s fair to say my birthday present this year was a month of not having to worry about having zero money. Which is a constant source of depression and rage. Like Mordeth and the Dark One, those two poisons tend to lock themselves off and feed on one another unless one gets the upper hand for a time. Still, we have enough money to pay bills, buy food, and go out to dinner a couple of times, for mother’s day and my birthday respectively. So that’s deeply and humbly appreciated.

I mean … I’m a very grateful and extremely fortunate Xennial, and clearly I just need to work harder. Like they did.

That’s about it. Oh! Because I promised I’d make a post, let’s throw it open to the readers (all … three of you? Yeah). What’s new with you? I know something’s new with Aaron because he sent me some pics. Which I will place in the comments.

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Bonus story: Grendel’s Grief

The Blaran and the Bonshoon were dragged into the throne room and flung to the threadbare rug. The guards, brightly-dressed and highly-polished, stepped back with a clank and saluted with a different type of clank. Their festive olde-worlde attire smelled sharply of preservative mist and was tattered and bleached. The smooth white machinery underneath was still in excellent condition, though.

So,” the King leaned forward and fixed the pair with a piercing blue-eyed gaze that was no less bright and jolly for the fact that its source was a pair of sophisticated blue-tinted gel-crystal lenses. “These are the troublemakers who have been so upsetting my beloved subjects.”

The Bonshoon pushed himself up on his lower hands, dusted himself off with his uppers, and spat on the floor. “Fuck you, clown.”

It was a common misconception that Bonshooni were all big chubby friendly pacifists. It was mostly true, and that was what made the misconception so persistent. Some were absolute pricks, though. Huxley Bunderwold, despite his rotund physique, broad honest face and hysterically misplaced name, was far more than an absolute prick. Huxley Bunderwold was, in fact, a platinum-plated, metaflux-reinforced, Margan-pearl-studded bastard of the darkest and grimiest calibre.

The King sat back on his throne, his expression not changing. It was mostly painted on anyway, so its benign, slightly sleepy smile couldn’t change. His face, like those of the guards, was a strange, puffy amalgamation of humanoid and Molranoid features intended to appear sympathetic and non-threatening to human, Blaran, Bonshoon and Molran alike. It might have even worked, under normal circumstances. It was the work of master designers, after all.

The lacquer was bubbled and scorched on one side of his face. Courtesy of a high-powered energy weapon that had failed to get the job done, and never been repaired.

“We don’t like bad language here, young man,” the King said disapprovingly.

“I can switch to Karl if you don’t like Xidh,” Bunderwold growled. “Char’flet.”

“Goodness me,” the King said mildly. “Such a midden-mouth,” he turned his kindly half-smile on the Blaran. “I do hope you’re nicer.”

The Blaran made no effort to push himself upright, just remained crouching where the guards had flung him. “Nicer than Huxley Bunderwold, the Sleeper Pod Killer of Judge’s Gavel? That’s a very low bar to clear, Your Majesty.”

The King laughed. “That’s true, but don’t be so modest! You are Mora Fastel of Nebuchadnezzar, son of notorious swindler Morigon Bazander and Molran Fleet Captain ChoraMae Ghenea Fastel, and the criminal underworld of the Six Species knows you as Grendel’s Grief. Master thief, with a policy of … well, if not ‘no killing’, then at least ‘not as much killing as stealing, and never when killing is the point’,” the King leaned forward again, and tilted his head. There was a soft whirring sound from one eye and it rolled grotesquely in its socket – probably intended as a wink, except the eyelid had fused at some point in the past couple of hundred years. “That’s the official story and we’ll stick to it, eh?” the King continued in a warm, confidential murmur.

“You have an impressive information-gathering network at your disposal,” Grief said.

“Oh, I didn’t need my little fairy spies,” the King said cheerfully. “Why, part of the ongoing legal framework of the planet you stole – the planet! – makes use of old settlement writs ‑ ”

“Of course,” Grief said, “Bunzolabe Incorporated writs of ‑ ”

“You dare to interrupt His Majesty!” the guard behind Grief snapped, and drew back his spear to give the Blaran a good seeing-to with the butt. He froze at a gesture from the King, and then settled back in place with another clank.

His Majesty the King – at least so he was calling himself in this area of the park, His Majesty the King Horatio Bunzo I, monarch of the Sunny Hills, regent of Dragon Valley and Prince Consort of Fairyland – smiled benignly down at the two intruders. He clucked and shook his head. “Still, I have to say even without that tedious little paper trail, your thefts-on-commission are the stuff of legend. Many worlds and unions out there consider it a mark of having ‘made it’ as a culture if Grendel’s Grief has stolen some great treasure from them.”

“Your Majesty is too kind,” Grief demurred.

“Why don’t you two just get it over with and fuck each other,” Bunderwold suggested – displaying, in Grief’s opinion, a regrettable inability to read a throne room.

“Your friend is very rude,” Bunzo said in hurt tones.

“This is about as nice as he gets,” Grief confided. “He’s a bit freaked out by the whole Sunny Hills aesthetic. I think he was victimised by a Twin Species recreationalist historian when he was a young fellow…”

“You ‑ ” Bunderwold snarled, but the menacing motion of the Bunzolabe robots in the gaudy castle guard’s attire behind them stopped him short. “We had a deal, Bunzo,” the Bonshoon went on in an almost moderate tone. “I deliver Grendel’s Grief, and you tell me the future.”

“In the future, the Six Species will be no more and a new union will emerge,” the King declared grandly. “Everyone will live in the centre of the galaxy and a human carrying the Sword of the King that Never Was will cut down the Bonshoon veil and open the gates of space. But you probably won’t be around to see any of that. You will almost certainly die in three years, eight months and … seven hours.”

“What ‑ ”

“Maybe five, if you have inherited your mother’s weak tertiary vessel walls to an unfortunate degree,” Bunzo added. “But plenty of time for us to figure that out, together.”

“You can’t ‑ ”

“Take him away,” Bunzo waved a lace-ringed hand, and Bunderwold was dragged kicking and screaming from the throne room. Grief settled back on his heels and took in the experience. He didn’t think he’d seen and heard someone actually getting dragged kicking and screaming out of anywhere before. “So,” the royal facet – the giela, really, of the dark and terrible whole – sat back in his throne and slung one gleaming white composite leg in tattered hose over the arm of the great golden chair. “It would seem that my bargain with Mister Bunderwold is complete. He has delivered you, and I have told him the future.”

“He was never very good at the whole fine-print thing,” Grief said.

“Can’t abide loopholes myself,” Bunzo replied.

“Me neither,” Grief shifted direction mid-thought, “but if I only need to do them better than Bunderwold … ”

“Well, indeed,” Bunzo laughed. “I must say, I will be sad to see you go,” he went on with a very realistic little sigh. “You are an interesting fellow. I don’t suppose I could impose upon you to … ?”

“On the contrary,” Grief inclined his head, “it is I who wouldn’t dream of imposing on you.”

“Very charming, very charming indeed,” Bunzo said pensively. “And I know of no fewer than four fallback measures you have in place to ensure your safe getaway, which means there must be at least two more I haven’t found, eh? So I have little choice, I suppose.”

Grief, who had to think about his various escape plans for a moment and could only remember setting up three, was very grateful for his augmented body-sheathing and its ability to hide his bio-signatures from the watchful sensors of the world-spanning electronic God. “Legend has it that you will answer three questions,” he started.

“My goodness, are there legends already?” Bunzo sounded pleased. “Alright, let’s go with that then. Three questions. No, check that, I already know your questions are going to be silly. You don’t know what you want. You’re bored. Fame and glory and immortality and all that. I will tell you three things, how about that? I’ll tell you three things, and you can pretend you asked me.”

“Your Majesty is too kind.”

“Hmm,” Bunzo smiled down at him, and there was another whirring noise and his eyes rolled. Probably, this time, he was attempting to narrow them in contemplation. “You must give yourself up to the authorities,” the King eventually said. “You must do so in a place that will see you imprisoned in the Storm’s Eye. One day, you will be recruited for a secret AstroCorps mission, its name will be Operation Spider or Project Spider, something to do with spiders … you will accept this mission,” the battered old machine paused, looking somehow uncertain despite his lack of expression. “Was that three?” he waved a hand again. “It was three. Let’s say it was three.”

Grendel’s Grief laughed. “You know,” he said, “growing up, I always loved the stories about Spider Merdokk.”

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Inkiwäärijuoma; or, May Day the Finnish Way

Vappu is coming! If you didn’t start making sima a week ago, you’re not ready.

Mrs. Hindle's Viands and Vittles

A week from now is May Day, and I just know you’ve all been dying to celebrate it the way we Finns do. I know, I know, we’re not known as particularly festive, exuberant or ebullient. But May Day is special. May Day is the beginning of spring (though traditionally the weather is usually awful), May Day is a day of balloons and streamers and picnics after a long, dark and dreary six-to-eight months.

Oh yeah and somewhere in there is a celebration of the proletariat, and equality, and education, but we tend to forget about most of it. Although May Day is the one day a year we pull out our white hats that prove we’ve completed secondary academic education. No longer the feat it was 150 years ago. Mrs. Hindle’s hat is a tad small and tends to result in a headache.

An integral part of May Day…

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Oræl Rides to War: My Phase Two Series

Right. So.

The Last Days of Earth is complete, which means with Bad Cow and Greyblade we have a complete trilogy! I haven’t got very good metrics on these books, certainly not compared to The Final Fall of Man which just had metrics up the wazoo, but I’d estimate that this three-parter is only a bit smaller than the eight-parter; each book was close to double the size, after all.

What that means is, these were big ol’ books and my appreciation and admiration to those who read them knows no bounds. And the folks who edited them? Heroes. Heroes, I tell you.

They were also a long time coming. And a long time in the workshopping, as at least a few Hatstanders – editors and others – will attest.

While Bad Cow started its existence as a strange serial story about a Vampire-slayin’ Angel named Barry (and sometimes Gary), back on one of the first websites I ever created (I’d like to thank FrontPage Express while I have this opportunity…), The Last Days of Earth was older still.

I was out of high school, but not by much. I had a substance-and-fever-fuelled dream about a strange group of friends, one of whom was an ape-man, another of whom was a crusty old prospector-type – Oræl and George were their names. They were searching for relics of some kind (that weren’t what they seemed), and were being hunted by the authorities. George found two of the relics in one place.

(P)ushy (P)ete, the little-bit-Rastafarian spare parts dealer, was there. It was a weird dream.

I wasn’t ready to write the story, and as I studied at university and got better at writing, I kept this dream in a spare folder (first literal, then electronic), waiting for it to fit somewhere. I knew it would eventually, so I put some hints in there.

We were a long way from handcrafted Noro Metak custom miniatures back then. I’m just including this picture because I love it.

In the meantime, of course, I wrote a bunch of other stuff, and most of it fitted into the urverse I’ve been building for a while. Phase One was a simple space opera introduction to the whole thing, opening out to offer a glimpse of the larger reality at the end. Phase Two built on that, providing some stories still mostly centred around Earth and Cursèd’s Playground, but in some cases extending … well, let’s just say a little further afield.

It doesn’t cost me any extra storage space to drop it here again so why not.

There are still a couple of stories (actually collections) to tell in Phase Two, and I’m working on them. I hope they’ll open up, if not another order of magnitude to the story’s scope, then at least drop a few hints about the shape of things to come.

To be honest I could talk about this stuff for days and it is currently extremely frustrating that I’m having to chip away these last pieces before I can show you what’s next – particularly because I am so thoroughly and perpetually distracted at home and at work. It’s not fun. But I’ll get there! Thanks for listening. And reading, as ever.

What is fun, though, is getting two of my oldest story ideas down on the page, in Bad Cow and The Last Days of Earth, and my first public-released full-on urverse tale in Greyblade. I had a lot of fun writing these stories and I can’t wait to get the next ones done!

Any comments or questions or theories or complaints are more than welcome. I, like America’s Ass, can do this all day.

Happy tears, this time.
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Seven Minutes of Joy

We are yet to get to the end of Supernatural, since reaching about season 9 and just running out of steam (we’ve done this twice now). However, there is just something wonderfully enjoyable about the show and the characters and the way it taps into the electronic spirit of the Noughties.

Here is seven minutes of absolute exuberant fun, featuring a few familiar faces. It’s an old video, but it’s new to me.

Maybe I’ll give those latter seasons another try.

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The Glyph

The heavy metal door clanged open and the breach officer’s armoured boots added to the general crashing and hollow ringing that never quite went away on board. It was deafening at first, and then you got used to it. And then it actually got a bit creepy to be somewhere quiet.

The Commander looked up from his interface pool.

“Well, if it’s not the luckiest idiot in the Maj,” he said.

“Commander,” the officer looked decidedly queasy behind her visor. Queasy was good, but absolutely ashen with nausea would be better. “The breach was a success-”

“It was a success because you got in and out alive, and you took a sample,” the Commander snapped. “That’s a pretty fucking low bar to clear, junior breach officer Mørkht,” he shook his head in disgust. “And take that stupid thing off, you’re out now.”

Junior breach officer Mørkht looked like she was about to protest, then clanged and clattered with gauntlets and helmet, fumbling them all off and half-dropping, half-setting them on the deck. “Regulations stipulate a seventy-minute repressurisation-”

“Oh, now you care about regulations, that makes sense,” the Commander interrupted. “Relax, soldier. You’re not going to turn to salt. And if you do, I’ll use you to season my dinner. Your breach was unapproved, understaffed, poorly equipped and hit the wrong fucking Sanctuary. You’re lucky any of your team got out. I suspect you only got out because They let you, and that makes me very fucking nervous, and that makes me very fucking angry.”

“Commander,” Mørkht stammered, “I take full responsibility and will accept any charges of-”

No shit you will, you imbecile,” the Commander delivered his best parade-hall roar. The officer flinched. The Glyph in full fury was not something that happened every day, or even every year. And what the handbook called ‘discipline’, the Maj‘s crew called ‘competing to not be the one who made the Glyph mad the next time’. The handbook was actually punchier, the Commander conceded. “But in the meantime,” he went on, “since you are the luckiest idiot in the Maj, let’s see what you got.”

Junior breach officer Mørkht nodded, and hastily tapped on her arm to summon the float-crate. It hummed into the room, a glossy black case of petrified barrow wood etched with military-grade runes and reinforced with tarnished silver. Mørkht hesitated, cutting a swift and longing glance at her discarded gauntlets.

“Come on, soldier,” the Commander said. “Pick it up. It’s not going to hurt you now,” he waited until the young twit had reached into the box before judiciously adding, “unless you fucked up the transference the way you fucked up almost everything else, of course,” and was rewarded by a clatter and a terrified squeak as Mørkht fumbled the prisoner. Finally, though, she lifted it free.

It wasn’t much to look at, but he’d already seen from the report that the Goddess they’d captured hadn’t been much of a Goddess.

The expression was visible as a thread, like a single strand of hair, blazing white in the dirty amber core of the diabolised Bharriom prism. It was, he had to admit, a clean transference. Funny, how small and harmless They looked when rendered into a real-space function of null-energy. But then, it was fair to say most things did. At least this one could light up a small room.

There was no point letting Mørkht know that she’d done one thing right, of course. “I’ll take it down to the Bilge,” he said, “and think about how many different reports I feel like putting your name on,” he looked up from the crystal-bound expression. “You can make a start on minimising the number of reports I feel like putting your name on by going up to the Glassblower and unloading everything you saw and heard and thought about while you were inside that Sanctuary. Clear?” Still the officer hesitated. “Was there something else?”

“Only…” Mørkht reached into the box and pulled out a small carbon-lattice cage with a silver handle. Inside, something rattled angrily.

The Commander had heard about the additional … sample … the team had brought back, but hadn’t seen any images yet. He peered in through the lattice. “Ugly little critter, isn’t it?” he noted. “And it didn’t react to the transfer?”

“Just … kind of … jabbered and scratched the cage, Commander,” Mørkht hesitated. “She said its name was Chittle, Commander,” she added. The Commander raised his eyebrows, and she gestured at the gleaming prism on the desk. “The Goddess.”

“Chittle, huh?” the Commander looked at the little hunched creature in the cage. It was round, with a knobbly shell and a cluster of little feelers and claws surrounding a single angrily glaring eyeball. It was a hodgepodge, but it was viable. “So. They’re creating in there,” he tapped the cage with a fingernail, then snatched his hand back as the little creature screeched and jabbed at the mesh with several unpleasantly pointy … bits. “Well, for some definition of ‘creating’, anyway.”


He shook his head, and waved her to attention. He had a reputation to maintain, and Mørkht had fucked up phenomenally. The Glyph could not be lenient. One breakdown was all it would take. They’d been very lucky with this explosive abortion of a breach. “Dismissed, junior breach officer Mørkht.”

“Commander,” she said crisply, and hurried out. She stumbled in the doorway, turned and scurried back, and retrieved her helmet and gauntlets. “Sorry, Commander,” she muttered, and hurried out. She paused in the doorway, and looked back hesitantly. “Commander?”

What, junior breach officer Mørkht?”

Mørkht’s eyes were wide and frightened. “They were … beautiful, Commander.”

The Commander clenched his jaw. The Glyph could not be lenient. “That They were,” he said quietly. “Dismissed.”


He watched her go, then turned his attention back to the crystal-bound expression and the … Chittle … on his desk. The grotesque little creature had huddled up on one side of the cage, its eye gazing at the glowing white filament inside the Bharriom. It made a harsh yet somehow disconsolate little grinding noise with its mandibles.

The Glyph sighed heavily.

“That They were,” he murmured.

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