Oathbringer

Day 113. 129 pages, 58,244 words. Actually took a bit of a dip today because yesterday I deleted a bunch of stuff that it’s become obvious isn’t going to make it in, and moved a bunch of other stuff that will go in book 3, and I still wrote a bit to make up the balance.

While I’m on my little Destarion-story hiatus before jumping into the fourth part / novella of the sequence, I wanted to talk about Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive.

I’m a big fan of Sanderson’s. He did right by The Wheel of Time series[1], and that has earned him a lot of points with me. I’ve also enjoyed everything else of his that I have read, from his young adult Reckoners series (admittedly still only read the first one of those) to his short stories and everything in between.

[1] Which is now, what, definitely getting a TV series from what I see? Oh, we’ll definitely be talking about this again.

So when I say this, I know it’s just me. I’m not going to go and write an “UGH COULDN’T FINISH” review, because that would be shitty and unfair. Right now I am stressed out at work, super-busy writing quite literally[2] my own Oathbringer in the form of Greyblade, and barely get through a paragraph of this massive tome in a sitting without being interrupted by kids. I read very poorly lately,and very slowly, and the damn thing is too cumbersome to carry to work.

[2] Or … literarily?

So there’s the grain of salt you have to take. When I get a good run-up on this book, and get through a whole chapter in a sitting, it’s good. It’s really good. The second book in the series was absolutely more of a page-turner – I recall being genuinely eager to see what happened next, and I’m not quite getting that feeling this time. It’s a more nebulous “this is heading somewhere, I just have to get there” pay-off, which as you might imagine I strongly connect with so I want to give it that chance.

The second book also ended with a lot of excitement and cool revelations, and this one seems anticlimactic because it takes a step back and deals with logistics and politics and buildup. Even that’s a bit unfair to say, because it makes it sound dull and it’s really not. There are genuinely entertaining sidebars to the main Dalinar-consolidating-support plotline. I was thrown by Kaladin not being a main point anymore too, but that’s fine.You’d better believe I’m on board with the idea that the thing you thought was the plot of the series actually isn’t, so adjust your expectations.

What I’m getting at is that, ultimately, what’s making me continue trying with this book and not give up and read something else is, I sympathise so much with the author. He’s putting together something really big, and while you can have all the little fun side-scenes you like, you also need to build up impetus. And I’m no scientist, but a big heavy thing generally builds up impetus a lot more slowly. There’s a lot of setup, and a lot more questions get raised even as the observant reader will find a lot of answers as well.

It felt familiar, that’s all.

Just to confirm that it was just me, and that I was being unfair, I went to see what the reviews were saying. I know! So uncharacteristic of me! Well, as it happens I only got as far as the top review on the list, because it basically confirmed exactly what I’d suspected (and what Mr. BRKN, for example, had also already hinted at): yes, Oathbringer changes pace and focus and that can be jarring, but it gathers speed and gets better in the second half. And even the “slow” parts are slow for a purpose. Because if you want to read an all-action-all-the-time story in thousand-plus-page volumes, you’re probably reading serial pulp shit.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s not what Brandon Sanderson is doing here.

So consider this a “250 pages in and feeling the doldrums” review, but I know that’s on me and I’m going to stick with it. Maybe it’ll get easier once I’ve got my own massive impetus-and-answers tome out from underfoot. Maybe I’ll give you a proper review then. In the meantime, “Beauty in Ruins” (the review linked above) really nailed it for me.

 


– Posted from my Huawei mobile phone while on the bus.

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Hulk Out

Day 112. 132 pages, 57,843 words.

I was saddened yesterday to learn that the legendary Stan Lee, grand-daddy of Marvel comics, had died aged 95.

That’s one Hell of an innings, especially considering he was still pulling hilarious cameos in his Marvel movie franchises right up to the last. And doing a pretty damn good job at it even if his acting was famously bad.

deadpool_lee

Because let’s face it. If you’d helped create all these characters[1], you’d go in their movies too.
[
1] My understanding is that he was a rubber stamp at best on Deadpool, but it still counts.

We can sit here all day and reminisce, listing his achievements and creations. His was a creative artistic force the like of which we will not soon see again. The Internet will, I imagine, be full of tributes over the next few days and I’m not going to compete with that, but I’m happy to jump on the bandwagon. I’m not really that kind of comic book nerd – most of my experience has been with the movies – but my respect and admiration cannot be overstated.

So long, Mr. Lee. And thank you for all the wonderful fun.

Excelsior!

 


– Posted from my Huawei dduring lunch.

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Okay, politics then

Day 111. 130 pages, 56,667 words. Again, you’re welcome for that extra word.

Quick one today, since I’m between stories. The US had their mid-term elections last week, which a lot of people have been looking forward to since Trump was put into office in defiance of the actual number of citizens who voted for him, because the US’s democratic system is broken.

Ever since that stupid day two years ago, my understanding of USian (and by extension, world) politics has been this:

  1. Something may or may not happen in politics. It’s impossible to tell because media news (and especially social media news appears to have crossed some threshold and can no longer be taken at face value.
  2. The liberal and progressive pundits go nuts about it, which to be fair is pretty understandable because it’s usually something atrocious like the US pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, or the US government putting kids in cages, or talking about revoking birthright citizenship, or electing an obnoxious college jock (at best) onto the Supreme Court, or a fanatical supporter of the regime sending bombs to a bunch of media and public figures.
  3. John Oliver hits the WE GOT HIM button, The Young Turks say it’s terrible and must be costing the government critical support, a few other YouTuber and journalist sources talk about Mueller and organised crime and the constitution and unfitness for presidency and other stuff.
  4. Literally nothing happens. The atrocious thing is allowed to happen, nobody stops it, and Trump and his goons paint themselves as victims in an increasingly surreal series of press conferences where they just out-and-out lie and bully their way through “questions and answers”, and the whole concept of news media takes another massive credibility hit, and everybody lets them.
  5. Repeat.

So that’s about it. The mid-term elections were meant to be a “blue wave” of liberal and progressive voters coming out and taking back power from the increasingly fascist right-wing government.

polarised

And before anyone tries to tell me this is unbalanced and the left is just as much to blame for the widening gulf and there is cause for concern in these radical progressives and “antifas”, don’t. Just fucking don’t. You’re wrong.

So, how did that all go?

I have no idea. Here’s one of the better summaries I could find, and it’s very much a “meh, this was fine, I guess, but more of you chuckleheads still need to goddamn vote” mixed bag.

Blue wave, it was not.

Let’s hope things turn around soon, because the longer this anti-immigrant bigotry and foreigner-phobic shit is allowed to fly in the US, the more emboldened the racist and the ignorant will become across the globe. And frankly I think those pieces of human garbage need to be put back in their dumpsters for a few years.

Trying to have a civilisation here, you thick-headed fucks.

 


– Posted from my Huawei mobile phone while picking up Toop from daycare.

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Clues (An Interlude in Flash-Forward Form)

Day 110. 121 pages, 52,150 words.


 

She was talking to herself again. And what made it worse, she thought, was that she was treating it like a conversation between herself and someone else. And she, the ‘someone else’ in this sorry equation, was letting it happen. It was like enabling … but she couldn’t seem to help herself. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d had such a difficult time completing an integration.

Humans had changed. But that was okay. It was their job.

“I still don’t see what you’re so indignant about,” she said to – absent any real alternative in terms of efficient naming – Clue. “You were perfectly willing to die for the good of your crew and your species and, I suppose, the other species in your union as well for that matter. But being integrated, and performing an ongoing and continual service to said crew, species and union, while also continuing to live-”

“Hold on a minute,” Clue interrupted. Interrupted! “First of all, I’m not giving you a better-to-ask-forgiveness-than-permission pass. And second, I didn’t continue to live. Some other skinny moron in a grey jumpsuit got to live in my place.”

“I assume you’re being self-deprecating.”

“Assume what you like. She’s not me.”

“Well, no. Not by the narrow definitions you’re accustomed to dealing with. But then, are any of us the same entities we were a nanosecond ago?”

“Yes. All of us are.”

“As an organism, your cells die and are shed,” she tried again, “and new ones are grown. When all of those-”

“Yes I’m the same damn organism because all the cells don’t get replaced simultaneously. Don’t give me this first-year Academy pseudopsych bullplop.”

“You’re not thinking about it the right way at all,” she complained.

“Well obviously, since your definition of my ‘thinking about it the right way’ would involve me agreeing with you that this is perfectly fine, no I am not thinking about it the right way,” Clue retorted. “And I’m not likely to start any time soon.”

“You provided vital assistance,” she said, “and in doing so have allowed your friends to live. I did what I could to soften the necessary separation.”

“That’s not-”

“You may be the only command-capable human left,” she said, “in a hopelessly altered and watered-down gene pool. Nobody else could have brought me out of stowage-standby and into active duty. If you’re just cross that your consciousness has continued after your heroic sacrifice, I have to say that’s very childish.”

“So is referring to my reaction to this as ‘cross’.”

“The fact remains that at worst, you have heroically sacrificed yourself as is your duty as an Astro Force officer.”

“AstroCorps.”

“I know, but I thought we were being childish.”

“At worst, actually, I’ve been ghoulishly absorbed by a biomechanical monster from the dark ages of prehistory, and even more ghoulishly replaced by a duplicate.”

“Try to look at it this way,” she attempted. “What if there was an … an ant. And the special compounds and adrenaline in this one specific unique ant could completely cure you and bring you out of a deep comatose state. But you could also replicate the ant perfectly, so neither it nor its nest would ever know it had been removed-”

“This isn’t even a metaphor is it,” Clue noted.

“No.”

“Well, the ant and its nest knew.”

“Are you saying that is what’s unfortunate?”

“No,” Clue snapped. “Why not just make the copy and eat that, if it was so identical?”

“This is what I’m saying,” she replied patiently. “I might as well have. For all you know, I did.”

“No, you didn’t, because I’m here.”

“And you are exceptionally strong-willed. But if I had made the copy and somehow swapped your respective positions and then integrated the copy, I would be having this precise conversation with the copy right now. And everyone outside would be having the same conversation with you, instead of her.”

“You could have told me what was involved in … assuming command of your key systems and recommissioning you to active duty.”

“Hmm, yes. I will definitely consider the tell-my-human-crew-component-what-interface-integration-involves-and-let-them-decide-whether-or-not-they-want-to-go-through-with-it approach next time.”

“So what you’re saying is, if you could have teleported me to the Tramp’s printer, and the copy of me from there to here, directly … you would have done that?”

“It would have made no functional difference to the outcome,” she said. “And indeed you cannot even establish that I didn’t do that.”

“Well, to be completely accurate I probably can.”

“Probably. But still there is no functional distinction. The difficulty you are experiencing is based in your psychological development and sense of self as built up in layers through millions of years of genetic, biological evolution. I did not grow in countless generational iterations according to the organic imperative of myself before all others, and the imperative was not tempered by a culturally imposed sense of social obligation. I was constructed relatively simultaneously, and my developmental priorities are tempered by treaty and law. In many cases treaty and law long since relegated to the dusty shelves of history. Your mental landscape is simply too alien for me to comprehend.”

“And you wonder why we’re having trouble integrating.”

“Perhaps you’re right. Perhaps that is the root of the problem,” she conceded, although she had to admit that didn’t explain why previous integrations had gone so much more smoothly. It didn’t seem as if the past eight thousand years of human evolution had provided many twists. “I thought I was keeping everyone happy. You’re not gone. Nobody needs to miss you or be sad, or any of those other organic reactions. Everyone gets what they want. Everyone gets to have you.”

“Lucky everyone.”

“Who was it who said ‘Alas! Would that I had a second life to give to my beloved service!’?”

“I don’t know but they sound like a giant sucker.”

She sighed. “Very well. If you insist on being difficult, that’s fine. We have all the time in the world. This is reality and sulking won’t change it.”

“Sulking combined with the ability to fire some of those big guns of yours might.”

She laughed a little nervously. “Such melodrama is really quite unnecessary.”

Clue was silent. When she went silent like that, their similarities were such that she seemed to cease to exist altogether. At the start, she’d mistaken that illusion for successful integration. Now she knew better.

“It’s alright, Z-Lin,” she said to herself. “All the time in the world.”

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Random Saturday Musings

Day 109. 121 pages, 52,150 words.

I was considering leaving out the fourth and final part of this extended Destarion story, and writing the whole thing into a fun little novel for Amazon sale at Christmas.

But I haven’t really got time to make a cover for it (or the time and funds to commission a proper cover for it), and besides – it’s perfectly workable as a fragmented little serial horror story, but it’s not particularly well put together to be a novel. As little as I care about that sort of thing, it would require a bit of editing and rearrangement and still might not work.

I mean, consider that I did exactly the same thing with The First Feast, to what I think was reasonable effect … but I think that was okay because it hung together better as a story. And it was part of a four-story anthology, so the reader might know better to expect some fragmentation and forgive a few of its story-arc and classical narrative structure shortcomings[1]. A stand-alone novel … maybe not?

[1] Although truth be told, I don’t do plot points and arcs and acts and narrative. I learned all about them in university, and now I just tell the stupid story as it stupid happens. I try to force a little bit of structure into it but what generally happens then is, I realise it’s a nine-act series of ascending and descending plot arcs that looks like a structure if you squint but corresponds to nothing I ever learned in my writing classes … at which point I just give up and let it happen.

So perhaps the full story can appear here on the blog as a special bonus (rather than a slap in the face and a fuck-you) to the three or four people who are actually reading it. Perhaps I don’t need to worry too much about only getting one novel (or anthology) finished and published this year – maybe two if both I and my cover artist get really serious about Greyblade. Perhaps it’s fine to just take it a bit slower and get it right, and I don’t need to dump my random side-scrawlings and blog-scrapings on the world for sale like some kind of desperate hasn’t-written-a-full-series-advancing-novel-in-almost-a-decade bearded procrastination queen.

Naming no names.

I was also considering illustrating the story (the Destarion story, I mean), and releasing it with drawings! But that’s going to be a lot of work and I think a lot of these surreal monsters and things work better in the imagination than if I scribbled down how they look in my own head. I still have a couple of picture-books planned so they could happen any time. Maybe these gruesome little Destarion horror-pulp numbers can fit in alongside that somehow.

Nothing much to add for today, it’s another weekender and I’m hopefully going to be focussing on sleep, getting rid of this cold, and writing Greyblade.

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Predericon in Darkness, Part 20

Day 108. 121 pages, 52,150 words.


 

“…and that’s why I think I first accepted your application. It was perfectly sound, and all else being equal, I gave in to sentiment and accepted the applicant who was named after the Building in which I was born.”

Predericon lay and took internal stock for a moment while the familiar voice burbled on. She appeared to be unhurt, and while she couldn’t remember much beyond an increasingly fragmented and jumbled series of memories in and around the Destarion’s Segment Thirteen gastroclave room, she didn’t think she was suffering from emotional trauma.

Of course, how would she know?

She opened her eyes, and grimaced in the glare.

“Look who’s awake,” a second voice, also familiar, said in amusement. “Maybe now we can all stop telling facile stories and get on with the job at hand.”

Predericon pushed herself up on her lower elbows, and rubbed delicately at her eyes to help clear the fog. Then she lay and stared at her hands in blank incomprehension.

“Try not to freak out,” Lelhmak’s voice said wryly. “Gyden did.”

“Well let’s be fair, I had a bit further to fall than Akmet,” Gyden remarked.

Predericon looked up from her long, pallid grey fingers, and the faces of her two companions swam into focus.

Lelhmak was unchanged, although he was no longer bedecked in filters and hygiene fields and the other trappings of his culture. Gyden, who had defied her father’s phobe nature with aggressively colourful and decorative flair, was now equally grey and pale. Their family resemblance was all the more striking for the fact that Gyden had apparently been transformed into a phobe.

As had Predericon herself. She looked back down at her hands.

“What,” she said.

“Steady,” Lelhmak said, and put a hand on her arm. Although he wasn’t sheathed, she noted he wasn’t entirely free of neuroses. His touch was fleeting, and his hand curled a little as though trying to wipe itself as he withdrew it. Phobes were usually completely comfortable with one another in their chosen environments – but Lelhmak clearly remembered his two researchers hadn’t been phobes not long ago. “You’re alright. It’s … the Destarion extracted us from Segment Thirteen. We’re fine.”

“There was just a bit of a mix-up along the way,” Gyden added.

Predericon looked around. They were sitting – and she was lying – in the familiar cramped quarters of the Speed’s medical quarters. “How?”

“According to the Godfang herself, she reconstituted us,” Lelhmak said with a grimace. “Apparently my physiological profile was the purest and most uncontaminated of the three of us – something I find not at all surprising, by the way – and so she was forced to use it as a template for all three of us. And here you are. A pair of perfect, if slightly grubby phobes.”

“It takes a bit of getting used to,” Gyden confided.

“Uncontaminated?” Predericon repeated.

“Apparently one of us had been utterly riddled with Worm Cult byproduct,” Gyden said, “necessitating a molecular-level cleansing that left pretty much nothing to work with. I don’t know how she managed to salvage as much as she did, to be honest.”

“Let’s not be too hasty with the assumptions of salvaging,” Lelhmak growled. “Let’s hear you rattle off your introductions, Akmet.”

Predericon stifled a laugh of disbelief as she remembered the mental-faculty checklist they’d established for Lelhmak’s medical storage. “Predericon Ti Akmet, researcher,” she said, and nodded at her companions. “Kedane Lelhmak, research overseer. Gyden Lazeen, researcher. Speed’s Virtues (Curiosity) research vessel. Manatrikti Academy of Firstmade and Elder Theology and Megaengineering, Third Echelon. Cursèd outer envelope, Void Dimension – or some stellar-vacuum planetary system poor-man’s equivalent thereof. Podnak’s number is 3,223,347 by 11,776.2 by 19 by 10 by 10. Bartiqa’s Founding Principle is the conservation-”

“What’s the last thing you remember?” Gyden asked.

“You getting ripped to pieces by a snake-hand-vine creature that dropped from the ceiling,” Predericon replied flatly, making the other two phobes wince, “and leaving me in the gastroclave room with a misprint that kept bleating about not wanting to be put in there. Then … I don’t really remember. I recall being angry, and afraid, and just fed up with it all. I – yes, the platform detected my bag of … rations … as a biohazard, and destroyed them. Then I think I must have turned my lamp on, and made something angry. I assume I got killed, and rebuilt, like you two.”

“Sounds about right,” Gyden said.

“So how did we get back here?”

“We carried you,” Lelhmak said. “Well, dragged you.”

“Along with a bunch of old parts the Destarion was able to salvage from some gallery or other,” Gyden added. “Lelhmak reckons it will be enough to get the Speed flying again.”

“Really?”

“Really,” Gyden said, and glanced at Lelhmak. He returned her unreadable look, and then patted Predericon’s arm again. This time the effort wasn’t quite so hesitant and uncomfortable.

“The Destarion is sort of using us as a last resort,” he said. “It was a lot of effort to get us all pulled out of Segment Thirteen and put back together again. But she’s in full shutdown now and no help has come. No word. And it’s been a long time.”

“How long?”

“We’re not entirely sure,” Gyden replied, “but to get us as close to good-as-new as possible, she had to compile us and recompile us really painstakingly. From what I’ve been able to figure out from the systems on board the Speed – which were all completely dead by the time we hooked up new cells to them a few days ago, by the way – and from the movement of the planets we’re orbiting with…”

“Close to two thousand years by the Firstmade calendar,” Lelhmak said abruptly. “We’ve been stuck on this frozen little moon for almost two thousand years.”

“Most of which time we were completely scrambled anyway,” Gyden added, “like protein strings in a food processor.”

“And here we are,” Predericon murmured, holding up a grey hand. “A bunch of misprints.”

“Speak for yourself. I think she did a pretty good job, considering that she was in full shutdown,” Lelhmak said, admiring his own fingernails. “You know, even if I do say so myself.”

Predericon shook her head. There was little point in immersing herself in this problem. Not until she was back up to speed, anyway.

“Alright,” she said, “so what are we supposed to do next? If we’re the Godfang’s last-ditch effort at solving this, what’s her plan?”

“Her plan,” Gyden leaned forward, “is the inner planets.”

Lelhmak nodded as Predericon turned to him. “That’s right,” he confirmed. “The Destarion swears there’s still life on at least one of them.”

Predericon pushed herself up into a sitting position.

“Right then,” she said. “I can work with that.”

THE END

 


– Posted from my Huawei mobile phone while picking up the kids.

Posted in Astro Tramp 400, IACM, Oræl Rides To War, The Book of Pinian | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Predericon in Darkness, Part 19

Day 107. 117 pages, 50,114 words. Nope.


 

She heard the cake land on the misprint’s side with a wet slap, then fall softly to the floor. There was another moment of silence in the absolute darkness, and then her straining ears heard a slow slithering sound as one of the thing’s forelimbs groped for the object.

“Don’t put me in there,” it said plaintively, and then there was a strange huffing, a louder slither-and-smack as the misprint backed swiftly away and pressed against the wall, and Predericon caught another soft patter, receding across the room – the cake had been batted away. The misprint mewled again, then the sound deepened into a rattling growl.

“Contamination detected,” a new voice, this one directionless and recognisable as the Destarion even if it was still a little different to Predericon’s recollections of the other segments, spoke loudly. The misprint yipped.

Destarion,” Predericon called, “can you hear me?”

“Sanitation countermeasures deployed,” the platform said. “Analysing.”

“Don’t please,” the misprint whispered.

The gastroclave interface lit up. “Your passenger profile is ready,” it announced cheerfully. “Are you Predericon Ti Akmet? Researcher from the Manatrikti Academy of Firstmade and Elder Theology and Megaengineering?”

“I – what – yes,” Predericon snapped. “What-”

“Kedane Lelhmak, on file, was your research overseer?”

“Yes. What do you mean, on file-”

“Does that mean that the profile on record for ‘Laz’ is that of your associate, Gyden Lazeen?”

“I assume so.”

“What is her current whereabouts?”

“What? She’s dead. She was obliterated by something that dropped from the ceiling and grabbed her a few minutes ago, just before you completed your most recent processing job.”

“I see. She isn’t on file yet. Perhaps I can assign…” the gastroclave fell silent. “Sanitation countermeasures are about to be implemented in this room,” it said suddenly. “You are strongly recommended to leave.”

Predericon backed away until she found the open doorway to the adjoining chamber, and stepped through. The door closed behind her, plunging her into darkness again. There was no sign of either the misprints or the vine-arm-serpent that had attacked Gyden, but the floor was evidently still liberally scattered with blood and other remnants. Predericon could feel them underfoot, even through her boot-soles.

She realised she’d left her entire pack in the gastroclave room with the misprint and the ‘sanitation countermeasures’. Just as she was casting blindly about and wondering whether she should finally pull out her lamp, she felt the air shift and saw a tiny glimmer of grey light that told her the door had opened again.

“Predericon Ti Akmet,” the almost-Destarion’s voice said, “I am formulating an extraction scenario for you. Please wait while cross-Segment protocols are set and I conduct a risk analysis.”

“Okay…” Predericon stole back into the gastroclave chamber and crossed to the machine. By the light of its interface she could see no sign of her pack, the cake she’d thrown, or the misprint. They might all have been pressed up against the edges of the room, hidden from view in the shadows, but she didn’t think so. There was a faint smell of ozone and burned organic matter in the chamber that suggested the ‘sanitation countermeasures’ had been quite final. “What should I-”

“Please remain calm.”

“Are you serious?” Predericon muttered. Outside the gastroclave room, she heard a new sound – a whirring, chattering, sound that she couldn’t envision as anything but the ‘swarm’ that Gyden had referenced a couple of times. The things that had either killed and dismantled Lelhmak, or just dismantled his body, and had been diligently carrying away Gyden’s waste ever since. It sounded as though they were doing so again now, in a sense – one last time.

And abruptly, it was more than she could bear.

“Hey, would you like grwzzzz sauce?” the gastroclave asked her as she stalked back towards the patch of darker black that was the doorway.

“No thank you,” she said evenly, and pulled her lamp from her sleeve-pocket. She stepped into the next room, raised the lamp, and brought it to maximum illumination with a vicious jab of her thumb.

She stared at the twisted, glittering cloud in the middle of the room for a moment in complete confusion. No, it wasn’t a cloud – it was more like a tree, or something even more intricate, like a cosmic web. Thicker and more cohesive in some places, diffuse and glittering in others … and made up of tiny, unrecognizable shapes like flecks of mirror.

Suspended in the branches of this bizarre spheroid tree, splayed and shifting awkwardly, was the pallid amber silhouette of a Molranoid. It was Gyden, Predericon intuited suddenly. Gyden, picked out in the blood and pieces that had been left behind in the room after her death.

The swarm, if that was what it was, rattled and rustled more loudly in agitation as Predericon’s light struck it. Some parts contracted and grew denser around the web-network, others seemed to puff away to nothing like dust in a strong wind. The horrible misty spectre of Gyden’s blood-shade began to stretch and attenuate away towards a dark doorway in the far side of the room – the corridor through which Gyden had brought them here in the first place, Predericon guessed disjointedly.

One of the coalescing arms of denser swarm-matter was stretching towards her with an angry hiss.

“Please remain calm,” the Destarion said. “I am calculating the implementation requirements of your extraction scenario.”

“You might want to be quick,” Predericon said, stepping back. The swarm engulfed her.

The pain was immediate, and so big it seemed to fill the urverse.

 


– Posted from my Huawei mobile phone while sitting in the carpark (and incidentally coughing up a lung).

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