Most Molranoids went into seclusion after their Third and Final Prime. This was particularly true of Molren, for various sociocultural and psychological reasons. Blaren, after all, could hide their age and absence of dignity by installing pooka lamps on top of their heads and declaring that they were semaphore trees or something. Blaren were, by and large, very silly.
And as for Bonshooni, well, those poor misbegotten cousins of the Molranoid family didn’t usually live to Third Prime anyway, and didn’t have much in the way of dignity to start with so it didn’t really matter what they did.
But the Molran, and the more refined Blaran, sought a decorous and honourable setting in which to live out her final fade and exhale her final breath. For the most part, this was on board one of a half-dozen Fleet Worldships specifically given over to the respectful care of quinmillennials. It was extremely rare for a Molran to die of old age in any public sphere.
Provenance-Circa-Eleventh-Century had no intention of dying of old age in public, or on a poxy Worldship that smelled of Margolyse and forgotten joy. She had no intention of dying at all, come to that – and if she had to, she was damned well going to make sure everybody else died first. And that all the wine was finished.
Still, for all this, Circa was a Molran to her core. In all the generations of her family, since the Lawkeeps of old had drafted the Twin Species Social Code, only one of her kinfolk had deviated from the optimal defining characteristics of Molranity by more than 0.7%. Not even many Molren knew what that meant, but when you considered that the skinswitch threshold was 73% deviation and the overwhelming majority of modern Molren stood between 3% and 58% of deviation from purity, it was important. Her refusal to retire in the conventional manner was unorthodox, certainly, but it was strictly and most certainly not a deviation. And she kept largely out of the public eye in any case, so the effect was much the same.
Circa’s grandparents had embraced Mygonism when the Fleet had arrived at Earth, becoming one of the first families of Mygoni Molren. This did not, despite the common misconceptions of the general population and despite the rarity of the phenomenon, constitute a deviation either. The Mygoni had been an emergent human subspecies based around an article of Firstmade faith – the Pinian First Disciple – that already had a staggeringly close equivalent in Fleet culture. Furthermore, the Fleet was able to stabilise the reckless collapse of humanity’s genome and turn Mygonism back into a culture instead of a species. And Circa’s family had been one of the ramrod-straight imperium spikes holding the whole mess together.
She had been named, in the Mygoni style – the Mygonite style, as they said these days – for a Wild Empire-era Fleet calendar that no longer existed. However, it just so happened that she’d also been born some eleven hundred years before the official founding of the Yeka Mogak, the Six Species, so her name still made sense to anyone who mattered. An awful lot of Mygonites weren’t so fortunate.
Provenance-Circa-Eleventh-Century, marching steely-eyed through her forty-ninth century, was a truly ancient Mygonite. In fact, she was probably the second-oldest living Mygonite in existence, and that was only if Mygon the Last was actually real, and still actually alive somewhere. And – again contrary to popular misconception – she had never once said golly, better muddle through. Provenance-Circa-Eleventh-Century was most emphatically not that kind of Mygonite. She was the other kind. The kind of whom you did not want to make an enemy.
If was entirely likely, in short, that a nastier old bat-head didn’t exist anywhere in the galaxy … but if one did, it was the only other living member of Circa’s family. The one who had abandoned Mygonism. The sole member of the family to ever have deviated from Social-Code-ordained Molranity by more than 0.7%.
And that was Circa’s twin sister.