Athusia, the neurologist, looked at him from across the table. The light of the folding lamp appeared as two tiny pinpricks in dark, violet-framed eyes as he stared, for ten seconds if not more, at Saren’s face.

“At ease,” Saren said at last. Athusia let the datapad fall between his hands. It clacked against the rest.

“You said it yourself: it wasn’t a dream. I shouldn’t keep you,” Athusia replied after another long pause. The chair swivelled to the left as he stood. “I should return to my work.”

Continue reading [58]


The next morning, Nihlus gets up early to prepare breakfast. The weather outside is still terrible. The storm had lessened during the night, but by the time he got back in bed, it had picked up again, accompanied by a fresh chorus of ferocious howls. Now, hard clumps of snow are smacking against the window like the wind’s percussive accompaniment. He swirls the leftover tequila and drains it in one gulp, setting the flask on the table with a loud thunk. There.

Continue reading [57]


He followed the faint smell of smoke to a stall near the edge of the market, sandwiched between an asari confectionery and a hanar diner. The place looked clean, freshly renovated, with spotless white tiles and clear glass tanks, not a speck of mold in sight. A neon orange sign hung over the storefront, some of the letters flickering once in a while. It was supposed to be artistic, he figured. The glass seemed to be hand-blown, and a permit on the Presidium was much too expensive for such oversights.

The woman behind the counter stood up when he approached. “What’ll it be?”

Continue reading [55]