June 2018

“Honey, it’s just a little spider! Nothing to be afraid of. He wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

“Yes he would! He would hurt a fly! Hurting flies is basically what spiders DO! They paralyze them and suck out their still-living juices, and I want it out of my house!”

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“You’ve got to be especially careful of folks who project that kind of field,” Adams said. “They’re bad mojo.”

“Give me an example,” said Calhoun.

“There was this one guy, way back when, who was a private detective–you know, back when that was a thing you could do. Well, his field was especially strong, and it meant that he always found what he expected to find–in this case, murder.”

“He murdered people ith his distortion field?” Calhoun said. “That desn’t sound right.”

“No, no, no, he didn’t murder anyone. His certainty that there would be murder caused murders to happen. Always in a natural organic way, too. Simmering things would come to a head, someone would see something they weren’t supposed to, and then bam!”

“And how would anyone have known this was going on?” Calhoun said. “Murders happen all the time.”

“Yes, but a murder happened literally everywhere this detective went. In boats. In midair. Abroad, in whatever country he visited. At a certain point, someone ran the numbers after he died. The possibility of coincidence was statistically insignificant.”

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Q: Why did they put Susie on the cello without training her on a smaller string instrument first?

A: They didn’t want a history of violins on her permanent record.

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Is a hole filled
A hole remembered
Or does the soil
Merge on the edges
Until no one would
Guess that you had
Ever felt a void
And never know
What you filled
In underneath

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To: Commander, USACV Magellan II

Intercept luxury cruise liner USACV Arcadian Dream, which is seven weeks overdue at its station. A monitor buoy intercepted a garbled navigational beacon from the vessel two days ago which appears to indicate it is in orbit around Samh, (Upsilon Andromedae C), a Class III gas giant that is far outside any flight plan on file.

USACV Magellan II is hereby authorized to locate INV Arcadian Dream and to attempt rescue of any surviving passengers. If the ship is navigable, salvage is authorized. The Admiralty is pleased to offer a 20% salvage rate on the ship if recovered, and a 150% search-and-rescue stipend per passenger. If neither passengers nor vessel can be recovered, any relevant logs or other information for inquiry will be compensated at the standard rate.

NOTE: Among the passengers aboard the INV Arcadian Dream was one Noura Al-Rashid and her husband Kamau Magana. As Noura is the heir apparent to the Al-Rashid Interstellar Mining Corporation, married to the younger brother of the USACV Ambassador, their status and disposition are of paramount importance. If it becomes necessary to triage resources, they are to be considered a top priority for rescue and/or investigation.

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“I hope this does not disturb you.” Goqowy preferred to keep his eye tentacles withdrawn when they were thinking, only extending them from their central mass and taking in visual information when they had a question or were ready to make a statement. “I’ve been told that some do not know where to look when I have withdrawn my eyes. I personally suggest looking at my center of mass, but I make no judgments if you choose to look elsewhere. After all, how would I know?”

“It’s less a question of where to look than it is a question of what to do, Dr. Goqowy,” Célia said. “I hope you understand that these ethical charges are very serious.”

“And I hope you understand the value of the work we are doing here,” Goqowy replied. “Myopic focus on research and development is the only way to progress understanding. All other considerations are secondary. I can also function as a convenient scapegoat, if you like. Blame me for any ethical oversights, and I will not be perturbed in the least.”

“But this is the sort of thing that gets people up in arms,” said Célia. “Vivisection of sentient beings? Lack of informed consent? Pressure testing, and-”

“Very well, I see that you are going to insist on being tiresome.” Goqowy extended his tentacles, displaying both his color eyes and his light/dark eyes. “If your people are not interested in my research, I have an offer on file from Rigel IX. They have offered me a lab with full equipment and leave to continue any research. Only inertia and the bother of moving have kept me here. If you like, I can take them up on this offer, which includes my staff and in-progress data.”

Célia, flabbergasted, could only stutter “B-but…!”

“I learned long ago that the ignorant are constantly interested in betraying the best interests of science and learning,” Goqowy continued. “I never start a new position without a firm offer for another in reserve. It’s hoe I came to be here. Now, if there’s nothing else, I have to dissect someone in an hour.”

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