“I’m looking for Ajixa, the Dark Blade of the Lutil.”

The Lutil approached. Its silicon scales glistened beneath its transparent environment suit, while the ammonia-rich atmosphere within manifested as billowing clouds of jaundiced vapor. Its words came across inaudibly, muffled by both the suit and the atmospheric pressure, but it had a good, military-grade translator. “That one is known to us, though not by that name,” it said. “That you would ask for them as such shows a profound ignorance. Tell me, what do you know of the one that you call Ajixa, and what do you know of this appellation, ‘the Dark Blade of the Lutil,’ that insults them on alien lips.”

“Well, Ajixa was head of the Lutil colony on-”

“We know the encyclopedia entry,” said the Lutil. “Tell me in your own, alien, words.”

“Ajixa assassinated the previous colony leader after maneuvering all their allies out of power, so no one would protest. The first order of business was to invite the human GesteCo Corporation to exploit the place. Ajixa not only encouraged GesteCo to spy on its workers and assassinate troublemakers, but actively encouraged it, even participating personally. Due to the place being under Lutil jurisdiction, Ajixa increased the output of crystalline glucose by 10%, the mines spat out deuterium at double their previous efficiency, and the colony was twice as profitable. And in exchange, 50% of the GesteCo workforce, mostly human like me, died.”

The Lutil nodded. “We prefer to say that Ajixa trusted the welfare of the humans to their own kind, and was disappointed but not surprised at what they did, turning a struggling colony into a profitable one at the cost of many lives. Ajixa did what was necessary, and those who might have counseled caution instead were encouraging.” It paused. “Because of that, Ajixa’s fearsome reputation is only matched by a fearsome bounty from human survivors and a GesteCo anxious to clean its hands fo the mess.”

“You are Ajixa, are you not? I think it is time to drop the pretense.”

A deep bow from the Lutil. “At your service. Tell me why you have sought me out, and the I will tell you whether you will get it, leave empty-handed, or die.”

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