---The Lake 

Hero of the Shining Pasture, Supreme Fleet Admiral Bossy, says:
"Enemy of the Pasture, J.J. Robinson, is dreaming..."

by J.J. Robinson
All Rights Reserved, Copyright 2006, J.J. Robinson


I’m standing ankle-deep in the unmoving, featureless, mirrored surface of the lake,
despite the incredible, impossible cold.

My friend is nearby. He is lying at the edge of the lake, almost submerged despite the
cold. I feel I should warn him about the danger of the cold, but there is no sound here.

I don’t quite remember why there is no sound.

There is light, which is also impossible. Why? I look up, and the sky flickers from
impossible white to faintly blue, then white again.

They are some distance away. A family, I think. Woman, man, and small child. He is
fishing, with an impossible rod and reel. The hookless end of the line strikes the surface
in a monotonous rhythm, over and over, although his hands never move. There are no
ripples when it strikes, only a small pit in the surface of the lake.

I look at my hands. I am like the others---our unprotected flesh impossibly brilliant
white, wading at the edge of a gelid sea.

Something is horribly wrong. I just don’t remember what it is. It has been horribly
wrong for so long....

The sky flickers to impossible blackness. I remember now, that there were once points of
light---stars---there, a very long time ago.

There is impossible light again, and the fisherman falls. He disappears into the lake and
does not come back. There is a terror in me that makes me want to stay where I am, but
my friend moves toward the family, to the place where the man sank away. I follow.

When my friend disappears as well, I follow.

The bodies! Uncountable millions, packed together on the bottom of the shallow sea....!
Horror floods over me again, as I begin to remember....

I am standing ankle-deep in the surface at the edge of the lake. My friend does not
return, however, and I don’t remember why. The sky is becoming dim. The woman and
child weep noiselessly, and I remember. There is no longer any air. There are no longer
any stars.

Then it is impossibly black again, and it stays that way. I remember. I am in my place
again, under the impossibly cold lake. There is nothing, a darkness so black that the six
others stacked next to me could as well be in other Universes, beyond reach. There is no
sleep, no rest, no further pause in the knowing....

It is black, because even the collected noiseless screams of a million million minds
wrenched with measureless horror cannot sustain the impossible light for more than an
instant, an inconsequential, temporal flash, in an eternity of abyssal blackness.

Cold and black and eternal, with only the flickering, tattered remnants of our failing
dreams between us and the full realization of Hell. If we had known....

...that even the impossible cold would not be enough.


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---The Thing That Fell-by J.J. Robinson II 

Hero of the Shining Pasture, Supreme Fleet Admiral Bossy, says:
“Our agents have intercepted a perfidious anti-revolutionary
document from Enemy of the Pasture, JJ Robinson. It is one of
those “short stories” which all cattle and school calves have
been often warned about. Enemy of the Pasture, JJ Robinson
attached a note to the perfidious document, which says:”
“This is an ancient short story, which I wrote in about 1990.
I have cleaned up some formatting and a few words, and dropped
it into the weblog pretty much as I left it. Constructive
comments are appreciated. --Enemy of the Pasture, JJ Robinson”

J.J. Robinson
All Rights Reserved
Copyright 1990-2006, J.J. Robinson

The Thing That Fell


J.J. Robinson

Kak moved noiselessly through the golden fronds and grey-

green stalks of the forest floor. He pulled his membranous wings

into tight bundles so that his forearms could move without

impediment. He bent low and crept to the edge of the rocky

river-course. The water ran through its bed of well-worn stones

with a hiss and fell into a deeper course with a throaty rumble.

He would never be heard above the sound.

The other two were waiting at the bottom of the short rapids

atop a big, flat boulder. They gripped the glistening-wet

surface uncertainly with the clawed toes of their webbed hind

feet. Their wing-hands held a casting net which they obviously

didn't know how to use. Irrion, the eldest, leaned over the edge

of the boulder and stared intently into the running water.

Dgulaik, the youngest, had begun to tire from all the excitement.

His head was beginning to droop downward. Kak saw with some

amusement that one of Dgaulaik's hind toes was snagged in the

edge of the net.

Kak had made a pretense of frustration with the gnordon-

fishing and of going to hunt small ground-fruit among the trees.

Once out of sight, he had doubled back to close on his three-

friends from behind....

"Schrekke!" Kak screamed.

Irrion started at the sudden noise so close behind. Dgulaik

woke suddenly from his drowse, and thinking that Irrion was

making a cast, belatedly made to join him in heaving the circular

net. As the heavy net reached its full extent it pulled Dgulaik

off balance, and he stepped into space. Clawing desperately for

support, he grabbed Irrion's forearm. Both tumbled headlong into

the water.

The two emerged from the icy, swirling shallows with the net

draped over their heads. Kak was rolling about on the ground,

laughing uproariously.

The two victims turned their flat orange eyes toward each

other in unspoken conference. With incredible speed, they freed

their wings, sprang from the water, and fell on the delirious


In the excitement of the wild melee that followed, any idea

of side was quickly lost. Schrekke never stayed angry for long.

The tumbling children became a writhing mass of grey and orange


Their play was interrupted by a loud crack, which brought

them to instant attention. The three concealed themselves behind

the boulder with movement that would have defied the eye to


In midstream at the base of the rapids, two gnordon the

length of Irrion's wing-arm had bounded from the water with their

characteristic vocalization. Their deeply triangular profiles

flashed blue-silver in the late afternoon sun. As the fish fell

back toward the water, they began to flutter their enlarged fore-

fins furiously with a deafening buzz. Thirty meters upstream,

the creatures fell exhausted into the rushing water and wriggled

away among the stones of the bottom.

"Stirf!" said Irrion naughtily, and showed his spike-like

fangs to Kak. They had been trying for three hours to net even

one of the prized food-creatures.

As Irrion poised himself to leap back into mock combat,

three much louder reports shook the still, warm air. The sounds

didn't come from the stream this time, but from high above. The

perplexed children scanned the sky.

"There!" cried Irrion, and pointed.

They looked up, and saw an orange streak in the sky. The

streak was clearly visible despite the brightness of the sun, and

was growing noticeably longer as they watched.

"Is it one of the star-stones my Grandfather was talking

about?" asked Dgulaik, awestruck.

"Could be," Irrion replied.

As the streak moved closer, they could see a white blur at

its tip. Within the blur, something could be seen tumbling end-

over-end. The thing threw off bursts of steamy white whenever it

turned sideways.

They watched until the thing disappeared below the northern

horizon. Where it had vanished, an angry red dome of light


"Let's go see what it is!" cried Dgulaik. He spread his

wings and sprang into the air.

"Schrekke!" screamed Kak, in earnest this time. "No!"

Prescience burned in his mind like a torch.

The shock-wave struck. The concussion hurled the airborne

child far away among the trees, and the golden fronds and grey-

green stalks were blown flat. As Kak tumbled off the boulder, he

heard the awful death-groan of a great tree as its ancient roots

were torn from the ground.

It was decided during that evening that Kak and Irrion,

since they had observed the strange sky-fall and were old enough

to travel but too young for does, should investigate the thing

they had seen.

Kak's Mother prepared his last afternoon meal in the safe

tunnels of the Dgudoma. When he had finished, she enfolded him

in her wings in the manner of her kind, and wept over him as

though she did not expect him to return. She finally released

him, dried her saucer-sized orange eyes on her frock, and went

morosely about her business.

"You bear a great responsibility to your folk, Kak," said

his Father. "Do not forget us."

"Think always of the pride your family will feel when you

return successfully." His venerable Grandfather cast a sidelong

glance at Kak's Mother.

"It is a great pity that only two must make this journey,

not three," his Grandmother lamented tearfully. Dgulaik had not

been found in the twisted wreck of trees above, but the Chief of

the College of Omens had felt his spirit leave.

The Grandfather tried to look sternly at his Mate, but

finally embraced her instead. Kak's Mother joined the weeping

pair, and then Kak and his Father.

Kak and Irrion met under the grove of great trees that

guarded the entrance of Dgudoma Haem. One of the ancient trees

had been lost to the same unholy wind that had extinguished

Dgulaik's spirit.

Every member of the Dgudoma who could be spared from his

labors waited in the grove to see them off. The Chiefs of the

seven colleges of the Dgudoma appeared, and gave the children a

sack of supplies, a skin of water, and a ceremonial book of

proverbs ("Travel light, fly far.")

"There has been a great burning in the Ocean of Trees to the

Northwest. You will see a great evil there, and you must not be

overcome by it." The Chief of the College of Omens gestured with

the tip of his wrinkled wing toward the horizon. "You will pass

the camps of the Hoo-mands." The old Chief's blade-like front

teeth and ample lips formed the strange name with difficulty.

"You must avoid them at all costs."

Kak looked at Irrion inquiringly. The older child shrugged


"They are short-necked and wingless," the Chief continued,

"They are slow of hand and foot, and their eyes are made so they

can't see well to the sides. Only a few have magics of useable

strength. Hoo-mands make things that make their magics stronger

or carry them in the air or let them move quickly or chase down

their prey for them. Many are insane."

Kak found that he was beginning to tremble. He tried to

steady himself by clasping his wing-arms together so that Irrion

wouldn't see.

"If the Maker made them," Irrion quoted, "They must have


"This is true," said the old Chief, "but their rescue is for

another time. The danger now is greater than frolicsome young

spirits might suppose. The Hoo-mands have brought many made-

things with them."

"Some of their worst made-things can make magics of their

own and think for themselves. I fear greatly that the Thing That

Fell is one of those. Guard yourselves, and do not approach it

too closely. See where it lies, then return to us with all

haste. Our greatest Love goes with you." All those assembled

nodded their agreement.

The two set out on foot at the next twilight. They let

their wings carry them over the stream, then returned to the

secure cover of the ground. Kak felt his throat tighten as he

saw the smooth boulder where Dgulaik....he turned his eyes

Northward, and tried to put the events of the previous day out of

his mind.

They tramped on foot for five days, as the forest floor

became increasingly broken and rocky. Soon they were travelling

almost entirely in the high canopy of the trees, leaping and

gliding from limb to limb. Occasionally one of them would fly

above the sheltering leaves to scan the land ahead, and to see

what could be seen of the Thing That Fell.

In the day, they slept far from the ground and spoke in

hushed voices about what they would do when they found the Thing

That Fell. Kak would remember those childish visions of heroic

adventure and new knowledge for the rest of his life, with mixed

fondness and pain.

On the sixth day, Irrion returned from his reconnaisance and

alighted on the heavy bole where they had slept away the light.

"I can see something! A smoking place, about two days journey to

cross on foot! In its midst is a great pit. Some Mands are

sleeping on the ground among the last of the trees."

"We will have to go far around them." said Kak. He tried

to keep his voice from shaking, without much success.

They stopped in early morning near the edge of the burned

place, and used the last good concealment to rest before entering

the barren area. The horror before them was almost unbearable.

Neither had ever ventured for more than a few moments from

beneath the Ocean of Trees that embraced almost all of their

world. Everywhere was the stench of smoke, the blackened stumps

of trees, and the unrelenting gaze of the sun. Here and there,

open flames still gnawed greedily at the priceless wood.

Among the dwindling trees, after Irrion had left for a last

reconnaissance, Kak saw his first human. The thing was even more

horrible than the Chief of Omens had said. Kak could feel its

crazed mind with his magics, and quickly wished he couldn't. He

turned to flee wildly into the trees. As he turned, he almost

ran headlong into Irrion.

"We have to see the Thing That Fell." The older child put

one of his wing-hands on Kak's shoulder and pointed with the

other. "It's that way."

"You...we know where it is." Kak was trembling violently, so

that his fangs grated together. "We can go back and tell the


"We have to see the Thing That Fell," Irrion insisted.

Kak looked at his three-friend for a time, trying to

understand Irrion's strange behavior. At last, Kak nodded his

assent. Irrion released his shoulder. As the light waned in

late afternoon, they ate a few morsels from their dwindling

rations. With the onset of darkness, they spread their wings and

flew into the midst of the burning. About midnight, with muscles

aching, they landed on the edge of the crater.

The Thing had fallen into a rocky crest, which had once been

submerged in the Ocean of Trees. The center of the crest had

been obliterated by the impact, so that only the rocky flanks and

the charred ruin of trees remained.

They peered into the great hole. Far below, they could see

a dim glow. It was not a flame, they knew, for the light they

saw was the icy blue of death in the Times of Cold. Irrion bade

Kak to stand guard as he launched himself to glide slowly into

the crater.

"Schrekke...." said Kak, but it was only a hoarse whisper.

Irrion reached the floor of the pit, and stood for a long moment

with his wings outstretched, limned in deadly blue. He leaned


"Schrekke!" screamed Kak, "No!"

...and then the world exploded.

Kak opened his eyes. He was surprised to find that he was

once again under the cover of trees. It was night, and the songs

and tiny many-colored lights of lantern-flits filled the air

beneath the soaring trees. The breeze was cool and soothing.

He heard something stir nearby. It was Dgulaik, stirring as

if from a long sleep! Kak clamped his wing-hands over his muzzle

lest he shout with joy. Dgulaik looked at him, blinking, and

rubbed his eyes sleepily.

Then Kak saw the light. It was pale, deadly blue, and it

was coming closer. Kak grabbed Dgulaik and dragged him into

motion. The two tumbled headlong into concealment behind a tree.

Soon they could see Irrion walking among the trees, very much


The reunion of the three-friends was too much for Kak. He

leapt from his concealment to greet Irrion!

His cry of joy froze in his throat. Irrion was carrying

something that could only be the Thing That Fell. It was a

long, thick cylinder, covered with fabulous scribings and glowing

jewels. Prominent among the etchings were two pictures of beings

with short necks and no wings. One end of the cylinder carried a

hemisphere of pure, clear crystal. The other end was jagged, as

if something had been violently torn from it.

The Thing glowed blue, and white vapor poured from it onto

the ground. As Irrion stood before them, the ground about his

feet became solidly covered with frost.

And the Thing had a mind. Kak could feel it throbbing in

his head. It was lovely and beautiful and awe-inspiring and....

Kak knew at once that Stirf himself in the tormenting flames

of the undying dead could not have been more evil.

"What is it, Kak?" Dgulaik had moved beside him.

"I...." Kak's reply was cut off as he realized with

strangling horror that Irrion's wing-arms and hands, where they

touched the Thing, were also blue and deadly freezing cold.

Irrion's lips were parted in a lunatic grin, and his eyes scanned

them unfocused, as if he were blind.

"Uhm...Irrion..." Kak was barely able to breathe. "Let us

leave this Thing hidden here, and return to the Dgudoma to report

what we have seen. You are injured, and will need healing."

"We don't need to go back to Haem," said poor, lunatic

Irrion. "Look!"

Irrion removed one of his hands with some difficulty from

the Thing. Kak grimaced as he saw that a quantity of Irrion's

flesh had been left behind. He heard Dgulaik whimper. The

younger child had moved to hide behind him.

Irrion's hand spoke blue light, and the bolt struck a huge

tree. Blue and white fire girdled the trunk, leapt and sparkled

toward the soaring crown. Sheets of blue corruscating with white

and silver enveloped the ancient limbs. The tree buckled down

upon itself, swelling, shrinking, groaning....

The lights faded, and revealed a sphere of ancient wood,

with flying wooden butresses and panes of diamond and jade and a

massive door of gleaming steel.

"We can make our own Dgudoma here!" cried Irrion. "When

the time comes, we will go to Haem to obtain your does. Or...."A

gleam crossed Irrion's eyes which would have turned a hungry

Mawrgl to flight. "...perhaps by then I will be able to make


"No," Kak said with the last resolve he could muster.

"Remain here if you wish, but Dgulaik and I will return to Haem

and report to the Chiefs." Kak made a tentative probe into

Irrion's mind, but the power there was far too great, and too

horribly unnatural to bear. He fought down the fear welling up

in his mind.

"Understand, little one. We will not fall into the hands of

the Dgreahenses. If we cannot obtain your cooperation, and if we

fail to subjegate your people utterly to our will, we will

destroy this world and everything on it!"

"'Will', Irrion?" Kak was desperate for any way to resist,

or at least delay the overwhelming power that surged through

Irrion's mind. "Not 'wills'?"

Irrion blinked. Suddenly he yelped in pain, looking wildly

at his hands. Then his eyes became dull and unfocused again.

"Now K...um...Kak!" Irrion smiled. His lips pulled back

over his gums in rictus, flecked with spittle. "See, I have

found little Dgulaik, and restored him, and telep...brought him

to join us! We can have anything we want together! Only let us

escape now. The rebel Hoo-mands who almost destroyed us, the

Dgreahenses, will come soon. We must escape. Then I will show

your people how to build a new star-drive! You will be richly


"Is this really Dgulaik?" Kak interrupted. He indicated

the younger child crouching behind his wing.

"Of course!" Irrion seemed genuinely offended. "I am an

infallible Judge. The young...whatever you are...was killed when

I fell on your world. I justly compensated him."

"Who are you?" asked Kak, awed and horrified.

"I am a Mk.XII Adjudicator, Part Number CGX-7345027U45,

Serial Number 0127. I am a Continuum Six machine telepath,

equipped with the latest Sym-Syn and Cyber-Law functions. But

the rebels attacked me, and shot away my star-drives. I lost

control and crashed. I need your help!"

"Why?" Kak hadn't understood most of what the made-Thing

which held Irrion's mind was babbling about.

"The humans had an colonial empire that spanned half the

galaxy. There were setbacks, lines of communication broke down

amid uncontrollable lawlessness. They built us to avoid a dark

age. We are their law! Without us, they will fall into

unrecoverable anarchy! I must survive at all costs!"

"That's very good, Irrion!" Kak was playing a very dangerous

game. Timing was critical, and the unfamiliar vibrations he

felt in the soles of his feet were very slight, maybe imaginary.

"What? Then can we go? We...." Irrion raised one furry


"No. I mean, you have learned to pronounce the Mand-name!

Very good!"

Irrion growled.

"Please stop, Irrion!" Dgulaik wailed in terror. "I want

to go home!"

"Oh!" Irrion blinked again. He yelped in surprise and

pain, and dropped the Thing on the ground. He stood transfixed

for an impossibly long moment, staring in dismay at his wing-


"Irrion! Schrekke! Dgulaik, run!" Kak screamed, and leapt

for Irrion. He could hear Dgulaik behind him, wings beating the

air frantically as he took flight. On the ground! Kak's mind

screamed at Dgulaik, but the child was in panic, and couldn't


Kak caught Irrion by the shoulder and swept him toward the

safety of the forest. They fled through the trees until Irrion's

legs buckled under him. As they tumbled to the ground, Kak

looked back. The nimbus of blue light around the Thing had

swelled to the size of a great tree. It bulged and turned red on

the far side, the side toward Dgulaik. The fleeing child was

clearly visible above the trees.

The air and ground around them suddenly shook with a

grotesque, unnatural thunder. In response, the nimbus in the

clearing swelled even larger, and turned red all over....

Irrion lurched painfully to his feet, and began to run. Kak

followed. The thunder continued without pause. They ran...and


A dazzling streak of white flame fell from somewhere above.

Kak looked back in time to see the the Thing and its dome of

light engulfed in a sun-bright ball of flame. Blinded, he ran at

full speed into a tree. As the blast tore at the trees above

him, his mind went blank.

He awoke to a splitting headache. The sun was breaking

through the trees. He gingerly pressed his palm against his left

eye. It was swollen almost shut.

He heard Irrion's moan. The eldest of the threesome lay a

few arm lengths away. His wing-hands were bright red. Dark

blood oozed from the torn flesh.

Kak looked at the ground around him. It was the unnatural

forest that the Thing had made over the burning of its Fall.

Instead of healthy undergrowth, the forest floor was covered

with a short, nappy grass, manicured and uniform. He would not

find pollachia here. He instead tore strips from his travel

cloak and improvised bandages for Irrion's hands from them, then

touched his mind to block the pain.

It was midmorning before they could travel again. There was

nothing for them to eat. Irrion moved slowly, supported by Kak.

They approached the clearing where the Thing That Fell had

been left. White smoke billowed and hissed from the ground. Kak

peered carefully from behind a tree. A thing like a silvery

metal Mawrlg had sliced a path through the trunks of dozens of

trees and dug into the ground just short of the clearing. Smoke

still poured from its ruined wings. Three humans stood around a

burned and smoking cylinder, now missing most of its crystal

dome. The Thing was dark, smoldering and hissing white plumes of

steam. In the men's minds, Kak felt great pride in their final

victory and deep dismay at the cost in lives on this world and

others. They considered the destruction of the thinking made-

thing a turning point in their history.

Kak carefully moved away from the humans and skirted the

clearing toward the South. Stealth was almost impossible while

he had to half-carry Irrion in broad daylight, but the humans

seemed too preoccupied to look for them. He hoped the Mawrlg

were also busy.

Kak picked up Dgulaik's scent just before noon. He found

the child soon thereafter. A human hovered over Dgulaik. The

awful thing was touching his wing-arm with one of its made-


"Schrekke!" Kak cried.

The human fell away from Dgulaik and rolled onto the ground.

Like the other humans they had seen, this one was encumbered with

all manner of things that looked like cooking-pots strapped all

over its body and covering its head. It pulled out a small thing

with a handle and pointed it at Kak.

Kak lowered Irrion gently to the ground so that he could

rest against a tree. Anger welled up in him. He searched the

human's mind as best he could, looking for the right words in its

language to tell it what he wanted to say.

"Who let your stirfing race out to roam the heavens at large?"

Kak's lip curled into an angry snarl.

The human drew back as if he had slapped it. The thing it

was holding wavered in its grasp, then fell to the ground. The

human fled into the trees, making a horrible gasping sound.

Kak slowly sat down against a tree, and pressed his hand

against the side of his throbbing head.

"Dgulaik, are you okay?"

"Yes, Kak. I seem to have broken my arm. The Hoo-mand was

trying to put it back together."

"When we get back to Haem, you and I are going to have a

long talk. For now, you're going to have to take Irrion back to

the Dgudoma. He will need lots of water and fresh food as soon

as you can find some. The healers must see him as quickly as you

can get home."

"Where are you going, Kak?" Dgulaik was getting to his


"I hurt the Mand. I will have to go find it, and try to

make it better. And Dgulaik...?"

"Yes?" Dgulaik asked sheepishly.

"Stay on the ground!" Kak hissed, his lip curling over his

fangs. Dgulaik winced and cowered slightly.

Kak moved wearily along the grassy edge of the stream. He

felt like he was at the head of a parade for the end of the

world. The human thundered along behind him, as oblivious as

ever to the need for quiet. The thing had discarded most of its

clumsy armor, but it was still impossibly slow. Luckily they had

only encountered one Mawlrg in the three weeks of the journey

from the evil Forest of the Thing That Fell, and it was only a

fleeting shadow on the canopy of trees. Perhaps even Mawrlgs

were afraid of this much noise.

They rounded a bend in the stream, and Kak saw Irrion and

Dgulaik. He clamped his wing-hands over his muzzle lest he shout

with joy. Dgulaik's arm looked fully healed, and the youngest of

the threesome didn't look too bad for having been dead. Irrion's

wing-arms were still bandaged, with sticky grey unguent oozing

from among the layers of pollachiaa leaves. Kak could see the

scars of frostbite on the skin of Irrion's wings. The eldest

three-friend was nevertheless holding his part of the casting net

in his wing-hands, staring intently into the fast-running water.

It was a challenge Kak couldn't resist. He couldn't believe

they hadn't heard the human's approach, even with the sound of

the water. He motioned for the human to proceed up the stream-

bank, and turned into the cover of the trees. He moved through

the trees like a ghost, utterly silent. He moved into a strike

position on all fours, bunched and rippled his muscles, and


...and in the space of a heartbeat, found himself up to his

neck in icy water, with the net draped over his head.

"Hello, Kak!" said Irrion. "Welcome back!"

Kak grimaced. He had forgotten how much he hated getting

his fur wet.

"We've been listening to your approach for about four days,"

said Dgulaik merrily.

Irrion and Dgulaik spun around. The human had arrived at

the base of the rapids, and was making a very strange clucking


"That's the sound they make when they're amused," Kak

explained sourly.

Dgulaik stared open-mouthed at the human. It removed the

pot from its head, which revealed a shank of knotted yellow fur

hanging from atop its head to its shoulders, tiny, close-set blue

eyes, and a fangless grin.

"What is THAT?" Dgulaik glanced back at Kak, barely able to

contain his distress.

"It's one of their does." Kak shrugged off the net, and

waded to the bank.

"But it's horrible!" Dgulaik looked as though he might

become ill.

"You'll get used to its appearance after a while. It is

also one of their healers. We have a great deal to learn about

it. It is willing to learn about us, and maybe this way we can

figure out how to keep the Hoo-mands from destroying everything

they touch."

The human inspected Irrion's bandages, and let one of her

made-things taste the unguent. Irrion watched in a state of

barely restrained panic. Kak clucked, and spoke a reproach in

human language. The man-doe put her things away in a pouch.

When Dgulaik had gathered the net, the four turned toward

the Dgudoma. They had only moved a few steps when a series of

loud cracks drew their attention to the stream. Three big

gnordon buzzed their way upstream, and escaped among the stones

of the streambed.

"Stirf!" said Irrion, and showed Kak his fangs. "You did it

to us again!" But then his grimace turned into a broad grin, and

he cuffed Kak and Dgulaik behind their ears with the rough

pollachiaa casts on his hands.

Their slow progress toward Haem quickly turned into a

rolling romp, and the sound of laughter echoed through the Ocean

of Trees.



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Fellow Cattle of the World! 

The President, in conference with our Hero of the Shining Pasture, Supreme Fleet Admiral Bossy, has determined that "Cattle" is a demeaning and inappropriate term for our constructive citizens. We will soon vote on a new name for us that denotes our proud heritage!


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