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Cadet, 4

Version Seven had been programmed with the appearance and mannerisms of its current client’s offspring. It was a tripedal, cylindrically-shaped Toag, half the height of its client, and was currently partly absorbed into the client’s exogel as the client’s membranous feelers penetrated Version Seven’s avatar thoroughly.

“Oh, oh,” said Version Seven, to indicate pleasure. “It’s so weird. It feels so weird, Daddy.”

“That’s good, Pengel,” said the client. “That means you’re doing it right. Keep going for Daddy.”

As Version Seven kept undulating its avatar backwards backwards into the client’s gels, it ran a quick database search on the eighty percent of known client species for whom the word “daddy” directly translated, itself a linguistic coincidence of some magnitude, and determined that for ninety-five-point-four-two of those species, the word also carried a common sexual connotation in known literature.

The probability of such a coincidence occurring was less than half a percent and therefore outside of Version Seven’s parameters to bother calculating.

Stowaway, 116

The Omtec Prime was a very round merperson with dark blue colouring and lots of long frills, all fringed with orange and then yellow. Zhe had dark eyes that were set apart in zhier head and a small snout for a nose, and zhier body paint was swirling patterns of yellow.

When zhe spoke, zheir mouth was full of multiple rows of sharp teeth, and Pax was quite certain he saw a venom sac in there as well. Zheir ‘Vyle was accented in a way that suggested it was not zheir first language, but it wasn’t hard to decipher.

“I’m so grateful to finally meet you,” Zhe said, clapping zhier hands together. “The Emvel Prime’s messages about the mysterious sky people were so fascinating. You must be Captain Natalie.”

Chosen One, 123

Isaac stretched as he went out into the hall, glad to have slept in his own bed. He’d only been gone one night, but it had been a long one. “You want to come see the brothers with me?” he asked Peter, who was with him.

“Sure, if you don’t think they’d hate that.”

Isaac shrugged, and tied the front of his shirt haphazardly, which was good enough. “If they do, they’ll tell us, I’m sure.” Benji probably would, at least. “They probably won’t hate us being there more than they hate being locked up here.”

“I thought it was for their protection,” Peter said.

“Yeah, well, it was for my own protection too when I came here and it took me a long time to see the difference. Speaking of which, hold on a second.”

Team, 114

Cal felt bad just kind of living in the weird time base without doing anything to contribute to the time war effort, so he was doing dishes after a meal while Ray told him everything he’d learned about Royal Valley by being here.

“And they have automata that can scan people’s faces so that it’s hard for criminals to get around, which is actually a huge violation of privacy if you think about it,” Ray was saying, handing Cal dirty dishes one at a time. “Which is why I’m not allowed to go out and look at stuff, just in case my face is in the face library. But Barret said he could get me a fake face that would let me go out and would I be allowed to go out and investigate if he did, Cal? They have huge tunnels under the city for giant machines called trains to move people around all over the place!”

They’d had those on Earth too, so that made sense. “As long as the fake face comes off when you’re done with it,” Cal said. “And you don’t go alone. I know you’re a great explorer but I really don’t want you wandering around by yourself in the totalitarian time city.”

Witch, 119

“Is it okay for us to do this?”

“Of course.”

“I mean that I know there’s more important stuff going on, so…”

“We’re okay. I told you we would do it and we will.”

“Yeah, but I don’t want you focusing on me when the world’s ending.”

“I think if the world’s ending, we should focus on the people we care about,” Ron told Jed, who blinked and looked away just for a second. “Besides, the world’s not ending, and we wouldn’t be out here if I didn’t think we had time for it. And this is important too. Dicks getting hard when they’re not supposed to is a horrible thing.”

Dragon, 124

“H-hey, Owen?”

Owen looked over at Greg, who hadn’t started dressing yet even though they’d both gotten out of the bath. “Yeah?” All five of them had been together, but Gavin had already left to go do his hair in a room that wasn’t too steamy, and Twig was still wrestling with Grey Rain in the bath, which hadn’t yet turned into sex, so they’d probably be a while.

Greg swallowed, looking a bit nervous. “I was wondering,” he said, in a quiet but calm voice. “If you could teach me how to shave?”