Others, 47

“I’ve been saying for…” Rhonda Peregrine looks at a device on her wrist. “A cumulative total of eleven staff meetings that it’s foolish to try and establish a timeline of the Involuted Clock’s appearances. We can say that this is its most recent one, or maybe it’s the first one, who knows and more importantly, it really honestly doesn’t matter.”

“I must disagree.” Omtal Wake nods, all six of its eyes on Rhonda. “Establishing a pattern for the Clock’s appearances lets us predict its behaviour.”

“That’s simply not true.”

Team, 90

“Stop glaring at the sun,” Wes said.

“I’m not,” said Cal. “That would be stupid. The sun is just a ball of fire, it’s not responsible for anything.”

“Well, drought, sometimes,” Mick countered. “And famine. Don’t forget sunburns.”

“The sun helps more plants to grow than it kills, which is the only reason hardly anyone is starving. You don’t even get burned, because the sun is a pushover.”

“And yet you’re glaring at it.”

“He’s not, he’s glaring at us and displacing it onto the sun,” Mick observed. “So that we don’t feel bad even though he also wants us to feel bad.”

Team, 85

“I don’t think the food here is good,” Cal said. There was no food here. “I’d rather piss on it than eat it.”

Ray and Sully looked at each other, then Ray started to giggle. “What?”

“You said, you said…” Ray coughed, and switched to Kyn. “You said you’d rather piss on it and eat it.”

“I knew you liked being fed, but who knew you were into that?” Sully teased. Even as he did, he kept signing.

Cal rolled his eyes, and kicked Sully. He couldn’t kick Ray, because Ray was sitting in his lap. “Whatever. Conjunctions are fictional anyway. I thought I said it right?”

Team, 78

“Tristan’s gotten himself an apprenticeship as a shipbuilder.”

“That’s really good,” Cal said, smiling at Tristan, who was a shy guy a few years older than him with armoured plates like an armadillo all down his back and arms. “Shipbuilding is a really good job.”

“I’m a bit nervous,” Tristan admitted quietly. “I’ve never done it before, so…”

“That’s what an apprenticeship is,” Cal assured him. “They’ll teach you.”

“I guess.” Tristan sounded unsure. “I don’t know if it’s really what I…want, I guess.”

“You have lots of time to change your mind,” Cal said, then thought about it. Part of the problem these guys were having was that they felt like they had too many options, or too little aptitude, or like the world was just too damn big. “But it’s good that you picked something, even if it’s just for now. Stick with it a while and see. Maybe you’ll like it.”

Team, 75

“Hey, c-can I talk to you for a second…”

Cal turned at the voice, but it wasn’t talking to him. He had just come out of the privy, and just ahead of him were Darby and Ray. Ray was following a few steps behind Darby, trying to get his attention, and Darby was looking ahead, signing to himself as he walked.

“I know you’re probably busy and stuff but I just wanted to…well I want to say thank you for killing the monster and stuff. It was really cool, is all I mean. And…”

Oh, this was going to end badly. Cal followed after them, figuring he’d help.

“Not that I think you’re cool, just that what you did with the demon was kind of cool, and…are you even listening to me? Hey, come on, at least say hello!”

Dragon, 84

“If it’s what you want, I can have someone try and figure out a way to change you back,” Gavin said, sitting on the back of a chair in their house, addressing the crowd of people Darby and Cal’s team had saved from under the warehouse. As Owen had suspected, he’d taken no issue with them all moving into their house. “I can’t promise anything, but I can at least tell someone to try.”

“And what do you want in exchange?” The leader of the group seemed to be this lady who reminded Owen really intensely of his mom. She had cat ears, brownish hair, and was pretty skinny. Her name was Rhonda.

“Nothing,” Gavin told her, shaking his head. “You are all free to stay here, come with me back to the capital, or leave as you see fit. I’ll hire you if you want jobs, or I can help you find them elsewhere. This house is mine; you can live in it if you want. I’ll be using magic to connect it to my house in the capital in a few days, you can also come there if you like. It’s entirely up to you.”

Team, 74

This, Cal thought, was going to be a hot mess.

It kind of already was, but it was about to get worse. They were ushering all of the captives up the ladder, Cal already up top with Wes and Joey and Beatrice, and there was going to be an obvious problem. “We can’t just wander around the base with all of these people.”

“No kidding,” Beatrice said, hands on her hips. “Someone’s going to notice, for one. It would be nice if you could limit what we fuck with to higher demons and hot dragons. You know, stuff we can beat.”