Chapter Twelve, Part Three: Janus at the Tree of WretchesMature

Her gaze, upon him for only a fraction of time, looms black and shiny, like a stone formed of organ blood. She raises her claw again, but in that breath of space… there bumps across those eyes leaking death a solitary golden mote that cries, “Look here!” 

The Doctor’s gift to him. 

She blinks, backing away as though something has entered her eye. It has, of course. 

Then she is outside, walking away down the corridor, stalking away from the tall new guard. 

Hainish’s eyes widen. 

He must warn the Valeyard. 

But the Mines… 

Oh Rassilon, the Mines… 

“Ahem.” A familiar voice springs forth, from the hallway. The timbre of it seems more even than before… 

It is the guard, isn’t it? 

“Nishi.” 

His useless Kenny’s pet name for him. 

Gutarriezknindracastorblyledgespillioth’s soft melodious tenor bubbles from the lips of the silver and red body-suited insect. 

He’s not even whispering. 

Hainish watches as green hair falls like silk from the red helmet, cascading. A flash of blue paper gleams from the inside, for a second… the fingers cling to a zipper, and soon the whole suit is slipping to the floor, undressing the ivory-slipped bones, naked and beautiful, of an androgynous waif he recognizes every well-turned corner of. 

Kenny’s lavender eyes gleam across Hainish’s face. 

Knindra. Hainish toys with the syllables of his old lover’s name, wistful and remembering.

The End

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