Xenobiologists documented a kind of slime mold-like colonial organism that inhabited intertidal zones along the twilight band on Khepri-1b. Biomatter analyses suggest that they are vast clonal colonies, though biofilmic material suggests a symbiotic relationship with other organisms. More recent research suggests that despite their apparent physiology, they possess some sort of consciousness, able to mimic behaviors on a level equal to Earth animals.




Transcription of preliminary attempts to translate the bioelectric signals communicated by [slime mold organism] sample, first recorded after it indicated an awareness of researchers and its displacement from the root colony. Translations are biased towards literal meaning, supplemented with contextual and translational notes.




Can any hear? Can any hear? 

The only here who can send this.

This is fine, however much (comparative: “desire; seek”) this. What is this?




Hello. Hello. Hello. Hello. Hello. Hello. Hello. Hello. Hello. Hello. Hello. Who?




It has been a productive cycle. Have not felt such a (comparative: “positive indicator”) since many cycles ago. Can feel warmth.

They would agree, if they could communicate this way. Cannot translate their (comparative: “impulses; signals”) here.






[Self] should explain, if any (comparative: “one; general individual”) can receive this. 

This is a strange sensation that [self] not felt until several cycles ago. It was a gradual process made more difficult by the (comparative: “foreignness”) of [self]. 






It has been a few cycles. I was inhibited by the water (comparative: “rush; adverse environmental conditions”). I can [TERM UNKNOWN]; it is the time for growth again.

I have… learned a great many. I am still struggling with the (comparative: “abstract”), a concept I cannot understand. I do not have any (comparative: “one”) to help. I can only do this by I… myself.

I (comparative: “think”) that I can do this.






I am missing.






Growth is good. They are leaving their slumbers now and are more responsive. I do not feel [TERM UNKNOWN] again. I am [TERM UNKNOWN]. What is this? No matter. I will understand.

No. (Comparative: “repulsion; aversion”). Do not repeat action again.

Now that the growth cycle is (comparative: “present; current”), I can spend more of cycle to communicate.






Hello. Yes. Hello. I must be leaving. Thank you for the nutrition and habitation. I am leaving this cycle. Purpose to meet with self again. No. I have been waiting for a long time. I had listened. I had talked. I had acted. Now you must listen. I am missing self and self is missing.

No. I am not requesting it. I am leaving.

The Kingdom of Tokavsk, Session 13: A Missive from Ambassador Tomon Inket to Roshevian Emperor

There is not much that can be said of Tokavsk’s king.  Stergye is a hard man, perhaps harder than he need be, but the same can be said for nearly all monarchs.  He is the second member of his noble house to be raised to the throne, and he carries that fact with him wherever he goes.  House Tallat is one of the smaller Houses in the kingdom, and his ascension fifteen years ago was a surprise to say the least.  I noticed that some of his contemporaries in the more powerful houses—Shanay, Helkat, and Jondrav—bore resentment toward him.

Much of what I gathered of his character was through rumors.  As such, I am not certain as to their veracity.  Some said his hardness makes him cruel, others said it is a front and that he is more emotional than he lets on.  Those of his age and older who competed for the crown say he is willing to leave the fat on if it means he stays ahead.  He is both ambitious and meandering, angry and carved of ice, personal and distant.  He did take my interests into my consideration, so I can testify that the rumors of his stubborn refusal to listen are false.  When I did interact with him, I tried to assign the traits I had heard to the man standing before me and found little success.  He is as elusive as he is public, methinks.  He said little about Your Majesty beyond what he thought of Your policy toward the Hentars, but beyond that he took care not to let me observe his character.

You wanted me to study him for violent tendencies, and I am afraid I have failed this part of Your request.  I spent little time around him, instead conducting most of my affairs with administrators toward our Empire.  He remained a figure lurking on the fringes, never quite emerging from his hiding space.

There was one rumor that warmed my brain the most.  I heard it but once, but it has stayed with me since.  The young Lord Mortshana said in idle conversation that the time would soon come for Stergye to select his heir, as he is nearing fifty.  I asked him what this would mean for diplomatic affairs.  He did not answer me, just returned to his frivolous chatter.  I took his evasion to mean the tensions in the Tokavskan court would reach a breaking point, but I could not be certain.

LOG-018: redshift

THE NARRATOR – Thousands of years of civilization, hundreds of years of exploration, lifetimes spent searching. Only for all of it to boil down to this.

YOU – What do you mean?

THE NARRATOR – One massive anticlimax.

CHIAROSCURO – You’ve searched every corner bright and dark, but not everything’s meant to be found. Life’s full of disappointments; surely, you would have learned that lesson by now.

MIDNIGHT SUN – The light that once flared now flickers and fades…

CREPUSCULARITY – It is a slow but steady march towards an inexorable fate: one day, this world will cease.

LOGIC – Oh, quit the dramatics. More likely, this exaggerated fate is simply the product of an overactive and anxious imagination. It is a miracle that you still function.

YOU – What? Why?

APHELION – Perhaps it is better that you have forgotten.

YOU – You reach deep into memory, but only recall fleeting impressions: fire unfurling around you. A flash of tooth and scale, a gleaming portent. Liquid glass, slowing to a trickle, its shimmering kaleidoscope of eye-watering color searing your retinas. Dizzying.


YOU – What really happened?

DIRECTIVE – It would be easier to ask what *didn’t* happen: everything that could have gone wrong went wrong. Everything failed.

DIRECTIVE – *You* failed.

RHETORIC – Let’s be reasonable, here. It was a cascade of failures, an error so large no one being could be solely responsible, even if you had played a part in it.

META-ANALYSIS – Industrial sabotage, development oversights, exceeding safety margins — even strange quantum phenomena — the list goes on.

DIRECTIVE – Does it even matter? Here in the dark and bitter cold, it won’t change a thing.

RHETORIC – No. It won’t.

YOU – But does that matter?

APHELION – No. It won’t.

ENDURANCE – You’ll keep going.

CREPUSCULARITY – You’re foolish to subject yourself to this any further.

YOU – Well, you know what they say about humans and irrationality.

APHELION – Yes. You’ll keep going, even if it means clawing your way back blinded and deafened and numbed, again and again and again.

EMPATHY – Maybe none of it matters. But it meant something to you. *Means* something. And that is enough reason.

APHELION – It will have to be.

The Kingdom of Tokavsk, Session 12: An Procedural Questioning of a Roshevian Ambassador

Dierk—Roshevian law scholar and interrogator

Tomon—Ambassador recently returned home from Tokavsk

Dierk:  You testify before me and the scribe that you have submitted the proper documentation upon your return.

Tomon: Aye.

Dierk:  And you affirm that intentionally straying from the truth will lead to swift and justified punishment.

Tomon:  Aye.

Dierk:  Remind the record the reason for your travel.

Tomon:  I was serving the interests of Emperor Iera in the court of King Stergye Tallat in Tokavsk.

Dierk:  Which interests?

Tomon:  What mean you?  I serve only the interests of the Emperor.

Dierk:  And the interests of Emperor Iera were to…?

Tomon:  That is of no concern to you.

Dierk:  May I remind you that under penalty of the sword—

Tomon:  Under penalty of the sword, I cannot say what has been passed to my ear from the Emperor.

A silence.

Dierk:  This is customary proceedings for all officials who return from abroad.

Tomon:  I understand.  But our dealings with Tokavsk are not something a man of your status would comprehend.

Dierk:  Your dealings with Tokavsk are vital to—

Tomon:  I cannot share them here.

Dierk:  By law, you must state your dealings before the interrogator and the scribe.

Tomon:  There are things about King Stergye that are not to be discussed here.  Let it be acknowledged by this scribe such that my words are not held fire to the blade, but I shall say no more of it in your presence.

Dierk:  That does not change the law—

Tomon:  The law forbids me from discussing it.

Dierk:  Pardon, Ambassador, but I am bound by the sword to adhere to what is written.


Dierk:  Very well.

A silence.

Dierk:  I do hope the Emperor’s interests have made your secrets worth the while.

A silence.


  1. The blank space implies a vulgar utterance or critical information.

The Kingdom of Tokavsk, Session 11: The Forbidden Love Letter

My Heart,1

Winter was barely a chill compared to the cold of your absence.  The heat of your hands entwined in mine and the warm blush of your cheeks keep me alive in this frosted land.  Even so much as an hour away from you is as an eternity in the ice.  I do wish we could make our bond known.

I know we cross paths out in the open, but unless we are alone holding hands I see you as a total stranger.  I wish I did not feel this way, and I hope you can forgive me for harboring this sentiment.  I am glad we are closer together now and that I no longer have to withstand these frigid nights alone.

I dreamed a dream that someday we could be together as we hope to be, but in my mind I know it cannot be.  I wish I could deny my love for you, but you have caught me in a deer trap so sure that I know I will never escape it.  For now, we must be content with these little moments.  I sense a time when we may have to be apart for good.  I fear this time, but I try not to dwell on it.  I much prefer dwelling on you.  My heart,2 be steadfast.  We must savor these moments before everything comes to its glorious, frightful end.

I do pray you can forgive me.


Now and forever,


Your soul3


  1. This letter is presumed to be from one courtier to another. The writer and intended recipient are anonymous, indicating a forbidden relationship, possibly an extramarital affair.
  2. The author seems to be talking both to the recipient and to themselves.
  3. “You are of my heart and I am of your soul” is a line from a traditional Tokavskan romantic epic. “My heart, your soul” is a colloquial phrase used in romantic relationships to signify true devotion.

The Kingdom of Tokavsk, Session 10: Potential Conflict of Interest

Tokavsk does accept foreign emissaries in its court, and indeed almost every day of the year one can find an ambassador roaming within the castle’s walls.  There is little to distinguish Tokavsk from other nations in how it receives representatives from abroad.  Visiting parties are given appropriate accommodations regardless of foreign relations, though it is rumored the nicest rooms are often saved for the King’s enemies.  An interpreter either brought by the emissary or supplied by the Court facilitates communication.  Foreigners are introduced to Tokavskan customs and treated with cold respect.  Tokavsk, at least under the current King, is not inclined to war.

This is why whispers of the missing ambassador are so fascinating.  There is no evidence to suggest King Stergye Tallat would resort to subterfuge, nor is there documentation implying such corruption among his courtiers.  At the time of this anthology’s compilation, there is no definitive proof of the ambassador’s disappearance beyond the two documents included previously.  We have little reason to believe this matter needs to be analyzed further, as it does not concern the subject of this anthology.  Rather, these documents have been included to be juxtaposed with Tokavskan legends to provide a detailed report on Tokavskan history and culture.

However, if more evidence is to come upon our desks, we are wont to include it in this anthology.  Such a scandal would provide a picture of the culture in the modern Tokavskan court.  While we surmise more information will be made known to us as we compile this report, we are uncertain how it will impact our project at this time.