By George R. R. Martin
Whilst Simon Kress again to his domestic planet of Baldur from an offworld work trip, he was once amused to discover that his tank of Earth piranhas had cannibalized themselves into extinction, and of the 2 unique animals that roamed his property, just one remained. Now, looking for a few new pets to fulfill his merciless pursuit of leisure, Simon reveals a brand new store within the urban the place he's intrigued via a brand new lifeform he hasn't ever heard of sooner than ... a suite of multi-colored sandkings. The curator explains that the insect-like animals, no better than Simon's fingernails, should not bugs, yet animals with a highly-evolved hive intelligence able to staging wars among the several colours, or even religion--in the shape of worship in their proprietor. The curator's caution to Simon concerning the regularity in their feeding, regrettably, was once no longer taken seriously.... ["Outer Limits" Episode] Hugo Award Winner, Locus ballot Award Winner, Nebula Award(R) Winner
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He’d run her out of here, the same way he’d run her off before. Uncivil bastards pissed her off. Lucky for him, being one came easy. Deacon let the drape fall back into place, began to turn. ” He tensed. No. Not Rosalia. The voice was a strange rasping harmony, both male and female and holding too much at once: threat, warning, and terror. But threats didn’t work anymore. Deacon didn’t have much to lose. He turned, but he wasn’t stupid. He did it slowly. She crouched in the corner, trembling. Pale as a vampire, but not one.
But he hadn’t yet, and she thanked God every day that her son had fallen in love with a woman as bullheaded as he was. ” “Yes. ” Gemma’s determined tone brought Rosalia out of her grief, made her smile. She glanced at Deacon, gathering her calm and her courage. ” Except for an emergency, Gemma would keep radio silence until Rosalia put space between them again. ” She didn’t have to. Belial’s demons had already put him through hell, first when they’d beaten him, then when they’d killed his people.
They noticed him, however, watching his movements as mice will watch a cat until it has left the room, and they saw that he neither slept nor ate. In rare moments, they glimpsed the crimson glow of his eyes, the appearance of scales over his skin, and cloven hooves. They witnessed him move inhumanly fast and fly with bats’ wings; they saw him battle and behead a woman who wore wings of white feathers. They watched, and as the years passed, the children understood what their father had become. The girl shielded her brother from their father when she could, and was relieved when the boy’s schooling took him from their home.