If you are interested in my thoughts about the elections, I wrote about them on Bogi Reads the World. Now that I’ve separated the reviews and recommendations to a separate site, I need to revamp this one and make it tidier. I’ll be working on that soon, IY”H… in the meanwhile, I have something for you.
This is the free story I promised to post when my Patreon reached $50 / month. It happened (it is actually now at
$62 $63! / month) so here you have it! Thank you so much for your support! I am overjoyed 🙂
I wanted to post the story directly on Patreon, but the Patreon post editor is very finicky and keeps on deleting and adding line breaks in a way I don’t seem to be able to predict. Owch! So since this is a reward that is public and is for everyone, I will just put it here. I will try to figure out what to do about it later…
Note that the $75 / month goal is also going to be free for everyone, but backers will be able to vote on it! I will do a poetry reading video, and backers will be able to pick which of my poems they’d like me to read. I only need
$13 $12 to get there, so it might also happen soon!
(O.o my backing is increasing as I am writing the post. Thank you!!)
Notes on the story: This is a warm and fluffy science-fantasy story with a nonbinary trans protagonist. I think we could all use a bit of warmth after the elections, though I actually wrote this story two months ago when I was working on setting up my Patreon. It is about 2300 words long, so you can read it fast.
It has a brief mention of consensual sadism, a (very non-graphic) description of painful things, and also someone swallowing a sentient being (which the sentient being actually appreciates).
The story is set in the Eren universe like many of my other stories, and we might see the protagonist elsewhere at a later point, too…
Good reading, and wishing all of us strength!
Good People in a Small Space
by Bogi Takács
My best friend Naho is three jump points away; I don’t know the distance in light years. We cling onto the old Imperial network, using it without understanding. It is fast, convenient – except when it’s not, when a stray solar flare hits the Moon at exactly the wrong angle and the controllers at Tsiolkovsky Station scream at the bulkheads as if that could change anything.
I am stranded, with thousands of travelers from all corners of the Alliance: Ereni in long robes embroidered with bright, glowing thread; furry, quadripedal Ámal-Máúli; steel-plated grunts from the Aruanar Combatspace. I need to meet Naho, in person, in physicality. I need to meet her because our fuduh want to do Exchange, and it would be mean of us to deny them the opportunity. Besides, meeting in person is fun, though I do not really sense the difference from a simulation all that well. But we will be able to say that we’ve done it, and we can hug and go on wild toboggan rides and get into very regrettable adventures.
Except the jump point off the Moon is out of commission, no one knows what’s going to happen, and my fuduh are so nervous that they are making my skin crawl.
I scratch my arms, my fingers leaving large green welts in the soft turquoise lattice. The fuduh make a low, droning sound. I wish I could perceive their minds directly, but I am not sensitive. Three fuduh live on me: one on the skin of my arms and my upper back, one inside my lungs, and one on my footsoles and all the way up along the sciatic nerves on both sides. If I were sensitive, there would be a vague point to all this, besides fun: some fuduh can induce a kind of coherence in the nervous system which can help with things magical. Or a kind of incoherence? I never remember. In any case, that does not concern me, having the sensitivity of a well-shaped halfbrick. We do this just because. It’s fun?
Certainly the fuduh benefit, except when I scratch them and they are annoyed. They get to move around, meet other fuduh and do Exchange, produce new blooms and lattices.
But right now, no one goes anywhere – the grunts are crouching and playing some kind of game involving rapid beating on their chestplates, the three Ereni look like they are about to keel over, and there is someone who looks like a noble from some ridiculously feudalist world who is busy with an elaborate toss juggling routine. I want a nervous tic like that. I scratch my arms again, and wish the fuduh would harmonize something somewhere in my brain.
I also kind of eavesdrop.
“We really need to get back to Eren,” one of the very faint-looking people says. “This is such a low-māwal area, I don’t know if I can sustain…”
Another one adds: “Do you think we could get someone to jump us out of here?”
They all sigh and shake their heads. “No, too much energy.” “Not going to happen.”
The noble gathers the juggling paraphernalia, steps to the Ereni. “Maybe we can join up?”
I also clamber to my feet. I don’t think I could help in any plausible way, but I don’t want to feel left out. “Hi, I heard you were talking…” And then I have no idea what to say. I know the Ereni have all sorts of elaborate social formalities. The noble probably had no clue about those either, because the three Ereni look confused and slightly intimidated. I always thought humanoid people would understand each other well, but I guess they don’t.
My fuduh buzz, all three of them, and I don’t really like the buzzing in my lungs. The lattice on my arms changes color from turquoise to bright purple, and nodes start to contract and expand, letting my skin show. Purple on brown actually looks much nicer than turquoise on brown, I think, but I have no clue what’s going on.
“Ā,” one of the Ereni says, a small, barrel-chested person of – I quickly check their profile – no particular gender. It’s always good to know that I’m not the only one who doesn’t have a gender, and this makes me feel a bit better. They lift a hand and wave it in my direction – in the direction of my fuduh, more likely. The noble makes a face, discomforted at being ignored in favor of the young Earthling with the purple sentients embedded into their body, that is, me.
I cough, because this amount of agitation in my lungs is a bit too much. I cough up what looks like fairy glitter, gleaming in the oddly drafty air of the station. I hope my fuduh are all right.
“Do you need help?” an Ámal-Máúli trader says right behind me. I should be startled, but her booming bass reminds me of my second-dad and that’s always nice.
“Ā,” the genderless Ereni repeats, looking back and forth between the trader and me. The Ereni looks kind of stuck. This complicated social situation must be hard on them, especially since none of us are likely to know the Ereni Way that covers all manner of social interactions.
“Um… Muyewen…” Well. I got their first name from their profile, but for all I know, it might be incomprehensibly rude to address an Ereni only by first name. First names are good to get the attention of dazed people, though.
“Y-yes?” Muyewen looks at me, or more through me. I wonder what they perceive. They can probably sense my mind directly, but I am told my mind makes a rather oddly lumpy impression on people.
“I think my fuduh want to talk to you or something,” I offer.
“My ship used to have fuduh,” the trader remarks. “It’s quasi-organic.”
“You have a ship?” The noble seems oddly cheered up.
Muyewen looks about to cry, completely lost by these rapid turns in conversation.
“Um, I think you people need to take it a bit slower,” I say. “One topic at a time? And Muyewen here can start?”
“I – uh. Esteemed fellow sentient?” they ask.
I assume that refers to me. Esteemed fellow sentient is probably a monosyllabic expression in Eren-sā, but we are all talking in Alliance Common. I nod eagerly. “Sure, go ahead.”
“You do know your fuduh have excess…” They are searching for a word. “…Energy? Power? Magic? Ā.” They sigh and wave. “Māwal.”
Excess magical energetic power? Sure. Wait, what?
“I’m afraid I don’t know about that,” I say slowly, carefully. Naho would know, but I’ve been trying to ping her, to no avail. The solar flare knocked out so many systems.
“The three of us are running on a deficit here,” Muyewen says, nodding at their comrades. “Too much time Earthside, and we were really hoping to get back to Eren today. This place is hard on us. Too little ambient māwal. But your fuduh are asking if they could share.”
Share? More likely to just dump the excess, get rid of it, because with being attached to clueless me, it’s not like they have plenty of opportunity. This sounds just fine by me, but why do all the Ereni look discomforted? At least the noble only seems vaguely put-off.
“Your fuduh want to detach from you and re-merge to us,” one of the other Ereni says. I look at his profile and he is a dude by the name of Osanawu. Not just a man – very specifically a dude. “It makes the process easier.”
“Okay then,” I say. The noble blanches a bit and I enjoy my moment.
“You don’t mind?” he asks. “It’s supposed to be painful.”
I shrug. “I’m a masochist.” I’m actually not, but my second-partner is a sadist and I frankly don’t care about pain either way, so I might as well indulge her. That’s wayyyy too complicated to explain to a bunch of strangers, though, and involves my second-partner’s amazing soft-baked cookies. I really am fine with pain, especially if I get cookies afterwards. Or at least a ride out of here. For a ride out of here, I would tear off my fuduh node by node, and yes, even from my lungs. Though that would kind of defeat the purpose of getting out of here, since the whole reason of visiting Naho is to get our fuduh to do Exchange and have fun. We could still have fun, though my fuduh would be terribly resentful of having left behind, and that is past what I generally find ethically acceptable.
I start to peel at the edges of the lattice, but then I pause. “Wait, I do get my fuduh back afterward, right? I mean they do want to come back?”
Osanawu the dude chuckles. “Yes, they very much enjoy your company.”
The Ereni have all manner of weird neuroregulatory things in their body so I assume they can just downregulate pain sensations if they don’t want them. Muyewen looks like they might want them, but that’s not something I would want to casually assume about anyone.
I fiddle with one edge, then run out of patience and just yank the fuduh off. Should I even do this in public? It does hurt and my skin is bleeding, but I still don’t really mind. I hand a slightly bloody mess to Muyewen, and behind me I think the trader just licked her teeth. I hope she won’t eat my fuduh, we are good friends for sentients who have very limited ways to communicate. And they want to come back.
Muyewen holds out the fuduh, and there is a bright blue flash – I assume some kind of sanitization process, getting rid of problematic microorganisms? Then they remove their headscarf and just put the fuduh on their bald head. The fuduh shifts around, extends tendrils along their spine. Muyewen closes their eyes and I am sure they actually like this.
Of course, running so low on magical energetic powerthings might be very harmful to Muyewen, so maybe it’s as if they were hungry and now they finally get to eat. Except it involves a kind of lumpy lattice with nodes and tendrils and whatnot attaching itself to their head in a rather painful way. Some of us would do a lot for cookies.
Muyewen draws in a very deep breath, then exhales, again looking like someone about to cry. It must be really intense, having the Ereni cognotype. Though the two others don’t look so cry-y, at least not now.
I will also get cry-y if I start to consider that there are three of them, I have three fuduh, one in my lungs and in so much distress in there that somehow glitter is being produced in my body.
I try not to consider it. Onward.
I cough again, a long series of hacking, harking wheezes. I projectile-glitter on Muyewen and the third Ereni who came up to me to – help maybe? I’m not really thinking straight. She offers her arm and I hold on to it. The fuduh comes out, much smaller than expected, but kind of swollen. “I hope you’re hanging in there, buddy,” I say. The third Ereni looks at me quizzically, then after the mandatory flash, just straight-up swallows the fuduh.
This might be a bit too much for me.
And why am I still coughing? This is not good at all. There is still the third fuduh and my sciatic nerves are sensitive.
I… think I black out a little. When I come to, the Ereni look fine – not just more alive, but actually fine –, the noble looks very angry, and the trader is oddly bored.
“No, we cannot jump all of us out of here,” the Ereni woman says. Her name is Rawanaseā and her profile has a ream of great information about collectible miniatures of the… I am so distractible. I close her profile with a mental command.
“But you said–”
“I said that now that we stabilized energetically, we can serve as a beacon for other people to jump in and get us out of here,” she says patiently. “But we still need to convince other people Erenside that we are worth the trouble.” She grins. “Maybe you have something to offer?”
“A chateau on a yet uncrowded leisure planet?” the noble says weakly.
“They are probably thinking of more liquid assets,” the trader adds.
The noble turns to her, his voice crammed full of cynicism. “Well, maybe you have just the thing?”
“I have fifty-eight crates of artisanal logic puzzles, each one unique and comes with its individual hand-carved display case,” the trader says, entirely deadpan. “My negotiation algorithm is in my profile.”
“Quiet, please?” Muyewen raises a hand. “I am trying to reach the System and it is not easy with all these magnetic fluctuations brought on by the solar flare.”
We all fall silent, a circle of quiet in a sea of noise all around us.
“Deal,” Muyewen says.
“What?” The noble takes a half-step back.
“We are taking the puzzles as auto-negotiated just now, with a discount for jumping costs. The Earth-person gets back the fuduh. The three of us serve as a jumping beacon. The System of Eren takes care that everyone gets jumped to their desired location.” Muyewen speaks on an even, detached tone, likely just relaying what the System of Eren told them.
“Including my ship?” the trader asks.
“Including your ship.”
“What will I do?” The noble seems desperate.
Rawanaseā grins. “Keep us company.”
“A lot of good people can fit in a small space,” I add. “Earth-human saying.” It’s a Hungarian saying, actually, but that would be too complicated to explain. Probably even more complicated than my second-partner’s cookies. “Now let me get my fuduh back, and we can all be on our merry way.”