the smuggler’s bible


Quingenti opens his eyes. He’s lying on a couch, staring at the ceiling. He considers that briefly before being distracted by the notion that somebody said his name. What a dumb idea, he thinks.

Well, better at least have a look. He sits up. It takes character and grit. It takes determination. Waiting at the end of the climb is a glare that threatens to knock him over again. He blinks and swears off wild hunches forever.

“Great start,” somebody says from the doorway.

“Thanks, but what now?”

“It’s brave of you,” they say, “to lead with the tough question.”


Quingenti bails out of the cab, cursing softly and twisting into his dinner jacket as he sprints up the steps.

“Jesus Christ, I’m so late,” he says. “It must be like half over by now.”

He hurries into the party. Everyone is there. Juliet, Dromond, Bloodtooth, Hamlet, Dorian, Hiro, the moon robots—all smiling and raising glasses. Fiona hands him a drink.

“Big day. Want to make a speech?”

“Oh, I don’t need any special attention. All the stories are good,” Quingenti says, “in their own ways.”

“Yeah, man,” Lancelot calls from behind the bar. “But this one is yours.”