Excerpt from


by Elytron Frass

The rift in my relationship with Yetra was illuminated during our campaign against the Starfish-Tragedians of Artaud. We’d been stationed on an unnamed island formed entirely from coral. Its perilous surfaces were monochrome pink, slippery, and jagged. Our mission: exterminate the natives of Artaud, incinerate their nesting sites and supervise the drop of thirteen mechacolonies. To our surprise, the Starfish-Tragedians were more than eager to meet genocide. Their society revolved around the cruelness of theatrics. For every day in the life of these echinodermic aboriginals was a rehearsal for potential and ironic deaths. These absurdly non-combative enemies, who valued the high dramaturgy of their own eradication much more than they valued self-defense, were easily extinguished.

After weeks of bickering and being mostly out-of-sync, our mission on Artaud accomplished, Yetra had requested one day's leave from me. I'd given khur permission to attend the local OSO (Organic Services Organization) Show within the safety of our base camp. It was there that, by the OSO concession stands, Yetra met Hal Chro’nahn. That blue skinned, body-modded freak: a Neoteric devotee. Hal Chro’nahn spoke with a preacher's tongue—twirling it by Yetra's ear with pagan rhetoric.

I spied through the cam lens of the hover-drone that I deployed: Concealing khur intentions in such eloquent verbosity, Hal Chro’nahn laid a corpselike hand upon my endohost's taupe shoulder. They exchanged flirtatious gestures: warmly shaking hands and locking eyes. Yetra gave me no choice but to defend khur honor; I rushed in and ended Hal’s life processes—grinding khur skull down into bluish powder with my hand of half khur size. I then snatched Yetra up and reinserted khur into the confines of my cockpit. From inside, Yetra chastised me for being, in khur words, a mistrustful covetous berserker.

Inspired by Hal’s Neoteric mumbo-jumbo, Yetra proclaimed khur newfound desire to travel offworld to a planetoid-sized superorganism, Asphyx. Reciting its coordinates, Yetra asked if I would take khur there as soon as we were issued military leave. A vehement argument was followed by disimpassioned circuitsex and slumber.

The superorganism Asphyx was an amorphous necrotopography—a creature which extended itself by way of amalgamating with biomatter and inorganic materials alike. All that fell on Asphyx would become repurposed and reanimated in the graveyard of its will. Organic and machinic corpses fused together in that land of necromantic lust. So, it has been documented: to be undead on Asphyx is a nightmare of experience eternal.

Neoteric zealots, a fringe religious order of robot runaways and freed transhumanoids, regard "the shutdown" (or the moment before death in organic creatures) to be the sacred peak of one’s material awareness. It should come as no surprise that such zealots worship Asphyx as a demigod. The very thought of Asphyx’s amoebic appetite for all things sacrificed—the way by which it integrated devotees: ever-remodeling itself from them, ever auto-fornicating, ever auto-cannibalizing—sent jitters up twin engines on my dorsal side. Why had my sweet endohost wished to visit such a place of both mechanical and carnal mutilations?

On the night before khi would abandon me, I expressed firm disapproval for Neoteric ideology. The morning after, Yetra left a message on a datachip to my incompetent mechanic while my mechabody, docked for a routine inspection and repairs, was set to restmode. The mechanic's error was in failing to awaken me upon the instant of receiving such an urgent message. You’ll know exactly where to find me, said the datachip recording of khur voice. On hearing this I knew at once that my long-standing career within the military, my noble reputation, and my status as a knight meant nothing—I proceeded to undo each of these achievements. And so, bullish in mode, I stole a cruiser and kidnapped the mechanic—desperate measures to reclaim a wayward lover.



Elytron Frass is the pseudonymous author & visual artist of Liber Exuvia (gnOme books, 2018). His work features in 3:AM Magazine, Tarpaulin Sky Magazine, Burning House Press, X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, Sleepingfish, SCAB, The Offbeat, and Parasol: The Journal of the Centre for Experimental Ontology.

He tweets @Elytron_Frass