Who could predict we wouldn’t jump onto Venus?’

‘I could. This isn’t a project for speculative adventures in space.’

And just as well. Venus was the last place to include in space time coordinates. For humans, it was a tragedy of a planet.

'How much could he really have hurt you, Ben?'

'More than I’d have wanted to be. And much more than he’d have wanted to be.'


‘Perhaps.’ He shrugged, trying to shift a heavy burden from his shoulders. ‘My novitiate ended when I was twenty, and I was allowed to take vows.’ He took a long sip of coffee and leaned back, looking into the past. ‘I was kicked out of the monastery not long after.’

Twenty minutes later, unable to sleep, he stumbled downstairs again. He then spent this recreational period peeping from behind the bay window curtains, feeling like a burglar's look-out. Uh-oh, five-o, here come the po-po.


Dead European terrorists? Jacob was Eritrean and Ethiopian, for goodness sake! He could do bad all by himself.

"Our intelligence reports that male humans carry a concealed device below their abdomen. It's extendable and explosive. Choose wisely."

"Moving on. Crocodile?"

"A reptilian? You'd be made in a heartbeat."

When she removed her head he remembered something clearly. A protocol.

"Wait. By law you're bound to protect us."

"It's a Catch-22 law, instilled to stop us killing you. As if we're the only things on the planet that might want you dead." 

Adora looked him up and down, struggling to make sense of what her eyes beheld. "Azalel fears you?"

"All men fear me."


Til laughed at her forthright expression. "You are no diplomat, my lady."

“I've said I'll look, Merry, but I'm not here to nick the china. If I chased up every claim about pilfered heirlooms that came my way, I'd have a lawsuit against the Vatican City, several disinterred regents, a Tower of London stripped bare, and ninety-five disembowelled teddy bears.