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By Kameron Hurley

We came down on the edge of the warfront proper of Old Lucifer on the guidance – that is, command – of Birdit so Alhamin of Faleen, some city on some rock we’d never heard of until we got pressed into service. Birdit, like all the officers, was big: big in the shoulders, big in the hips, big in the hands. Even her eyes were big. Her freckles were a clotted map across her bronzed face. She had scars and liked to show them. She'd been rebuilt three times, she told us proudly – as if she’d only been punched in the face - and later taken out all three attackers, not all of them human. "Always meet violence with violence," was her first lesson to us, followed closely by, "If they don't bring violence we bring it." She didn't read texts, because she thought too many written words warped the mind, but she knew how to read palms and scars, and she asked me once, if I could choose to live long or die well, what did I want?

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