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434 pages, Paperback
First published October 1, 2004
Luseferous pointed furiously at the line of bodies heading slowly towards the planet. "Don't you fuckwits understand? That doesn't stop until I get what I want!"
The three Dwellers twisted to look as one. "Hmm," Peripule said thoughtfully. "I do hope you have enough people."
The Ythyn had been collecting the dead for a billion years the result of a gruesome techo-curse visited upon them by a species they had fought against and been utterly defeated by. They had lost their small empire, lost their few planets, lost their major habitats and most of their ships and they had even lost themselves, coerced into a programme of genetic amendment that turned them from intellectually rounded beings into creatures utterly obsessed with death. [...]
They built massive cold, dark ships and accrued enormous libraries and data reservoirs filled with the subject of death. They haunted the sites of great battles, terrible massacres, and awful disasters. Over time, they began to gather the unclaimed dead from such sites, storing them more or less as they found them in their great airless ships, each carrying a cargo of collected death, plodding from one end of the galaxy to the other or gradually spiralling around it. [...]
That they had long since dutifully gathered up the remaining bodies of the now-extinct species which had inflicted their punishment upon them and could therefore relatively easily and without resistance have re-amended themselves back to their original selves, but had chosen not to, was either their most poignant tragedy of all, or a recognition that they had found a place within the galactic scheme of things that suited them better than might any other.