Prophets of the Shadow by Darren Reid

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There were days where he thought he could throttle Beth for her petulance, but what could he do?

Certainly he could not get rid of her. Glancing out of the corner of his eye, he watched as the rain, now a bit heavier, was caressing its self over Beth's obvious and stunning curves. Like Alieice, she was beautiful. Unlike the other, her beauty was far more obvious, skin deep rather than a challenge for a man to unravel. Still, it mattered little, really. So long as the job got done, that was all that mattered in the end. Alamin had made a great deal of money from these two women but he needed a great deal more if he was to ever afford the voyage off of Enthura.

Crushing the thought as soon as it appeared, Alamin launched himself to his feet. No point on pondering the future until he had the money to afford such luxuries. But once he had made his money...then his imagination would be set loose.

From the small clearing in which Alamin and his accomplices now rested the distant sounds of Sapphire Coast could be heard with not a little effort. The sound was that of distant machinery that never slept, the movement of pistons and motors; those in transport modules as well as in the massive factories that dominated the skyline of Sapphire Coast. Even here, in this small oasis, it was impossible to escape the ever present sound of machinery and industrialisation that marked Enthura so well. And the ever present smell, lest that be forgotten.

Once on his feet, Alamin spared a hasty glance around himself. The clearing was hemmed in by trees in all directions. Alamin had heard somewhere, he could not remember where, that this forest had been terra-formed with original trees from Earth. Alamin could hardly imagine it; especially considering the aggressiveness of the plant life indigenous to Enthura. And yet, here he stood, surrounded by a copse of narrow trees covered in thick, luscious green leaves only starting to grow brown for the encroaching winter. No tanglewood here, no sir. Not a single moving branch or blood red leaf to be found. Yes, Alamin had found himself a little piece of Earth. Absently he began to consider how few actual examples of what Earth had been like must still exist. Most plant life, and humans themselves for that matter, were changed by the new worlds they lived upon. Maybe not physically, at least in the case of humans, but mentally there was no doubt. No one who had met an Amaralian or an Enthurian could dispute their fundamentally different attitudes and outlook upon all things.

And yet, what did it matter, really? Earth was long gone, the shadow of a memory. Except here, in this little corner of Enthura, Earth lived, if only among these few trees. And not forgetting the two whores relaxing on the rain soaked grass and their pimp. Without thought, Alamin clasped a hand over his mouth, suppressing a burst of laughter he felt down to the bottom of his gut; what better analogy existed for humanity?

"Alamin!" a perfectly effeminate voice picked up behind him, "I'm talking to you!"

Running a hand through his long, brown hair as he turned, Alamin favoured Beth with curt smile.

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