House of Cockroach

by Heather Dunn

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"Ah, there you are, Ylanwad," Glitch said as she finally caught up with the woman. "It took some doing to track you down."

"You were trying to track me down?" Ylanwad said, raising an eyebrow. "What for? Do I know you? You seem familiar."

"Glitch, from Needew," she replied.

"Oh yeah, the one who kept alternately breaking our computers or making them work better. Right. What do you need? You're not here to break our stuff again are you?"

Glitch snickered softly and assured her, "No, don't worry, I've gotten that rather more under control of late. No, I was interested in discussing the acquisition of the old Neerual clanhold. It's a nice, big hold, but nobody is actually using it these days."

"Oh, I see," Ylanwad said. "What were you planning on doing with it? Meaning to start your own clan or something? Don't you already have a clan, though? Sporc, wasn't it?"

"Something like that," Glitch replied. "I'm afraid my former clan has somewhat disowned me or something. My mother attempts to chase me down with Raid whenever I come to visit. Well, the thing is, the Needew town government won't allow a new clan to be founded within the city until an existing one has withdrawn, however. That's where you come in."

"What sort of clan were you meaning to create?" Ylanwad asked.

"Heh, not everyone that's technologically inclined from there can move over here," Glitch told her. "Somebody's gotta get things in order over there. I'm meaning to start a technology-based clan of engineers, programmers and such. I'm calling it the Tikarr."

"Oh, sure, that's something I could certainly approve of. I'm not planning on heading back there anytime soon myself. I'll fill out the paperwork for that for you. But why is your clan named after the Andan word for 'cockroach'?" *

The former Neerual clanhold was rather dusty and messy from misuse and the fact that Ylanwad had hardly been the neatest person in the world. She hadn't even bothered to request that anything there be sent to her, so Glitch now found herself in the possession of the whole mess. There were old clothes and broken devices and bits of machinery scattered all over the place, and vermin had found a home in the rotting food that had been left behind, as apparently the stasis spell on the fridge had failed.

"Ah, home, sweet home," Glitch commented dryly as she inspected the place. It was definitely a fixer-upper. But she had to start somewhere, even if she knew it was going to take a long time, many generations likely, to really get things going.

As she cleaned up the place and put things away and removed the garbage, she considered her options toward what she had in mind. They said patience was a virtue, but then she had never been much of one to simply wait for things to happen on their own. Now, on the one hand, cockroaches had a very short lifespan and could reproduce quickly, so if she bred with them she could easily create the foundations of a clan within a few short years. On the other hand, that would also preclude anyone actually taking her seriously and very likely get the housing inspectors to throw them out of town, not to mention that it would likely be a pain to teach them anything. Perhaps not such a great idea after all.

Alternatively, she had also heard of use of artificial incubators used in order to relieve some of the discomforts of pregnancy, and likewise permitting more than the usual number of children to be produced at once more easily. At least she could be more assured that they would not randomly fail now, at any rate. However, barring further technological or magical shortcuts, that still left such thrills as diaper changing, potty training, and years of education. Well, she thought with a smirk, that was almost a given anyway. Unless she hired a nanny, or built a robot to do that, or something, anyway.

It was certainly a possibility. Then again, she wasn't married either, nor had a boyfriend or anything, which would probably make it a little difficult. On the other hand, ideal genetic diversity would require multiple fathers anyway. She hardly needed a man to support her or help take care of the kids or anything, and it should not be difficult for an attractive young woman to pick up dates.

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