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Art by David Revoy/ Blender Foundation

The Hatchlings

By Darius Jones

The myths, rumors, and speculation surrounding the Zakir ritual on Kaldar are well attested, but they remain only that, myth and speculation. Now, as I have witnessed the thing itself, I feel responsible to share the truth, no matter how loathsome, with the rest of the civilized galaxy. For those of you who remain ignorant of this notorious ritual, I have written this story so that the facts may be plainly known. To the best of my ability, I have tried to reserve my judgment and offer this only as a work of reportage, a relation of true events.

After several years of residence on Kaldar, in which I learned their language, their customs, and something of their primal prejudices and obscurantist rituals, I was, at last, invited to a “celebration” of the Zakir. I, of course, accepted. How could I not? It was an event which no Off-worlders had ever been invited to, let alone witnessed. To refuse would have been dishonorable, to decline, an insult. I asked few questions and begged no explanations. I knew the invitation was unprecedented, and I realized that too much curiosity might reveal my true intent, my determination to share what I saw.

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