Administrator Guilian had found the unicorn foal a very light burden, barely heavier than a small child, so light he could almost, if it weren’t for the horn pricking at the side of his throat, forget it was there.
But his assistant’s reaction, now, that reminded him fully why he was there, and why he was carrying this small burden. He advanced slowly on the man, watching Antheri’s hands. He was reaching for something in his drawer… that couldn’t be good.
“The unicorns, their touch can kill you,” Antheri repeated nervously, as Guilian kept closing on him.
“That is what I’ve heard. And yet, I’ve also heard that their touch purifies. I’ve heard that their touch can do other things, as well…” The images he’d gotten didn’t really count as “heard,” and they hadn’t been all that clear, but he’d gotten some interesting bits here and there.
“Kill. Their touch can kill.” Antheri whipped out his revolver, pointing it with shaking hands at Guilian. “And you’ve brought one of those monsters in here, you madman. After everything I’ve done to keep them out. After everything we’ve done to cleanse the Town of their taint. What were you thinking?”
“I was thinking that it was time for a change,” Guilian told him, his eyes firmly on the gun. He set the foal down carefully; he couldn’t see it, he wasn’t that pure, but he could feel it, and feel where its legs were shakily settling onto the ground. “I was thinking that the Villages hate us, And wondering why that was.”
“They’re backwards. Ignorant. Spiteful. They cling to their old ways.”
“What happens to the waste from the factory, Antheri? That part of the tour kept getting put off. I imagine you would delay it until I was replaced, am I right?”
“If goes into the river,” the little today spat. “Where else would it go?”
“In other Towns, in other Factories…”
“And their production is not nearly as high as ours. It goes into the river, Administrator, because it halts the reproduction of these monsters. And with less of the pests around, the factory workers focus better, and produce more. And there are none of those pesky filters, no water recycling back end, no stupid swamp tanks to clean out and nursemaid. And we produce, Administrator, more than Any. Other. Factory. And that is what they pay me for.” The toady stared wildly at Guilian, waving the gun with no clear purpose. “And now you will die, and they will send me another fool.”
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