Bookshop

He’d been a drop-point for undercover Reality Engineers for a very long time. Sometimes they’d use very significant tomes to contain their ciphers, and sometimes he’d see them dropping off what seemed to be humorous asides. Everyone knew Bentham Holmes though – it didn’t matter what side they were on.

The Reality Wars had been a cold war for a long time before they went hot. And there had been an agreement that peripherals, like the bookshop, would not be forced into partisanship. Bentham had been wounded while fighting in a skirmish with a culture in the Betelgeuse System that were pushing back against Engineer influence – it had destabilised his spatio-temporal index in such a way that moving through alternatives would have seen him cast adrift on The Chronon Seas.

He read the reports as they came in, and he recognised some of the names; knew some of the places; understood the significance of the conflicts. The Battle Of Karn Devol was so far away, pressed right up against the edge of The Unscripted Realms, that the repercussions took a long time to filter back. Bentham, like everyone else knew that they would come though.

There was talk of collapsing L’undones, told of by Iam Blake, who could walk between worlds. A map making technology that predated Reality Engineering. Not everyone knew that The Bookshop was a Metaphor House, he had Geas and Glamours and Baffles to disguise that fact, because it would have become very important strategically. He was not impartial. It was hard to be impartial.

The shop was not named Primo for no reason – though who remembered it as anything other than The Bookshop? Bentham loved Primo Levi, and through his words he had learned about the horrors of war long before he ever stepped onto a battlefield himself.

After The Battle Of Ten Aught, on Barydesia Plains, on the Planet Durab, in the Colad Sector of The Purgal System things changed. Distillation Camps, a variation on Concentration Camps, were first seen. The idea was that they were using beings as focal points for Reality Hacks. Bentham couldn’t stand it. It was then that soon to be famous Primo Book Club began, and Bentham took sides.

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