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“Next, the water-planet, third from the medium star,” gurgles the attendant. “Your judgment, Arbitrix?”

But before she opens her mouths, the Arbitrix is caught in a quantum lasso: her consciousness snatched, bound and stuffed into a tiny biped body. She’s born wailing. She learns human language and human love, the colors of sweat and sunlight. She swims and bleeds, sings, grows taller; she discovers the Secret Order of Cognitists and their cruel but necessary capture of her mind, one last desperate attempt to save their race. She ages, loses, aches, dies.

“Arbitrix?” says the attendant, uncertain.

“Smash it,” she grates.