‘Eww,’ I felt my stomach turn.

‘Parasitism is the relationship you are most familiar with. Obviously, this refers to organisms that take and, in doing so, cause harm to the host. An easy example is that of influenza, better known to you as the Flu.

‘Now, I tell you all that to lay the groundwork for your understanding of our species. We are called Etymicacaus and our presence in your system is legally defined as Mutualism, in terms of host, guest relationship. We thrive, mostly, on your nervous system…’

‘Now wait just a minute!’ I growled. ‘I don’t want anything or anybody messing with my nerves.’

‘If you will permit me to finish my job, I promise you I will explain both the benefits and the possible negatives of hosting,’ barked the increasingly irritated Balar. ‘May I continue… uninterrupted?’

Mentally, I threw my hands in the air. ‘Sure, why not.’

‘Um, well,’ Balar began wearily, ‘legally I am obligated to first list off negative possibilities.’

‘Ok,’ I returned slowly. I suspected I wasn’t going to like this.

‘I suspect you won’t like this either. But please just hear me out. Bear in mind that our relationship is mutually beneficial and that I have yet to explain what we do for you.’

‘Please get on with it.’

‘Allow me to preface with a little FYI: our species has existed in its current state, evolutionarily speaking, for more than 2 million of your years and we have been guests in billions of hosts from more than 300,000 intelligent species from thousands of worlds. We would never have been so successful if we went around killing our hosts. But…’


‘But there does exist the possibility of death.’


Balar answered slowly. ‘Well, yes. But the greatest risk for that occurs while establishing initial link to the host. This link, the one I’m speaking to you on now. But the risk is so low that, legally, we do not need your permission to establish it.’

I breathed a sigh of relief. ‘So the risk is over? I’m not going to die?’

Balar was quiet for a moment. ‘Everyone dies. Eventually.’

That struck me as evasive. ‘So no, then? The risk is not over?’

‘Sorry. I didn’t mean to be evasive. No, the risk is not entirely over. It’s statistically improbable, but… accidents do happen.’



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