/’skAn/ : a loosely coiled length of yarn or thread wound on a reel

Shiny Mudballs

The pair boosted forward into the asteroid’s single inset airlock, pulling a cargo sled behind them. It eased into the habitat’s half-gee field, dropping to bump once against the floor plating before settling into a hover.

“Shit, careful with that!” Jim warbled, his comm voice all square-waved. “They won’t take any if a single one is deformed!”

“I know, I know,” said George, “watch your end. Damn, but these creepy critters are picky.”

The outer doors sealed and, after a quick hiss of atmosphere in-rush, the inner doors irised open. Inside, the Customer waited – a glistening and limp de-shelled snail draped across a life-support hover.

Jim unsealed the cargo coffin, neutral gases and coolant spilling away to reveal exactly 38 dorodango. As documented in the triply-verified manifest, one autistic Japanese child had shaped each into sub-micron spherical perfection and a near-mirror finish.

George and Jim left that day with enough money between them to buy their own orbital paradise and retire happy men.

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