Exploration and Adversity

The elevator hums into motion. "Where.. Where are we going, Mistress?" Avarya asks humbly. Ghostwheel hovers in the air like a globe of metallic silver.

"We're taking a shuttle to one of those spheres and attempting to get inside to see what is in there. I always want to look at one of their ships." She turned from watching the panel to Avarya. "We are very close to the Logrus. If things go badly, I am going to need you to get us out of there. You are better suited to the environment then I am."

The elevator hums as it flies through the interior of the massive battlestation. Avarya looks unsettled. "What do you expect to go badly, Mistress?" She asks.

"Well, I don't know," Aurora says plainly. "I have never had anything to do with the Logrus before, have I?"

"Neither have I, Mistress." Avarya says as the elevator slows. "I was born and raised in Anhara." The doors open to reveal a pristine white hangar. There are four shuttles there, all of which appear to be brand new. Ghostwheel continues to hover above Aurora's shoulder.

"Then it will be a learning experience for both of us." Aurora moves to collect an encounter suit and get into it.

Ghostwheel drifts in advance toward the first shuttle, and the hatch of this shuttle hisses open, in the pale crystalline side of it. A small ladder extends downwards. Aurora finds that it is easy enough to climb inside, and Avarya does also. Inside, it is a different design to the shuttle Aurora was in before, but she does find four space-suits in one of the compartments beside the main corridor. The door hisses shut behind them once all three are inside. The Ghostwheel heads forward toward the bridge of the shuttle.

"Yes, Mistress. What shape should I wear?" Avarya asks as Aurora searches for an encounter-suit.

"I don't know," Aurora paused in pulling the suit on to frown at Avarya. "I mean, I don't know if it would best for you to stay as you are, or what. Wait… what shape did you use to travel in space before? That one should work - unless you *want* to stay as you are and wear a suit. It's up to you."

"That shape is not a pleasant one." Avarya says, her eyes dark with memory. "It is like suffocating without dying…" She eyes one of the suits, shrugs out of her robe, and moves to put the suit on. The shuttle vibrates suddenly with unheard music: as though the engines to the rear have begun to wake.

Aurora gets into her suit except for the helmet, and helps Avarya with hers. Then they move to the bridge and Aurora straps into the pilot's seat to look over the controls. "There should be a manual under your seat," she says as she finds the control to close and seal the hatch. She finds the switch for the com and opens the channel. "Shuttle to Bridge - preparing to launch."

Avarya accepts her help and follows her to the bridge as the hatch hisses shut and locks tight behind them. Ghostwheel is hovering between the chairs for pilot and co-pilot, like a small sphere of silvery metal, as they reach the bridge. The sharp and terse voice of Fiona speaks over the comms. "No external change, Aurora. Launch when you are ready. We are monitoring your flight."

"Roger," Aurora responds as her fingers dance over the controls. She backs the ship into position to turn and glides carefully out of the hanger and through the corridor leading to the outside. For all her love of nature, Aurora thrills to the idea of space and of space flight almost as much. Too much Star Trek, as she told Kieran. The black velvet of space opens before them, and Aurora clicks up the shuttle's speed as they move through the environmental field across the exit.

"Bridge, send the target coordinates to the shuttle's computer. These things are all going to look alike once we get close."

"Tisiphone is in real-time communication with your Ghostwheel." Fiona says across the link. The view outside the battlestation, with the naked eye, is spectacular even with the intervening crystal of the canopy. The scan before appears to have left luminous traces across the rotating Bubbles and Dyson Net: the rainbow of the net itself is clearly outlined, and even the bubbles have the kind of luminous sheen found sometimes in truly black substances. Only the black maw of the writhing Logrus remains untouched by this luminescence. Avarya stares out the window. "By the Serpent." She says. "It is beautiful. Is this truly the Courts of Chaos?"

"Part of it anyway," Aurora says breathlessly. "Goddess almighty, Grandmere. I don't know what it looked like before from this elevation, but this is amazing. Have Tis switch over to real-time in a split screen if you haven't already." She tore her gaze from the window and back to the console in search of the recording controls. " Ghostwheel, feed coordinates to navigation."

The navigation console appears to be at eye level on the crystal of the canopy itself. It is displaying a trajectory.

"I do not recall there being any place where this kind of view was possible." Fiona says over comms, actually sounding impressed, instead of 'been there, done that.'

"Tis… record function on," Aurora orders as she leans forward to navigate. Now that they were out and clear of the station, she increases the shuttle's speed after laying in their course.

The luminous black surface of the chosen sphere looms larger and larger in the front canopy, as the shuttle soars across space towards it. The writhing maw of the Sign of Chaos far in the distance seems to grow slightly larger, also, and there are ripples of rainbow emerging from it. The small hangar the remote probe discovered also grows in her field of vision, distorted and dancing with light akin to the mirage found in deserts. "Shuttle inertial dampers holding at 32%." Ghostwheel reports calmly.

"What is that?" Aurora asks as she leans forward in her seat. "Those rainbow waves? Full spectrum analysis."

There is an instant of silence while the shuttle continues soaring across the arc of its flight. "Fascinating." Fiona says. "The congealed trump energy of the net holding the bubbles is constantly being destroyed by the event horizon of the Logrus. Which implies the bubbles must constantly congeal new trump energies. The rainbow waves we see are the result of the interaction."

"Great leaping goddesses," Aurora blinks. "Who the devil set this up? They had to have been a touch mad. Brilliant. But a bit mad." The hangar in the chosen black luminous sphere grows ever closer.

"Your words remind me of my brother Brand. Unicorn grant we do not find him here." Fiona says, sounding almost devout.

"He would have to be cocooned if he is," Aurora mused. "I would think."

"That… might be… if Luke's theory on his father being mentally ill is true, perhaps we could cure him." Fiona says as the shuttle enters the hangar of the luminous sphere, the tone of her voice speaking of old pain, old grief.

Aurora knows the same stories everyone else does, so she understands what her grandmother is thinking of. She briefly wonders if it is hereditary; she was always certain one of her sisters had been quite mad, and had tended to eye one brother warily whenever they came across one another. "It would be worth looking into," Aurora comments neutrally. Her fingers slid across controls. She always preferred to fly manually when it was possible, and not depend on the auto-pilots.

"Outside lights, Ghostwheel. Let's look at what we can see. Scan the hanger."

"Affirmative." Ghostwheel says as the outside lights activate. The view that appears is exactly the same as that seen through the remote drone earlier: four ships of black crystal, sitting in berths. The doors are as locked as they were before. There are two spare berths available but neither is quite the right shape for the shuttle Aurora flies.

"Grandmere," Aurora frowns. "Is there a trick to these shuttles that can make them change shape? Otherwise, I'm open to ideas."

"The shuttles are not equipped with transmogrification modules. Merlin and I never miniaturized them." Fiona says. "I suggest landing in the middle of the hangar."

Aurora looks slightly disappointed at this mundane suggestion in the middle of all this wonder, but she does it anyway. "Anything on the scans I should worry about?" she asks as she starts to put the shuttle into idle.

The subtle music of the engines echoing through the crystal hull of the shuttle slowly subsides. "Not so far." Fiona says across the comms link. Ghostwheel waits with the patience of the AI. Avarya stares out the crystal canopy at the rainbow-and-black view outside as the lost child does.

Aurora unbuckles and stands from her seat. She touches Avarya to get her attention. "Come on. We are going to take a look around." Aurora put her own helmet on and activated the encounter suite before showing the other female how to do the same. Then she touched the door panel and prepared to move out. "Radio test. Away team to Station."

Avarya starts then unbuckles herself. The Ghostwheel moves to follow Aurora. "Remote trump link is stable." Fiona replies across the communications channel.

"Perfect," Aurora smiles. She pulls a weapon off the rack by the door that Kieran had figured out and taught them all how to use, and then she exits the craft and steps out onto the alien hanger. She pauses a moment before directing her steps towards one of the bays holding the black craft. "Let's have a look at one of their shuttles first."

There is the hiss of escaping air as Aurora opens the exit of the shuttle-craft. Outside, the floor proves to be crunchy beneath her feet, as there is strange black metallic dust covering the dull matt-black floor. Avarya and the Ghostwheel follow her out into the airless place. The only tracks in the dust prove to be theirs, as though none have walked here in countless years. The Ghostwheel drifts off in the direction of the double-doors. Avarya says something, but there is no sound to it, as they walk across to the black crystal shuttlecraft. Only one of them is actually open: the entrance to the craft gapes like the dark maw of a creature covered with a strange sticky web of substance.

Aurora reaches over and turns on Avarya's suit comm while giving Fiona a description of everything; including the dust which she finds odd. "Should there be dust in an airless vacuum?"

"No." Fiona says tersely.

She stands back to examine the substance over the hold, also describing it to Fiona. "Sensors picked up nothing from in here?" she asks curiously. "That dust and this stuff should have registered. This is obviously organic."

"The dust is not visible on the scanner. Black does not show well on black." Fiona says. "The web.. We scanned not the shuttles in detail, an oversight I will not repeat. I mislike the look of it. Is it fresh?"

Aurora doesn't go any closer. In fact, she takes a step back and sets her blaster to a higher setting. "It's visibly sticky, so I am going to say it is relatively fresh just because I have nothing to cast doubt on what I know of web spinners."

There is silence on the other side for moments. "Keep your weapons ready, fair one." Kieran advises then.

"Ghostwheel? Can you remote activate the scanners on our shuttle to scan for organic matter that isn't Avarya and I?"

"Affirmative. Scanning…" The Ghostwheel replies, having drifted back in her general direction. "Weak lifeforms detected in stasis."

She frowns. "I need an analysis on this dust, and these web. Inside this shuttle if possible."

"I have seen webs like these before." Avarya says, as though from faint memory.

Ghostwheel hovers for an instant, then darts closer to the web, extending a small tendril of silvery matter as it does so…

"Wait!" Aurora calls, holding a hand up to Ghostwheel. "Don't touch it!" She turned to Avarya and demanded. "Where? Think."

The Ghostwheel halts, the extruded tendril mere centimeters away from the web… it does not move, for there is no air to move it.

"Sometimes a shifter-child fell into madness." Avarya says. "The ones that took spider-shape made webs like that. The Masters destroyed them. They were too perilous."

Aurora looks warily about the hanger. "So there is quite possibly a mad shifter around in the form of a large spider. Is that what you're saying? Because the Masters haven't been around for a very long time if I understand things correctly."

There is no sign of movement, save for Aurora herself, Avarya. Even the Ghostwheel is totally motionless, hovering in the air.

"You killed my Master. You are my Mistress now." Avarya says. "Yes. Yes, that is what I am saying, yes. Do not let any spider we find here bite you."

"Lovely," Aurora remarks dryly. "But, I have to ask; it has been a very long time since anyone was here, right? What has it been eating?"

"I will need a sample of any venom to create an antidote." Fiona says tersely.

"Stasis is possible, Mistress." Avarya says. "It isn't a pleasant shape. But a mad shifter-child won't care. Or perhaps there is food here that we haven't seen yet."

Aurora's response was not fit for polite conversation. She stepped back far enough to have time to react if anything came out at them, raised the blaster towards the webcovered door opening. "Alright. Avarya - make sure nothing sneaks up on us from behind. Ghostwheel. Get a sample of that web for analysis." Avarya nods and turns in that direction.

The silvery metal tendril that Ghostwheel extruded previously again extrudes from the featureless silvery sphere that hovers before her. It touches the web, there is a brief flash of light, and an electrical discharge of some sort. The web itself remains in the doorway, but there is now a small piece missing, and it begins to unravel: the tendril of silvery metal retreats into the sphere of Ghostwheel swiftly, clutching a sample of web as it does so. There is a brief pause. Then something moves inside the shuttlecraft!

"We've got movement," she mutters into the mic. Aurora gestures and conjures a ball of light into the shuttlecraft. When the shooting starts, she needs to know where to aim.

As Aurora concentrates, opens her mind to the forces of the surrounding environment, and begins to shape her ball of light, she finds that the magical forces of this place are entirely unlike the orderly structure of the world of Amber. Chaotic tides of power surge about her, jagged and dark: it is difficult to tap into it with the methods she has used in the past. The movement inside the shuttle occurs again: the whole shuttle shudders, and dark clawlike pincers become visible on the other side of the web..


She curses under her breath. "What is the problem with the magic in this……." she trails off as she catches sight of the pincers. "Holy hell," Aurora breathes. "Goddess protect us… Avarya - look…"

"I cannot shift without destroying this suit, Mistress!" Avarya says.

"I wasn't asking you to," Aurora says with a faint frown, momentarily distracted until Ghostwheel's actions caught her attention.

Ghostwheel shimmers then emits a wave of steady light. The speed of light must be different here too, for Aurora can see it move, like syrupy honey. In the light of this, the thing stands revealed: it reminds Aurora of the aliens drawn by the artist Geiger, only it is more scorpionlike, and spiderlike, and… it moves suddenly with greater speed, toward the source of the light, and Ghostwheel has to evade a swipe from one massive pincer, which destroys the web as it scuttles out of the shuttle!

Aurora makes a noise that sounds suspiciously like 'eep!' as she dances back a few steps. But then she remembers what Kieran taught her and steadies herself, aims her blaster at the the creature's head and fires.

Ghostwheel glides upwards and continues shining with silver-gold light. There is gravity here, anchoring Aurora's feet against the dark crystal of the floor. A strange silver thing with little probes on it abruptly appears from the direction of the double doors, and rams into the creature at great speed, knocking it back from Aurora before it can take hold of her in its mighty pincers! The probes appear dented and damaged as the silver thing ricochets into the floor!

Orange light spits from the barrel of her blaster, strikes the creature to the left of it's head, for it is moving swiftly: the creature's skin bubbles! Seven eyes stare at Aurora hungrily as the thing scuttles swiftly to the side, seeking shelter behind the armoured bulk of the shuttle, even as Avarya remembers her own blaster and reaches for it!

Aurora steps back beside Avarya, her blaster still pointing in the direction the creature had gone. Her eyes shifted between that and the probe. "Dammit," she mutters. "Ghostwheel, can you keep that thing in the light? If Avarya and I approach it from opposite sides, we should be able to take it down."

The damaged remote telemetry probe hovers close. Ghostwheel does not respond verbally but rises higher and shines brighter. Shadows dance about the berthed shuttles. There is silence in this place, the only sound Aurora can hear is her own breathing and the thud of her heart, save for the sound of Avarya's breathing through the communications link…

Aurora gestures to Avarya to go around the opposite end of the shuttle, while Aurora goes around the other side. She also makes sure Avarya's blaster is drawn and armed before they split off. "Ghostwheel," she whispers. "Is it still behind the shuttle?"

Avarya takes her blaster and sidles thataway. ~Affirmative.~ The silent answer of the mechanical being drifts across the surface of her mind as Aurora pads in her own chosen direction, heart still thudding, sweat trickling down her skin inside the confines of her ancient crystal suit. ~It is shapeshifting, Aurora.~ The being warns next.

~Into what?~ she reacts with some alarm. She acknowledged that being able to shift into an animal was rather cool, something about shapeshifters just skived her. Especially at the moment.

"Aurora, I can see inside the flight deck, there are other beings in there." Avarya whispers through the communications link.

"What kind of beings?" Fiona asks, even as the damaged little sensor-drone continues following behind Aurora.

"It's like a larder." Avarya replies. "I don't think they're dangerous."

~Adding spikes. Many spikes.~ Ghostwheel reports. ~I would advise against allowing it to charge you. Your blasters lack the power to swiftly defeat its ingrown armour.~

~Do you have any other suggestions? My magic is sluggish here and I am not all that confident that Pattern would even come up with all this Logrus around.~ "Crap, crap, crap," she frets under her breath.

The surroundings remain black and stark and silent, save for the wheeling rainbow energies of the view outside the harbour-port.

~Do you not have spells stored in your pendant?~ Ghostwheel says. ~They are independent of the local energies.~

Aurora blinks. "Duh," she hisses. "Yes. But it's a shape shifter…"

"Fiona needs another minute to reconfigure the drone into an explosive device, fair one." Kieran says urgently across the communications link.

"Ask her what spells work in neutralizing a shape shifter," Aurora says quickly while mentally going through the spells she had hung.

There is silence for an instant. "Spells of binding or stone work best." Kieran advises.

"Crap, Mistress?" Avarya says, sounding confused, then moments later she yelps slightly. A pulse of light occurs behind the shuttle, and the shuttle lurches slightly.

"Avarya!" she calls over the com, moving forward, the mental command for the energy bolt already causing the blue light to flicker around the fingertips of her gloved hand. "Are you alright?"

"Yes…" Avarya responds shakily. "It charged me. I'm under the shuttle. I don't like not shifting in battle."

Even as Aurora hesitates, her heart thudding in her ears in the silence of this place, she becomes aware of a faint tugging: someone is trying to trump her, but the feel of it is so faint that it must be from far far away.

"Damn it," she curses softly. Her mind focuses on the call briefly. "Bide." Then she turns her attention to the spider-like creature and moves around the corner to unleash the spell that will turn it into garden statuary. Not that she expects it to last terribly long on a shape shifter, but hopefully long enough to dispose of it.

Andelia is on the other side of the weak connection, appearing weary and exhausted, resting in the lap of her fiance Alexander. Behind them both a massive tree is visible, green leaves dancing to unheard music, and a strange silvery glow. There is a building surrounding them: a courtyard of a Castle perhaps? The scorpion-spider swiftly whips itself around, abandoning an attempt to extract Avarya from her refuge, as Aurora invokes and casts her spell it charges her. It is maybe 5 feet away when the spells takes effect, it freezes into slow motion, and then Avarya shoots it from behind as well.. And from the display of light, she keeps shooting it until her blaster runs out of magical charge.

Once the spell is cast, Aurora levels her blaster and takes up where Avarya left off.

"Aim for the brain!" Kieran says urgently across the communications link even as Aurora triggers her blaster.

The flare of Aurora's blaster scatters light across the dock of this strange black sphere, glinting with rainbow colours across the matted black crystal, as though the crystal is infused with petroleum. It bites deep into the motionless scorpion-spider that looms above her, and slowly the blue eyes of the creature fade and dull, the light of unhuman rage and hatred and hunger behind those eyes flickering out. There is no sign of life left in the creature. Avarya pokes her head out from beneath the black-crystal shuttle.

The trump connection to Andelia weakens, as static crosses it. The damaged sensor-drone is hovering just behind Aurora, as is the Ghostwheel, as her heart thuds inside.

Aurora waves Avarya out from her hiding place and leans against the shuttle. She holds a hand up to the other woman to let her know she is occupied.

As the trump connection fades, Aurora finds that little has changed in her immediate environment. Avarya has crawled out from beneath the shuttle. "Aurora, please move away from the creature." Kieran says across the communications link. "Seeming dead and being dead are two different things, fair one."

"Exactly so," she agrees. "Let's investigate the inside of this shuttle, Avayra. Then we can have a look inside the pod." She gives the creature another look, then looks around for the probe that had attacked it first. "Maybe we can find more information about those if we can access their computers."

Another remote telemetry probe, an undamaged one, chooses this moment to arrive.

"That depends on how damaged the hardware is, Aurora." Fiona says with her usual tense terseness.

The two probes and the Ghostwheel both hover closer to Aurora than previously. "My blaster doesn't work anymore." Avarya says. "I think I broke it."

"It probably just needs to be recharged," Aurora offered as she studied the probes. Then she straightened and addressed them. One never knew if anything would come of it. "I am Aurora, daughter of the Ancient Houses of Kadmon and Barimen."

"Oh." Avarya says, and regards her empty blaster. There is an instant of silence as Aurora speaks to the probes. "Uhh.. Aunt Fiona sent the second telemetry probe, fair one." Kieran says. "The damaged one is a weapon now, the new one lets us see what is happening where you are." The spider-scorpion remains motionless. The logrus and the rainbow net continue their ancient dance outside the docking port of the sphere.

Aurora chuckles. "Well, you never know. Right then. Let's change out these depleted blasters with good ones and have a look around, shall we?"

Aurora leans against the side of a dark crystal craft and gives her attention to the connection, pushing to strengthen it. "Andelia? Is everything alright?"

"Not exactly. I've cleared Merlin of the Plague, but he's in need of one of those cocoons, and I don't have the wand that makes them. Are you still carrying it?"

Aurora blinks. "Wa… oh! No. That was some equipment from the space station's infirmary. Although, I would think there would be one on the ships. I never looked. As far as I know, there are still some of the ships in Amber. Robert would know."

"Damn….. I don't have a Trump of him. Anyone else who might have one, or have access to one? Merlin's going to die soon, otherwise."

"Kieran, Sophia and Grandmere are on the station," Aurora offers. "I am currently exploring the Dyson dome around the Logrus."

"Ah, all right, Kieran and Sophia I have Trumps of. Have to see if they're in reach of one, then. Good luck with your exploring, and try not to release anything we're not ready to deal with right now."

The redhead gives her a bland look then straightens from the wall. "I don't think there's anything here to release that can't be dealt with. So far anyway."

Andelia lets the contact fall.

Aurora heads back to the shuttle to exchange hers and Avarya's blasters before investigating the shuttle. And while she's at it, are there any portable light sources.

There are two, and only two, fully charged blasters left inside the shuttle Aurora flew here from the battlestation. There are two cylinders that could power lightspells.

"Sophia has taken the kids to Avalon." Kieran says across the comms link. "Apparently we can escape the Logrus through trumps. Aunt Fiona is working on a trump-drive."

"Really? Wow," she replies, impressed. "Wait… Avalon?"

"Could take months, fair one. Avalon is my uncle Corwin's realm." Kieran clarifies. "Sophia's Dad. Apparently he has acknowledged her as a Princess of Avalon."

Oh, well, that's nice I suppose." Aurora shrugs and heads for the shuttle to investigate. At the base of the ramp, she casts a light spell, drawing on the rod in her hand.

"I guess you are both finding new ways to connect to your ancestry, fair one." Kieran says diplomatically.

Avarya accepts her new blaster and follows along behind Aurora, as do the floating silver spheres of Ghostwheel and the two sensor-probes.

The shuttle is slightly different in design to the shuttles Aurora has seen before, being fashioned from black crystal, with portholes of silverish crystal. It is more akin to passenger aircraft from Earth than to the fighter-shuttles from the battlestation. Inside, the rows of seats are mostly empty, but there are bones in many of them, scattered haphazardly like pale puzzle pieces. Another web covers the door at the front that leads to the flight-deck: this web has been pierced, cut away, and hangs loosely.

"Holy Mother," Aurora mutters at the sight that greets them. "Are those human bones?" Some of them appear close to human in shape. Others do not. She starts moving down the aisle past the rows of seats towards the back of the craft, holding the light high and looking over everything, including the ceiling. "Ghostwheel, can you
check the flight deck?"

The silver sphere instantly zooms forwards, through the hanging web and out of sight.

"I wonder of these were spider food or if they died in here?"

"Maybe both?" Avarya suggests softly, her voice hushed in the gloomy interior, lit only by rainbow from the windows and their own searchlights.

"Poor bastards," the redhead murmurs. She pauses to study an especially bizarre grouping of bones then moves on towards the back of the ship. If it's built like a plane, there must be a cargo hold.

"It must have been quick if they were all still sitting in their seats." Kieran murmurs across the communications link. There is no dust in this place. Toward the back of the shuttle-craft, Aurora does find what appears to be a hatch, which may lead to a cargo hold… unfortunately, it appears to depend on little electrical motors to open, and while the motors still appear intact, there is no electricity to power them.

She kneels down and has a closer look. "Hmmm…" Aurora looks at the rod in her hand thoughtfully. She could make electricity; that's what lightening was afterall. But it was difficult to pin point target it. "Ghostwheel?" she asks through her bracelet. "Is there some way to power this ship up?"

~Affirmative.~ The Ghostwheel replies. ~I could do so for… 3.5 minutes before exhausting my internal power supply. I recommend against visiting the flight deck. There are things here that according to my database would disturb organic life-forms.~

"Well, umm.. I guess it is good I asked you to go isn't it?" she asks with a wary look towards the front of the plane. "Is there a cargo manifest or anything like that up here? Before I ask you open this hatch, that is. It would only take a couple of seconds. I certainly won't ask you to drain you power supply."

There is an instant of silence. ~The flight records indicate this is a passenger transport.~ Ghostwheel replies. ~Departure from Suhuy Ways, destination Mandor Ways. The cargo manifest includes personal luggage for passengers, food supplies, medical supplies, and various diplomatic messages. Aurora, as near as I can determine, it has not been five millenia here. Here it has been fifty millenia since the fall of Amber. A timeflow differential of 1 to 10. The onboard clock has been running on backup power.~

Aurora sits back on her heels and looks around her in disbelief. "Fifty thousand years," she breathes. She sits in silence, though she felt she might cry any moment. Surely there was nothing left of what had once been her family's Ways. Not after all this time.

"Did you all get that, Kieran?"

"What, fair one?" Kieran asks quietly across the communications linkage. "What have you discovered?"

"That you really cannot go home again."

Ancient Gardens

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