When dusk came, Athellus laid a fire, feeding it with scraps of paper and wood he had pulled out of the rubble. Truth be told, it wasn’t needed; the air was warm and the periodic lightning striking the Librais Tower was bright enough for them to see by, but the flames lent a more comforting glow, sending flickering orange shadows across the nearby buildings. After a while he set a canteen of water to boil.

“You should have told me,” Dax said finally, from the opposite side of the fire. It was the first time he had spoken in hours, speaking the clearest thought in his churning mind.

“Told you what?” Athellus wanted to know, pulling a jar of coffee from his pack. “As far as we were planning, you’d see Kaire walk into the Tower, and walk out later with no harm done.”

He gave Dax a thoughtful look. “What is it about this place? You started acting strangely as soon as you saw it, and I don’t think that was the Librais working on you, either.”

Dax looked at the ground.

“You’ve seen it before, haven’t you. In another of your dreams?”

“ - Yes. But it was different.”

“Different how?”

Dax shook his head, at a loss to explain. He felt like he was faced with two conflicting truths, both of equal weight. On one hand was the fact of the Librais Tower, a building overrun by an ancient war machine that devoured the people who tried to use it. On the other was his dream, where the Tower meant something different – something purer and brighter, something weirder. It was tied up with those pylons on the roof, somehow, and another idea he couldn’t quite grasp.

“It isn’t right,” is all he could say.

Athellus shook his head. Instead of questioning further, he wrapped a cloth around his hand and took the canteen off the fire, mixing up instant coffee and passing one mug to Dax.

“After the Scorpieth disappeared,” he said, “the crews who were working on the city found this relay tower was still intact. They couldn’t understand how it had survived the attack, but when people started wandering in and not coming out again, they quickly worked out what was going on. While the Scorpieth was here, another of the Engines had sensed its Gating and followed, a bit like a jackal following a lion, looking to take whatever it could get. The Librais had… I suppose it had infested the tower, and used those poor bastards it lured in to keep growing itself."

"Growing itself?"

"The Librais seems able to grow its own circuitry, don't ask me how. Whatever it originally looked like, it looks like the Tower now. The Evinthei were braced for another attack, but once the Librais had taken over the whole Tower, it seemed to stop after they took out its operators. It’s been there ever since. They don’t dare nuke the Tower in case it blows the Librais components out into the surrounding area, so in the meantime they just keep an eye on it. But it’s been well over a hundred years and the Librais hasn’t done anything, except grow and key into the city computer systems.”

 

 

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