Kaire started walking down the corridor, leaving footprints of code behind her. She had to admit – even the software architecture of the Ancestors was quite impressive. With her bond to the Librais, she could appreciate its elegance and simplicity, something built to last. She could even sense the areas added by those who had been subsumed by the Librais in the past – confused, chaotic structures that had been straightened out by the Engine’s systems over the years. All of this, in its secondary mode, where it sorted and spied through all the data it took from the Evinthei.

The primary mode, an outdated function, was a great dark presence somewhere nearby, like a slumbering thundercloud. Kaire was not afraid of it, but she knew that rousing a sleeping giant is rarely wise, and she was very short of time.

Even as she was reading the Librais, she could feel it reading her.

/what an interesting mind you have
/trust me
/once those last doors are down
/you’ll have all the knowledge you ever needed
/or wanted

“Sorry, but I like my thoughts the way they are. There’s such a thing as privacy, even here.”

/come now
/if you keep fighting you’re going to make me angry
/and that would be unwise

“ ‘Make me angry’?” Kaire chuckled. “If you’re using my hormones, you haven’t even got started.”

She thought of her body, tangled up somewhere in the real world in a coil of wires, bleeding. There was not much time to waste.

/waste time on what

“I’m here because I need information from the Evinthei computers. You’re going to get it for me, and then I’m going to leave.”

There was a pause, then a loud burst of static that translated to Kaire as laughter.

/i must keep you alive for a time
/i haven’t been this amused in years

Kaire smiled too, then crouched down on the motive ground, binary running over her knees. She raised one hand. Her right arm sprang out in forespines – or the code equivalent, anyway.

/what are you d

Need power…

She reached through her connection to the Librais, to her own expertise about Gating energy, and pulled. Energy coursed down her spine and bones from somewhere – she didn’t care where it was coming from – and crackled down her forespines. She felt the Librais begin shutting it down: before it had a chance, Kaire drew back her arm and slammed it into the ground up to the elbow, like punching into loose sand. A black-red burst of code exploded around the area and she felt everything quiver. Then the pain hit her, not physical but severe enough to make her see stars. She managed to stay upright, sustained by the knowledge the Librais was feeling it too.

Error messages flickered past in her head for a second, then -

/what are you doing
/what was

“That was getting your attention,” said Kaire, rising to her feet. “Did it work?”



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