M4. The Twist

“Today’s the day you reclaim your humanity. Do you remember how to make the mind-linking cable like I taught you?”

“Oh! Oh, yes!” A red tentacle popped from the ground beside her. Its tip split into two, and each of those tips split into two, and so on, until the tentacle ended with a fibrous cable. “Like this, right?”

M1. The Fall

Professor Akayama could not quantify the duration of her fall after the Hurricane ripped her spaceship in half. Each half of the Zephyr’s head spun into space in opposite directions, while she seemed to spin in place until she lost consciousness. Each time she woke and opened her eyes, she saw the red Hurricane Planet approaching beneath her. She lost consciousness like this seven times, and each time she prayed she could hit the ground and die before she woke once more and had to see the Hurricane again.

She wasn’t so lucky. She splashed face-down in a deep ocean of warm, pearly, pulpy liquid.

She had no strength to swim, but she floated to the surface and rolled face-up. Her lab coat kept her afloat as she languished in half-awareness for, it felt like, nine days. She had to guess at the duration because she saw only red Hurricane Planets speckling the black sky; she would die without the familiar sight of the earth and sun from her moon base. She was too distant to see even the Milky Way.

L3. The Last Meal

The old monk loosed a long sigh with a protracted shrug. “No person has ever visited me three times in such an interesting fashion as Faith. I thought she was destined to study the Mountain on the Islands of Sheridan. Virgil Blue and I had prepared an initiation ceremony for her to perform immediately, if only she was alive to accept our offer.”

Dan bit at his index finger. Jay nodded solemnly and swallowed. “Is the initiation ceremony still, uh, ready to go?” he asked.