Irongate – Chapter Six

The light of dawn once again revealed all that had taken place under the shroud of night – those that survived and those that died. For most it was a day like any other; they arose, dressed, ate, then went outside to go about their business, no reason to believe this day would be any different from the hundreds or thousands that had gone before. But not so for Benji or the passing cleaner who found his cold body. Nor for the police that soon after arrived, quickly suspecting that this was not the result of a mere brawl or usual gang nonsense.

“Cause of death is obvious,” a woman said as the corpse was covered, “blow straight to the heart. From the angle of it, maybe he was fighting someone who was down on their knees.”

Chance nodded, stirring his coffee by sloshing it about the paper cup. “Or someone small,” he suggested.

“They’d have had to be very strong. It’s like a fist sized cannonball went through him. No other injuries I can see.”

Other officers blocked the entrance to the alley while a few forensic investigators bumbled about inside, one of them scoffing at Chance’s suggestion. “You want to call the circus? Maybe there’s a killer Chimp on the loose – they’re very strong,” he said, “or maybe the military has been training them to be assassins.”

Honestly, with all the strange things occurring lately there was nothing Chance could rule out and the military had funded stranger experiments than that, like trying to train real life Jedi or make gay bombs. “Chimps have fingerprints, right?” He sighed, “so why don’t you do your job and keep looking?”

“Yeah, well – after last night’s rain I wouldn’t hold much hope of finding anything.”

Unfortunately he was correct. There was a security camera in the alley, but after checking with Daramy it turned that could offer no leads either. “It is like everything electrical just stopped,” Francis explained, “alarms, heating, cameras – all stopped at once. Then after a time just came back on.”

“How’s that possible?” Chance asked.

The technical person with Daramy shook their head, “it isn’t. There’s no wires have been cut, no fuses removed. No damage anywhere that I can tell.”

Although knowing it was clutching at straws, Chance asked, “what about, like, an electro-magnetic pulse?”

“Localized to such a small area? I just can’t see how it could be done.”

Of course, that didn’t mean that no-one could. But all they could do now was go back to basics – find out everything they could about Benji; where he’d been, who he associated with, and which of them might have a reason to want him dead. And since it had happened in his neighborhood, he was really only the logical person to start with.

The Mill was empty of revelers. Just a few of Stan’s boys either mopping or posted at attention by every door, Amara wiping the bar, and the man himself hunched in front of it helping himself to whatever booze he pleased. “Officers!” He broadly grinned as Chance and Daramy let themselves through the doors, “here – whiskey. On the house. Consider it a thank you for the fine job you’re doing keeping us all safe.”

He obviously knew, Chance thought, and did not appreciate the sarcasm. “Benjamin Bhaskar is dead,” he said.

Stan shrugged his broad shoulders, “so is Abe Lincoln, Joan of Arc, Socrates – difference is I know who each of them were.”

“He was here last night,” Daramy explained, approaching the bar and sliding over a printed out photo.

He obviously knew – Chance really didn’t see any point in going through this whole song and dance. “Come on, Stan. A man murdered in your neighborhood, and you expect us to believe that you know nothing about it?”

“Well,” the boss frowned, “I do hope you’re not accusing me of any foul play?”

“No,” Chance exhaled, “I’m sure you’d have made sure your boys cleaned up after.”

“I do like to keep my house in order. Appearances are important, you know?” Stan handed the picture to the club’s manager, Amara.

“Not sure,” she said after squinting at it, “think it might be the guy who ran out. Figure he took something that didn’t agree with him.”

“Naturally, my boys are scrupulous,” Stan assured, “but of course the odd substance will slip by even them.”

“It’s not what killed him, anyway,” Chance sighed, “I think I will take that drink.”

Stan chuckled from deep in his voluminous chest. “Gruesome, was it? I’m curious – what does it take to rattle the nerves of an ex-soldier?”

“Not the gore that bothers me. No – what bothers me is that this could happen right under your nose and you don’t have a clue about it, do you?”

Daramy was next with the next with the Whiskey. “I expect your boys have started making their own inquiries, yes? Break a few thumbs?”

Stan surely wouldn’t miss a chance to boast that he was ahead of them, and sure enough he said, “I’ll admit, I did have Clay and a few others ask around. Apparently your man – whatever his name was – he worked security for Silver Bow.”

Chance felt his brow grow heavier as things just got even more complicated. “Great,” he muttered, having another drink.

“What is it?” Daramy asked.

“They’re not a security company so much as a private army that looks after all Meridiem’s assets,” as such getting them to cooperate would be challenge in and of itself.

“Word is,” Stan went on, “your man and a few other lads were doing jobs on the side for some high-up. But that is all I’ve heard.”

It was something to go on, anyway. “Thank Stan,” Chance got up and said sarcastically, “you’re a real pillar of the community.” At the same time, Daramy was getting a call then showed the phone screen to his partner. There was a green crumpled wreck found on a farm outside of town. It took a few seconds for him to turn the vehicle over in his mind and place it. “Kaya Cade was here?”

“Yeah,” Stan shrugged, “she and them Killer Aqua Monkeys were on stage. I think she’s sleeping in her car now. Very sad.”

“Her car was found overturned in a field,” Chance grimly informed him. Kaya was a nuisance, but one he admitted he’d grown a little bit fond of. “Maybe run off the road.” Maybe they shouldn’t have been so lenient on her – a night in a cell might have done her good. Might have saved her…

Stan rose, cracking his knuckles, “is she-?”

Chance shook, “No bodies. Maybe she got away. If she did, she may be the only witness to what happened. We have to find her.”


Kaya Cade had no intention of being found. Not yet. She couldn’t accept what she’d seen. How could she – it was like no experience she’d ever had or even heard of. She wasn’t altogether sure she hadn’t dreamed it, yet she did have the blade, and didn’t have Greenback. But if she still couldn’t really accept it, and she was there, how could she expect the dibbles or anyone else to?

She had retrieved only a backpack from the wreck. For a time she wandered the town, carefully avoiding any patrol routes she knew about it and anyone else who might recognize her. It seemed strange to her to see others going about their business – children laughing and skipping to school, their parents eating breakfast and going to work – all acting as if everything in the world was normal. That nothing had changed. She wanted to scream and shout at them for their complacency, tell them their little suburban paradise was likely being watched now and could be turned upside down any moment. But that would change nothing either, other than land her in the hands of the very people she was trying to avoid. She didn’t really have the energy for it either.

But if the dibbles were out, what were her options? Mom would shelter her, sure, but she’d get into a screaming match with her dad which she also had no energy for. Stan was no different to the dibbles – he’d want answers of which she currently had none. Sayuri? She would help, or at least, but there was another problem – that creature had come after her relentlessly for seemingly no other reason than that she had seen it. If it wasn’t truly dead, or if there were others, they could just be waiting for the sun to set before the hunt began anew. Or could be watching her now.

Kaya stopped in a small cafe, spending what little change she had left on a sandwich. She then sat in a corner so she could keep an eye outside while contemplating her next move. What the hell was that creature been anyway? Some kind of elf? A faerie? It sounded ridiculous but she couldn’t think of another name. It was definitely ‘faerie’ with an ‘e’ though, and not ‘fairy’. The later was cute. This was most definitely not.

That Witch Which… there was a poster for those children’s books and cartoon on the far wall, with the titular red haired – and weirdly sexily posed – witch winking at her. She was meant to be encouraging kids to go to the library, or maybe their dad’s to take them, or – whatever. That was not important right now. What was important was that Kaya could not avoid the dibbles forever and she needed a place to hang low. There was a place she was sure no-one would think to look. Maybe someone there could help her. Maybe they’d turn her away. Maybe it was abandoned. But it was a destination at least which seemed better than wandering aimlessly.

A man parked his moped outside, resting his helmet on the seat before coming into the cafe and approaching the till. Maybe on his way to some job, maybe a home delivery driver. As he ran out again shaking his fist, Kaya realized this was a rotten thing to do. But her need was great, and it was temporary – he’d get his bike back and surely someone else would be dispatched to deliver the granny she was imagining her sandwiches.

If Kaya had remembered the map correctly, the lighthouse was west of town way off the main road. She soon learned from the state of it and her butt that the road leading to it was seldom used at all. Honestly she had doubted it really existed, but sure enough it was there, poking it’s faded beacon above the canopy, standing where a lighthouse really did not belong. Even with that had transpired recently the sight was surreal; so strange, and lonely, and out of place.

Kaya abandoned the moped for a couple of reasons; she thought it would struggle up the hill (and her butt’d had enough), and if there was a real witch (and why wouldn’t there be since there were faeries now apparently) she didn’t want to ride straight up to the gate. No – she needed to scout a little before she risked being thrown into an oven and baked.

As she climbed and picked her way up the hill with just her backpack, a mist began to descend. She hardly noticed at first, but half-way up it was a thick fog and she could no longer see the lighthouse before her. A chorus of hoots, whoops, howls, and wails, came at her from all around, forbidding her from focusing her attention in any single direction.

“Okay,” Kaya said, biting her lip. “Not creepy at all. You know I’ve actually seen creepier stuff than this recently, so – you know.” She pushed on. She should have taken more seriously what Ashley had said because the next thing to happen was a rumble, which she didn’t hear so much as felt in her belly. She fell to her knees, insides wriggling and jiggling and threatening to burst out through any available orifice.

But she glimpsed something strange, or whatever passed for strange now. The mist hadn’t descended – rather risen from spots on the ground. Then, hidden among the ivy crawling up the trunk of one tree she spied a wire, which after pulling she found was attached to a speaker concealed within a hollow. What kind of a witch uses vents and recordings to scare people? Come to think of it the owl watching her also seemed off – almost mechanical. She tugged, detaching the speaker from its power. The rumbling stopped, although she doubted that could have been the only source for it. The owl was still following her with it’s big camera eyes – something knew she was here and perhaps was letting her proceed. Or maybe there were more deadly deterrents ahead.

Whoever lived here wasn’t a witch, but clearly wanted to be left alone. Kaya might have respected that on other days, but frankly she had come all this way, had no idea where else to go or what to do, but was determined to do something. At least see what kind of person this was – if nothing else all this security seemed comparatively normal and a welcome distraction from her fae problem.

Pushing through the remaining mist, Kaya reached a ten foot stone wall that surrounded the property, little spikes at the top to discourage anyone attempting to climb over. Following it around she came to a back gate; heavy, wooden, braced, and locked. This place was like a castle with the lighthouse as its keep. She was out of sight of the owl and a lock couldn’t keep her out very long, soon clicking open to give her access to what she assumed was the back of a brick shed or garage. Creeping around she found the garden to be well kept and normal, except for the robots.

They were glistening green cylinders trundling around on tracks, spindly long arms reaching out to dig or pull weeds from the soil. Kaya didn’t know enough about flora to guess what they could be growing, but figured robots didn’t eat vegetables or have want of anything recreational so something human had to be around. Unless maybe their creator had passed long ago but these bots just kept going about their programmed duties day after day as if nothing had changed – quite sad if you thought about it.

Kaya had no time to think about it. Motors whirred behind her – another robot. Same design as the others, but blood red in color and with an extra appendage protruding from its back which Kaya’s imagination filled in was some kind of weapon. The aggressive machine blocked her path back to the gate, forcing her out of her crouch and out over the grass then gravel, the garden robots turning on her with their single irises, closing in. The lighthouse door was locked when she backed into it, but then clicked open, confirming her inkling that she was being herded into it. She could have tried to run the other way, around the bots, back to whatever things could be waiting for her out there. Or she could hope that whatever was controlling these chrome horticulturists would want to talk. Wasn’t much of a choice really.

Inside the lighthouse was dark, except for computer monitors mounted all around the circumference. Some displayed numbers Kaya couldn’t begin to make sense of – it was all very mathy. One had a map of Irongate with blotches on it, some displayed images from what must be cameras hidden all around the property. The ones showing the forest must have been owls, and the ones moving must be what the robots were seeing. Below the monitors were workbenches again running almost all around the circumference from the door to the stairs. On them were robots in the middle of being repaired or assembled, some cannon looking thing, a hoop with some wires attached floating a foot above the bench – Kaya waved her hand under and over it then tugged gently at all the wires. Didn’t seem to be a magic trick – it really was just floating. Then there were just all kinds of tools and junk she couldn’t even guess at.

Kaya’s eyes were drawn up, the stairs spiraling and disappearing into a murky abyss high above from which cables dangled like tentacles. One of them stretched out all the way to the floor, hanging behind – Kaya spun about, coming face to metallic eye with something. It was manta shaped, two feet wide, peering at her through some spinning green lens. With a yelp Kaya fell back on one of the benches, instinctively grabbing anything to protect herself. It turned out she’d picked up a hammer, but a discharge from the creature’s lens knocked it from her.

“Please do not be alarmed,” it spoke although it had no mouth.

“D-don’t be…?” Kaya gulped like a fish, her hand feeling like someone had put out a candle on it. “You just zapped me!”

“Apologies, but your heart rate and respiration elevated.”

“No freaking kidding!”

“I could not take the risk of you taking rash action.”

“How about just not creeping on people, huh?”

“Apologies,” it said again, turning slightly askew. “You did force your way onto this property.”

“Yeah,” Kaya said, still trying furiously to get cool air flowing over her burn. Then she remembered the lighthouse door opening by itself. “I think you let me in.”


“So, who or what are you?”

“Heuristic Analysis and Learning Machine. But the mistress prefers to call me Hull.”

“Right,” Kaya exhaled, muttering as the eye lifted itself away, “not creepy at all. You going to ask who I am?”

“Your likeness has been scanned and matched to police records,” Hull said, stalk and green glow swinging back toward her, “you are Kaya Cade.”

“Hope the dibbles had some nice things to say about me. So, why’d you let me in, Hull?”

“I require your assistance with the mistress.”

“Okay. So what’s up with her?” Kaya asked, just rolling with it at this point, but suspecting she was soon going to find a dusty old skeleton, stupid machines unable to distinguish between atoms in a living thing from a dead one.

“Guidelines recommend at least three meals and thirty minutes exercise per day. But lately the mistress refuses to leave her study and takes hardly any sustenance. Additionally she does not dress herself. I believe she is in a state humans call depression.”

“Sounds like it,” Kaya nodded. The mistress was definitely dead.

“I fear my status as an artificial being whose commands can be overridden renders me incapable of assisting. However, you may be able to, as some say, snap her out of it.”

“What’s in it for me?”

“I will not zap you again. Or contact the authorities.”

“Well negotiated,” Kaya supposed there was no harm in looking. But if she did just find a sack of bones explaining the concept of death to a machine could be tricky. “So, where is this mistress of yours?”

“As I said – her study. Follow me.”

“How-?” As Kaya asked the manta-shaped eye detached from the tentacle and proceeded to swim out the lighthouse door and across the courtyard. “Oh – okay.” Kaya then followed the silvery sky fish to the lighthouse keeper’s, or mistress’s, cottage.

Inside was nice. Cozy. On the surface at least it seemed an entirely different world from the cool mechanical interior of the lighthouse. There was a big soft looking couch with fluffy cushions, smooth wooden banisters, warm carpet. A little musty, but in a way that reminded you of an old library. And there were books; lots of books stacked on shelves or in small piles on a coffee table. Sensibly there were no books around the fireplace, but there were some framed photos of a family. A man, a blonde woman, and a little blonde girl…

“No way,” Kaya breathed, eyes widening as she realized she knew, or rather had known, each of the people in the photographs. “What are the chances I’d end up here?” She asked rhetorically. Hull answered anyway:

“Given the proximity in which you live, your history of petty theft and burglary, and association with organized crime, I would say the chances of you one day attempting to steal from here were fairly high.”

“I didn’t come here to steal,” Kaya snapped, although acknowledged that if she hadn’t encountered that fae monster there was a good chance that one day she might have been driven to it. “But you’re right – I’m scum. And this – this is a mistake. I can’t help you or your mistress. You see, she hates me. For good reason. I should just go-”

Too late. She’d heard them and was descending the stairs in a powder blue gown, one hand on the banister as if too weak or uncertain to stand on her own. “Hull?” She asked as she turned. Her hair was much longer and messier than it used to be. Her eyes seemed sunken and shadowed like she hadn’t gotten much sleep, or perhaps spent too long staring at screens. “Who are you-?” The pale blonde young woman froze, squinting at the strange sight before her; not the gently bobbing sky fish, but the other young woman with dyed red hair. It had been blue when they last saw each other so maybe she didn’t recognize Kaya now. But then Jenn’s facial muscles tautened as she bared her teeth and spat, “you!”

Jennifer burst for a drawer, Kaya feeling she had no choice now went after her, recoiling when Jenn spun around with a canister in her hand and a finger perched and ready to press. “Woah,” Kaya backed off, raising her palms, “look, I know you’ve got a lot of reasons to be mad at me but I’m not here to fight, okay? Also that is fly spray.”

“Oh,” Jenn quickly confirmed with her own eyes but kept the can firmly trained on the invader. “Well, i-it could still make you very sick and potentially is carcinogenic, so you better stay back!”

“Okay, see? I’m staying back over here. Like I said, I don’t want to hurt you.”

Jenn snorted, “like there’s any way you could more than you have already. What do you want?”

“Honestly? I don’t know,” Kaya admitted, maintaining a safe distance. “I was just frightened and lost, then I remembered seeing this place and your fish let me in.”

“Yes,” Jennifer glared menacingly at the bobbing manta, “we’ll be having words about that.”

“You know the kids in town think you’re a witch.”

“I know. They dare each other to come up here sometimes. No-one’s ever made it past the brown note before.”

“So you just live up here on your own, tinkering with robots and junk?”

“Evidently,” Jenn tersely answered. “Look, I’m not interested in catching up or small talk so can you explain why you’re here, please?”

“It’s just I always thought you’d be off somewhere studying to be a doctor or scientist or something, or off exploring the world and investigating mysteries.”

Jennifer exhaled, lowering the fly spray as she collapsed into an armchair, eyes glazing as she looked away, seeming to fixate on a reflection in the coffee table. “There was,” she quietly confessed, “there was no-one to explore it with.”

“I’m sorry,” Kaya didn’t know what else to say.

“It’s fine. I-I’m luckier than most,” Jenn said, really sounding like she was trying to convince herself. “I have a good place to live and the freedom to tinker with all the junk I want.”

“Right. Except the fish – Hull – he’s worried about you. He thinks you’re depressed.”

“Hull is just a computer. He doesn’t think or worry or really understand what words like ‘depression’ mean. I’ve just been a bit tired is all.”

Perhaps most of that was true, Kaya thought, but then that was the problem here wasn’t it? All the mechanical friends in the world couldn’t really understand. Jennifer it seemed hadn’t really changed that much; somehow simultaneously bright and brilliant, but also very, very dumb. And stubborn. Probably just as well that she was or Kaya’s earlier premonition might have come true. Kaya had one other burning question to provide a bit of distraction from all that, “why is there a lighthouse here?”

“Ah – you see,” Jennifer explained, lighting up for a moment as she always did when she got to share some knowledge, “Alexandria was famous for two things; the library and the lighthouse. So when they built the university here someone had the bright idea of putting a lighthouse nearby, to symbolize souls being guided to the shores of learning. It turned out residents in town didn’t much appreciate a million candles crashing through their windows at night, so it was only ever turned on once. Then everyone just forgot about it,” likewise Jenn’s light faded as her story returned to the present. “Anyway, my uncle bought it and gave it to me to look after. I guess so he wouldn’t have to look after me.”

Kaya looked to the family photo, “so no-one ever found what happened?”

“Nope,” Jenn sniffed, “They were declared dead I think a year ago? I lose track of time here. I buried some empty coffins, but I still think…” She trailed off, jaw hardening as her eyes pivoted back on Kaya. “It doesn’t matter. You still haven’t said why you’re here.”

“Right,” perhaps, Kaya thought, a distraction was what they both needed. She – very carefully – opened her backpack to pull out the creature’s blade which she’d wrapped in some old newspapers. “Look at this,” she said, unraveling it on the coffee table.

Jennifer looked. Shrugged, “it’s an old knife.”

“It’s not a knife,” Kaya corrected, “it’s a piece of some kind of sword or something. Went through my car roof like it was cardboard.”

After looking more closely, Jenn clasped her hands over her nose and mouth, gasping, “is that blood!?”

“It’s not human,” Kaya assured her. “I don’t know what it was. But it was strong, and fast, and had this bark-like skin or armor like a spriggan or something. Oh! And it could turn invisible.”

“Invisible?” Jenn’s eyebrow arched.

“At first. But it was raining so I saw it.”

“And did you get any pictures of this supposed spriggan?”

“That was the other weird thing – my phone and everything electrical stopped working when it was around. It’s like your old book said, right? The hidden people guard their privacy. Well this thing really didn’t like being seen. Maybe that’s why it gouged the eyes out of that man.”

Jennifer blinked several times, repeating, “it gouged the eyes…”

“Uh-huh. I found the body, then it came after me. Got away in my car, although in the end the car didn’t make it. But I got hold of that and stabbed it through its eye, which seemed to stop it. At least for a bit.”

Jennifer looked as sternly as she could at Kaya, telling her, “if someone died, you should go to the police.”

“Trust me – those guys wouldn’t have a clue what to do with this,” Kaya had started to pace a little, one hand rubbing the back of her head. “They wouldn’t believe me anyway. But you – you used to be all into all that dragons and Bigfoot and fairy stuff.”

“That was a long time ago,” Jenn sighed sadly, “we – we’re not little kids anymore.”

If Jennifer had punched her it couldn’t have hurt Kaya nearly as much as those words did. “So, you don’t believe me?”

“It doesn’t matter what I believe,” Jenn sighed, “people believe in all sorts of things that are harmful and wrong; psychics, miracle cures, white supremacy. Remember how I used to believe that you were my friend, but then when I actually needed you, you… you weren’t there.”

Kaya was wrong – Jennifer had changed. But she wasn’t being unfair either. “I’m sorry.”

“If anything you said was true then go the cops,” Jennifer stated again, rising from her chair. “If it’s some trick to lure me out so Angela can beat me up and paint ‘loser’ on my face for old times sake, then I’m not biting. If you want forgiveness, you won’t find it. In any case there’s no point in you staying,” Jenn turned her back to stare out a window. “We’re done.”

“Right,” Kaya picked up her pack, turning away to face whatever was waiting for her out there. “But you know I really am sorry. I know you can’t forgive me, but I’m glad I got to tell you at least. Hope some day you figure out a way to be less lonely.”

Jennifer waited until she was certain Kaya was gone before allowing her chest to relax and take in needed her. “Hull, why?” She asked. “You have all my diaries in your memory. You must know I despise that person.”

The silvery manta bobbed beside her, stating, “incorrect.”


“Other than your parents, Miss Cade is the individual you refer to most often fondly in your journals.”

“I think you should check again. I’m pretty sure most the entries are me weeping about some horrible thing she did.”

“First entry; ‘Momma left me at a new school. I was afraid I’d be alone, but one girl talked to me. She said her name was Kaya and I showed her my magnifying glass and she laughed. We spent the day looking for clues…”

“Stop!” Jennifer commanded, sagging as her lower lip pushed up under the one above. “I was what, seven? A lot changed since then.”


“And don’t keep calling me mistress. I keep telling you to use my name.”

“Miss Jennifer Willow Airhart-”

“Just Jenn, or Jennifer. I’ve never used my middle name. Did you know Taoist witches use willow carvings to talk to the dead? That’s what my dad told me to convince me my name was cool.”

“Miss Jennifer, have I erred?”

“No,” Jenn sighed, “it’s my fault. I should have taught you to prioritize later entries first. When we were thirteen she joined some stupid gang and they didn’t want the weird girl whose parents ran away hanging around them. Everything changed.”


“Well life is change; she changed, I’ve changed, even you change. Every second you’re acquiring new data to incorporate into your algorithms, so you’re never the same computer you were yesterday or even a moment ago. We’re all different now.”

The green lights within Hull’s lens spun around as if struggling to process this information. Jenn doubted he was – probably one of the many other tasks he was running. “But then,” he said at last, “does it not stand to reason that the girl that hurt you also no longer exists?”

“Maybe not,” Jennifer conceded with another sigh, “unfortunately the memory still does.” She stood in quiet contemplation for another moment, watching the clouds change outside, knowing that this sky would never be again. “Anyway,” she then said, “you don’t have to worry about me. Not like I’ve not been down in the dumps before. I always bounce back.”

“Then you have decided on a new project?”

“Yep!” Jennifer twirled around with her arms outstretched, “we’re going to fly!” She froze mid-flight, spying that the blade Kaya has shown her was still lying on the coffee table.

“Before you begin, ma’am, you may be interested to know I have intercepted police reports that appear to corroborate some of Miss Cade’s story.”

Moments later in the lighthouse Jennifer saw the reports herself; bodies found with their eyes missing, inexplicable power outages, a wrecked car. “No sign of any spriggan though,” Jenn frowned. As it was here, she supposed she might as well look at the blade under a microscope. “It’s not metal,” she said as Hull floated around her, “some kind of crystalline lattice like a,” she pulled her eyes away as gears ground in her head, “like a limpet’s tooth. This could have been grown rather than made,” but with that discovery came a hurtful revelation – Kaya might have been telling the truth, and had asked Jennifer for help. If her parents were here, they’d have told that it didn’t matter who they were, you never turn your back on someone asking for help. But in order to help she had to learn more – perhaps the blood on the blade? “Hull – do we still have the DNA sequencer?”

“I believe it is stored below, next to old coffee machine.”

“Good. Get it out. I’m – I’m going to get dressed.”

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