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and the cold sent exhilarating tingles across her skin. Then she was free, cutting through the invigorating vacuum of space.

She wanted to dance in the vast darkness, to celebrate her freedom. But her four passengers directed her to stop, and wait. Waiting could be done as easily in motion as in stillness, yet they cared nothing for her joys. She would have preferred not to carry these intruders, but the Eye had told her they were critical to the war, and by carrying them and aiding them, she was helping to attain victory.

The greatest joy is the ecstasy of victory.

She stopped where they directed. These creatures made her uneasy. She could feel them moving around inside the dark chambers of her body, running their hands over her curves, eyeing the shifting black brilliance of her skin. She had extended chairs from the walls and floor of her largest chamber for their comfort, and when they sat, their heat and oily excretions soaked into her.

Three, the Eye had told her, were techno-mages, with machinery incorporated into their bodies. From listening to them speak, she had learned their names: Elizar, Razeel, and Tilar. Anna found their bodies vastly inferior to her own. They generated some low-level energies, but they were irritants, no more.

Yet the fourth passenger was more, a torturous, repugnant presence. Her name was Bunny. The Eye had long ago taught her what a telepath was, and told her telepaths were enemies. Yet today the Eye had told her that this telepath was an ally, one who would fight with them.

When Bunny had first approached, Anna had immediately sensed the threat, a vague pressure that pushed at her mind, intrusive, confusing, quickly generating a dull, pulsing pain. She had not wanted Bunny inside her. All her instincts screamed against
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