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the elder Sheridan's slow but direct manner. "I don't have much time, son. I want you to know you were right. I didn't want to admit that." He shook his head. "Just pride, I guess. You get my age, and you get kind of set in your ways. But it had to be done. Don't blame yourself for what happened later."

The ropes of infected light thrust through his encounter suit and pierced his outer layer. The enemy's touch was excruciating. From those pinpoint contacts radiated chaos. The light of his body began to lose its coherence, to degenerate.

In the dream he stumbled back, clutched a hand to his stomach.

Sheridan grabbed him. "Dad. Are you-You all right?"

The foul ropes slid deeper, carving through him. They left in their wakes spreading halos of dissolution. Kosh found himself holding on to Sheridan for support, struggling to maintain the dream. He did not want to relinquish the connection yet. "It's too late for me. I'm sorry for what I did before. I knew what was ahead. I guess... I guess I was afraid. When you've lived as long as I have, you-kind of get used to it."

Inside him, the invading ropes reached the boundary of his core. Against its strength the enemy twisted and writhed, unable to penetrate.

The ropes went still. Kosh wondered if the enemy might, somehow, fail to attain their goal.

With a surge of tainted energy, the ropes began to whirl. Quickly their speed increased. Chaos churned through his outer layers, whipping them into turmoil, building into a great, raging storm. His encounter suit broke apart, fell away. He felt as if he must cease to exist. The pain was unbearable.

They had brought the maelstrom with them. It took on a life of its own within him, his outer layers losing their structure, spinning toward disintegration. The ropes
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