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to prowl her insides, their heat and oily excretions repulsive. Anna caressed the shifting black skin of the seat, skin like that which had once been hers.

She had been ripped from the machine, taken from her joy. She longed to go to the heart of this machine, to rip out whoever lay there and sink into the precious gelatinous blackness, to connect once again with the best part of herself. But she could not.


Besides, if she waited just a little longer, she would be joined with a much greater machine.

Consulting an image of the archaeologist woman displayed on one wall, the technicians styled the hair on her head, removed the hair from her legs. This pathetic body required far more maintenance than the machine.

Justin stepped into the doorway. "Everything going well?"

"Yes," Anna said.

He had been growing more anxious since yesterday, moving restlessly about the ship, once even raising his voice to the liberators. There had been a great battle, and John Sheridan's forces had destroyed many of her sisters. John had used the hated telepaths against them.

After the battle, the liberators had gone off on their own to huddle in bursts of overlapping, chirping speech. For the first time, Anna had wondered if their victory could be in doubt.

But that was impossible. If they were defeated, that would mean their enemies were superior. No one could be superior to the liberators and their great machines. Most certainly not a Human.

Before John could do them more harm, he had to be stopped. Destroying him was the proper method. Every instinct told her that. Yet Justin had said John might be controlled, might be convinced, his potential freed. That was what the liberators wished, and they, with their wondrous intelligence and unfathomable knowledge,
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