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be activated, now, the machine needed its service. She felt a surge of heat from it, opened her eyes to see the charcoal moving in a wave, pulsing from head to tail. An image formed in her mind then, an image of a woman and a girl, dark-haired, smiling, sitting on a commercial transport, looking out the window at the jump gate that would take them on an exciting journey. As the transport approached the jump-gate vortex, the mother took her little girl's hand and exchanged smiles with her. The little girl swung her feet. Just as the undulating red of hyperspace seized them, its currents exploded into a cataract, compressing the waves of space before them, propelling the transport ahead into wave upon wave of nonplace and nontime. Space folded in upon space, the particles of the transport burrowing into a wormhole within a wormhole within a wormhole, a crushing darkness, the cold of absolute zero, an energy well from which there was no escape, no life, but consciousness. And pain. Eternal. Their cries tore a hole through Morden, a hole which could not be endured. Anna shrank from it.

"Stop it! Stop it!" he cried.

"End their suffering. Please. I'll do whatever you want. Please."

He was shaking against her, his body racked with sobs. She squeezed his hands, trying to recover the intimacy she had shrunk from. The hole within him was suffocating, terrifying, all-encompassing. How could she tell him to endure it? How had she ever thought she could heal it? She reached into the maelstrom. How do you know what they're showing you is true? Or that they'll do anything about it? The response came with Morden's careful calm, and she could almost see his fixed smile, the bandage over the abyss. How do I know it isn't, and they won't? I have to do whatever I can. D'Veeh creor
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