chol. She had never heard the words of the dead language pronounced before, so it took her a moment to understand. Love abides no borders.
They were in the wormhole, time crushed to an infinite standstill, a moment, frozen, perpetual, a mother and child dying, compressed beyond recognition, the shock of pain holding them together for this last, and eternal, cry to the one they loved. Every light carries a shadow, the pillars read. And this was Morden's shadow, the one he couldn't escape.
"Free them," Morden said.
"I'll serve you willingly, happily, with all the skills at my command."
The image in her mind changed then, and she saw at last the ship Morden had described, wavering black and spiky against the red currents of hyperspace like a nightmare come to life. The ship shrieked out a beam of energy. The force of it spread in red ripples from its central core, propagating a subtle change through the geography of hyperspace and hyper-time, entering, an echo of an echo of an echo, the invisible nonplace and nontime that held a mother and daughter. And with an undulation like a breath, the wormhole dissolved, the frozen moment passed into the future, faded, died. The cries sighed into stillness. The undulation resonated through the hole at the heart of Morden, the gentle lap of waves filling it with blackness, a lake in the darkness, water of peace and forgetfulness. Morden's hands pulled free of hers. Anna opened her eyes. The pulsing of the mouse slowed, stopped. Morden's back rose, moved away from her. The space between them was immediately filled with shadows. Living darkness surrounded her. Anna would become the mouse, caught in a cage of sinew and bone, hardwired into a machine, no more than a cog or a chip, a lost bit of organic tissue with a faint memory