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turns to look behind her and sees something that appears to be a massive, hooked claw. And there is another smell, the smell of something aged and rotting and evil... which should be impossible, for evil is merely a concept, a state of mind and being, and it could not possibly have its own aroma, except it does, and it is advancing upon her, and she hears the clicking of claws coming together, or perhaps it's teeth...

[She pulls away with a shriek....]

Lyta was serene.

It happened upon her all at once. She had gone from barely contained panic to a calm so consuming that it was almost frightening. It was as if something had been switched on within her, filling her with a disconcerting calm. The calm, perhaps, before the storm.

She looked back out at the jumpgate, not at all certain how much time had passed. However much it was, it was sufficient to have allowed the Starfuries to do their job. Not only had they emerged from the jumpgate, but the artifact they were dragging was almost through, as well. Within another few seconds, it would be out completely.

There is no danger. . . .

She was startled as something else was now within her. It seemed to echo as if her head was hollow-and wasn't that just a charming bolster to the old self-image and ego.

There is no danger, no danger, nodangerno-dangernodanger . . . just peace, just happiness, and you will welcome us, we will welcome you, there is nodangernodanger, none none, nonenone-nonenone. . ..

She put her hands to her head to try and push out the new thoughts that had come to her, unbidden, unwanted. She sought the solace of the peace that she had known only moments ago, moments that now seemed an eternity. She felt as if something was warring within her ... no. No, two somethings, and they threatened
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