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images were snapping into focus for her. She remembered something touching her, caressing her ... something deathly cold, accompanied by a sickly, sucking sound. Then all was blank. "And do you remember what happened to me?" she asked.

He seemed to pale slightly. "Yes ... yes, as a matter of fact, I do. You were ..." He cleared his throat, clearly uncomfortable. "Well, I wasn't going to mention this part..."

"What?" she said suspiciously.

Sounding very apologetic, as if he personally had transgressed somehow, he said, "You were killed. Eaten, actually. By something... I really didn't get a good look at it. That's all I remember."

She nodded thankfully and stepped back. Vir, happy to be away from the conversation since he hadn't been thrilled with the direction it had taken, bobbed his head with gratitude as the door slid shut.

Ivanova's mind was racing. The dream that she had experienced had been singularly creepy ... but she had been certain that it was simply a dream. What more could it be, after all? Granted, it had exhibited a sense of ... of clarity and reality that the average dream didn't begin to possess. But she'd been willing to chalk that up to her overactive imagination.

But this was something she couldn't ignore. She had seen Vir in her dream, she remembered that now. Every piece was coming back with greater and greater intensity. This wasn't simply a dream, it was a communal experience. And she had felt the sense of other people within the experience as well, who knew how many. She couldn't even begin to guess.

Something had triggered it. Something was trying to invade them psychically, make some sort of ... of connection that was insinuating itself through their sleeping minds ... and, if Deuce and the recent outbreak of hostilities throughout
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