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"This dimension is beneath the realms of the sea gods and the gods of darkness," Tarva was speaking into a microphone provided by Bluebird that provided a link to the field agents, Kimber close at hand as she spoke. "Incomplete in its own way," she said, reciting with an odd detachment like one describing the weather or the prospects for a good harvest - describing natural conditions completely out of one's control. "And thus worthy of colonization. I doubt it extends even as far as the Terran solar system. With the way behind us shut, you and your heirs will be able to live here in peace for centuries." That got her a hiss from Bluebird, and Tarva sighed softly. "Any native life forms should be well within your capacity to deal with."

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"I think," Indira rebutted with a voice full of careful razor blades, "that you have very much underestimated your impact on those of us who were already unlikely to see heirs. Unless you have sent us very close to certain parts of space, some of us went from low chances to zero chances, and it is somehow the least-worst thing you have done to us today."

 

Her metal body doubled over, a quadrupedal body's head and back extending a hundred long, wire-like spines which twitched and adjusted in the foreign air. "We are not quite alone," she mused, clawed feet flexing in the dirt. "Birds, perhaps, but not nearby. Small life underground - we should take care that they do not dig their way into the building. And--hmm."

 

She grew, legs narrowing and extending like silts to suspend her well above the foreign fauna. She was casting her head around for...something. Something she didn't like. "The wind is strange. It does not sound right, but I cannot...."

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Miss Grue

Her own psychic senses were telling her nothing, even her abilities to detect thinking life form was showing her nothing special.

 

"I'm not sensing anything special around us. Maybe if we tried another perspective?"

 

Being a shapeshifter, one of two which was always a nice change, she had many options to help gather whatever information they could. In this case, she decided to do the option which would be the most obvious, and attention-grabbing, option growing in height to around fifteen foot.

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Miss Grue loomed over the landscape, looking out to the very distance. Standing above the dark field of red flowers, she could see patches in the field, furrows that seemed to be cut out... and built up. It was as if the flowers had been plucked out from the ground, root to stem, in even circles. Well... some were even. Others seemed ragged, as if a toddler has started with a sandcastle, made one mistake, and decided it would be better as a pile. In each circle, even or ragged, lay a pile of the red flowers, slowly dying in the night air. 

 

Temperance could feel a shift in the air. Something was out there, something she couldn't quite feel but which pinged the edge of her senses. And Miss Grue could feel it now, too. Like hearing a voice in the radio static. A sense of wanting, desire, creation, understanding, dissection, reconstruction... and it was bearing down on them...

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Miss Grue

It was all strange and this was from someone who lived on strange with the strange. To sum up life was weird, but this took things to another level.

 

There's something out here, something that full of very basic and very bad needs. I don't think we've picked out the best vacation spot! she told everyone psychically, before looking down at those of them out here with this force of nature.

 

"Do we have any clever idea of what to do when it turns up? Whatever it is!"

 

Just because she didn't normally feel fear it didn't mean she wasn't cautious around the unknown.

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Indira whipped her head around at the thought, legs shrinking back fast enough to put her into free-fall for the final few inches - and she hit the ground running, tearing back toward the building with a speed born of caution and memories of her own home world. She knew enough to not panic, but she also knew enough to not stay in potentially dangerous territory.

 

"We fall back," she said, with some finality. "The building is the closest we have to safe ground, and we must keep it that way until we understand the threat. We may wish to empty the bottom floors of the building, so that if we must fight, we can stand between the citizens and anything that makes it that far." 

 

She hit the wall and kept going, skittering up the side of the building until she had a decent view of at least her side of the field. "It is hopefully not necessary, but if we do not know our prey we cannot take chances. We may well be invading territory, or triggering some similar threat. We do not know if, or how hard, a prey may fight."

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Miss Grue

Being an immigrant to the Earth herself Daphne was very sensitive to the idea of invading another people place, especially without finding out about them first. This was very much there home after all and the whole building was the interloper.

 

"Agreed let's make out way back to the safety of the DuTemps building."

 

This along with everything they'd done so far had been relayed back to the building psychically, so they could know if they'd found anything dangerous. Which based on what they'd found so far might be the case.

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"Sounds right to me," said Temperance. She didn't like the spiritual static. It was starting to click with her now. It wasn't an absence, nor was it lurking. It felt more like camouflage, like a predator lurking in the tall grass. "Let's get back. We can do better reconnaissance in the daylight."

 

Assuming this place has a daylight.

 

By the time the group got back, Temperance's usually cool nerves were starting to fray. There was so much she wanted to say... so much more she wanted to do... so much of it still focused towards Tarva with all the intensity of a fire hose. But fury was still the last of her concerns. "Bluebird. Drop bulkheads and lower them until dawn."

 

The security shutters on the outside windows fell like thunder. It wasn't like the inside could get any darker. But against the solid steel, Kimber and Indira could see something that the others - even Bluebird, shockingly enough - seemed to have missed.

 

Little etchings in the glass. Not enough to shatter. Not enough to crack. But just enough to look like the ghost of words. 

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