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Runcible System

Daglyte Seam

They came armed with pass-codes, the commander and her six-guard.

Three remained in the antechamber, to thwart enemies, had their enemies been canny enough to follow.

Another tarried at the third door, obedient to a prompt on the guard screen; and another again, outside the fifth.

At the sixth and final door, Iridyce sen’Ager, Commander of the Fourth Level, placed her hand against the guard screen. The scan tickled her palm, the sampling needle pinched, accompanied by a flash that left blue images dancing on her retinas.

Were she not Fourth Commander sen’Ager, there would come another pinch, the last sensation she would experience. She knew this, of course, but felt not the slightest agitation. Why should she be agitated, or in any way dismayed? She was precisely Iridyce sen’Ager; thus the door would open for her.

“Await me here,” she told the one remaining of her six.

“It shall be done,” he responded.

The door opened and Fourth Commander sen’Ager went forward without a backward glance. Lights came up in the room as she stepped over the threshold, a creamy illumination palely stained yellow. Fourth Commander sen’Ager felt her muscles loosen as she crossed the small chamber to the waiting chair. She sat, relaxing further and more deeply still, when the restraints snapped around wrists, ankles and waist.

She was come to take up duty, and in this enterprise the light was her friend; the device that now clasped cool ceramic mandibles ’round her head, her chiefest ally. That such duty would fall to her—it was unlooked for. Who would have expected the Commander to take a fatal strike? Who, anticipating such calamity, might guess that First, Second, and Third would likewise fall?

Leaving Fourth Commander Iridyce sen’Ager to become Commander of Agents.

The mandibles tightened; the creamy light clotted in her eyes until there was nothing else to see. Twelve dozen sharp wires pierced her skull and sunk, burning, into her brain.

Iridyce sen’Ager screamed, once.

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