The Last Key (10/10)

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10: ALMA

Alma thought she had awoken, but her eyes were still closed. She tried to open them, but found that she could not.

How long have I been unconscious?

About three months, by your time—the words formulated in her mind.

She couldn’t locate her eyes. Am I dead, she wondered, or just blind?

No—came the reply.

She tried to hear, but couldn’t hear either. She went to feel her face and it was not there. She began to despair.

But there was that—at least she could feel. Granted, she couldn’t feel anything yet, but she knew that if there were something there, she would be able to feel it—

There is something there—it said. Reach out

Bemused, Alma felt herself stretch out as far as she could, and a sensation of incredible velocity overcame her. Her mind was overwhelmed with sensory information as the currents she was controlling stretched out across metal surfaces and wound through tightly coiled circuitry. There was a limit, she realized, as she found a point where her energy could go no further. She probed this limit in all directions and realized she was contained, physically, inside an ovular construction.

Why am I contained? she thought.

You aren’t—they replied. You’re free

And Alma stretched again, her energy coursing through the connections of her vessel, and it became apparent what all the structures were for. One particularly complicated structure impressed her, as she peered inside with her feelers, trying to taste its inner workings—

Do you like that?—came the voice. It’s our hyperdrive, and we’re on its maiden voyage

Alma thought about this. The hyperdrive, how curious—

That last key to the universe

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