He felt it, deep within his spiny cartilage.

The time was nearing. Not in a thousand generations had his cells felt the urge to move, but now it was finally happening. He felt an overwhelming surge of sensation, as every nerve in his regenerating body awoke at once.

The voice came back as well, the ancient voice that was four hundred thousand generations old. It spoke into his mind, and knew his thoughts.

Seek out the remaining species, it told him. Seek them out and find out what they fear the most.

Then you must become that fear.

His body shuddered.

“Yes, my Master,” he said.

Chapter One

“Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.”

-- Carl Sagan

July 21st, 2397

Jack stared across the water, watching the sun slowly descend below the hills on the coast. A breeze came out from the ocean, and he felt his skin tingle.

I want to enjoy this moment, he thought. It might be the last chance I get for a long time.

Presently a small red circle flashed in the bottom left corner of his sunglasses. He tapped a button on his watch and it vanished. The message could wait. He already knew what it was.

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