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Her brains were next-to-full-up, and her reserves stung -- migraines waiting to happen, in skull's fore and aft, if she wasn't careful.

Time to purge.

Bemused, though, she found it hard to cull the SOL-Stream stuff. For once Jupiter's magnetosphere wasn't acting up and the signal coming through was clean and fat and she felt alive to all its possibilities.

Jet spiders and whispers, squirts of almost infinitely dense information the by-product of the Simpson Sentiences; the thoughtshit on which the rest of the Solar System fed.

She'd glimpsed on the periphery, where meaning and noise warped, becoming convoluted webs of possibility a dozen Dorothies, all of them blinking and slapping their ruby slippers together, like they were getting off on getting out.

Salli blinked again and a polyp tentacular mass reached over from its cup, brushing her porcelain face lovingly, but insistently, pulling her completely out of the virtual and into the visceral.

Salli blinked again.

"Anty M?"

The sirens increased in pitch, becoming a constant and terrible shriek.

Anty M whispered once. Part scent, part sonics.

HOLD ON.

Tentacles, sprung from nearby cups and hollows, bunched around her, gripped her waspish waist and squeezed, gentle but strong.

The world swung upside down.

Everything shuddered, coral alleys twisted, bits of the ceiling collapsed in clouds of calcium carbonate, and, deep below, terabytes worth of bio-processors went out and reserves came online.


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