It was raining as Sasha Christian wound her way through the back alleys of Nos Astra. She would have preferred to take a taxi, but most of the cabs in town were outfitted with cameras that kept records of who was in the backseat, and she didn't dare get caught on camera. Not while she was carrying the package.

At this hour, the back alleys were dangerous. Mercenaries from Eclipse kept most of the thieves, junkies, murderers and rapists off the streets, but nobody kept them off the streets, and sometimes an unlucky girl would run into one of the newer recruits stumbling out of a bar, and the combination of cheap liquor, a uniform and a gun had a habit of making a man stupid. It was quiet tonight, but all the same, Christian held the package tight against her chest.

Finally, she reached the back door of her Mistress' building and hurried inside. As she rode the elevator up to the penthouse, she realized that her heart was pounding in her chest. It had been years since the last time her Mistress had sent her out to brave the streets at night. In fact, it might very well have been the first time. She's been acting very strangely, Sasha thought, ever since that thing arrived...

The elevator arrived at the penthouse and she stepped into the dining room, where a meal sat half-finished on the dinner table. Sighing, she tucked the package under one arm and took the plate from the table. Mistress probably just forgot, she assured herself. If I lived anywhere near as long as she did, I suspect I'd forget a lot of things...

She went up the stairs to the second level. A deep thrumming sound issued from her Mistress' office, like the heartbeat of something unnatural. The door was closed. She knocked, and the door opened.

Her Mistress was within, standing naked before an object that hovered in mid-air and throbbed. A great feeling of unease filled Sasha as she looked upon It. It looked like a shiny metal sphere, covered in little scars and veins. As it hovered, it expanded and contracted irregularly, and there was an eerie light coming off of it. Her Mistress moved her hands about the surface, occasionally tracing one of the scars or veins with her finger, her eyes half-closed.

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