She knew what was coming. It would feel the same as in the Lumatel labs. That moment she still vividly remembered. Strapped to the chair. Facing the machine with shining razor pincers poised to pluck her data from the back of her neck. The too bright lights. The way everything went blank. That lazor could knock someone out for days. Probably enough to shine a light on the moon. And they though it was OK to use on humans. In fact they liked it that way. Less chance of inconvenient survivors. Only she had survived. Kragg had...helped her. A good sign. Maybe. And Eldna wasn't a thief. She just knew. If she was she could have tried something long before now. According to her, angels have no use for mindcraft. They already see and know everything.
"Mindcraft is a human thing; stop you blowing yourselves to smithereens. I don't know everything, but I know this will work." Cool hands brushed her hair aside. Kosmanarshi tried not to stiffen.
"I'm sorry it just keeps bringing back flashbacks of - when they -"
"Yes. I understand. It will feel strange, but don't worry. I don't even have to remove the chip. I can lift the craft out by itself."
"Okay." Kosmanarshi tried not to frown. "So how do you attach the cloud rock?"
"That happens afterwards. When the mindcraft returns. Until then you'll feel a bit isolated. Kind of empty. Just as the data is about to go back in the memechip, we hold the cloud rock over it and that's when they fuse."
"Yes the cloud rock will amalgamate with your mindcraft. They will become inseparable." Seeing the girl's non-plussed expression Eldna continued. "You see, that rock you're holding isn't from this planet. It's from lithier. It has a different form. One of its properties is that when the conditions are right it becomes air. Or a cloud. Hence - cloud rock. And that little cloud will respond to your data like a sentient being. It will reside in your memechip." Now the angel peered at her curiously. "Didn't Rogan tell you its other name?"
"No." Kosmanarshi began to feel lethargic as her lumadata floated out the back of her neck, up though the angels body and up into the treetops.
Kosmanarshi fell into a heap at the angel's knee, but the angel had foreseen this. The shock of realising that mindcraft is free moving. The data would be back in the morning. Until that moment Eldna the angel would have to guard the girl with her life.
Kosmanarshi stirred to find Eldna leaning over her anxiously. It was just after dawn. The deep, pearly blue of the sky made a fierce backdrop to the silhouettes of the trees and the angel that was shaking her awake.
Now it was Eldna's turn to sit up in fear. She turned and glared at the man who had appeared from nowhere.
The man stepped closer. "Wake up Kosmanarshi."
Eldna sighed. She knew the use of someone else's energy as a weapon was abomination. She also knew she had no choice. Never taking her eyes of the intruder she indicated to where the mindcraft was now swirling above them in a purple orb. It wanted to return to its rightful owner. "You come one step closer and I will use it on you."
"Isn't it a cardinal sin for an angel to manipulate lumadata?"
"It's a cardinal sin for anyone, but that isn't my biggest concern right now. I have to protect the forememe. Many people's lives are at stake. Like I said. You come one step closer -"
"Whoa. Wait. I know this girl. She lived with me for a while after she ran away from Lumatel. Then she left. I've been following her since then. They're coming, the agents. They've got transmitters and all kinds of stuff. They'll be here before long. You can't stay here - ." The angel continued to stare at him in stony silence. "That cloud rock she's holding right now. I gave that to her."
Eldna raised her eyebrows.
"Rogan!" The half dazed girl tried to get up, but was in the firm grip of the angel.
"Ah. OK." The angel pinned Kosmanarshi down. "OK." She repeated, finally understanding something. Frowning in concentration she leant over to prise the stone from Kosmanarshi's hand, where even semi-conscious she still clutched it. "Right. I see she knows you. I couldn't read you like most humans. Weird - but then even angels are mistaken sometimes. Suppose I'll have to trust you." She looked down at the waking girl who was now scowling. "Will you help me?"
"What are you doing?"
"What do you think I'm doing? Please hold her still while I gather the data up."
Rogan stepped forward. Gently the angel placed the struggling girl in his arms. He whispered something. But Eldna didn't hear. She stood straight and her eyes were closed. Rogan shielded his eyes as the angel arched her spine and a blinding black and violet stream swept through her body into the girl. The gap between his fingers was just wide enough to reveal the face of a panther.