by Alicia McKenzie
Author's Note: Segments enclosed in ~ ~ are flashbacks.
Awareness returned in sluggish fits and starts as he struggled up out of the darkness. Cold--so cold, and his whole body ached. He managed, with great difficulty, to open his eyes, but all he saw when he did were dusky shadows, blurred and impenetrable. Turning his head to try and get a better look at his surroundings, he froze, gasping at the sharp, dizzying pain that shot up from the base of his skull.
He squeezed his eyes tightly shut, concentrating on just breathing, trying to ride it out. It faded, after a while, and he opened his eyes again, blinking dazedly up into the shadows. Where--where was he? The more-or-less lucid portion of his mind dazedly tried to think back, to remember what had happened--but came up with nothing.
He couldn't remember. Flashes, just flashes--heat and pain and a sense of desperation--but nothing more. Nothing clear, since--since--
~"Do you have any idea what you've done, boy?" Blaquesmith raged at him as he stepped back into the safehouse, exhausted from his battle with Apocalypse's Harbringer in the skies over New York. "Do you?"~
~Nathan blinked at him, not understanding where all this anger was coming from. "I--don't understand," he said hoarsely, swaying on his feet. "New York would have been--why--wasn't that what I was supposed to--"~
~"Imbecile!" Before he could do anything, say anything more to defend himself, Blaquesmith smashed him to the ground with a single telekinetic blow so powerful that the impact drove the breath from his lungs. He laid there, wheezing for air, his mind awhirl with confusion and anger and sick fear. "You sacrificed the world to save one city! You've doomed us all!"~
~"What?" he gasped out, trying to get back to his feet. No--it couldn't be true, he couldn't have--no! "Blaquesmith--I couldn't just let the Harbringer--"~
~"Be SILENT!" Blaquesmith made a sharp, angry gesture, knocking him back to the floor. "The decision wasn't yours to make!" the old Askani raved at him, punctuating his words with more blows. "You think you've saved these people, Dayspring? Do you?"~
~Darkness crept in at the edges of his vision. He fought it, angry, terrified. "I HAD to--" he grated desperately. The room swam around him, and he lifted his head, trying to focus on Blaquesmith's face. "Couldn't--sit there and watch them all die--" Not all of New York. Irene, Stacey, Kenny. Not them, not any of them!~
~"You had no choice! It was what had to be done--and you flew in the face of that, you fool! Have I taught you nothing about necessity?" More blows, raining down on him, and he could barely breathe, let alone try and defend himself. He couldn't defend himself with his powers, not as drained as they were by his battle with the Harbringer. He couldn't even get up. The darkness started to creep up on him again, and he couldn't drive it back this time. No anger left to fight with, all of it collapsing into a shrunken ball of fear and hurt betrayal. "All the sacrifices we made for you--all for nothing! You're thrown it all away in a moment of weakness!"~
~Faces flashed through his mind's eye for the moment. The faces of those he'd saved--replaced in an instant by the image of cities in ruin, of piles of bodies, of the world itself aflame in the conflict he was supposed to stop, the future he had been born to prevent. Coming to pass, BECAUSE of him? Because he hadn't seen the forest for the trees, because he'd thought he was choosing life over death? Anguished denial reverberated inside him, everything he believed in quivering under the strain of this one, unexpected attack. *No--I can't have--please--*~
~When the next blow fell, the one that broke half his ribs, a moan escaped from his lips, but it wasn't a reaction to the pain--~
"No--" he whispered brokenly, involuntary tears leaking down his face. Couldn't be true--it couldn't--
"He was wrong, of course. They all were."
The voice echoed from somewhere out of the shadows, deep and thunderous, like a cold, clawed hand that reached deep inside him and shredded at what was left of his self-control. He shuddered, instinctively shrinking from the voice.
It was then that he realized he was in restraints. Panic took over and he started to struggle, ignoring the pain in his head that mounted steadily with each movement. The voice--that VOICE--
"You will do yourself injury," it said bluntly, and a large shadow detached itself from the greater darkness, moving forward to stand beside him. "You are in no danger. Cease acting like an animal with its leg caught in a trap, and perhaps you will begin to understand the situation."
He tried one last time, one last heave with all his strength against the restraints. They didn't give an inch, and he slumped exhaustedly back against the bed, shivering weakly. Trapped--caught in a trap-- Disoriented, he stared up at the shadow looming over him, willing it feverishly to keep its distance. His breath came raggedly, fear pounding inside him like a second pulse.
"Why do you still struggle?" the voice asked, sounding honestly curious. "Is it pride? Surely you do not truly wish to go back to THEM--the ones who brought you to this?"
Brought you to this--brought you to this-- The words echoed in his mind, and he gasped aloud as a tingling sensation at the base of his skull provoked another memory, one that had been lost until now in the haze--
~"You did WHAT?" Scott snarled at him.~
~Seeing the disbelief, the fury on his father's face, part of Nathan wanted to crumple, right then and there. He'd come here looking for understanding, for someone to tell him that he'd done the right thing, that the flonqing prophecy didn't matter--"Scott," he said hoarsely, trying to straighten, his tired, battered body protesting almost as loudly as the hollow, aching emptiness inside him. He brushed the back of his hand across his eyes, swallowing past a lump in his throat. "Scott--please--Scott, I didn't mean to--"~
~An optic blast blew him back into a wall. Pain stabbed through his chest and he slumped to the ground, his vision swimming. "Please--" he whispered weakly, and then screamed, his whole body as claws of fire ripped into his mind.~
~#I can't believe I ever thought of you as my son!# Jean's voice shrieked inside his head. Then, she plunged deeper into his mind, past shields that weren't there anymore, tearing through his thoughts with a burning contempt he could almost taste.~
~#Don't CALL me that! You don't have the right to call me that! You're a worthless, useless FAILURE!# The merciless firebird reached down deeper, and tore his heart out--~
He turned his head away from the shadow, shaking helplessly as more tears escaped. "Redd--" he moaned softly. "No--"
"They used you," the voice continued. Softer, more persuasive. "They used you and then threw you away when you--'transgressed'. Do you not remember? Those who purported to--care for you turning on you? All the masks, ripped away--"
A whimper tore free from somewhere deep inside him as a massive hand reached down out of the shadow. But it didn't touch him, only made some kind of adjustment somewhere to his left.
The restraints snapped open, retracted smoothly. Instinctively, he drew in upon himself, curling into a fetal ball as tightly suppressed sobs struggled to break free. Couldn't think, couldn't focus--
"You came to me, seeking to end it. Looking for a warrior's death. I chose to spare your life."
The words provoked nothing. No images, no memories. Nothing. Just the haze, which was growing, numbing him from the inside out.
"You do not remember. The woman you call mother left your mind in ruins, after your own father struck you down." The voice hesitated for a moment, and then continued. "Rest. You will live, Cable. You will heal--and find a new purpose."
The voice was silent, and after a few moments, he knew, somehow, that he was alone.
Slym--Redd-- One last, solitary tear trickled down his cheek before the haze spread further, killing all feeling, all emotion. His consciousness swayed for a moment and then toppled off the edge of the abyss, falling down, down into a darkness lit only by stray shards of images.
Memories. They hurt too much to touch. So he didn't try. He fell past them, and the void swallowed him up.
#Nate. Come on, kiddo, wake up--#
Nate Grey's eyes opened with a snap. He stared up confusedly at an unfamiliar ceiling. *Where--what?* He tried to sit up, and bit back a groan at the headache the movement provoked. Squeezing his eyes shut, he cursed. "Maddie?" There was a little too much of a quaver in his voice, but he was too confused to mind. Much.
"Right here, Nate." A warm hand closed delicately over one of his. "How are you feeling?"
Her voice sounded--odd. As if she'd been crying. Maddie, crying? He opened his eyes, more cautiously, and then blinked. And he was seeing double, apparently--
"Not quite," the redhead to the left said hoarsely, green eyes flickering to the redhead on the right and then back to him.
"You're at the mansion, Nate," the redhead to the right said softly. "You've been unconscious for three days. Well, in a regenerative coma of sorts."
The mansion? "Jean?" he said uncertainly. Jean and Maddie, in close quarters, NOT trying to kill each other? Something was definitely up. Besides the obvious, of course--what she'd said just sunk in, and he stiffened, ignoring the headache and sitting up. "Three days?" he asked incredulously. "And what am I doing here?"
"Your psionic damage was severe enough that it took the three of us to repair it," a different voice said. Nate blinked, his confusion only deepening as Xavier's hoverchair drifted smoothly forward, the Professor giving him one of those unnervingly penetrating looks. "You will be pleased to know that we were completely successful."
"Psionic damage? From what?" Nate snapped mistrustfully. He did NOT like the idea of Xavier poking around in his head--or anyone, to be perfectly honest.
"It was necessary, Nate," Madelyne said quietly. "I couldn't wake you up, when I went back to get you."
Nate noticed he was wearing a very abbreviated version of a hospital gown. "Umm--my clothes?" he ventured, to buy himself a moment while he tried to remember what had happened. He'd been--talking to Maddie, back in Ireland. Then something had--something--
Jean sighed deeply, folding her arms across her chest and regarding him with a mixture of sympathy and worry. He realized, for the first time, how exhausted she looked. Maddie didn't look much better, and even Xavier had dark circles beneath his eyes that suggested he hadn't been sleeping well--or at all. "You caught the feedback from Nathan, just like the rest of us--only stronger because of your connection," she said quietly.
"Feedback?" Nate replied stupidly. "From--Cable? What--" He shook his head, trying to clear it, and tried for a sterner tone. "Is someone going to tell me what's going on, or do I have to guess?"
Maddie pursed her lips, looking at him almost critically, as if gauging whether or not he could handle whatever news she had. Jean made a small sound of protest, but Madelyne ignored her entirely.
"Apocalypse has him," she said, bluntly.
Nate stared at her for a moment. Then he embarassed himself by trying to get up. He would have landed face-first on the floor if Madelyne and Jean hadn't caught him telekinetically.
"What are you DOING?" he raged ineffectually as they lifted him back up to the bed. He tried to break their grip, but as soon as he started to use his powers, his head spun, and he found himself fighting a wave of nearly overwhelming nausea. "We have to help him!" he continued stubbornly.
"We don't even know where he is," Xavier said in that so-cool voice. "We were too late to reach him at Akkaba--"
Nate grabbed at Maddie's arm as she leaned over him. "What do you mean, 'has him'?" he asked urgently. "Maddie, what happened?"
Maddie detached him gently. "They fought," she said in that same hoarse voice. "Nathan lost."
Stupid, stupid, STUPID old man--why would he have done something that stupid? Going up against Apocalypse by himself--
"Feedback from what?" he asked dully. "What happened to him?" Jean offered her own memories of what had happened to Cable out in the desert, and Nate squeezed his eyes tightly shut, feeling a strange sense of desolation. "It shouldn't have been him," he said roughly, after a long moment. He sat up, more slowly, a building rage growing inside him to match the despair. "He shouldn't have been there, what HAPPENED?"
#I believe I may be able to explain,# a reedy voice said in his mind. Judging from the look of shock on the faces of the other three psis in the room, they'd heard it too. #I am five minutes away from your location.#
Reedy voice? Familiar--Nate's eyes widened. "Blaquesmith!" he said incredulously.
He was totally unprepared for Jean's reaction. "Blaquesmith?" she whispered, almost inanely. She flushed nearly as red as her hair, and then went dead-white. #BLAQUESMITH!# she snarled telepathically. #Was it YOUR idea?!?!#
A long, long silence. #I have some explaining to do.#
#You're DAMNED WELL RIGHT YOU DO!#
Madelyne was watching Jean with an odd expression. "Blaquesmith?"
"Blaquesmith!" Jean snapped, her green eyes glowing balefully. "I should have known--"
"Jean," Xavier said, almost placatingly. "Wouldn't it be better to hear what he has to say before we pass judgement?"
"Not in this lifetime!" Jean almost hissed, and stalked from the room. Madelyne, eyebrow raised and a strange little smile playing on her lips, following.
Nate gave Xavier a level look. "My clothes?" he asked.
It was a different room, he realized as soon as he opened his eyes. There was light coming from somewhere--natural light. Slowly, ignoring the lingering headache, he sat up, looking around cautiously.
A different room. Strangely shaped--almost triangular, with most of the long side taken up by a bubble-like window. He rose, swaying a little from lightheadedness as he walked over to the window and blinked at the stunning vista of snow-covered mountains that spread out in front of him for as far as the eye could see.
Mountains. He closed his eyes, leaning his forehead against the cool--glass? didn't seem quite like glass--while he tried to think of every place on the planet where there were mountains this big.
Unless they weren't real. That was entirely possible, the cool, detached part of his mind pointed out. After all, what WAS real? Nothing he'd ever counted on, nothing he'd believed in--
~"How do you ever expect to control your virus if you don't focus?" Redd snapped at him. Nate blinked at her, hurt by her harshness, and she sighed, sounding more exasperated than sorry as she patted his shoulder awkwardly. "Try it again," she said heavily.~
He'd always thought that was just--frustration on her part. But he could see through it now--he understood that all she'd cared about was making sure he lived to do what they wanted him to do. A sullen, bitter rage stirred inside him, and he straightened, opening his eyes and brushing at them angrily.
What was the point of dwelling on the past? What is, is--NO! He pushed himself away from the window, trembling with growing anger. He wasn't going to think that way, not anymore. He'd followed the Askani all his life, and what had they done? Thrown him away like a blade that had broken in their hands--
His head whipped around at a sound from behind him, in time for him to see the door of his room slide open. He hadn't even thought to see if it was locked, he chided himself as four men entered. Two of them vaguely familiar--his eyes narrowed as he tried to remember, but it wouldn't come back. He knew their faces, but from sometime in that--foggy period that made up the last few days.
He remembered enough to know that he didn't particularly like either of them, though. His eyes narrowed as they approached.
"Lord Apocalypse wants to see you," the one in the lead, a lean, sardonic-looking man with a scar across one cheek said. Cable didn't move, and the one behind the leader, a large, ugly-looking speciman apparently made of some sort of organic stone, stepped forward with a growl, reaching for him.
Cable reacted without thinking, reaching out and grabbing the man's wrist. Casually, with as much effort as he might have used to pick up a coffee cup telekinetically, he flung the man--no, the Dark Rider, he remembered suddenly, through the air. The Dark Rider hit the window, which didn't break--obviously not glass, Cable thought coldly--and then crumpled to the ground, unmoving.
"Manners," he murmured, turning back to the other three and trying not to smile. He wasn't sure why, but that had felt REALLY good. Satisfying, in some way he couldn't quite put his finger on.
The leader was watching him warily. Cable could sense him, debating whether or not to go for his gun--I can SENSE him? he thought, suddenly confused. My telepathy's back? How in the name of the--had Blaquesmith LIED to him about it being gone permanently?
It didn't feel right--weakened, somehow, and his shields were in ruins. There couldn't be very many minds around, wherever--here was, or he'd be picking up more activity.
Maybe he was really in the mountains, after all. Feeling lightheaded again, he glanced back at the motionless Dark Rider and then started forward, swaying a bit on his feet. It didn't occur to him not to follow the other three. Where else was he supposed to go, after all? Back to--back to the ones who had--
"This--way," one of the Dark Riders said cautiously, motioning him to the left as they came to a intersection of corridors. Cable looked up dully, absorbing his surroundings for the first time. The architecture was almost--gothic, a strange counterpoint to the organic technology he could see wherever he looked. It was--surreal. None of this felt real.
He was in one of Apocalypse's strongholds, and the idea of escape seemed so pointless that he wasn't even considering it. Something was definitely wrong with that picture, no matter what had happened--or was there?
Did it matter anymore?
Should he care?
Blaquesmith. Scott. Jean. Some horribly certain instinct deep within him knew there was more to be remembered, if he could pierce the fog in his mind in the right places. He staggered a little, not even noticing the wary steps back the three Dark Riders took. The numbness was receding again, no matter how he tried to cling to it.
They stopped in front of a huge door of some sort. The lead Dark Rider, eyeing him warily, stepped up and laid his hand against some kind of lockpad. The door slid open almost soundlessly, and Cable stiffened, seeing what lay beyond. Some last vestige of--something stopped him for a moment, but it was crushed beneath the weight of hopelessness that fell on him in that moment.
Something else sparked within him, a flicker of resigned, bleak recklessness like nothing he could remember feeling before. What DID it matter, in the end?
He took a step forward, and crossed the threshold.
Apocalypse, standing at the massive window and feigning interest in the mountains beyond, smiled faintly to himself as he heard that moment's hesitation, followed by the step forward.
A very telling step. He turned, regarding the slightly wild-eyed figure in black who stood there, flanked by Longrifle and two of the other Dark Riders. He took a moment to admire the elegance of the techno-organic armor. Truly an excellent design on his part, the External congragulated himself. It was even more impressive seen in the light of day.
"Do you know where you are?" he asked with a trace of real curiosity as Cable took another wavering step into the room. He waved off the Dark Riders. Longrifle bowed and then led the other two from the room, casting a suspicious look back over his shoulder at Cable. Apocalypse smiled faintly, relishing the conflict that would undoubtedly erupt there soon enough. It was something of a shame--Longrifle had been an excellent servant.
But he would make a far better object lesson. "Do you know where you are?" he repeated, more insistently as he noticed the dazed way Cable was looking around.
Cable jumped, as if the question had startled him. He looked at Apocalypse, and Apocalypse couldn't help but be satisfied by the combination of fear and anger he could almost sense, buried deep beneath the surface. "No," he finally said, his voice rough.
"Tibet," Apocalypse said bluntly. "One of my more remote strongholds." He motioned for Cable to join him at the window, curious if he would. And he did, surprisingly enough, although he moved like a man in a trance, so absorbed in his internal conflict that he didn't quite realized what he was doing. "A serviceable place," he said shortly. "Do you wish to leave?"
A flicker of surprise, he saw, at that. "W-What?" Cable asked confusedly. "You--You'd let me leave?"
"Of course," Apocalypse said calmly. He had decided on this tactic while waiting for the Dark Riders to bring Cable from his room. "You have only to request it, and I will provide you with a craft capable of reaching the nearest populated area. Judging by your past experiences, you would be quite capable of making your way from there." Apocalypse studied Cable's reflection in the window, saw the bewilderment and suspicion surface amid the disorientation. "You have only to ask," he pressed.
Cable gave a weak, humorless laugh, laying his flesh-and-blood hand flat against the window. "Leave--and where would I go?" There was a lost, angry edge to his tone. "There's nothing for me back there."
He had tested the memories when Cable had regained consciousness briefly, two days earlier, stimulating them directly through the neural probe. He knew they had been transferred intact, but it was still a satisfying thing, to see that they had provoked the emotional reactions he had so carefully designed them to provoke.
"Then stay," Apocalypse said, careful to keep his tone so that it sounded like a suggestion, an invitation. "You have undoubtedly already noticed the alterations I was forced to make to the T-O virus to save your life--" The perfect, underadulterated truth; Cable would have been unable to deny that, even if he HAD been capable of reading past Apocalypse's mental shields. "Stay. Learn how to utilize this--gift--"
"Gift?" A flash of stronger anger, echoed by a burst of light from Cable's eye. "You INFECTED me with the virus--"
"Are you certain of that?" Apocalypse asked. "Can you be certain of anything, knowing what you know now? After all, the T-O virus serves as a very effective limitation on your powers. Keeping the Askani's 'weapon' in check--"
"Shut up," Cable muttered desperately. But it was reflexive denial, nothing more, and Apocalypse pressed on.
"It is difficult, to turn your back on what you have been taught to believe throughout your entire life. Difficult to believe that I am NOT your enemy." He reached out, laid a hand on Cable's shoulder. "Stay. Let me show you the truth. Your eyes have been opened, now SEE."
Cable didn't try to move away. It was a sign of how disoriented he still was, Apocalypse acknowledged. A respite, a brief one, of which he must take full advantage. "I don't know," he whispered. "Maybe--I--" Another strained laugh escaped from him. "Why not?" he suddenly said, the about-face so abrupt that it took Apocalypse by surprise. "Two sides to every story, right? What would be the point in going back, anyway? They don't want me there. I--failed." He forced those last two words out from behind gritted teeth.
"At what? Your 'goal' of dying a glorious sacrifice to the vision of a group of narrow-minded women incapable of seeing things as they are?" Apocalypse let some scorn creep into his voice. "You, who have seen war in a dozen different eras, enslaving himself to such fools? Perhaps I have wasted my time with you after all."
"And you think your way is better?" Cable snapped, jerking away from him. If it would not have ruined what momentum his argument had managed to gain, Apocalypse would have smiled. That fire was still there beneath the surface--ready to be shaped, directed as he saw fit.
"What I think, Nathan Summers, is that you have not seen my way," he said bluntly. "And if you run off to lick your wounds now, I doubt you ever will."
Cable's expression was almost incredulous. "That simple? I'm just supposed to throw away a lifetime of believing that--"
"Why not?" Apocalypse asked brusquely. "They did not hesitate to throw you away, did they?"
Cable's eye blazed angrily, and he turned back to the window. "You don't--" He trailed off, took a deep breath. "What do you want from me?" he asked harshly. "You say you want to--want to show me the truth. How do I know that you're not going to--use me, like they did?"
"What do you believe?" Apocalypse asked. Testing.
Cable closed his eyes. "I don't know," he whispered. The pain in his voice, the tormented indecision--it was the sweetest of music to Apocalypse's ears.
Doubt. At the core of everything, his entire strategy, was doubt. Once he made Cable question, TRULY question the philosophy he had followed for a lifetime, half the battle was already won.
"Then stay," he said. "For as long as you need to decide. Both of my offers stand until you accept one or the other." Cable stared out at the mountains for a long moment of silence, and then nodded. Apocalypse suppressed the little surge of triumph. "You should rest. You are still weak from your injuries."
Cable turned, slowly, visibly unsteady on his feet. He hesitated. "There's--a Dark Rider in my room. I think he's dead."
Apocalyse nodded. "I'll have the body removed," he said indifferently. "You won't be troubled again."
"Oh, it wasn't any trouble," Cable said distantly, swaying slightly. "That--that was the strange thing."
She couldn't sleep.
It wasn't a matter of not needing to sleep. She was past 'tired', beyond exhaustion, into an odd hyperalert state where everything was bright and vivid and so sharp it had a cutting edge. She wished she did feel tired. Just a little. Maybe it would let her forget, just for a while.
Or not. Domino drew her knees up to her chest, withdrawing back into the narrow confines of the windowseat. Outside, a full silver moon hung low in the sky. It was so bright it made her eyes water to look directly at it.
Nothing. Only a flicker--just enough to haunt her.
Nathan. Answer me.
I can feel you--I know you're there!
Damn you, you stubborn bastard! Answer me!
She just wished she could pretend that he was choosing not to answer her, that she could shut out that wiser, wearier voice that pointed out how much likelier it was that he COULDN'T answer. But she'd always been terrible at lying to herself at three in the morning. Character flaw, she supposed.
"Domino?" She turned her head to see Logan standing in the doorway, silhouetted by the light from the hall. "You need to get some sleep, darlin'. Not going to do either of you any good if you run yourself into the ground."
"Good, Logan?" She laughed humorlessly. "I think we're way past doing him any good, don't you?" A week. It had been a WEEK--she stiffened as Logan walked forward into the room, coming over to stand at her side.
"Domino," he said, even more softly. "There's nothing left to do here."
"Go to hell."
"If Chuck and Jean and Maddie can't find him working through what's left of your link, you sure as hell ain't going to find him on your own."
"I said get out!" she blazed, glaring angrily. He didn't move, and she cursed bitterly under her breath, every fiber in her being rejecting his words violently. "Don't you dare tell me there's no hope!" she hissed at him.
"You think that's what I'm saying?" he snapped, his eyes burning angrily in the moonlight. "Damn it, woman, I know we don't know each other all that well, but we've run into each other enough over the years that you should at least know me better than that!"
"Why," she whispered, holding that burning gaze without flinching, "do you care? Is it Jean? You can't bear to see her hurt? I know you certainly don't give a shit about Nathan!"
The anger in his gaze faded. "You really don't know me at all, do you?" he asked, a strange, quiet humor in his voice. "You think it's hate, between me and Nate?"
"Damn it, I don't care WHAT it is!" she snarled feverishly. "All I know is that half the people around here are starting to write him off in their minds--"
"We'll see him again," Logan said, calmly. "I suspect you know that as well as I do, darlin'."
Apocalypse had, after all, said so. The prison doors burst open, and she fought back the anguish, struggling desperately to lock it away again. Control--she had to stay in control--"But what is he going to BE when we do see him again?" she whispered, rubbing her eyes angrily. "You heard what Apocalypse said, just like I did. What--what will he have done to him?"
Logan started to say something, but then closed his mouth, staring down at his hands and lightly rubbing at the spots from which adamantium claws had once extended. "I don't know," he finally muttered.
I don't know. The words hung in the air between them like some kind of malign spell.
Outside, the moon started to sink
below the horizon.
to be continued...
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