Staring into Shadows
Their mission had been to convince the werewolf to help them track down Kan-Ra. Maya had to find the sorcerer and force him to tell her the meaning of the vision she had seen in the portal—the vision that filled her with such foreboding. So much so that she was willing to put aside the death sentence the Night Guard had placed on the head of the last von Sabrewulf heir. Maya smiled slightly and pulled back her hair back in a ponytail.
They followed one of the old Inca messenger routes—a wide stairway made of inlaid stones—climbing up and up toward the snowy peaks standing sentinel above the City of Dawn. He had fallen behind Maya by twenty steps and was breathing hard, but was still throwing practice punches at an imaginary opponent as he moved.
So runners called chasquis brought information along the thousands of miles of paths built up and down the mountainous spine of the Inca Empire. A message—made up of a pattern of knots tied into woolen strings—could be carried two hundred miles in one day, passed from runner to runner waiting at relay stations. Maya thought about this question for a while. Her thighs were burning—especially the scarred place on her left leg that had been charred by the Ultratech henchman, Cinder.
You know firsthand the evil that Ultratech has done. They climbed in silence for a while.
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Maya thought about what TJ had just said. For years Ultratech had claimed that the company was actually run by the artificial intelligence program known as ARIA; but Maya had always thought that this was merely a ploy—a smokescreen for a cabal of men and women working behind the scenes. Humans could be tried for human rights violations and white collar crimes. But what could the courts—or even the government—do to punish a program?
The Voice was the one running the show.
A cold, nasty, computerized voice. Maya touched the scarab jewel on her chest and scowled. She glanced up and saw a condor high above them—so far up in the sky that now it was just a dark spec. They arrived at a flat spot on the switchback trail—a lookout that afforded a view of the City of Dawn below—and TJ halted, putting his hands on his knees, sucking in air. Maya reluctantly stopped alongside him, gazing into the distance.
A bank of dark clouds had covered the mountain peaks in the west. She shuddered, feeling a strange sense of doom.wordpress-11600-25562-61098.cloudwaysapps.com/kaoselerre.php
 MUSE stares into the shadows: the high-resolution dust attenuation curve of NGC
To search the secret library below his castle. She gazed down at the citadel. From this height it looked like a model in a museum display. She could still see Jago and Orchid at their training, but they were the size of ants. A few llamas stood nearby the makeshift combat arena, chewing the grass, inured to the violent exercises that now took place in their home every day. Maya smiled out of the side of her mouth. She liked the American despite his shortcomings. He was arrogant beyond compare, but she knew that in his heart he was a fighter who would never give up.
She just had to keep pushing him. Were her eyes playing tricks on her? The condor seemed to be suspended in one spot. She shaded her eyes with her hand, scrutinizing the condor. It definitely seemed to be hovering in one spot. Her heart started beating faster.
That was no bird. A split second later TJ appeared, flying down the stairs three steps at a time. Maya frantically pushed a sensor strapped to her wrist. Down in the citadel she heard the alarm klaxon blare out. The sentry guns were now activated. At least she hoped they were. Maya was jerked along, almost falling flat on her face. But TJ grabbed her with his other hand, practically carrying her down the stairs. Glancing back over her shoulder Maya saw six Stalkers chasing after them, fire spitting from their mouths. Maya moved without thinking, leaping off the pathway and onto the steep mountainside, diving into the dense underbrush.
She could hear one of the Stalkers right behind her—it had broken away from the pack to pursue her. It would soon be on top of her, bringing her down like a jungle cat on its prey. She tripped on a root and tumbled head over heels, over and over again down the steep hillside, finally coming to a stop flat on her back. The dinosaur leapt at her with its belly exposed.
But Maya had unsheathed her daggers in her fall and she thrust them upwards. The dinosaur landed with a thud and lay unmoving. Maya sprang to her feet and continued on, rushing through the bracken, heading down the mountainside toward the citadel. She heard a thunderous noise above and the sky went dark. Looking up she saw a massive Ultratech dropship passing over the citadel. The vessel slammed into the side one of the temples with a massive explosion. She arrived at an irrigation canal, then sprinted along it toward the northern entrance—a post and lintel archway. One of the sentry guns popped up from its hidden alcove there, pointed right at her face and opened fire.
She heard a wet sound of flesh being ripped apart right behind her. The gun stopped firing and Maya glanced back. The bullet-riddled corpse of a Stalker lay on the ground. Dead Stalkers and wrecked Mark 03 battle cyborgs lay everywhere, but the place was still crawling with invaders—twenty or more of the enemy combatants. Jago and Orchid were standing back to back a hundred meters away, valiantly fending off their attackers, but they were surrounded and woefully outnumbered.
The sentry guns mounted on the walls were blazing away, but for every Stalker or cyborg that was destroyed, three more came to take their places. Half of the turrets had run out of ammunition and were now jerking back and forth like confused snake heads, searching for something to strike at. Maya covered her face as her body was pelted with stones. Something hit her in the mouth, cutting her lip. The air was filled with acrid smoke.
Ears ringing, Maya sprang to her feet, spat out a mouthful of blood, and stared into the thick dust clouding the air. Through the haze she could make out the dark silhouettes of Jago and Orchid, still standing back to back, and surrounded on all sides. Something barreled into her without warning, and she was hurled against a wall, her head cracking against the hard stone.
Looking up, she saw that everything had gone blurry. Breathing hard he reached down and offered his hand to Maya. She saw that his face and chest were covered with blood. They charged straight at the enemy, plowing through the Stalkers and cyborgs, punching and slashing a suicidal path to reach their companions. Maya, TJ, Jago and Orchid stood with their backs to each other, making a square to fend off the horde.
But there were too many of them…and more were coming. The sky was dark now, the sun blotted out by scores of Ultratech drop ships floating like evil black clouds over the citadel. She had been foolish to bring her companions here. She should have known that Ultratech would be watching. Screaming with rage, she stabbed a cyborg, ripping open its chest with her blades. Maya snapped her head around, taking in everything at once: Jago—on his back with a Stalker on top of him, its jaws snapping inches from his face.
Orchid—trying to help her brother just as another dinosaur lashed her with its tail, flipping her off her feet. TJ—kneeling with one fist on the ground like a defeated boxer, blood gushing from his nose. The next shot would kill her. It was the voice of ARIA booming through the air with the force of a bomb blast:. Maya fell to her knees and covered her ears in pain.
The battle unit directly in front of her stopped in mid stride and froze.
All of the Ultratech fighters had halted: A weird sound—like a stream of aural code—screeched from one of the Ultratech ships. And then, in perfect unison, all of the dinosaurs and battle units turned and marched away as if obeying a summons. The newest generation of integral field unit spectrographs brings three-dimensional mapping of nearby galaxies one step closer. While the focus up to this point was mostly on stars and ionized gas, it is also possible to look at dust in a new, more complete way.
We use the resolving power of MUSE to measure the optical attenuation with a spectral resolution of 6. Several sharp features are superimposed: No correlation was observed between sodium line strength and reddening by dust on spatially resolved scales. Additionally, the continuum attenuation was found to be independent from the Balmer decrement tracing ionized gas attenuation. We model and interpret the variations in the attenuation curves of each spatial resolution element of NGC We find that the amount and distribution of dust along the line of sight is highly degenerate with any variation in the intrinsic extinction law.
Our analysis shows that the interstellar matter in NGC resides in a regular and well-settled disc. Our results preach caution in the application of simple recipes to de-redden global galaxy spectra and underlines the need for more realistic dust geometries when constructing such correction formulas.
Staring at the shadows on the wall
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