Rive Amber leaned back in her chair, her heavy-booted heels kicked up onto a panel, her hands clasped behind her head. She glanced along a holographic screen, upon whose projected image skittered columns of numbers and characters, traveling from top to bottom like a waterfall of nervous insects. The image faded to a gentle, azure glow.

Rive stood up and stepped away from the panel. Her heavy boots clunked in wide, confident strides as she strolled through the dark, stone corridor, away from her center of administration, the chamber where she managed the Constructor Class Vérkatrae, which would be sent to Var 8. She paused at an open window and gazed out onto the wide, grass-covered meadow, the bright cityscape beyond, the long, thin towers that seemed to fill the skyline as needles reaching towards the sky. The Slipshots. The conduit of all life, the purveyor of DNA. The reason for the existence of the Griddish Realm.

Rive turned as she heard footsteps behind her.

“Having trouble, are we?” came the voice of a man. He looked at Rive, smirking arrogantly as he pushed his hand through his thick, black hair.

Rive’s expression hardened. “Indeed, Natty,” she said.

“Is it Opal?”

Rive paused. “I have reason to believe that some of the Varlings are aware of the presence of the Sleeper Class Vérkatrae that she is overseeing.”

“Some?” smirked Natty.

“At least one, so far.”

“And how do you know this?”

“I’ve been observing the data. Up until a deconstruction event, we should not see the intersection of auric fields between Varling populations and our Vérkatrae. Anomalies in predictive analysis indicate that a pre-deconstruction event could meet with some resistance.”

Natty scoffed. “You saw all this from one Varling?”

“One is all it takes.” Rive paused. She sighed quickly. “Opal witnessed such an event in the field. That is how she damaged her arm, and now....”

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