Aenor Hildegard reads in the dark.

Her Hel Digunner lays alongside, snout tucked between its claws and body still thrumming with fuel. She turns pages by green glow, words outlined with the shadow of her hair.

The Zenebas conscripts blunder around at night, missing familiar stars and the moons. She won't begrudge them homesickness, but their shared camp is polluted with artificial light.

The curious soldier is a surprise; Aenor barks curses and blinks away afterimages.

She offers a seat against the brightest part of Hel Digunner, they offer apologies. The flashlight remains off, and the book is read aloud.


They meet again, after the meteors and after the ocean. Aenor has gone north, like many Devil's Maze natives.

The tundra is iron-ashen, miles of wide ground cracked by storms. Even here, the Empire's legacy is visible—there are no Deathcats stalking prey, no Gilvaders gliding low in orange clouds. It's quiet, like the land has stopped fighting.

There is no more deochalcum, no more Hel Digunners to pilot.

Aenor doesn't question Zenebas migrants any longer. Some went back to their warm continent, others stayed. Others still carry flashlights, and that is enough. This time, they talk about rebuilding.

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