Four-meter lengths of wafer-thin metal from the Hive artifact were laid out side by side amid the scrap pulled from the innards of the Ketch. Even disassembled, the Hive tower was intricate. Multi-layered. Woven metal latticework coiled in ever-tightening concentric cylinders. Each could spin independently within the larger housing. Maddeningly complex armatures were contained within, lubricated by gristly, living tissue.
Kosis had marked the Hive salvage specifically for the Spider's attention. It wouldn't be shipped off to marketplaces and storehouses like the remains of the Ketch—finds like this were of special interest to him. Kosis considered sending a missive ahead of the shipment but thought better of it. If she weren't there to present the find herself, another ambitious Vandal or Dreg might try and take the credit. Spider would probably promote the usurper strictly out of appreciation for their cunning.
Kosis was so focused on ensuring the safety of her salvage that she hadn't noticed Savek and the other Dregs running into camp from the direction of the cave. Kosis stood, Sword in hand, half-expecting a mutiny. But from the fear in Savek's eyes, Kosis quickly realized it was anything but.
"It returned!" was all Savek could exclaim. The Dregs confirmed: the dismantled structure had regrown in a matter of hours. Kosis ordered the trio to lead her back to the site, to see it with her own eyes. A part of her yearned to see it again.
Much to Kosis's disbelief, their assertion was true. The structure stood as tall as ever, emanating its hideous green light. A pang of dread shook Kosis to the core. Her mind flooded with memories of childhood stories about the Whirlwind and the onslaught of the Hive.
"Leave it," she ordered. "Leave it and do not return." It was a command, though one born of fear.
The tower whispered an unheard counteroffer into her subconscious.
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