“No data was recovered from your skimmer,” Tallow said. “Nothing but you, and that’s a miracle in and of itself.”

“Are we still in atmo?” cried Remy. “Please tell me we’ve left.”

“No, of course not,” said Tallow. “This is a class three skimmer, it’s not capable of breaking atmo. We’re a few days out from Neptune Central Station, we can transfer you to a trans-atmo skiff there.”

“You don’t understand,” cried Remy. “The flux is still scrambling your communications. She’s still out there.”

“She? Your skimmer had an all-male crew, if I’m reading this manifest correctly.”

“We never saw more than shadows,” Remy said. “Shadows in the clouds. But there’s no other way to describe what we saw.”

“Another skimmer? Maybe a crew member from an illegal claim jumper?”

“To see it from lower atmo like that…no, no,” Remy said. “She would have had to be as big as a cruiser, or a continent. Maybe that’s why she never came close…the atmo is too thin…”

Tallow shook her head. “I’m afraid I don’t understand.” Behind her, a shadow of humanoid and vaguely feminine shape reared beneath the Neptunian clouds.

The second-to-last thing Tallow heard was Remy screaming.

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