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The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel

Looking down from the satellite you appear as a speck, a stationary organic dot in the frozen landscape. You have made your way out here, miles away from any civilization, any human outpost. But even here you are not alone; they still see you. You can feel the high ones watching you from geosynchrony, whispering to your handheld device to reveal to you where you are, breathing silent coded messages at you through the electromagnetic spectra.

The low ones are also here, rising up low out of the horizon, shooting by like cold slow meteors, giving you brief sidelong electronic glances. Your satellite phone watches them, draws a little emblem of recognition:

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          |  |||
          |  ||||.

I hear them it says. You are not alone.

Wind blows the flurries in sideways streaks through an array of aspen branches and curls down into the canyon, a dull white whistling sound.

The clouds have started to move in, and it's a little colder with the sun gone. Mountain weather. Unpredictable. You gaze up at the rolling cover now, small flakes gathering and melting into your eyelashes, and it begins to look different. Silent and wonderful.

And the device says: I can still hear them. I am your lifeline, I am the signal and the coherence. Without me you are adrift in this broad white emptiness. No tether to guide you. Only the pops and cracks of forgotten static, left over from a past transmission or a dying nebula, only



m o s t   e x c e l l e n t   s n o w   s k y

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