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“We do our practical work in here,” says Orrant, stepping off onto a new piston as his sinks past it. “Unlock the weight to your left, won’t you?”

Stella pops the catch and pulls; the freed column wheels clockwise.

“How long did this–is it–what are we cogitating now?” she says breathlessly.

“Pneurology’s a very young field.” Orrant surveys the vast, hissing works. Stella can barely see the walls of the hangar. “Our calculations aren’t very advanced–”


“Well, I’m on a one,” he taps his piston, “and you’re on a one, and the gentleman over there is a plus.”