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Chapter 5: Rattling in the Dark

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They worked forever. They did not sleep. They did not have eyes, so they did not need to close them.

The rattling in the dark was their song, the noise of their birth and the harbinger of their twilight. Here on Earth it was always rattling. Men had made the Mytro in their own image, and they had decidedly closed imaginations. If the Mytro had a shape, they knew it better than anyone, but they were forced, by men, by the Mytro, to maintain the charade.

They were called Nayzuns—the Nameless Ones. But they had names and they knew the Mytro like a governess knows her charge. The Nayzuns were made to know the shape, to build the shape, to complete the shape. In their dark world, the rails of the Mytro were not rails at all, but strings of energy connecting each living thing through the impossibility of space. They lived here in a massive Hangar at the edge of the Earth System. There were other systems, far away, but this one was theirs.

Now they all lifted their heads away from their work, like stalks of wheat bobbing away from a gust of wind. They glowed, gently and all at once, when something caught their attention. A few hours before, they had heard the rails tell of strangers on the Mytro. They had been listening for the strangers, and they had finally heard them, somewhere down the line. The strangers had broken a train with their weapons. If there was one thing that couldn't be condoned on the Mytro, it was an act of destruction. The Mytro was angry.

The broken train lurched into the Hangar, into their home.

A car with shattered windows slowed to a halt by 411's work area. Glass tinkled out of the metal frame and onto the ground, disappearing into the darkness. The lights inside the car were winking on and off, the oil-pumping mechanism that fed them failing intermittently, the tongues of flame dimming and rising.

411 was the train foreman. He called the younger ones to him, and they shuffled out of the dark.

411 knew that the oil tank had been ruptured somewhere and that oil was leaking onto the ground, the smell rich like dead, decaying leaves. Although 411 did not know this, the Mytro on Earth was built to calm the humans. It was a system designed to soothe the primitive minds of those who rode it. To show them the Mytro as it really was, a skein of light that connected the universe, would force them to face their own insignificance. The trains were easier.

The light from the car's front headlight was useless in the Hangar. The vaults of this room disappeared into darkness. No light penetrated the darkest quarters of the huge bay, and no thing with eyes had ever seen what was hidden there.

Whether the room even had a ceiling, really, was still in doubt. When the Nayzuns were created, they fell to the ground and began to work. When the Nayzuns died, the Mytro took them to a place where there was no mourning. But the Nayzuns rarely died these days. They were too busy, and they had not had a young one in many years. Instead, the Mytro simply brought them back in time to live out a few more years. It was a cruel fate—to work forever and never die—but the Nayzuns knew no other one.

411 had been working on Earth longer than most. His number was quite small as he had been created early in the history of the Mytro on this planet. He had seen it grow here on Earth, and he had seen the Mytro fail and disappear. He had seen it hidden away, then rediscovered. He loved it like his child, for he could have no children. The men above had no idea what sort of power they had right under their plodding feet.

411 looked down the track that was not a track. The train with the shattered windows swayed as the Mytro's machinery pitched it off the tracks. The car settled with a thump on 411's own small set of side tracks where it would be fixed. The younger Nayzuns were already hard at work, pulling out the broken windows and bringing new ones from the storage area. If there had been more light, they would have looked like gigantic, long-limbed spiders scrabbling over the varnished wood of the Mytro car, their pointed fingers brushing glass into dark holes near the work area and the pads of their hands softly scanning the surface of the train for imperfections.

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