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On occasion, the Please Wait ellipsis in the voidtext window on Navann’s computer screen flashed more rapidly, like it was responding to something. Then it would return back to blinking dot-by-dot. Letting that window remain open, Navann layered more polygon-centric condensed tiles as she continued to go through the leftovers of the large pot of soup. She created two more that would scan, one with the hexagon and one with the square. When she scanned them, the ellipsis responded with its rapid-fire flash, which it still did by itself seemingly at random. Within a day or two it was doing this more often; then more and more often, until not a minute went by without a rapid-flash registering.

It was at this point of frequency that her computer started downloading, noisy after a seeming eternity of download absence. When it finished, it sang a happy little machine song, which surprised Navann while she sat reading in the other corner. She came over to watch what was happening.

The voidtext window turned into a basic chat client. It prompted her to choose a handle, and she went with something boring and easily decipherable, her first name plus her apartment number. If there was anything truly unfortunate about this, she wanted her identity to be clear. Someone could figure out where to find her body, haha. With her handle registered, she learned she wasn’t the only one. There were others in this chat who clearly had gone through the same process, and others who made apparent their actual names and addresses, not missing the chance to make a real-world connection for however long this might last. There were even others from her apartment building, and it appeared that the population of this chat was localized, at least to planet if not city and neighborhood. All were inside of signal lockdown territory.

Another thing they had in common: the chat had only people who had solved multiple tesselation scan tiles. People who had pondered deeply over the images in the signal windows outside, and had begun to understand what they depicted. This was a primary topic of discussion. Their guesses on the story were very similar at this point. They’d all been watching closely enough to create context for the stills and moving clips, grainy as they were.

It was a horror story about a series of failed first contacts, from the Strangers to Humans, and this signal attack must be a phase of defense strategy from further violence. The story was so seamlessly recomposed by the collective that some surmised how this would make a great film promotion – though the life-changing nature of events was too serious for this to be the ultimate point. Maybe that thought helped people treat it like a storyline, making it more approachable and less traumatic.

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