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Navann, ever the content homebody, looked searchingly out the window to the normal sky. It was a contradictory matter. She loved the peace of the restored natural skyline, just air and weather above; while a little part of her missed the excitement of the windows, and the puzzling mystery they produced. She’d been part of a great collective discovery. Navann knew, from what she’d been hearing and reading, that something about it further addressed the shared trauma she’d experienced in the hospital, treating and reversing HA235. She could only do so much, and she’d hardly glimpsed the firebrands rallying the passionate to action. She’d stopped concerning herself with it; when something’s going down, it isn’t always good to have knowledge floating around. If she wasn’t going to be involved, she didn’t know enough to make it her business. Still, she understood a lot of what was going on, and now the windows in the air were gone. They’d disintegrated like pixels in the breeze, the power broadcasting them there released to dissipate. Maybe the Strangers wouldn’t be just in windows anymore. She didn’t think it meant they were gone – just that something had gone right. The unevacuated zone civilians were unharmed, and something was over.

But Isten, who was sixteen, had been gone for nearly a week, and his mother Leyga’s crisis had been increasing after day three of what had started as a friend stay. Navann withstood her questions and told her what she could, guesses as to whether it had anything to do with the puzzles and the darkweb. Navann was managing to help Leyga hold onto her job and place a while longer. He might be fine, considering.

That was Leyga’s knock at the door. It was about dinnertime. As intense as she could be while distraught, she still brought food. “Hi, Navann. I brought us some kitchen sink rice.” She was a little abrupt, and quieter today. There was a change, maybe she was getting ready to do something.

“That sounds just fine,” said Navann, ushering her in to the table where they’d been eating dinners together while Leyga worried about her son.

“No more escorting parties, as of today,” said the mother while unpacking the warm food containers. “We’re all allowed to walk to work, or wherever. It’s only been a few days since the portals stopped, but there must be orders for something else. We’re either no longer important, or in as much danger. A lot of equipment has been moved.”

“Perhaps the danger has passed.” Navann brought silverware from the kitchen.

“I’d like that. I wonder how long till we have all our systems up, again.”

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