Sharp Empowerment

“…and… he moved on,” Victoria said with a sigh. The pink-haired woman walking next to her nodded in understanding.

“It’s understandable, you were gone for years; but, that doesn’t make it easier.” Lyra patted Victoria on the shoulder. “What will make it easier is you moving on too. Which brings us to here,” Lyra used her arms to gesture at the narrow bridge beneath them. It was only about six feet wide and made of solid white marble. It was built to cross a bottomless void to a circular, red platform in the center.

“Thanks to my promotion, I need someone to take over my former duties. I’ve found that being single makes the job way more fun,” Lyra giggled at Victoria. “There are a few of these, but they’re all the same.”

Victoria looked around in awe. Everything around the bridge, and now as far back as she could see behind her, was enveloped in complete darkness. She saw only the white of the bridge and their approaching destination glowing in red.

“Most of your time will be spent scouting out new Earth. I don’t even bother if they haven’t advanced to at least some version of social media. But, that’s a personal choice. Your job is to recommend Earths to Ms. Sharp, along with a course of action. She can already take over any Earth she wants…,” Victoria heard a nothing but awed respect in Lyra’s voice any time she spoke about Ms. Sharp.

“She doesn’t have time to sit down and plan what she wants to do with every Earth. She trusted me to give her recommendations that would benefit Sharp Development as a whole. And now I’m trusting you.” She smiled at Victoria; her eyes glanced up at the young woman’s hair. Her shade of light purple wasn’t too far off from Lyra’s bright pink hair. “Because I like your hair.” She giggled as they reached the center circle. it was a solid red, 10′ diameter platform. A white, short podium jutted out of the center of the circle. Lyra led Victoria to it.

“Like this Earth for example,” Lyra said. Victoria had a loose understanding of the history that got her there at that moment, so she was interested in hearing a more official version.

“I never would have suggested this Earth. When it was found by a scout, it was just entering the dark ages. That was 30 years ago, and now they’ve colonized the moon.” Victoria was surprised; her eyes widened and she tilted her head.

“Ms. Sharp let that happen?” Lyra nodded, but laughed.

“The scout suggested that Ms. Sharp leapfrog their technology from the dark ages to 2030/2040ish. Humans here never learned how to store energy. They never need to, we keep their world powered and their devices are always on. Unfortunately, that power can only reach as far as their moon.” Lyra shrugged. “They’ll never be able to replicate it.” She gestured at the white podium. The surface outlined a pair of hands side by side.

“Until they meet an Estrella that doesn’t work for Sharp Development,” Victoria said with a smile. She stepped forward to the waist-high podia and placed her palms in the outlines. Her hands immediately glowed with blue light. She pushed plasma energy from her star through the podium at a steady rate to recharge the planet.

“That can’t happen, this is one of Ms. Sharp’s private server. Employees only.”

“She can lock out Uniques!?” Victoria was surprised. She could not even begin to imagine the process involved in locking a universe. Lyra grinned and nodded.

“Ms. Sharp can do anything.”

Starstruck. Star strike.

“Ms. Sharp appreciates your efforts and loyalty,” Aurelio said with a nod. “And, I agree with her,” he added. The portly teenager sat across from a young woman with bright pink hair. She wore a crisp white blazer and was several years older than Aurelio. They met at midnight in the local diner. A handful of patrons tried to sober up at the counter while he and Lyra sat in a booth in a dim corner.

Any onlooker would think Aury was either trying to date out of his league, or Lyra was stuck on babysitting duty. But, Lyra knew why he was there. Nervous flutters began in her gut the moment he asked her to meet, two days ago. Now that he was finally in front of her and confirmed the reason for the visit, she was instantly on Cloud 9. He was now officially her boss; and, Lyra was one step closer to her goal.

Dana Sharp was the most amazing woman Lyra met in her travels between universes. She decided to try and follow her lead. Lyra gave her all for the company and worked her way up through the multiversal corporation. She turned in good work and made herself reliable and replaced each one of her bosses on her way up. She knew she couldn’t replace Aury, but he was already at the top level. He took orders only from Dana or Melody, but Lyra knew she could make room for herself in Dana’s inner circle. She took Aury’s personal visit as a very good indicator of her progress.

“Thank you!” was the only response Lyra could muster. She was beyond awed at his presence, but it was her own fault. Melody suggested to Lyra that she should avoid using her star sight on Aurelio. Unfortunately, Melody neglected to explain why and Lyra needed to find out for herself.

She flashed her vision for a brief moment when he arrived. Less than a second, but 10 minutes later the afterimage of his soul still danced in her vision. A large glowing, blue crescent moon floated in Lyra’s vision behind Aurelio. Its light was more intense than the sun.

“I asked you to meet here to have you start right away,” Aury said. “We were already monitoring the situation when you reported it. Ms. Sharp decided to bring this server down to limit this kind of information getting into the AlterNet.” Lyra nodded. She hoped and guessed the location was an intentional choice. As she waited for him in the diner she caught the news. Another human skeleton found on another Mars. She reported it to Melody immediately, but Aurelio was the one that responded. He only confirmed their appointment.

“Check for Uniques,” Aurelio said. Lyra remembered to look away from Aurelio before she used her star sight. Her eyes glowed with golden stars as she looked around the restaurant. Only two patrons remained aside from them. She shook her head.

“There aren’t any.” Aurelio chuckled and shook his head too.

“On the server,” he said, he held up his node to hint that she should use hers.

“OH!” She blushed, but was quick to pull her node out. Several new icons on her home screen made it apparent her status was already upgraded. She tapped one labeled, ‘Server Info’.

[N.F. Independent, contemporary. Unnamed.] [population: 7.92 Billion Zeros.] [Unique Souls: 2.] [#23 – La Luna; Aurelio Luno | #35 – La Estrella; Lyra Orphae]

“Just you and me,” Lyra said.

“Good, now change the permissions to make sure no other Uniques show up.” Lyra nodded as she swiped through the menus on her node.

“Got it,” she said.

“Now…,” Aurelio moved out of the booth and stood up. He took a moment to hike up his jeans. “Give me a head start, then do your job,” he smiled. He wiggled his fingers at the air and opened a black portal. Lyra’s eyes widened in surprise.

“Lunas can traverse!?” she asked. She’d never heard of a Luna copying that particular ability.

“I can,” he said idly and took a step toward the portal.

“Any other questions?” the teenager asked.

“Uhh. Oh!” Lyra nodded. She stood from the booth too. Despite their age difference, they were more or less the same height. “I think I know the answer, but, I don’t want to risk messing up the first day,” she said. “The server info said N.F. That means nano-free, right? So, I won’t be able to use the nanos?”

“Right. Just do an impression of Melody,” Aurelio chuckled then disappeared into the portal.

“That’s what I thought,” Lyra said. Her hands began to glow with hot, blue light.

Sharp Planet

“No way…,” Lyra almost couldn’t believe her eyes. The young woman sat in a diner staring at the TV in awe. A group of astronauts returning from Mars was being interviewed about the photographs they returned with. “That’s gotta be the reason I’m here,” she whispered to herself. Her boss, Ms. Sharp, asked her to keep spend some extra time on this Earth, but she did not give a reason. She pulled her node out and sent a report immediately.

It was a pleasant Saturday morning and the diner was full, but not overcrowded. Lyra expected the din of conversation to die down, considering what was shown on the TV. Actual, English words written on a cave wall on Mars. Lyra regularly traveled between alternate universes but even she was impressed. Even if the actual message struck a nervous chord somewhere in her. But, everyone around her was focused on their own troubles. Her node vibrated in her hands as she wondered about the cave’s message.

[Thank you, Lyra. Please exit to another server for your safety. Ms. Sharp requested an emergency shut down on that server; there won’t be a warning. – Melody]

Lyra was surprised. She felt confident that Ms. Sharp would be interested in the message; especially considering a human skeleton was found next to it. The more she thought about it, the more Lyra appreciated Ms. Sharp’s focus.

That’s why she’s the most powerful woman in the universe,” Lyra thought with a smile. “She knows what she wants and doesn’t let herself get distracted.” Suddenly, Lyra felt the ground tremble under her feet; she glanced at the TV and saw they seemed to be in the middle of an earthquake too. Lyra casually wiggled her fingers at the air next to her and opened a black portal to escape through before the Earth exploded.


“The server is down and the Mars astronauts are in hibernation, Ms. Sharp,” Melody reported to Ms. Sharp in her office. “Except for Lyra, everyone that saw the message is accounted for.” Ms. Sharp gave a curt nod.

“Put a team of Zeros to work on solving Mars frequencies. You are the only Unique that knows about it,” Ms. Sharp said. Melody nodded.

“Yes, Ms. Sharp.” She turned to leave, but Ms. Sharp spoke up again.

“Let’s not take any chances; this might show up again somewhere. It’s better to take ownership. Start an ad campaign on suitable Earths,” Ms. Sharp smiled as she repeated the four words found on Mars.

“The AlterNet is Everywhere.”

Space. Star.

“Ready?” Kelly asked. Anna replied with a long yawn. Both women stood in Kelly’s kitchen at 6:00 a.m. in their pajamas in front of Kelly’s custom-built cupboard. It was modeled after a full-sized wardrobe with plenty of space.

“Why six a.m.?” Anna asked. Her eyes weren’t fully open yet. Kelly didn’t know if that was because of all the lights being on or because Anna wasn’t fully awake yet. Kelly shrugged.

“This is when I normally wake up. You can go back to sleep after I show you why you spent the night.” Anna’s half-closed eyes narrowed even more.

“Did you forget you showed me your confusing organizational skills last night?” she asked. Kelly shook her head.

“That’s the point. I haven’t left your sight since last night, right?” Kelly asked. Anna shrugged.

“I dunno. I was asleep for most of it, but sure. I trust you.” Kelly shook her head.

“No, you have to believe me. I didn’t leave the room.”

“Okay,” Anna nodded. Her eyes were wide open now showing off their coffee-brown color. “I believe you. What’s the big deal?” Kelly reached for the cupboard handle and pulled it open. She looked in and immediately started searching for anything new. Both women screamed and jumped back from the cupboard; the pink head of hair that frightened them looked down at the commotion.

A woman’s head with a pink ponytail hung upside down under the middle shelf and seemed to be looking ‘up’ at something on the bottom shelf. When she saw and heard the two women, her eyes went wide for a moment, then they deflated as she released an audible sigh.

“Aw damnit,” she mumbled. She stared at the two women holding each other side by side upside down. “Don’t freak out; I’ll be right there to explain everything. Also, sorry.”  The upside-down head disappeared into the bottom of the middle shelf.

“Hi, I’m Lyra.” Anna and Kelly jumped again when Lyra spoke from the kitchen entrance. They both turned to see the same pink ponytail attached to a full woman. She wore a crisp white blazer with red buttons and a red scissor logo on the left. Now that the shock of finding a head in her cupboard wore off, Kelly noticed a small red star tattoo on her cheek.

“Kelly,” Kelly introduced herself as she tried to process the situation. She had been dealing with odd happenings for a few weeks already. Finding a head was initially grisly, but Lyra seemed to be walking and talking okay. She didn’t bother wondering how Lyra got into her house; she was already in the cupboard.

“Anna,” Anna gave a half wave, then started another yawn.

“I can do this,” Lyra said. She raised her hand to chest level and wiggled her fingers at the air. A small, saucer-sized black hole appeared in the air. Lyra slid her right hand into the hole, then used her left hand to point at the still open cupboard. Anna and Kelly turned to see a hand waving at them from the shelf. “And this,” she added.

The hand retreated and was replaced by Lyra’s head in the cupboard again. Kelly looked at Lyra in her kitchen and saw her body standing there with a black hole at her neck. Then, the hole disappeared and her head was attached again.

“A few weeks ago I lost access to my normal stashing spot, so I picked a new one at random,” she shrugged. “I didn’t know it was owned. I’m sure you’ve noticed some weird things. I’m sorry. My stuff’ll be gone in a couple of hours.”

“You didn’t know it was owned?” Kelly asked. “But my stuff was in there too…,” Her voice faded at the end; she was afraid of sounding accusatory. It was a genuine curiosity. Lyra smiled and nodded.

“There’s a difference between occupied and owned. I thought I wasn’t the only one using it was all; it’s handy to stash things when traveling between universes. As long as I didn’t touch anyone else’s things and no one touched mine, there’s lots of room.” 

“Did you say, ‘traveling between universes’?” Anna asked. Lyra nodded.

“For work, yeah.”

“Between universes!?” Kelly asked. “Like, alternate universes?” Again, Lyra nodded, then she smiled broadly.

“How about a tour, to make it up to you for invading your space?” Lyra asked.

“Really?” Anna asked.

“To another universe?” Kelly asked.

“How about to lunch in another universe? I know the best Chinese place ever.”

“Chinese?” Kelly asked and she glanced at the clock on her stove. “It’s not even 6:10 yet.” Lyra shrugged.

“It’s lunch where we’re going. Lesson one of the multiverse: Each Earth is its own time zone. So…,” Lyra gestured at the pair of women. “…you’ll need to change out of the jammies.”

Sharp Opportunities

“For how long?” The woman’s question froze Jared in his tracks. He took two steps back to his spot with his pocketed jewelry before she asked. She shouldn’t have asked anything, much less remained standing in place with her eyes closed. He turned around to give her a more thorough look. She smirked slightly, eyes still closed. “It’s not really a trick if my eyes are closed the whole time,” she said.

When he first approached her, he only saw a young woman with a bright pink ponytail and a small red star tattooed on her cheek. She looked like someone adventurous. He looked closer and saw a 35 in the center of her tattoo. She wore a crisp white blazer with red buttons and a red scissor logo on the left. Her smirk disappeared.

“I just got mugged didn’t I?” she asked and opened her sea-blue eyes. She smiled the moment she noticed Jared still there. “Well, what’s the trick?” she asked. Jared returned the golden bracelet to her with a concerned look on his face.

“Who are you?” he asked. She accepted the bracelet and looked it over, then she slipped it back onto her wrist.

“Lyra. Who are you?” she asked as she extended her hand in greeting. “And do I get to see a trick or not?”

“I’m Jared. You remember me?” he asked as she shook her hand. Lyra shrugged.

“You couldn’t have met me before today,” she said. Jared nodded.

“I didn’t; but, you remember me from today, just now?” he asked Lyra giggled.

“Well you kind of stand out,” she said. She gestured at his clothing. He wore colorful baggy pants with rainbow suspenders. A rainbow wig sat atop his head with a floppy unicorn horn extending from it. “Which, I guess is a good thing for street performers.” Jared shook his head.

“No, that’s not what I mean.” He looked up and the sidewalk and quickly spotted another mark. Years of standing on the street taught him who he could approach and who was likely to fall for his scam. “Watch this,” he said.

Jared stepped in front of a tall, portly man in a business suit. It wasn’t always about how they were dressed, Jared could pick out a target by the way they carried themselves.

“Excuse me, sir,” Jared said. “You look like a good-natured fellow. Could I trouble you for two seconds to practice a trick I’m working on?”

The man stopped walking and looked down at the notably shorter Jared and smiled.

“Sure, I love magic tricks,” the stranger replied.

“Great! Can I borrow your watch for a moment?” The man eagerly removed his watch and presented it to Jared. Jared accepted the watch.

“Now, close your eyes,” Jared said. The man did without question and Jared ambled back to stand next to Lyra.

“There is no trick, is there?” Lyra asked with a trace of disappointment in her voice. Jared shrugged. The stranger suddenly opened his eyes. He glanced around in a moment of confusion, his eyes passed over Jared twice, but the man shrugged to himself and resumed walking.

“I can make it so people forget me when I’m out of their sight,” Jared said. “How do you remember me?”

“Hold on a second and I’ll tell you,” Lyra said. She snatched the watch out of Jared’s hand and dashed to catch up to the stranger.

“Excuse me sir, I think you dropped this,” Jared heard Lyra explain to the man as she returned his watch. After he thanked her, Lyra walked back to Jared.

“No more stealing,” she said sternly. “I remember you because I’m a Unique Soul like you. You’ve only been using your ability on Zeros.”

“Am I supposed to know what you’re talking about?” Jared asked. Lyra sighed.

“I hoped you might because you’re already awakened; I’m not good at explaining everything. I guess that means you don’t know anyone named Mundo, do you?” Lyra asked. Jared shook his head.

“Well, you can learn the details later. Want a job?” she asked.

“Doing what?” Jared asked. He didn’t have to be a street performer. He could let people remember him and hold a normal job, but Jared never felt comfortable with ‘normal’. He actually did practice magic tricks and occasionally had true performance days where he didn’t steal anything. He enjoyed the freedom and creativity he currently had. Lyra shrugged.

“Almost anything you want. I work for a giant company and we’re always looking for Uniques to hire. Sharp Development has logistics and supply divisions, travel and transportation, banking, education, medical services and even entertainment. Anything you want to do, you can probably find a place to do it.”

“Entertainment? Like, television?” Jared asked. Lyra nodded. “Alright,” he said. “I’ll take a look, what do I have to do?”  Lyra giggled.

“Close your eyes.”

Cyber Scout

“Whoa, never seen that mod before,” Peter said. The short, athletic man sat down in front of pink-haired Lyra with a smile; his eyes glowed with a soft green color. They met at the cafe for a blind date. The golden stars in Lyra’s eyes faded leaving their natural sea-blue color. “Where’d you get those?” he asked about her eyes.

“I was born with them,” Lyra tilted her head at him. “Why? Where’d you get yours?” she asked with a hint of sarcasm.

“Eh, they’re nothing special, but they get the job done,” Peter replied. “They were already almost obsolete when my dad got them. And he had them for a while before he handed them down to me,” he paused suddenly and stared at Lyra. “No jokes about having my father’s eyes,” he said with a slight smirk to let her know he was kidding. “I’ve heard that one too many times already.”

“Huh,” Lyra was equal parts confused and amused. On a whim, golden stars glowed in her eyes again. Lyra took a moment to look Peter up and down through her star sight. A soft purple aura glowed around him, he was obviously a Zero. However, his aura almost disappeared completely around his eyes. Lyra turned around and eyed the rest of the patrons and staff in the cafe. Each of them glowed with the same soft purple light and each of their auras suffered from dark spots around their body. Thanks to a few cybernetic limbs she was able to confirm the pattern; their aura was impaired by the enhancements.

“Does everyone have cyber-parts?” Lyra asked.

“Yeah,” Peter chuckled. “Don’t you?” Lyra shook her head. “Whoa, really? I didn’t think there were any pure humans left.”

“It’s that ubiquitous?” Lyra asked in surprise. When Peter nodded an agreement Lyra reached into her jean pocket and pulled out a node. She immediately began typing a message to someone on it.

“What’s that?” Peter asked.

“Node. It’s like a cellphone but better,” Lyra replied without looking up. Though, she did give him her attention again once she finished her message.

“Phone?” Peter chuckled. “Everyone has a communication module installed at birth, who are you texting that doesn’t have that?”

“My boss,” Lyra replied. Then after a moment she corrected herself. “Well, my boss’ assistant.”

“That’s… that’s an odd thing to do on a date,” Peter said.

“I know, sorry,” Lyra apologized. “I’m not really looking to date someone long term; I just wanted someone to talk to about your Earth,” Lyra shrugged. Peter tilted his head and narrowed his eyes. “Dating apps make it super easy to meet someone fast. But, since learning everyone on this Earth was a cyborg, my job’s pretty much done.”

“You keep saying “my” Earth,” Peter said when she gave him a chance to talk. “Does that mean you’re from a different one?” Lyra nodded.

“And your job is to learn about Earths… why?”

“I help decide if an Earth is ready to know about the multiverse,” Lyra replied. Then, a chime came from her node.

“So if you’re telling me about it, does that mean we’re ready?” Peter asked.

“Even better,” Lyra grinned. “I just got a reply. My boss, Ms. Sharp, is very interested in an Earth full of cyborgs, congratulations!”

“For what?” Peter asked.

“Ms. Sharp’s going to buy your Earth. You guys are so lucky!”

Sharp Scout

Adam froze in place as he walked into the kitchen. He was so shocked at the pink-haired woman eating at his table that he dropped his empty mug. The shattering glass drew the woman’s attention and her eyes sparkled as soon as she saw him. She was an adult version of the young girl he remembered from his childhood. Pink ponytail and clear, sea-blue eyes. Though, this adult version of her had a small, red star tattooed on her cheek with the number 35 in its center.

“ADAM!” She hopped up from her seat, but Adam was shaking his head before she moved very far.

“NO!” he shouted with both his hands out in front of himself. He turned away from her and walked toward the pantry.

“What do you mean, ‘no’?” The woman pouted slightly but sat down at his table again. She resumed eating the bowl of cereal in front of her. Adam opened the pantry door with a heavy sigh. His broom and dustpan set hung on the door; he pulled them down and walked back to the broken mug. He started sweeping it up with his back to her.

For several minutes the only sounds in the kitchen were the sweeping of glass on tile and the woman’s crunching as she ate. He disposed of the glass, returned the broom and dustpan to their hook. He grabbed his box of plain cornflakes from the pantry before closing the door. He grabbed a bowl from the cabinets, spoon from the drawer, and milk from the fridge; but, he kept his back to her as much as possible.

He could not keep his back to her when he sat down at the table, but he poured his cereal and milk without saying a word or making eye contact.

“Cereal first? You’re doing it wrong,” the woman giggled. When she spoke, Adam couldn’t help but glance in her direction. He wanted to avoid acknowledging her but he noticed her bowl was full of a colorful, sugary cereal. Part of him felt better about that; it wasn’t a cereal he had in his house which meant she brought it from somewhere. It seemed ridiculous that someone would carry a box of cereal around with them so Adam took comfort knowing she was indeed still imaginary.

“Some of us aren’t children,” he replied. Adam decided there was no harm in some creative fantasizing as long as he kept himself grounded. She wasn’t real.

“And some of us know what life’s about,” she replied. Adam finally looked up at her properly; she grinned at him while taking another heaping spoon full of rainbow sugar in her mouth.

“So, tell me, Lyra. Why are you showing up again after 20some years?” Adam asked before taking a bite of cereal. Lyra swallowed, then sighed.

“It’s kind of embarrassing, but I want your help,” she said. Her clear eyes clouded over with slight guilt. “I  know it’s horrible to show up again after so long just to ask for a favor; but, I also thought it’d be a good excuse to reconnect.” 

“Reconnect?” Adam chuckled. “You’re not real; we were never connected.” Despite years of reminding himself that she never existed, Adam wasn’t ready for the very real hurt look she gave him.

What?” she whispered; her eyes lost all clarity as they watered. “What do you mean I’m not real?” she asked. “You were my best friend!”

“You were my only friend…,” Adam said. “and no one ever met you.”

“I was shy.” Lyra defended herself.

“And that explains how you disappeared every time my parents wanted to meet you? How you always managed to get in my house without my parents answering the door. How you got in my house now, for that matter,” he said. Lyra’s mood flipped as quick as a light switch; she giggled and nodded.

“Kind of, yeah,” she said. “Looking at it that way,.. I’m sorry I was away for so long. There’s just so much out there! I wanted you to come explore with me, but I was too shy to talk to your parents. By the time I got over it I found a job and I didn’t have much time to reminisce anymore.”

“Okay. So explain it then,” Adam asked. He had no idea where “out there” was but he still assumed she was imaginary. He was curious enough to see how inventive his mind could be. “How does being shy make you disappear?”  He took another bite of cereal. They seemed to be taking turns eating and talking.

“I didn’t know it then, but I can travel to alternate universes; I’m not even from yours. When we were younger I was only doing it subconsciously. Whenever your parents wanted to meet me I freaked out and went home.”

“Uhuh. So, pretending I believe alternate universes exist. You’re telling me you could travel between them at eight years old. Without any kind of machine or insane power draw?” Lyra nodded as she finished chewing her last bite of cereal. Neon pink milk was all that remained.

“Yep,” she reached over to grab the milk and added more to her bowl. “Pretty much like this,” Lyra wiggled her fingers at the air above it. A small, pancake-sized black hole opened and colored cereal rained out to fill her bowl; after she was satisfied, the hole disappeared. “Obviously, I can make portals big enough to walk through too.” Adam stared slack jawed for a moment. He had no idea what to make of what just happened, but he couldn’t deny it happened. His belief that Lyra was imaginary was based solely on those disappearing instances. If she had an explanation for them, that changed everything. He wasn’t ready to admit it yet and decided to change the subject to learn more information.

“And you need my help with what?” Lyra shook her head with a smile.

“I don’t need your help, but I do want it. Like I said, to reconnect. The company I work for, Sharp Development, is a multiversal corporation. My job is to visit Earths and get a feel for how ready they are for our products…,” Adam interrupted here.

“Those products being… cereal?” he asked in a playful tone. Lyra giggled and nodded.

“Those products being everything, including cereal. Basically, I’m supposed to make a recommendation whether an Earth can handle knowing about the rest of the multiverse. It’s insane how backwards some Earths can be about other cultures on their own planet, their heads would explode if they learned about everything.”

“And where do I come in?’

“I usually get a local to show me around,” Lyra said with a grin.