In her room, by contrast with the mayhem over at the port, some fleeting piece of physics had washed and softened the light. He placed the suitcase carefully on the bed: its clasps being snapped, complex fields sprang to life, radar green on a velvety black backdrop, unwinding in endless strings around a strange attractor. Additionally, the case contained generous lengths of scabby rubberised flex and a pair of bakelite headphones clearly included for show.
“Look inside,” Gaines said. “See this ?”
“Are you really here this time ?”
“First look in the suitcase,” Gaines said, “then we can discuss that.”
Immediately she felt herself transported a thousand light years from Saudade City, out somewhere in Radio Bay, inside an EMC outpost so secret even R.I. Gaines had difficulty finding it. Her viewpoint toppled about at high speed. It was jerky and full of interference; once stabilised, it had a curiously assembled feel, as if it had been built up from three-dimensional layers. What the assistant saw was this: a trembling grey space with echoes and a sense of walls far back, and somehow suspended inside it a single perfect teardrop of light so bright she had to look away. It was the tiniest instant. Even her tailoring couldn’t slow it down. A tear, immobile but constantly falling, so bright you couldn’t really see it. Then darkness came down, the viewpoint gave the impression of tilting violently, and the image of the tear repeated again. By the third or fourth repetition, “tear” had somehow translated in her mind to “rip”: at that everything stopped.