Home > Cytonic (Skyward #3)

Cytonic (Skyward #3)
Author: Brandon Sanderson



                   For Darci Rhoades Stone,

    Who deals with my made-up physics better than any physicist probably should. Thanks for all the help on this series!



   A dark sphere appeared before me in the center of the room.

   Scud. Was I really going to do this? In my hand, Doomslug fluted nervously.

   The sterile whitewashed walls, enormous one-way mirror, and metal tables marked this as some kind of scientific facility. I was on Starsight: the massive space station that housed the regional offices of the Superiority. Up until this past year, I’d never even heard of the Superiority, let alone understood the nuances of how it—as a galactic government—ruled hundreds of different planets and species.

   To be honest, I still didn’t understand those nuances. I’m not exactly a “there are nuances to this situation” type of girl. I’m more of an “if it’s still moving, you didn’t use enough ammunition” type of girl.

   Fortunately, nuance wasn’t needed at the moment. The Superiority was undergoing a violent military coup. And the new people in charge did not like me. The shouts of the soldiers calling to one another as they searched the facility for me grew louder.

   Hence the dark sphere. My only way out was to open a portal to another dimension. I thought of it as the nowhere.

   “Spensa,” M-Bot said. “My thoughts…they’re speeding up?”

       He hovered nearby, having stuffed himself into a little drone. It was shaped vaguely like a box with wings and a pair of grabber arms on the sides. Two tiny acclivity rings—blue stones that glowed when powered—allowed it to hover, one beneath each wing.

   “Um,” he said, “that does not look safe.”

   “They use these nowhere portals to mine acclivity stone,” I said. “So there must be a way to return once you go through. Maybe I can get us back with my powers.”

   The shouts outside were getting closer; there were no other options. I couldn’t use my powers to hyperjump out of this place, not with the shield that protected the station.

   “Spensa!” M-Bot said. “I feel very uncomfortable with this!”

   “I know,” I said, slinging my gun over my shoulder by its strap so I could grab his drone by the bottom of its chassis. Then—M-Bot in one hand, Doomslug in the other—I touched the dark sphere, and was sucked through to the other side of eternity.

   In a flash I was in a place where time, distance, and matter itself didn’t exist. Here I was formless, a mind—or an essence—with no body. It was as if I were a starship floating in an endless blackness with no stars—with nothing at all to interrupt my view. Every time I hyperjumped using my powers, I briefly passed through this place. I was accustomed to the sensation, but it wasn’t familiar. Just…slightly less terrifying than it used to be.

   Immediately I reached my mind out, searching for Detritus—my home. I’d begun to understand my powers in the most basic of ways. I couldn’t go many places with them, but I did know how to get home. Usually.

   This time…I strained… Could I do it? Could I hyperjump to Detritus? The blackness around me seemed to stretch, and I could see white spots in the distance. One of those was…Gran-Gran?

   If I could connect with her, I thought I could pull myself to her. I pushed harder, but grew worried that I’d draw attention. The delvers lived here. And as soon as I thought of them, I became aware of their presence out there in the darkness. All around me, yet invisible for now.

       They didn’t seem to have noticed me yet. In fact…they were fixated on something else.

   Pain. Terror.

   Something was in pain in here. Something familiar.

   The delver. The one I’d prevented from destroying Starsight. It was here in this place, and it was afraid. As I focused on it, it appeared as a white point much brighter than Gran-Gran. It had noticed me.


   Delver communication never manifested as actual words; my mind simply translated the impressions, the images, as words. This one needed my help. The others were trying to destroy it.

   I didn’t think. Instinctively, I shouted into the nowhere.


   Hundreds of bright white spots opened around me. The eyes. I could feel their attention on me now, knowing me. The one they’d been fixated on hovered around the outside.

   As always, the sight of all those eyes intimidated me. Yet I was a different person now. I’d spoken to one of their kind, connected with it. I’d persuaded it to turn its appetite away from the people of Starsight—by showing the delver that they were alive.

   I just needed to do the same thing here. Please. I projected my thoughts toward those eyes, showing them calm understanding, not fear: I am a friend. I am like you. I think. I feel.

   I did exactly what I’d done before. The eyes stirred and quivered, agitated. A few drew closer, and I could feel their scrutiny. Followed by…an emotion, so much more powerful. Pervasive, overwhelming, omnipresent.


   The delvers—there was no telling how many—accepted that I was alive. Because of my cytonic abilities, they understood me to be a person. Their hatred changed to disgust. Anger. It was worse to know I was alive. It meant the things that had been encroaching upon their realm—persistently bothering them—were self-aware. We weren’t mere insects.

       We were invaders.

   I tried again, more desperate this time. They rebuffed me. As if…they’d seen what I’d done to the one of their kind, and had prepared themselves to resist the same sort of approach.

   I recoiled at the wave of their terrible anger. And I heard a terrified scream. Doomslug? Her shout projected something into my brain, a location.


   The delvers withdrew. I unnerved them, it seemed. They hadn’t expected to find me here. That gave me an opening.

   Thanks to Doomslug, I could feel the path. I could get to Detritus. I could see Gran-Gran, and…and Jorgen. Scud, I missed him. I wanted to be near him again, talk to him again. I needed to get home to my friends and help them. The war was going to escalate now that Winzik had seized control of the Superiority.

   I almost hyperjumped. But I lingered. Something held me back. An impression, an instinct.

   What am I? that singular delver projected in a pleading tone. What are WE?

   I’m Spensa Nightshade, I sent to it. A pilot.

   Is that all?

   It used to be all I cared about. But now…now I’d discovered another side to me. Something frightening, something I didn’t completely understand.

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