Seu, somewhat wounded in the fight, has cleaved Maeve apart at the waist, though she is still conscious. Mensab retreats, teleporting herself and Seu away. Meanwhile, Killy follows the Toha Custodians into the hidden structure. They carry Cibo, who reawakens.
The Custodians explain that Toha Heavy Industries is divided into thirteen “caves”, of which Mensab is the control system for the eighth. Mensab is protecting a group of humans from the Silicon creatures, but her behavior has become erratic since they appeared. Cibo hypothesizes that if they can contact a more stable control entity from another cave, it may lead them to humans with the net terminal gene.
To effect repairs on their guests, the Custodians lead them to the object of their responsibility: a machine that can manufacture anything. Cibo connects electronically to the machine, and synthesizes a nutrient supplement. She ingests it by a nanotechnological osmosis, allowing her body to fully repair and refuel.
The Custodians detect Mensab’s approach, and suggest that the group retreats. Cibo manufactures one more thing, then she, Killy, and a pair of Custodians escape on an elevator.
Cibo is able to electronically unlock the elevator and move for the seventh cave. Remotely, Mensab overrides her control, and sends the group to a different cave populated by Silicon life. Once outside the eighth cave, the Custodians lose power and begin to die.
The elevator combusts, sending the group falling through a vast space. Cibo uses the ability of Sanakan’s body to sprout wings, displacing the mass of her legs to create them. She catches the others, and they make for a return to the eighth cave.
Notes & Trivia
- The Custodian’s machine may be a sort of universal assembler.
- The custodians are apparently sustained by some kind of broadcast power.
- In an earlier English translation, Cibo explains that the nutrient block helped her recover from “forceful changes” - the stresses of her body transforming and being possessed by both herself and Sanakan.
- In the Master Edition, Cibo specifies that she had been weakened due to sustaining herself on “repeated, powerful elemental conversion” - possibly, an improvised nuclear power plant within her body. If it was a fission plant, it may have been the radiation that weakened her.