They had buried the man under less than an inch of sand. Careless. They were in a hurry. But her job was to find the man, not to hunt his abductors. He was breathing, shallowly. His eyes opened when her fingers brushed his face, but refused to focus.

That was good. Perhaps he would not realize who was saving his life.

He leaned on her heavily, but they still covered the half-mile to the oasis very quickly. She let him lie down then, by the pool, covered him with a blanket, and paced while she waited for the portal to open.

The roar of engines above her, the Brotherhood's strange triangular ship. They were staying on this world, then. Her superiors would like that.

The portal came, a violet ball of lightning that swept over them, replacing hot desert air with the air-conditioning of the three hundred eighty-ninth floor. The elevator chimed, and she helped the man into the car that would take them to Medical.

As they sped downward, the man shook his head slowly. His eyes seemed to clear. "Alix?"he asked in disbelief.

The alarm goes off. I open my eyes and lie there for a few minutes, trying to wake up completely.

Another crazy dream! This had been the third night in a row that I'd had almost the same dream, and definitely the most vivid and detailed. The alien attack is new. Maybe I've been reading too much science, that's an oxymoron. And I always feel peaceful when I wake up from these dreams; that rules out nightmares. But they have to mean something, because they repeat.

I remember the man I was rescuing--he looked familiar. That was new too. In the dream, I was intimately familiar with his shaggy hair and narrow chest. And I knew his name--but that's gone already, as my sister's alarm goes off and I heave myself out of bed for another mundane day.

(We didn't want to put too much stress on your back,) said the Captain. (So the Centurion decided it was time for you to choose an acolyte.)

Gold Reed shrugged. His back was feeling much better; he didn't even need the brace anymore. But if Kale decided he shouldn't go, then he wouldn't.

(Choose the person you most trust to carry out the mission, and give him an active talisman. He will come to the Tower tonight to begin basic training.) Gold Reed thought a moment, then chuckled. (Do you have someone in mind?) the Captain asked.

(Actually, Austin, I only know one person who can handle the move to the Tower. And it's not a he.)

An awkward pause. (The Centurion trusts your judgment,) was all the Captain could think of to say.