Shapeshifting Jink and the irrepressible Rebels continue their adventures in the Abode of tomorrow, still seeking the lost elves of legend. (Metamorphosis, EQ II 10,11,13,14,15,17,19,20,22)
An elf named Annahvi is communing with elf spirits in the space-faring Palace of the High Ones, when he is interrupted by a request to visit the Master of the Palace, because they are nearing the World of Two Moons. He encounters a troll on the way, and then approaches the Master, with Strongbow nearby.
We only see the Master's back but it looks like Cutter, and Annahvi says, "My chief?" The Master asks Annahvi to bring them to Darkholt. Annahvi replies that he can easily land on the moonlet but doubts that the "troll domes" still hold air.
As they enter the atmosphere, however, they are all shocked to see a large city with huge buildings. They can't believe that it is humans and speculate that it is troll's work. On the surface, humans see the Palace on their scanners and, not knowing what it is, send missiles at it in fear of an imminent attack. The Palace instantly disappears, and one of the humans says, "They've come back, haven't they?"
The Master of the Palace tells Annahvi, "Take us in, toward the Daystar. I have to find my daughter..." and a picture of Jink is shown.
Elsewhere, three of the "Rebels," Scorch, Chandra and Cosmo, are in custody of the Skyward for the theft of an advanced ship, even though they have just saved an entire city from destruction. One of the other Rebels, a human-Neverending cyborg named Shimmer, has been dismantled (though he is conscious) and is again being studied by Dr. Beneir. She is keeping the Preserver, Rosie, in stasis and plans to extract her ancestral memories. Chandra, who has recently discovered she is a telepath ("tweak"), can hear Rosie's panicked thoughts, and faints from their intensity. Dr. Beneir stabilizes her but can't understand what happened. While unconscious, Chandra communicates telepathically with Rosie.
Halm Junnard, the Skyward officer who captured the Rebels, puts Scorch in a cell, but uncuffs Cosmo and takes him to the bridge, where he shows him the recording of the Palace appearing over the moon colony Darkholt. Junnard asks Cosmo to help the Skyward deal with this mystery, because the energy pattern from the Palace exactly matches that of the one they read from Cosmo's ship each time it suddenly disappeared. Cosmo tells him about the small Palace they have and implores Junnard to use it to open a friendly communication with the elves, but Junnard won't try doing that because it failed tragically when they tried it with the Neverending.
Junnard then puts Cosmo in the cell with Scorch. Cosmo says escape is too dangerous and that he's going to reveal the location of the Cam Triompe in exchange for the others' freedom. Scorch is furious at him for suggesting that the team disband, and they have a fistfight.
Meanwhile, Dr. Beneir reluctantly carries out her orders to deactivate Shimmer. She then communicates with the outlaw L'Cota about a plan for her and Rosie to escape the Skyward; L'Cota secretly hopes the Rebels will also escape with her. When she has set the plan in motion and is about to release Rosie from stasis, Shimmer reanimates in a new form (the energy from the deactivation process had triggered some dormant Neverending implants, essentially "evolving" him) and takes control of the ship's computers. It is revealed that he was created to be a cyborg ambassador to the Neverending, and has some of Halm Junnard's DNA.
Junnard is very disturbed after his meeting with Cosmo. He tells his second-in-command, Steele, the entire classified story of that failed first communication with the Neverending: the first ambassador to the Neverending was his brother, against Junnard's wishes and advice to the officer in charge of the mission. The Neverending took his brother aboard their ship, then delivered him back to them saying that they were highly disappointed in the "weakness" of the "host" the humans had sent. Junnard's brother had died from the communication technology the Neverending had tried to implant in him. Junnard's talk with Cosmo has cemented his decision to retire and transfer command of the ship to Steele, which he does on the spot.
Chandra wakes up and can sense the attending nurse's intentions to sedate her again. She attacks him and uses the sedative on him, and escapes the room. She disguises herself as the nurse and enters the lab, where she finds Shimmer, Rosie and Dr. Beneir. Shimmer explains to Chandra that Dr. Beneir was the genetic donor for Rosie (who is a mix of Preserver and human DNA), and thus is technically her mother. Chandra breaks Scorch and Cosmo out of their cell and they head for the escape pods. Unfortunately, the terrorist S'ha who tried to destroy Cauldron City breaks out of her cell at the same time.
In the Burning Waste desert on Abode, the "white-haired star daughter" elf named Jink has followed a "feeling" and has discovered the Rebels' Cam Triompe ship. Her "feeling" was caused by the little Palace, and when she finds it she says, "I–I know this place. Home?" (She has the ability to mind-wipe herself and others, and has no memory of her early life.) She hires Scorch's mechanic family to fix the ship. They figure out it's the Rebels' ship and make a plan to turn Jink in to the Skyward and use the ship to find Scorch and the other Rebels.
While they are working on the ship, Jink visits the Father of Memory in Blue Mountain, to whom she has brought the little Palace. He tells her that she must "open her mind" to the Palace completely to regain what she has forgotten of her heritage, and she suddenly enters the spirit-realm, where she can see the Palace. She heads for it, but a huge elf-spirit blocks her path, and throws her away from the Palace, saying she is tainted with too much humanness.
The story ends here, with the words, "To be continued?"
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