It’s too dark for me to see much, but I can feel the floor roughening beneath my feet as I move forward, so I know I’m going the right way. The texture is far less welcoming than the flowing lines of the transitways, and the helpful slopes and swerves that normally show the way to exits are absent here; the only consistent pattern points opposite to my path. The structure is subtle in its own way, but predictable enough that I know exactly what it’s trying to tell me: keep out!

I step out of the corridor and into a larger room. It’s still dark here, but the lights are better tuned to my eyes and there’s a faint echo inside. It seems to just be a junction; there aren’t any features on the walls and the floor tells me there’s no reason to linger around the edges. I pace forward and feel out the thresholds of the exits. Two are just like the one I’ve come in from, albeit better lit, with gently ridged markings that quietly push me back in the direction of the life core. The next one is sharp and familiar, and I step quickly past it. The first time I’d moved past one of those markers had been bad enough even without the lecture Themis gave me afterwards.

The fourth one is new to me. For once, its patterns invite me instead of rebuffing me: they’re wider and more yielding than I’m used to, and a thrill of discovery runs along my spine. A new kind of passage is far more than I was expecting, and today I have the time to investigate it. I finished early with my work today, and Metis isn’t expecting me for at least another shift.

I test the pattern again with my feet. It still has the same rough structure as the half-hearted warnings I’ve been pushing through, with two guiding ridges coming together at a point, but each ridge has a furrow running through the centre where there ought to be a peak. The gap between the two ridges seems to actually dip below the level of the rest of the floor, enough that I can’t stand properly when I put one foot into it while keeping the other one on level ground. There’s still one more passage I haven’t checked on yet, but I ignore it. I don’t have enough time to bother checking up on extra twists and turns when something as novel as this is waiting.

I dig my toes into the pattern to get a feel for it. Wherever it leads, I don’t want to miss the trail. The passage beyond it doesn’t look special, but the structure never lies: there’s something there that wants to be found.

Who better than me to find it?

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