When It's All Over But the Guilt

As the shuttle began to lift, the Auditor squad burst through the last of the defending robots. They raised their rifles, but Jiana called out, “Wait! Hold your fire! It’s got the Heartstar on board, and if it goes we’re all toasty!”

After that, there was naught to do but watch it leave.

Without the Heartstar’s power, their drive options were very limited, though they wasted no time in putting distance between them and the L5 station. Jiana put all her efforts into understanding what had happened and finding out as much about the enemy as possible. It was a way to keep from blaming herself over her threat assessment that had completely failed to show the danger this planet had posed.

None of the human invaders had survived; they had all been gunned down in the bridge by the Auditors—except for Neely, who had left with the shuttle.

But the wreckage of the robots they had defeated was another story. When the Auditors dragged it into her laboratory, Jiana was in for quite a shock.

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