Ellis is an incandescent center under a brittle shell, pulsing in the cool dark of the earth. He has been seventeen years underground, seventeen years without friends or family, with nothing to do but grow gloomy with recrimination and dizzy drunk on the thin gruel of xylem.

Outside they are waiting; he knows this. Outside they are hungry, sharp-barbed, and dangerous, brainwashed of this shifting terrain. They will destroy him, if they can, or his children, so he waits, and plans, and rages against the day.

Some signal goes out; some hidden sign. He swells forth, strains against himself, rushes forth to vengeance, glory, and survival. Alas, too soon — there should be an army at his back, and summer days, and wings full of heating blood. Instead there is nothing. Gray skies and silence. Some vast insubstantial bulk against the watery light, then darkness.

Ellis lodges himself sideways in its throat, his unknown destroyer, full of spite; death demanding death.