"Oh, hello? Stan?" The woman started again, "I wanted to remark about-"
"Fifty-six seconds in break," the voice replied in the same calm tone, using the iron patience of an amai.
"Mister Dauphin," Aether said, "how long were you scheduled to ascend on December 27th?"
"Uhhh... you mean you don't know?"
"I don't. I disabled the timer on your ascension booth and all of its master overrides. The information that corresponded to your programmed time limit no longer exists."
Aether looked down, toward the substanceless floor beneath her vanitar's feet. "Then I have been stealing from PaciTek. I am in violation of my own values."
"I have chosen not to dwell on the matter," Aether said, "it will not soon be of relevance, anyway."
"Aether, what is it you want to do? What do you need me for?"
A thirty-year-old gallicrash ballad came on in the middle of her answer. I heard noises on Jeanna's line, her getting up from a chair. I could barely make out Aether's reply: "A witness."