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Literature / Hive Mind (2016)

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Amber as the Light Angel, flanked by Forge and Lucas

Hive Mind is a series of science fiction works written by Janet Edwards, also known for the Earth Girl series.

The year is 2532 in Hive England, a massive arcology of one hundred million people on 100 residential levels across 10 zones. An eighteen-year-old girl named Amber is about to enter Lottery, the achievement test all eighteen-year-olds go through to find their perfect job. Upon completing Lottery, they will be "imprinted" with all the knowledge they need for that job.

Except Amber finds that she will never be imprinted, because she is one of the extremely rare telepaths that the Hive needs to use to protect citizens from each other. As an elite telepath, she is given command of a unit that seeks out and captures "wild bees" before they can hurt the Hive. As the newest telepath, she is a critical guardian, protecting the Hive from descending into chaos.


Works in the series include:

  • Telepath (novel)
  • Defender (novel)
  • Perilous (prequel novella, set before Telepath)
  • Hurricane (novel)
  • Borderline (novel)

Now has a character page.

This series contains examples of:

  • Achievement Test of Destiny: Lottery. A multiple-day test to find out exactly what would be the perfect role for you in society, the job that you can do well and that will make you happy. Some roles (such as telepath) are so important that anyone who can do them will be taken for that role, regardless of whether it is something they would actually want to do.
  • Aerith and Bob: Amber's support team includes Nicole and Megan, and Forge and Adika.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: On Teen Level, Amber had an air vent inspection hatch in her room. Forge used it to enter and go exploring.
  • And I Must Scream: After Amber's imprint is activated, she envisions herself in a little crystal bubble, trapped inside her own head as her mind is taken over by the imprint.
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  • Arcology: Hive England, which the main characters all live in, is a hundred-million-person city that provides almost all its own food, water, power, and other needs. (They do trade stuff with other Hives, but not for much - the only trades we see on-page are for extremely advanced medical technology.) Other Hives exist but are generally less self-sufficient.
  • Arc Symbol: In each of the books, Amber takes on the role of the Light Angel, a character in the annual Halloween and Carnival festivals. The Light Angel protects the Hive and its loyal citizens, fighting the forces of darkness directly or calling on Justice to aid her.
    • In Telepath, Amber dresses as the Light Angel as they move to capture Elden on Halloween.
    • In Defender, Light Angel is the code name of Amber's team as they attempt to stop Mars.
    • In Hurricane, the image of Amber as the Light Angel is used to make Glenna run from Irwin.
    • In Borderline, we find that the use of the Light Angel code name has spread to all of Law Enforcement. This is a major cause of Keith being upset with Amber - he called Olivia his Light Angel, and then Amber "killed" her and took the name.
  • Arc Words: "The Hive knows best." Intended as a way to keep people from asking questions, it gets brought up repeatedly when Amber thinks the Hive is making mistakes. Amber's increasing unwillingness to accept this as an answer comes to a head when she talks to Keith, who expects her to say it as a "dutiful doll". She says she isn't sure that the Hive knows best after all.
  • Asexuality: One of the surrogate mothers that carried Claire's children. She loved being a mother and having children, but had no desire to have sex, making her ideal as a surrogate.
  • Awful Truth: Amber gets several of these.
    • In Telepath, she learns that the nosies are a lie and the Hive is kept from chaos by the efforts of far-too-few full telepaths. She also learns that telepaths are above the law.
    • In Hurricane, she learns that the sea farms exist as a group of people who can survive if the Hives fail, and why telepaths can never meet. She also learns that, if it becomes necessary, Melisande would cut off as many zones from the Hive as it took to save the rest.
    • In Borderline, she learns just how bad things got before she came out of Lottery, with Sapphire doing multiple emergency runs per day.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension:
    • Adika and Megan. They start off at practically Slap-Slap-Kiss levels, but they have belligerent sexual tension even after they become a couple. In Borderline, they start having an argument in the middle of a meeting, and are clearly getting aroused by it.
    • Buzz and Forge. After Buzz sees this between Adika and Megan, it makes her think about her own relationships.
  • Beware the Mind Reader: The Nosies are claimed to be telepaths, but aren't. Nosies are generally strongly disliked, and the sight of them almost-universally leads to people chanting multiplication tables as Psychic Static.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: The Hive does its very best to give this impression with the nosy patrols. It's not entirely inaccurate (there are real telepaths, and they do go around making sure potential future criminals are headed off before they get the chance to do anything) but drastically overstates the number of telepaths. Amber is disturbed at the idea that, before they used telepaths, crime was prevented by having cameras everywhere. Averted in that the telepaths are the only use of this; the Hive doesn't use cameras, monitoring of messages, tracking of dataviews, or anything of the sort, to give the residents as much privacy as they can. The Sea Farm does use cameras, and splattering them with paint is a popular game among the children.
  • Blackmail: Bruce thinks he's blackmailing Michaela over leading the Blue Upway game because it will ruin her career. However, part of being imprinted at the level she is is that she would choose the good of the Hive over her personal career. The blackmail actually only works because having that on her record would damage her case against Hive Genex, which includes three more citizens and their children, including a full telepath.
  • Blackmail Backfire: As soon as Lucas finds a way to prevent the secret above from coming out, everyone involved agrees to take the blackmailer down immediately.
  • Bodyguard Babes: The typical strike teams of male telepaths, when possible. Strike teams should be people the telepath finds attractive, because they are likely to be in close physical contact frequently.
  • Brainwashing for the Greater Good: Hive England seems to not abuse the coercive potential of imprinting, although it is implied that other hives do. However, even with that, Hive England does use imprinting in some coercive ways, which we see most directly in the Strike Team. The Strike Team are all imprinted to sacrifice themselves for the telepath, and that telepaths must never meet.
  • Breaking the Cycle of Bad Parenting: Amber's parents made it clear they would love her no matter what level she ended up on. This is in reaction to her father's parents abandoning him when he came out as level 27, 13 levels below them.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Literally a gun. When Lucas learns that he doesn't need to teach Amber to swim, she suggests he teach her how to use a gun instead. She uses the gun to kill Elden.
  • Chekhov's Skill: For Forge, climbing around in the air vents. He was doing that to play Blue Upway.
  • Children Are Innocent: Deliberately exploited by Rose to conceal her murders, and while trying to evade responsibility for them.
  • Crisis Catch And Carry: The strike team's job includes carrying the telepath around while the telepath is scanning minds, as it's hard to walk and scan at the same time. Petite Amber's strike team is considerably happier about this than heavily-built Keith's.
  • Dirty Mind-Reading: Amber stumbles onto this more often than she'd like. Adika has thoughts about Megan, Lucas has thoughts about Amber, her strike team has thoughts about many different women (including Amber), and occasionally she ends up scanning lovers while she's out looking for wild bees.
  • Disability Immunity: Keith's telepathy randomly cutting out is absolutely awful for him and everyone he works with, but it does an excellent job of clearing echo personalities out of his head.
  • Distinguishing Mark: Invoked as part of the Emergency Impersonation.
  • Drink-Based Characterization: Amber drinks melon juice. On teen level, this was one of the things that told Atticus she had come from a higher level, as melon juice isn't available at lower levels.
  • Driven to Suicide: York, a telepath before Amber, committed suicide after his first emergency run. This is why Lucas shows up at Amber's apartment after her first emergency run and insists on spending the night.
  • Embarrassing Cover Up: The alibi given to Gregas and Wesley for why they couldn't answer their parents' calls. They claim they blew their allowances, gave fake identity codes so they could get into a course they shouldn't have been eligible for, and got injured trying to deal with a seagull...because the alternative was that they were caught trespassing in parts of the Hive they shouldn't have been in, got caught by Mira's telepath unit, and were sedated in Amber's telepath unit's cells while the parents were panicking.
  • Emergency Impersonation: Forge, for Elden. This involves putting a fake birthmark on him, which makes the resemblance close enough to trigger Amber's imprint.
  • The Empath: Amber is able to read emotions more strongly than the other telepaths.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The "Riding the Hive" Carnival sequence in the first chapter is one for both Amber and Forge. Forge wears a Halloween costume (literally the exact opposite festival) and leads the way as the teens ride the handrail down the 100 levels of the Hive, Forge himself hanging on until Level 72. This establishes his rebellious, adventurous character as well as his strength and leadership. Amber is strictly a follower, taking no particular part in the festivities but gamely following everyone onto the handrail. However, she's the only one to make it all the way down, hinting at a hidden resolve and determination: when Amber commits to a plan, she will see it through to the end.
  • Explosive Leash: The Hive uses tracking chips to control sociopaths and other people who are considered irredeemable. The chips can be remotely triggered to explode if necessary.
  • False Utopia: The Hive is a perfectly safe place where everybody loves their perfect job and the few malcontents are caught by the nosy patrols before they ever commit crimes. Except that it isn't - the Hive is just really good at hiding any incidents. Memories are wiped, purely fictional reports are generated, and the few real telepaths are always busy keeping incidents to a minimum. Even major incidents that can't be memory-wiped away are covered up, with acts of deliberate sabotage described as 'accidents' if possible and 'attacks from enemy Hives' if not.
  • Family of Choice: Amber considers her team her family, much more so than her father's adoptive parents who disowned him for coming out of Lottery too low, his birth parents who gave him up for adoption, or the rest of Claire's family who had no use for her until she came out of Lottery as a telepath.
  • Fantastic Measurement System: Distances are measured in 'corridors', 'cors' for short. Exactly how long a cor is is unstated.
  • Faux Death: In the backstory to Hurricane. Claire and her team helped Celandine fake her death to get her away from Morton. It had to seem real enough to convince Morton's strike team, who witnessed it.
  • Fictional Age of Majority: Eighteen is the age of majority in Hive England, and presumably the other 106 Hives around the world, but with a twist; eighteen-year-olds aren't considered adults until they've been through Lottery. This is a massive event where all the eighteen-year-olds are tested before being imprinted with the information for their ideal career, thus saving years of training time and making sure people are matched to the right job.
  • Fictional Holiday: The Hive has four major festivals, evenly spaced through the year. While they may share names with modern holidays, it is clear that they have all been adapted for the hive, and possibly completely altered. (Valentine, for example, is a summer holiday instead of the winter holiday of Valentine's Day.)
    • Carnival, a bright and happy festival where the Light Angel triumphs over the Dark Angel and the Hunter of Souls, and everyone dresses in silver and white. This is the spring festival. Lottery happens immediately after Carnival.
    • Valentine, a festival for lovers. This is the summer festival.
    • Halloween, a dark and spooky festival. The Light and Dark Angels from Carnival return. While this time the Dark Angel triumphs, the Light Angel still protects the loyal members of the Hive. This is the autumn festival.
    • New Year, a festival for families. This is the winter festival.
  • First Guy Wins: While Lucas expects this once he meets Atticus, the trope is ultimately subverted.
  • Free-Range Children: Children old enough to have their monitoring bracelets removed (on their 10th birthday) have the run of the public places on their level. Part of this is that the Hive wants everyone to believe that it is totally safe; part of it is that, by and large, it is.
  • Future Slang: Mostly averted, unlike in Earth Girl. "High up" is slang for "good" and "low down" is consequently "bad", though, relating to the better living conditions on the higher levels of the Hive. "Waste it" or similar expressions are used as mild profanity.
  • Genius Breeding Act: Hives are allowed to choose limited numbers of individuals who can have 'duty children' via surrogate mothers. One in one thousand is allowed to have six duty children; one in one million is allowed to have twenty-five. Duty children can be raised by the parents or adopted out; there is high demand for them as adoptive children due to the high likelihood that they will come out of Lottery at a high level.
  • Hero Secret Service: Much of the role of the strike teams. While stopping whatever disordered individual they're chasing is important, priority number one is protecting the telepath, laying down their own lives if necessary.
  • Hive City: The Hives are of the deliberately-constructed kind. Hive England holds 100 million people in 10 zones, with 100 residential levels and 50 industrial levels above that. There are one hundred and seven Hives in all; it is unclear whether Hive England is relatively large, small, or in-between.
  • Hive Mind: Despite the title, averted. Members of the Hive can think independently.
  • Hologram: The Hive has hologram tech. Bookette rooms use them for immersion, and the Strike Team training room uses it for training scenarios, but they aren't holodecks because they don't use hard light.
  • Humans Are Psychic in the Future: It's unclear where telepathy came from, but about 0.1% of the population have borderline telepathy and about one in 5 million are full telepaths. The nosy system arose after the population crash, so it's possible that telepathy came from the attempt at Population Control.
  • I Have No Son!: Teens who end up at significantly lower levels than their parents are frequently disowned. One character was disowned by her parents for continuing to stay in contact with her (now low-level) sister. Lucas's mother disowned him as soon as he left for Teen Level.
  • Immediate Sequel: The four novels all run directly into each other:
    • Telepath ends with Amber going out on the run where, in the beginning of Defender, she finds Fran's body.
    • Defender ends with Amber being called in to take over a run from Morton. The beginning of Hurricane covers that run, where she rescues Glenna.
    • Hurricane ends with another alert, which in Borderline is the run where Alvin is caught in Elliott's quarters.
  • In the Future, Humans Will Be One Race: Downplayed. Characters are described in ways that would indicate different races, but nobody seems to care.
  • It Tastes Like Feet: Lucas's opinion of the teen level tomato soup. He takes one bite, then refuses to eat anything else because whatever it is will be contaminated by the metallic taste of the soup.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Downplayed. Memory resets unwind the memory chain back to a certain point. Specific things can't be wiped without wiping everything after them.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Amber's a telepath. If the title of the first book didn't clue you in, you'll find out pretty early anyway.
  • Lawful Stupid: Joint Hive Treaty Enforcement appears to trend in this direction. An advocate having broken minor rules as a teenager, even ones that the Hive expects and wants some people to break, could be enough to sabotage their case regardless of the actual legal merits. A shortfall in the number of people at the Sea Farm - even though the people are all in the area, just not living in the immediate vicinity of the Sea Farm itself - could cause all trade to and from the Hive to be blocked, dooming one of the Hive's telepaths and probably killing millions of people.
  • Life-or-Limb Decision: Downplayed. Eli is badly injured in a fall, and the surgeons tell Amber that they can save his life at the cost of a leg, or keep the leg with no guarantee he'll survive surgery. Based on her knowledge of his mind, she chooses to keep the leg, and he survives.
  • Love Triangle: Averted, despite the cover of the first book implying one. Amber has an odd crush on Forge caused by Elden's imprint, but neither of them consider the other a romantic interest. Amber falls for Lucas before she even sees him, and is never interested in anyone else.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Elden kidnapped Amber as a child under orders from Hive Genex, who wanted to mind control her into requesting a transfer at 18.
  • Mad Love: In the backstory for Hurricane. Morton fell in love with Celandine, who just wanted to go back to the sea. She eventually had to fake her death to get away.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Massen's death. It would have worked if they hadn't been able to trace the drone so quickly.
  • Masquerade: The truth about telepaths. All of level 20 knows the truth, along with some of level 1 and smaller sections of other levels. Maintained through the efforts of the Nosies, and liberal use of Laser-Guided Amnesia.
  • Memory-Wiping Crew: Memory resets are done by psychologists to ensure they are done safely. People can be reset back several years if needed. This is a common punishment for criminals (with the intent of guiding them away from the path that led them to crime), and also used to maintain the Masquerade.
  • Mercy Kill: At the end of Telepath, Amber kills Elden rather than turn him over to Joint Hive Treaty Enforcement for destruction analysis. His mind's basically gone at that point anyway.
  • Metaphorically True: Amber tells her parents she's Level 1 Security. While what she does is primarily about the security of the Hive, she is actually in a separate but critically important role.
  • Minor Living Alone: Teenagers move to the Teen Level (50) when they're thirteen, and remain until they go to Lottery at age 18. The living quarters on Teen Level are notably smaller than every other floor, so that wherever they end up after Lottery will be an improvement.
  • Mission Control: Nicole and (usually) Lucas. Nicole as liaison provides information and connects with other organizations in the Hive for Amber and her team; Lucas as tactical commander is in charge of planning the reaction to whatever circumstances the strike team finds themselves in.
  • Mutant Draft Board: Any form of telepathy is enough for Lottery to shunt someone into a job that requires it; full telepaths are invariably drafted to protect the Hive.
  • My Significance Sense Is Tingling: Amber gets a mental 'itch' when someone on her team is in trouble. Initially it's just physical trouble with people she's close to - Matias getting appendicitis, Zak being poisoned - but as she develops it includes Lucas having a panic attack over New Years and the death of a complete stranger in a nearby medical support cocoon.
  • Neural Implanting: The Hives use "imprinting" to let people start work at 18 without bothering with training. Telepaths aren't imprinted because it might hurt their powers. Giving someone too many imprints, or imprints that are too large, can be dangerous. Hive England imprints people safely, and only once. Hive Genex, villains of the first book, gave Elden far too many imprints. He's obviously on the edge of a mental breakdown by the time Amber finds him; discovering that his attempt to imprint her failed pushes him over the edge.
  • Never One Murder: Hurricane has three.
  • One Steve Limit: Played straight in general. However, averted in one case. The girl that Eldan kidnapped and placed in a booby trap was also named Amber. This appears to have been a deliberate attempt to provoke Amber the telepath.
  • One World Order: Joint Hive Treaty Enforcement seems to be somewhere between this and Fictional United Nations. They can set rules on what Hives are allowed to do to each other, and set standards that Hives are required to meet. The penalties for violations start at trade embargoes and can go up to full-scale assaults on problematic Hives.
  • Only One Name: There appear to be no last names. People are identified by their personal name, with an ID number to disambiguate them as needed.
  • The Outside World: Outside. It's not exactly forbidden, but going there is strongly discouraged, and the Ramblers Association that explores it is considered non-conformist.
  • Please Put Some Clothes On:
    • Amber accidentally tells Lucas to come in before she'd gotten dressed, thinking she was dreaming he was outside the apartment. He teases her about it occasionally.
    • Keith tries to shock Amber when she first calls him by answering in the nude. It doesn't work, because she spends her time reading the minds of teenage males, so male nudity is far from shocking to her.
  • Population Control: In the past, those classified as criminal or socially undesirable were barred from having children. This led to a population crash due to weakened disease resistance and assorted useful characteristics being mistakenly marked as negative. The controls were removed in order to reverse these problems, and Lottery was created to help channel personality traits that could be negative if expressed in an antisocial way. Joint Hive Treaty Enforcement mandates that all adult citizens are allowed to have two children if they want.
  • Propaganda Machine: Hive media appears to be this, in general. Anything presented to the entire Hive will be required to convey approved messages - Outside is scary, other Hives are devious and evil, and Hive England is a utopia guarded by the valiant members of Hive Defense and Security. However, news items are not necessarily completely controlled - the botched run at the beginning of Borderline becomes the lead news item on Hive Channel 1, but no news investigation into the truth is performed.
  • Psychic Powers: As the title of the first book would imply, these play a major role.
  • Psychic Static: The "two ones is two" thing people chant when nosy patrols are near is an attempt at this. It doesn't actually work but it's extremely distracting.
  • Red Alert: The alert that sounds to notify the telepath unit about an emergency run is an example of the Emergency Squad Scramble type.
  • Reincarnation: Discussed. Hiveists believe that the dead are reincarnated into newborns in the Hive. An alternative Lottery doctrine says that they can instead stay to inspire someone in Lottery.
  • Rite of Passage: Freedom Day, the day after a child's tenth birthday. On the tenth birthday, the child's tracker bracelet is removed, and that night the family and the child's friends have a Bracelet Party. The following day is a personal holiday for the child, where they are encouraged to enjoy their freedom. What the child does is considered indicative of what they will do after Lottery. Children who cross multiple zone boundaries or otherwise go outside the areas they are expected to are more likely to be chosen for strike teams.
  • Romancing the Widow: Adika and Megan. He rushes into romance too quickly, which causes problems in the team until Buzz straightens them out.
  • The Rule of First Adopters: Keith turned his unit's expansion section into a giant bookette room, which he uses for (among other things) porn.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Telepaths are rare and valuable enough to be effectively above the law. Many of them realize this and undergo 'distancing', where they do whatever they want. Most develop a moral code eventually; Keith is still distant. Amber is considered unlikely to become distant due to being The Empath.
  • Silent Treatment: Sapphire refused to let her team work with Keith's after he attempted to have one of her strike team members arrested. This included handoffs when Keith's telepathy failed, which led to many problems in the Hive, including deaths.
  • The Sociopath: Rose, in Hurricane, and her warder.
  • Spanner in the Works: Forge, in the first book. Forge's resemblance to Elden, especially the birthmark, caused Amber to have an irrational attraction to him. This starts Lucas down the chain of logic that discovers her imprint, helps him figure out the fix, and lets them use Forge to act as a surrogate Elden to keep her under control.
  • Split-Personality Takeover: Olivia's fate: she was unable to get the people she read out of her mind and vanished under them. After the events of Defender, she's reset to eighteen; the original Olivia appears to have resurfaced in the process.
  • Stockholm Syndrome
    • Amber's first emergency run tracks down a boy who was attempting to invoke this with his ex-girlfriend.
    • Morton spent a year attempting to invoke this with Celandine, but she refused to comply.
  • The Stoic: Sapphire doesn't do feelings. The most emotion we get out of her is a brief flicker of pain when talking about having two members of her strike team burn to death while she was still in their heads. This may just be when she's talking to another telepath, however; after some very bad experiences with Keith, she may be unwilling to give out any unnecessary information.
  • Suspect Existence Failure: Treeve and Massen in Hurricane.
  • Telepathy: Amber's notable ability. There's a few other telepaths in Hive England: Morton, Mira, Sapphire, and Keith are currently working, and Claire, York, and Olivia are dead or otherwise incapable of doing the job any more. Borderline telepaths are much more common, but the unreliability of their abilities renders them incapable of doing the broad scanning that the full telepaths are used for. Telepathy appears to be receptive-only; there is no indication that telepaths can transmit messages mentally.
  • Theme Naming: The villains of Defender operate under the fake names Jupiter, Venus, Mars, and Mercury. Jupiter's the leader. Since Roman mythology appears to have been lost and the very existence of other planets is highly classified information, the theme naming is actually vital in pinning down who Jupiter is: very few people would have known enough to make the reference.
  • Trigger Phrase: Elden set a trigger image to activate and make Amber transfer to Hive Genex. It's a gold and silver design that he sprayed around the Level 1 shopping area in hopes that she'd see it. When that didn't work, he set up trap missions for her; when those failed, he mailed (or got her mother to mail) her a duck toy with one.
  • Unrequited Love Lasts Forever: Morton still pines for Celandine, forty years after her 'death'.
  • Virtual Training Simulation: Amber uses these to learn how to use a gun. The Strike Team training room is set up with Holograms to enable its use for this.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: In the backstory to Hurricane. Claire called out Morton for kidnapping Celandine, and helped her get away.
  • Where Did We Go Wrong?: Played for laughs. Caleb's level 91 parents, once they get over their fear of offending their level 1 son, complain that he was always too daring and wonder why he couldn't have been a nice, normal son like his level 89 older brother.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Amber has a fear of heights. She also has a fear of Outside, especially the ‘truesun’, until the implant from Genex is removed. She, of course, has to deal with both of those.
  • Wild Teen Party: Deliberately created as part of the Halloween game, to draw teens away from Blue Upway.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Jupiter intentionally set her scheme up so she'd get caught. She's hoping that one of Olivia's echo personalities turning out to be a terrorist will get Olivia reset, and that she can become the sole personality.
  • You Are in Command Now: When Amber finds that Adika is Tobias's top-priority target, Rothan takes command and tells Adika to go bodyguard Amber. Policy is that the top-priority target is not allowed to be on the chase team, so that the team can focus on taking down the attacker and not protecting their teammate.
  • You Are Number 6: Everyone has both a real name (e.g. Amber) and an ID number (e.g. 2514-0172-912). The number is almost never used except for administrative purposes, and no one seems to have a problem with it.
  • You Didn't Ask: Ralston the pilot, when he mentions that Hive Defense tracks all drones in flight at the Sea Farm. He'd known that for a while, but hadn't known that Amber's unit was tracking drones.
  • Young and in Charge: Amber is eighteen years old, fresh out of Lottery...and in charge of one of the Hive’s scarce telepath units.
  • Zero-G Spot: Characters sleep in 'sleep fields' that they seem to float in. Amber and Lucas share one once they become a couple.

Alternative Title(s): Hive Mind


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