Scorpio's thoughts drifted to the hypometric weapon moving in its shaft, a corkscrewing, meshing, interleaving gyre of myriad silver blades. Even immobile, the weapon felt subtly wrong, a discordant presence in the ship. It was like a picture of an impossible solid, one of those warped triangles or ever-rising staircases; a thing that looked plausible enough at first glance but which on closer inspection produced the effect of a knife twisting in a particular part of the brain - an area responsible for handling representations of the external universe, an area that handled the mechanics of what did and didn't work. Moving, it was worse. Scorpio could barely look at the threshing, squirming complexity of the operational weapon. Somewhere within that locus of shining motion, there was a point or region where something sordid was being done to the basic fabric of space-time. It was being abused.
That the technology was alien had come as no surprise to Scorpio. The weapon - and the two others like it - had been assembled according to instructions passed to the Conjoiners by Aura, before Skade had stolen her from Khouri's womb. The instructions had been precise and comprehensive, a series of unambiguous mathematical prescriptions, but utterly lacking any context - no hint of how the weapon actually functioned, or which particular model of reality had to apply for it to work. The instructions simply said: just build it, calibrate it in this fashion, and it will work. But do not ask how or why, because even if you were capable of understanding the answers, you would find them upsetting.
The only other hint of context was this: the hypometric weapon represented a general class of weakly acausal technologies usually developed by pre-Inhibitor-phase Galatic cultures within the second or third million years of their starfaring history. There were layers of technology beyond this, Aura's information had implied, but they could certainly not be assembled using human tools. The weapons in that theoretical arsenal bore the same abstract relationship to the hypometric device as a sophisticated computer virus did to a stone axe. Simply grasping how such weapons were in some way disadvantageous to something loosely analogous to an enemy would have required such a comprehensive remapping of the human mind that it would be pointless calling it human anymore.
The message was: make the most of what you have.
--- Alastair Reynolds, Absolution Gap