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Guest Challenger

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Guest Challenger

I'd just rolled off a slow freight climbing the hill, hitting the ground and throwing myself into the tall grass before the brakeman waved his lantern. I couldn't afford to be seen, not now.


The train crested the hill, billowing smoke, wheezing, fighitng, succeeding, pulling its load bound for the spaceport, my destination. I watched through the rushes as it made its way down into the valley, toward the bright lights.


I didn't dare ride any closer. I was closer to safety, farther from the circus. But also closer to danger. They were looking for me. I was worth a lot.


The closer I got, the harder they'd look.


I glanced up at the star-filled sky. Overhead, one of the star-freighters plunged into warp, washing the sky with multicolored light. I glanced behind he, from where I'd came. There were a few lights on in some of the circus wagons, and I could see lanterns bobbing like fireflies as people moved about. Not good. They were on to me. I had to hurry.


I faded and began making my way through the grass. as low as I could. Night creatures scented me, knew I didn't belong among them, fled as I approached. It wold have been better if I'd been able to fade on the train, but I was hurting, I didn't know how long I could maintain it. It wouldn't do at all to fade and then appear in the middle of the star port, exhausted and unable to run.


I'd unfade closer and find another way in. There was always another way.

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