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A short story by

Kal-El Bogdanove

Shaw apparently didn't believe in speed limits, because Rin had needed to redline it on the way to the town center, feeling the dainty little cruiser (built to look good on milder worlds) whine and shudder at the breakneck pace.

But Rin and Haskins had made it without accident. They'd made it in time to see Shaw clank up outside the town hall, made it for the chance to see him lean on the horn—built to draw attention in full combat, not to pierce the quiet of a tiny resort town in the desert.

Folks came streaming out of the hall and around the hedges of the tidily walled-off day spas and tennis courts. The aldermen, concerned citizens, lots and lots of tourists—they were all crowding onto the green. Many looked irritated by the disturbance. Some simply looked curious.

Shaw hopped out of his rig and began speaking.

"My name," he said, "is Breg Shaw. I'm a mutalisk hunter. I've destroyed over thirty spires personally and participated in the destruction of hundreds. If you'll let me, I'll solve your mutalisk problem for you."

The crowd murmured.

"How do we know you're for real?" someone yelled.

"You pay me when the job is done. You can have whomever you like supervise the process."

The crowd buzzed more loudly now, approvingly, and this time one of the aldermen spoke up.

"Can you stop these creatures quickly?"

"It might take me a week to locate your spire—"

"No, it won't!"

Everyone swiveled to look at Champlain as he pushed his glasses up his nose (Honest to God?) and elaborated. "You won't need a week. I've had my instruments in the canyons, recording mutalisk flight patterns. I've identified a fairly confined vector of habitation."

Shaw stared, surprised to be interrupted, and damn near floored to discover the source.

"What I mean is," Champlain finished, "I can take you right to the spire."

"Perfect! Perfect. You'll take our Dominion mutalisk expert and solve our little problem!" Haskins was beaming.

Now that the aldermen are on board, he hasn't a care in the world, thought Rin.

Shaw made a noise that sounded like "Tchah!" And before he could object further, Rin heard herself say it…

"And me."

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