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Page 9 of 24
A short story by

Kal-El Bogdanove

"Damn 'n' eggs, it's Rhett Shearon's little girl. How're you doing, Marshal?"

"Not so XYZ, Pearly. We got kind of a pickle here. Mutalisks," said Rin, watching the monitor flicker as it tried to handle the decoding matrix she'd had to put in to get a clear signal from the Hyperion.


"Confined to our parts, Pearly, for the moment. Gonna give Cliffside Rest some trouble, though." Pearly's whole family—including old Arco, now that he'd retired—lived in Bim Battum on the other side of Choss. Rin knew his first concern would be for his kin, and his second would be for the intricate cliff-face hotel he'd engineered in the Quijadas canyons before he'd gone off fighting.

She explained the details of the situation, and Pearly listened with that intense focus that had made him her dad's best friend. When she was finished, he rocked back in his chair, light years away, and let out a lot of breath.

"I know a man who might, might, be able to help you. If you say the word, I'll get on the horn with him direct after we disconnect. But I want to warn you, Rin: you hire this man to kill these bugs, and that's what he will do. Every last one. You let something get in the way of that, he's liable to roll right over it. You understand?" Pearly leaned into the cam to make his point.

"Sounds heaven-sent, Pearl."

"All right. Man's name is Breg Shaw. You look for him to land by Friday."

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