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Penn Steps onto Arcturus Prime

Late afternoon Arcturan sun lit the airlock like a spotlight in a museum diorama, bright light and shadow in a gray room. Penn fiddled with the controls for the force fields protecting the laser burns on his legs. You needed to look good stepping out on the landing pad on the first day of landing on any Star Trader planet.

Now that his silk pants bloused just right, he settled his sash holster, and checked the shine on his boots. The Star Trader Troubleshooter opened the hatch and stepped out onto the ramp.

The Guild Chapterhouse glowed at the top of the western rise above the spaceport. Reflections on the front guard wall caught his eye. The image of St. George, his armor dented and rent, holding his lance steady, on top of a great white charger, whose mane and tail smoked from dragon flame, raced forward. The knight’s collision with a great red dragon, the Guild’s sigil.

Penn braced himself, another day in the lists.

The lane winding up to the Chapter House seemed oddly empty. Only a few antigrav trailers made the trip between the compounds of old Trader families, stretched out along the way up.

He triple-tapped the ansible implanted in the side of his neck. “Paper, I’m off.”

A trio of drones flitted out the hatch. His partner chuckled. “Be good now, I’m watching.”

Looking for anything hinky, Penn’s eyes scanned the port. “Just save my ass if things go wrong.”

“What are partners for. Got your six.”

A couple deep breaths later, Penn stepped down to the landing pad and headed for the oasis at the edge of the port.

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