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Revised Penn Steps onto Arcturus Prime

Penn adjusted the forcefields protecting the laser burns on his legs. The white canvas pants covered it well. Never let them know the trouble they caused. It should be the motto for the Troubleshooters section of the Star Traders Guild. He twirled the ends of his mustache then ran the fields over the rest of his body. If you’re going to make an arm of the galaxy a better place, you’d better be ready to take some shots.

He took one more look at the airlock’s outside display. The spaceport still glared under the afternoon Arcturan sun. Most of the landing pads sat empty. Not a good thing for a Guild planet.

Triple tapping the ansible in the side of his neck, Penn followed protocol. “Paper, I’m heading out.”

His partner took a moment answering. “I’m on it.” A small swarm of drones popped out of a wall panel and held station inside the hatchway door. “Got ya covered.”

Penn popped the hatch and stepped out. The drone swarm spread out over the port.

On top of a low western rise, the Guild Chapter House glowed. A moving image on the shield wall caught his eye. St. George, his armor dented and rent, sat holding a steady lance on top of a great white charger. The horse’s mane and tail smoked from dragon flame. He raced forward. The knight’s collision with the great red dragon had become the Guild’s sigil. Penn bucked up, another day in the lists.

The lane winding up to the Chapter House lay quiet. Only a few antigrav trailers made the trip between the compounds of old Trader families, stretched out along the way. The clouds of dust kicked up by constant traffic waited for better days.

To the east, the tops of palms drooped over low slung buildings. The oasis servicing the ship crews needed someone in the streets. He’d better go provide himself. Bertram City needed some action, so did he.

Walking across the blazing plascrete, it felt like a target field. Running seemed like a good idea, his feet slapping echoes off the half dozen ships between him and the oasis. His best dream had him and Paper losing the Sardi two or three systems ago. Somehow, he didn’t think so. He hoped the Beadle would be waiting for him. It would be good to see someone on his side. The last couple weeks dodging assassins made him want to fight back.

Small bird analogs took flight as he ascended the stairs to a rooftop restaurant. The gallery at the rear held a number of tables. The Beadle sat at one. Hulking like a huge troll in the shade, the biobot looked like an Elizabethan office manager, albeit  exquisitely tailored.

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