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Luminous vapor rose like tentacles of the tree squid giving soft light to the early morning darkness. The ground spore holes were dangerous to step in and their morning exhaled mist allowed her safe passage. Lira needed to get to her destination and back to the commune before rise count.
Lira stepped softly. Any sound would bring Gropders with their gunner batons. She knew what she was doing was illegal, but Setsric called for injustice to be righted. Obeying him was more important.
She wove her way between the columns of mist. A few more steps and she’d be across and close to her goal.
“One more tread and be extinguished.” Deep but hushed, the voice was almost as quiet as a dream. She stood totally still, knowing if she did they would not see her. It was why she was always chosen.
“I don’t see anything. What did you hear?” The second voice was not as deep but also nearly silent.
“I’m not sure. Breathing, treads. The packet is supposed to be coming this rise. It could be the courier.”
Lira pulled into herself. The change was always calming but left her exhausted. She could feel the alteration. Her body adjusted into transparency clearer than the windshield of the omnivettes the Gropders used.
The rise was coming. She needed to get to Fen Commune. Much longer and she would not be able to return to Nar. Is she was missing from the rise count they would start hunting for her.
“We can’t remain. The rise is coming and with it the count.”
“I know, but if it is the packet… We need that physic. Without it many will perish.” Lira could hear worry in the hushed tones.
‘Setsric, what am I to do? Are they for you or against you?’ Lira sought the only one who would know.
‘Go, my one.’ The answer came within her mind. She released her grip on transparency and knelt as she returned to visibility.
“I have the packet.” Lira hoped the whisper would be heard.
Crouched, she hurried toward the voice. Around her the vapors began receding. If she was spotted not only would she die, but those who needed the contents in her back frame would, too.
From a thicket came a hand. Lira could see the vines move away, revealing an opening just wide enough for her to slip through. She reached out and the hand grasped hers, pulling her into the foliage.
Dimly lit by the beginning rise she couldn’t see faces but knew they were both male. The one holding her hand reached for her waist. Lira stifled a gasp. Weren’t these males constant? Was she safe?
The buckle of the belt to her back frame released and its metal shoulder bands lifted.
“He will take it one way. We go a different way.”
“No, I must get back before rise count.”
“It is too late. They have an unaware early count. You must stay until descend.”
“I will be missed.” They were walking away from the entrance.
“There is no help for it. It is hoped they will find some way to include you in the count.”
They had come to a glen within the hedge. A canopy of vines disguised the glen yet allowed those within to see the sky.
The boom was loud and both looked up. A fiery trail ascended into the sky then burst as the firework alarm sounded. It came from the direction of Nar.
Her absence had been discovered.