IT Magic

The sounds of some sort of techno-beat combined with heavy metal music drifted up to Jackson’s office. He shook his head and tried to return his concentration to the tangled contract he was working his way through. Scrolling down the page, he briefly entertained the thought that this was a lot like reading an ancient scroll by simultaneously rolling up the top while unrolling the bottom.

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River Oddities

Serena leaned against Jake, staring at the improbable bend in the river. It was really more of a hairpin turn, letting the river turn back on itself. This planet, Taland, never failed to evoke a sense of wonder and bemusement in her. This time, it was this river. They had followed it upstream for a couple of miles using the local version of a ranching vehicle – four-wheel drive with independent suspension designed to travel over rough, untamed terrain. Appropriately enough it was called a ranch-runner. The Talus used them to get to and from more remote locations and she’d seen them occasionally in smaller towns. Their new friend, Loren, the toymaker in the market, had loaned them one of his ranch-runners. Serena didn’t question why he owned one but lived in the city. Loren had even offered to babysit Melia while Serena and Jake explored up the river from their current dig at an ancient city. Melia was more than happy to spend a day acting as the toy tester for Loren.

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Venus Temple

Jake squinted at the inscription on the crown of the pillar. It wasn’t any language he recognized, not even the very local language in this region of Taland. They were working in an area north-northwest of Alosal, one of the bigger cities on the planet. The discovery of the site of a previously unknown ancient city had led the Taland governing families to hire Jake and his xenoarchaeology company to excavate.

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Meeting in the Park

Drake gazed around as he entered the park. Two families with what looked like five or six kids between them occupied most of the small playground over to the right. The laughter and shouts of the children floated across the grassy expanse. A few swans floated in lazy patterns on the large pond in the middle.  In the far corner, on the other side of the pond, he spotted the man he’d come to meet. Elijah Hightower was stretched out on a bench under one of the large trees that bordered the little park. Drake strolled over.

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