Blue Neon

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

On the planet Kanion in the the Eastern Sprial Arm of the galaxy Spinner becomes worried about his missing friends. He boards his ship, Blue Neon and sets off to find out what has happened.

They were late. Most unlike them, Spinner thought. He picked up his beer and went over to the tinted windows. Looked out over the busy skyscape of Kanion. The planet's red sun was slowly setting casting long shadows over those buildings at ground level and silhouetting the high level buildings and the vehicles speeding throught the sky. He had arranged to meet India and Quaye for a drink a few weeks ago. They didn't see as much of each other as they used to so they made a special effort to meet up every so often.

India wouldn't have forgotten. That was why he was starting to get worried. She remembered everything and was annoyingly punctual. He had arrived on time and was surprised they weren't already there enjoying a glass of Kanion's renowned Green Ale. He sipped his dark green beer, staring out across the planet. Ships of various shapes and sizes dashed across the sky. He hoped he would see his friend's cruiser come into view. Time ticked by. Each second made Spinner more concerned.

The bar was a large room with tinted windows running the length of the outside wall. At the other side was the bar. The long white counter had matching white stools against it. Most of the stools were taken up as people ordered Green Ale or one kind of Stellar cocktail or another. Strobe lights flashed various colours over the room in time with the booming electronic music.

The place was busy. People sat on white sofas and chatted loudly trying to make themselves heard over the music. Spinner didn't notice any of this. All he noticed was the two people who weren't there, not the hundreds that were. He finished his drink and made his way out of the bar. The bar was on the 1719th floor of the complex. The huge tower housed restaurants, bars, giant cinemas with over one hundred screens. The screens showed the latest animated blockbusters. Real actors had been replaced centuries ago. These days animation was of such high quality, so advanced that it actually looked better, more real than the old films.

The tower complex stood as tall as it's neighbours in what was almost a forrest of grey towers reaching up into the clouds. Lights of all colours imaginable glowed in the dusk. Despite being out on the Eastern Spiral arm of the Galaxy, Kanion was a busy planet. The planet was in the Echoes region. It was one of the most amicable of the system and was quite a bustling metropolis. The governors had relaxed laws on gambling and licensing and there was a real sense of community and solidarity which many other planets in the area had lost.

Spinner rode the elevator down fifty floors to the parking level. It took under a minute for the silver lift to race down to the level where he had parked his cruiser. There was a beeping sound as the doors opened. He crossed the parking lot, large and stretching as far as he could see. The bays were taken up with cruisers, domestic leisure vehicles, mainly industrial grey in colour but with the occasional state of the art cruiser in red or blue. As he reached his cruiser Spinner pulled his kanfone simcard from his belt.

Holding the switch near his right ear he flicked the switch and said 'India'. The voice activated dialling clicked for a second. Then came the sound he feared. A low buzzing sound came down the line. Followed by an automated cheery voice telling him that there was a fault and to please try again later. Spinner swore and clicked the simcard off.

As he reached his dirty grey cruiser he placed his thumb on the key panel. The clear plastic roof slid back quickly with a wooshing sound. He climbed in and pushed the ignition switch. This was also fitted with a sensor for reading the pilot's thumbprint. After flicking a few switches the engine whirred and white light lit up the vehicle. He used the control stick to guide the cruiser out of the bay. Hovering low to the ground he head towards the exit. He pulled out of the tower into the dark blue sky. There was quite a bit of traffic zipping through the air.

He steered the small grey cruiser through the traffic. It was getting dark and he could see the tiny lights of vehicles darting to and fro in all directions. The city's tall towers shone brighter, attracting the vehicles like the planet's sand-moths. Spinner lived in a high rise apartment block ten minutes away from the centre. The majority of Kanion's people lived in flats like Spinner's. He pulled into the white glare of the parking lot. As he rode the lift to the ninety-ninth floor his mind raced as much as the elevator. Anything could have happened. They could have been in an accident, a collision with another cruiser at two thousand  feet. Or it could be that she was stuck at the office. Yes, stuck at the office. That must have been it.

India worked for the council and they kept her busy. Typically she thrived on the pressure, rolling with the punches and always meeting her deadlines. It was there that she had met Quaye. He was unsure exactly what they actually did for the council but they both had job satisfaction. More than he did in his job as a domestic freight-ship driver.

Quaye was not from Kanion but was a native of SiNo, a distant planet on the far side of the Echoes region. He looked different too. His blue complexion contasted starkly with the slight tan of the average Kanion. SiNo was an icy planet, cold and wintry. These people hid from sub-zero temperatures instead of the baking red sun. Spinner tolerated Quaye for his friend's benefit but he was a little wary of the foreigner. He always swore to himself that if Quaye ever hurt India then he would make him pay. He always told himself that he was just being paranoid, protective of his friend. Told himself that when the red sun set at the end of the day he had to trust India's usually perfect judgement.

He reached the door of his flat. This was halfway down the white tunnel of the ninety-ninth floor of his block. Yellow stark light spilled flom glo-tubes overhead. He tapped in his key code in the silver panel on the left of his door frame. A green light lit the frame of the white, dirty door. It slid slowly back and the lights inside flickered on. He went through to the boxish living room. There was a U shaped settee facing the wall into which the television set was fitted. The window facing framed tower after tower, lights from buildings and ships. He threw himself on his settee and called Planetary Directories on his simcard. Told the automated voice to put him through to India Vollumas at the council offices.

Seconds later after a chirping sound a male voice answered.

'Kanion Planetary Council. Can I help?'

'Hello, is India there please?'

'No, she didn't come in today. We haven't heard from her.'

'What about Qauye Dyen-Do? Was he in today?'

'No, he wasn't.'

'And you haven't heard from him either?'

'No, sorry!'



Where the hell could his friend and her lover have gone? What was going on? Something had happened. People didn't just go missing in this day and age. This was Kanion, not some wild barbaric planet on the edge of the chartered Space. He tried dialling her simcard again but was rewarded with the same message as earlier. His eyes stared out over the planet.  If they were out there then surely he would have been able to reach her. Unless they were out of range. This would mean they were no longer on the planet and further away than Kanion's closer neighbours.

He had to try and find them. First thing in the morning, he told himself and tried to get some sleep. He didn't even close the blinds. Just rolled over, shut his eyes and tried not to think. As he fought his concerns and worries sleep washed over him. Nine hours later he stretched achily. Blinked as his eyes took in the red morning sunlight. Checked his watch. Nodded to himself. Glad he was able to get such a good night's sleep. After taking a quick shower and a change of clothes he left his flat.

Jacket slung over his shoulder he rode the elevator down to the ground floor. Left the tower and hit the street. Above him in the hot morning air the towers stretched up away from the narrow street towards the stars. Traffic whizzed overhead as far as the eye could see. Road vehicles ran up and down the streets with high pitched humming sounds. They were mainly silver, shiny cars with round clear plastic roofs. He could see commuters on their way to the business district of the centre. They were smart and pristine in appearance. There were also parents transporting their offspring to schools, some walked along the pavements to schooling facilities nearby. The nearer he got to his destination the quicker he walked. By the time he turned into the street he wanted his feet pounded on the pavement as he ran.

The street was lined on both sides with the usual tall buildings stretching up and up, floor after countless floor. These buildings were not flats but storage lots used by the planet's citizens for various uses. It was down this side street in storage lot FL5 that Spinner stored his pride and joy. This was where he spent most of his time. Hour after hour in the large empty space. Tinkering, repairing and tuning. It was here he stored his second vehicle. A starship called Blue Neon.

The starship was ten times the size of his cruiser and a lot more powerful. It was capable of inter-planetary space travel and even had a hyper space drive. It was an industrial grey colour with short wings on either side and the tinted front screen curved down to the low sloping nose of the vehicle. Spinner swiped his key card through the sensor and the double doors slid back. He marched aboard and headed straight for the front of the ship. Took the cheif pilot's seat and buckled himself in.

Flicked switches, tapped keys and turned dials on the large black dash board in front of him and overhead. He felt the rumble of the engines at the rear of the ship. Felt the swaying as Blue Neon fought against gravity. It always reminded him of the kite he had as a child. Handling the control stick with a practised care he eased the ship off the floor of the unit and guided it out the automatic door at the end of the hangar. The skies were full of small leisure cruisers as usual and Spinner had to steer carefully as he rose up and up.

Despite his problems and uncertainty about his friend it felt good to be flying his beloved starship again. He promised himself that when he got back he wouldn't leave it so long. He decided that when he got back he would spend nearly as much time pilotting the ship as he would tinkering with it. It occured to him that it was like a musician always in the studio working away. Every now and them they had to let themselves go and listen to the music.

Blue Neon climbed and climbed, higher and higher. The higher Spinner flew the faster he pushed the ship. The vessel shook as it left the planet's atmosphere. Spinner patted the dashboard lightly. Come on, girl. He pushed the ship on out into space. He could see the other planets of the Echoes region in the distance all around him. It gave him a strange sense of freedom. Up here alone among the stars and planets. It made him feel like he was the only being in the universe.

Taking the readings from the instruments in front of him he sped towards the area of the system where SiNo was located. Quaye's home planet was situated at the far end of the Echoes system. Spinner reached and pulled a lever back. The ship kicked into hyper space. Stars blurred past and the ship rocked. He kept an eye on the instrument panel, monitoring his progress. Stared into the space around him. His ship passed through space and he felt the restrictions of his harness on his chest and shoulders.

Hours passed by like the moons and stars. When he felt he was near his pit stop he reached with an arm shaking under the pressure and pushed the lever forward. He was flung forward in his seat as the ship returned to normal speed and was gratefull he had worn his harness. Outside the universe had returned to normal. He had judged the jump well. He could see the planet, Seven Suns, in front of him. Stars dotted the Galactic backdrop behind the large yellow planet.

Seven Suns was situated halfway across the region. Spinner decided it would be the perfect place to re-fuel and pick up supplies on the way to SiNo. The ship would need juice after the journey through hyperspace and he could do with a drink and something to eat. Besides, he had heard a lot about the planet so it was an opportunity to see the alien planet.

He guided Blue Neon down to the sandy surface of the planet. Pulled up in a large hangar full of vehicles. He ordered the approaching attendant to refuel his ship. The attendant nodded wiping his oily hands with an even more oily rag. Tucked the rag into his green overalls. Spinner left the hangar and stepped out onto the hot, busy street. The bright yellow light from the planet's only sun stunned his eyes and he shielded his eyes with his hands. He looked up and down the street.

The green-blue sky overhead was a scenic backdrop for the low buildings. People passed by. The men all seemed to be wearing shorts down to the knee and sleeveless tee shirts. The women seemed to favour skimpy clothing, all short skirts and revealing tops. Spinner figured this was because of the heat. Most of them appeared to be holidaymakers. Seven Suns was a popular holiday planet in the region. This was partly because of the warm climate. Not too hot like some planets where the climate was so hot that the population lived in glass covered, air conditioned bubbles spanning for miles. People also flocked to Seven Suns because  the planet was renowned for having a holiday/party atmosphere four hundred and twenty days a year.

It was just after midday and all the people he could see were clearly lazily enjoying the sunshine. So far the only person who had been working was the attendant in the hangar. The sun worshippers would be revelling till late in the night once the sun went down. Spinner had heard of this place and it matched his expectations.

He strolled around the streets. The low stone buildings had open fronts which let in any breeze from the street. There were bars and cafes, they tried to quench the thirst in the heat of the afternoon. Above one of the bars there was a neon sign, Zimmerman's. It looked more run down than the other places. The other bars looked like something from a brochure in the Going Planet's travel agents back on Kanion. Zimmerman's on the other hand would be more suited to a police report.

Spinner swallowed and crossed the threshold. As soon as he stepped off the hot pavement the smells and sounds of the place hit him. The stench in the place was foul. Sweat and stale beer. The majority of the patrons were men. They had long greasy hair and most still wore the sun glasses that they'd used to protect their eyes from the blinding sun.

He stood out like a Sert, a winged creature from a winter planet. His dark hair was cut short and he was the only fully clothed person in the bar. He could feel sweat on his back. His jacket stuck to him under the film of perspiration. Given the hostile atmosphere he wished he'd changed into something more suitable before leaving his ship. The air was full of the chatter of deep, gruff voices. The accent and dialect was quite difficult to make out. He picked out the occaisional word, the end of the odd sentence. His attempt to listen to the conversations as he crossed the room was hampered by the music.

Fifty year old rock music screamed out from concealed speakers. He was used to electric tunes not this rubbish. He hadn't been able to hear it from the street. The landlord must have had one of those disc players with a distance setting. You could set the volume and how far from the player you wanted the sound to travel. It had solved the problem of noisy neighbours playing music and noise pollution. You could listen to your music in your own little sound bubble.

'A glass of Green Ale.' he ordered.

The guy behind the bar glared at him for a moment. Spinner shrugged aggressively back and raised his eyebrows. The greasy barman nodded after running a hand through his long hair. Pulled Spinner's drink from the dirty pumps in front of him.

'That'll be two units.'

As he handed the coins over Spinner leaned close.

'I need something else too.'

'Yeah?' the barman tilted his head, ears open.

'I need a gun. Know where I can get one?'


The barman had that much sweat and grease oozing out of his pores. Spinner was reminded of the swaptoads in the zoo back on Kanion. His eyes had a darkness, a directness he found unsettling. But where else was he supposed to get a gun?

'You came to the right place, friend.'

Glancing to the front of the bar, for what Spinner had no idea, he lifted the hatch and ushered him through to a large store room. It was only then that it occurred to Spinner what a dangerous position he had put himself in. Here he was, alone on a planet he had never visited before buying a gun from a barman in some sleaze pit. He had hoped to buy a gun to defend himself on his journey to track down his missing friend.

The back room was hotter than the bar. Spinner swore to himself. No air con? Even on a comparatively cooler planet like Kanion most places were fitted with some kind of temperature control system. Indeed, he'd even heard that some planets were controlled by a weather controlling system yet this place couldn't even reduce the temperature by a few degrees so that the heat was simply uncomfortable. The room ws full of boxes. Boxes of all shapes and in more sizes that he'd imagined boxes could come in. His eyes darted about trying to take in the amount of boxes weaponry.

'What do you want it for?'

The guy looked at him with the same 'Yes mate?' expression he had worn when he was behind the bar serving drinks. It seemed only Spinner realised that this was a bigger deal than buying a shot of South Tarkan liquor. He shrugged in reply. He was buying a gun. What did the bloke think he was going to do with it? Weed his bloody garden?

'Are you after something that'll take out a fleet of Police cruisers or blow a chunk out of a wall and take six guys with it? Or are you after something lethal but on a smaller hand held scale?'

'Smaller scale. For p-p-protection.' he muttered.

'Gotcha!' he grinned showing rotten teeth. 'I know just the piece.'

He turned and rumaged among the boxes as though they were shoe boxes ready for sale. He pulled a grey card board box out of the clutter.

'This is the Smokin' Joe X Series.'

He reached into the box and pulled out a laser gun. It was jet black L shaped weapon. It was slightly bigger than the hand holding it.

'All you do is point it and the thing you want to kill and pull this trigger here. Yours for one fifty. That's one hundred and fifty units.'

'I'll take it.'

Spinner fumbled in his trousers for the cash. The guy put the gleaming laser gun into a holster made of a dark green hide. As the barman counted the cash Spinner buckled the holser around his waist. It felt heavy on his right hip. He rested his hand on the butt. Half of him hoped he wouldn't need the protection he already felt the gun gave him. The other half couldn't wait to use it. He mumbled thanks to the barman and left.

He marched through the hot streets. One serious face among the holiday makers. The holiday makers had light brown skin. These days that was all the sun tan people wanted. After years of skin cancer epidemics and B list celebrities encouraging the Galaxy's population to tan darker and darker the bubble had finally burst. People no longer wanted to burn like sausages. A bit of colour was the in thing nowadays and the sun worshippers protected themselves with ultra high factor creams, spays and pills.

Spinner jogged across the air conditioned hangar towards his ship. As he reached Blue Neon the attendant approached him. Still wiping his hands on his rag he told Spinner that his ship had been refueled and that he owed sixty five units. He tossed him the coins and boarded his craft.

It felt good to be back on board, This was where he felt most at home. He strapped himself in. Pushed buttons and entered co-ordinates into the computer. Nodded to himself and steered the craft out of the hangar. Climbed higher and higher out of the planet's atmosphere. Left the beach planet to the holidaying guests. He'd got what he came for and had urgent matters to attend to.

Blue Neon sped through the stars towards the far end of the Galaxy. Towards SiNo and, it's pilot hoped, towards India. After a moment observing the instruments in front of him Spinner again thrust the ship into hyperspace. It was the quickest way for a ship like this to travel across masses of space. Stars blurred past and his ship rocked under the strain.

He shifted in his seat. Getting comfortable. These days space was getting smaller and smaller. Ships covered greater and greater distances, venturing further and further. Space trips were getting longer and longer. He had never travelled very far but enjoyed the journeys anyway.

His mind wandered as he travelled and his thoughts turned to India. He needed to know what was going on. She was his closest friend. Such a generous person, would do anything for anyone. And pretty, by the Moons of Estantia was she pretty. Some of their friends suspected he held a torch for her. If he was honest he would concede they might have had a point. The ship charged on through space.

Stretching in his seat Spinner had one last look at the instrument panel. Reached out and pushed the lever back. The stars around him returned to normal and the shaking of the craft returned to the usual humming. The large white-blue planet up ahead looked cold from even this vantage point,

SiNo was practically an icy cold wasteland. The people of SiNo fought to survive against the biting cold and snow. They dug their homes into the surface of the planet. Controlling these homes with the latest in heating technology. People in this part of the system often wondered why the SiNans didn't use the technology on a larger scale. Some wintry planets had almost the entire surface covered and lived under the shelter. Others used the same weather controlling devices the hot planets used to take the sting out of the winter's tail. Using such technology a wintry planet could become as warm as a Spring afternoon on the Dales of Rochwater.

Yet here the SiNans lived. Each house braving the cold. Going about their business wrapped up in furs. What the outsiders couldn't understand was that this was how they chose to live. The SiNan people saw a certain quality in their lives that would somehow be diluted by embracing technology whole heartedly. They let the new devices improve the way they lived, how they warmed their homes, how they travelled. They used vehicles similar to those with which Spinner was familiar.

He guided his ship down through the icy clouds and could make out a valley. In a clearing in the snow-topped trees there were ships and smaller vehicles, entrances to dwellings and general signs of life. He headed for the clearing. As he climbed out of his vehicle the cold stung his face and hands. The cold tried to reach through his jacket. He marched across the frozen ground towards the doors nearest him. Into the sloping ground at the edge of the clearing were battered looking metal doors. The metal was grey but covered in frost. Spinner decided not to knock on the door for fear his skin could catch on the frozen metal. He pushed the buzzer to the left of the large doors. After a few seconds a voice burred from the speaker.

'Who's there?'

'I'm from Kanion. I'm looking for my friend. Can you help me?'

Spinner couldn't stop his teeth from chattering as he spoke. Another few seconds passed. He stamped his feet. With a low murmur the doors parted. A tall thin man appeared. He wore a shirt of a thin material and a kind expression. He looked to be around fifty years old but could have been younger. Maybe the winter took its toll on the appearance of the population.

He looked Spinner up and down, Spinner wished he'd left the gun on his ship but on such an alien planet he decided to keep it with him. He held a shivering hand out and grinned.

'My name's Spinner.'

'I'm Vember.' he shook his hand. 'Come, come in out of the cold.'

He waved Spinner into a small hallway dug into the rock. Walls of grey stone lead to another metal door. They went through to a large warm lounge. Settees of what Spinner assumed to be animal skin formed a ring at the centre of the room. Blue light glowed from spherical glass lamps. A woman of the same age as Vember was sitting reading a book. She was reading. Spinner noticed the book was an old fashioned paper-book. Not a modern electronic book where the reader paged-down instead of leafing through real pages.

She turned to face the stranger and smiled. A smile as warm and inviting as the room they were in. She stood and introduced herself.

'I'm Tardy. Vember's wife.' She shook his hand.

'This is Spinner, from Kanion. He's looking for his friend.'


Despite her age Tardy was still pretty. Her long dark hair was streaked with grey. Despite the lines on the face Spinner could tell she must have been beautiful in her youth. Spinner explained that he was searching for his friend and had decided to try here. Vemeber nodded and asked him how things were on Kanion after the invasion.

'Invasion? There's been no invasion on Kanion.'

Both their expressions were sympathetic.

'We got word here a few days ago that the Vega-Rillas had invaded Kanion with massive casualties. They have taken over your planet and your people are nothing more than prisoners.'

Spinner breathed deeply. Could this be true? The Vega-Rillas were the most hostile peoples in the Galaxy. They were the scourge of the Echoes region and there was always frightened talk of invasion. Vega-Rilla was a large planet that neighboured Kanion. The climate was similar to Kanion but the people were more military minded, very disciplined. Kanion and it's people worked hard but also knew how to enjoy themselves. The Vega-Rillas by nature were aggressive and violent. They also looked different. Fine dark hair covered their faces and bodies and their eyes were feline in appearance.

And now if Vember and Tardy were to be believed as Blue Neon was heading for the far side of the region the Vega-Rillas were taking control of his home planet. If this was true then India would know about it. He longed to see a familiar face. This was all too much for him. His friend going missing, the trip across the Galaxy and now the news that his Kanion had been occupied by the Vega-Rillas. He shook his head.

'Well, if that's the case then I really need to find my friend. Her name's India. Her partner's a SiNan. His name's Quaye.'

Vember nodded.

'Quaye is from the valley North of here. I hope you find your friend. I wish you luck, young man. If you get into trouble and you need help then go and speak to the Triplets on Batina.'

Spinner shook their hands and left. As he crunched over the icy ground towards his ship he pulled his jacket tight around him. With one last wave to Vember and Tardy he boarded his ship and headed North. He passed over the mountain and the trees. Everything was covered in snow. He was struck by the beauty of the place and understood why these people lived as they did, braving the elements. He couldn't help thinking that there was a certain nobility, something, something honest about it all.

Once he was over the mountain he dropped into the valley. It was almost identical to the one he had just visited. He guided his ship to a halt near the first dwelling he came to. Ran to the first metal door he came to. The voice over the speaker asked the same question as the last and he gave the same answer. Again came the wooshing sound as the doors parted.

'Hey Spinner!'

Quaye stood in the doorway. He looked well, comfortable and settled. He wore a thick white jumper and seemed very at home on his native planet. His shoulder length blonde hair normally worn tied back now hung loose and relaxed.

'You went to all this trouble to get out of buying me a drink? Is India with you? What the Galaxy is going on?'

'Come on in. India is inside. We've got a lot to talk about.'


Quaye led him through to a lounge area similar to the last SiNan lounge he had been in. Blue spheres lit the room and settees gathered round the middle of the area. India rushed across the room to him and hugged him. Spinner closed his eyes and squeezed her back. She smelled good. She smelled of the land, a fresh, rural aroma. He guessed it was how farmers might smell on the less fashionable agricultural planets. India broke the clinch and he looked at her. Taking in her appearance. She wore a jumper like Quaye and her normally tamed and styled hair looked natural and ragged. But, Spinner thought, she still looked great. There were tears in her eyes.

'How did you get here?'

'Blue Neon. How else?'

Quaye waved them to the settees. Handed them clay mugs of hot liquor. As they sat and drank Spinner spoke.

'What's going on? Why did you pack up and leave? Without so much as a word!'

'Quaye got word that the Vega-Rillas were invading. He got a message on his sub-etha radio so we grabbed what we could and left. We didn't have time to warn anyone. We simply had to-'

'Save yourselves?'

'Exactly.' Quaye answered. 'How did you escape?'

'You didn't show up in the bar that nite and I couldn't reach you so I headed out here on your trail. If the Vega-Rillas have invaded then I must have just missed them. Not that I believe any of this. I mean, what proof do you have? There's always talk of those barbarians invading.'

Quaye cleared his throat.

'It's been all over the news. There's no doubt. We are just lucky we got away when we did. As soon as I heard I grabbed India and we fled. And here you are too, thank Space!'

They talked for hours, going over detail after detail. Talked about their life on Kanion and their new life on SiNo. Spinner's head was reeling. This was too much. Not only had he travelled the length of the region to be told that the planet he had left was now an occupied colony of Vega-Rilla but it sounded as though India and Quaye were prepared to sit it out on this iceberg of a planet. To wait patiently until the invading armies released Kanion from their grip.

'So, you're gonna do nothing?'

'About what?' Quaye asked.

'About our home! About Kanion! About our friends and family back there! We can't just leave them to rot!'

'What can we do?'

'We have to do something.'

'It would be suicide.'

'India, it would kill me to do nothing.'

She nodded. Tears streaming her cheeks. Quaye was shaking his head an expression of disbelief on his face.

'I'm coming.' whispered India.

'What? You sound as crazy as he is. India, please. Stay with me. I will take you back to Kanion when all this has blown over. When it's safe.'

'I can't. I'm sorry.'

Quaye fought back the tears. He nodded slowly. Breathed deeply. Spinner got the feeling it was more to do with what wasn't being said than what was. Even he knew that if India went with him and if Quaye stayed on SiNo then it was over between them. They were being pulled in different directions.

Quaye saw their mission as suicide and refused to leave his world for such an undertaking, India on the other hand had had her loyalties and commitments stirred by Spinner's arrival and felt she had no option but to go with him. It was over. There was nothing left between them.

They hugged. A hug that both of them secretly wished could wash away the pain and the devide that had come between them. India grabbed her coat and Spinner followed her out to the ship. As he left he could hear sobs behind him.

He settled India in the co-pilot's seat. She looked shaken. Fragile. She mouthed that she was okay. He nodded. Tapped the co-ordinates he wanted and steered the ship up through the frosty clouds. Blue Neon jumped into the familiar hyperspace. Spinner glanced at India. She had her coat tight around her in her seat despite the warmth of the ship's interior. Her eyes were closed. He guessed she wanted to sleep through the torment she was going through.

He put the ship into automatic pilot. The auto controls would steer towards the destination for as long as he wanted. Many people he knew used the auto control all the time. Spinner prefered old-fashioned piloting instead of letting the vessel pilot itself. Reclining in the pilot's seat he yawned and didn't resist as sleep swept over him.


Hours later he stirred and slowly woke. He stretched clawing at the air above him. Checked the time. It was morning. They had been travelling overnight. But when travelling through space wasn't that always the case? Spinner checked the controls. Almost there. Beside him India coughed as she woke. Shifted in the seat and groaned. She opened her eyes, blinking a few times.

'What do we do now, Spin?'

'We go to Batina.'

'Batina? Why?'

'Vember told me that if I was in trouble then I should go to the Triplets at Batina. Kanion has been taken over by the Vega-Rillas and we are going to try and stop them. If that's not trouble then I don't know what is!'

India nodded emphatically.

'Let's hope they can help us.'


As they approached Batina starship Blue Neon was full of tension. Both Spinner and India carried the weight of the task they were undertaking. Spinner's hands trembled slightly at the controls. The ship entered Batina's atmosphere headed for the surface. Batina was a busy, thriving planet similar in many ways to Kanion. Tall towers, grey but dotted with bright lights like stars. Cruisers and freight ships filled the sky. The orange suns turned the sky a pale yellow.

He pulled into a large hangar. It occurred to him that all ship-hangars must be the same space over. From inside he could have been anywhere. He tossed the attendant a fistful of units and told him to fill it up. The disgruntled, acned attendant merely nodded and went to work. He and India walked from the hangar. Their eyes took in the city around and above. By Space it was similar to Kanion! He felt a pang in his stomach. He wanted to go home but knew that home wasn't home any more. Which was why they were here. He looked at India. She looked like a goddess in the sunlight. Her face wore a serious expression. He guessed she was feeling the same.

They walked down the street. On either side were shops, cafes, and bars. Everything you could want. Next to a trendy clothes store was a cafe. It was a real dive. It was basically just a dirty counter with a row of sticky stools in front of it. Because it was built into the base of a tower the sunlight didn't penetrate into the shop. A dim white light flickered from a broken light sphere behind the counter.

He motioned to India and they both took a stool. Ancient cooking equipment rumbled over the counter. Foodstuffs littered the place in preparation of the next customer. The guy behind the counter looked like he needed a shave but then if he'd been the kind of bloke to do things when they needed doing he would have tidied the place up a long time ago.

His expression was kind and weary at the same time. His eyes had a hopeful glint about them. He had a bald head in a day and age when you could get anti-baldness pills from any half-decent chemist. Leaning on the counter in almost a consipratory manner he asked what he could get them. Spinner glanced at the mucky menu tacked to the wall with rusty old fashioned pins. Ordered two Glasters, meat in a spicy sauce. The guy grinned. Said they were coming right up.

Minutes later two plastic tubs were placed on the counter. As they ate the guy took his position leaning in front of them.

'My name's Tyle. What are you two doing on Batina?'

This was exactly what Spinner wanted to hear.

'We need to find the Triplets. We need help.'

He ate watching Tyle carefully. Tyle scratched his bald head in thought. His eyes looked to the clouds.

'The Triplets? You won't find the Triplets in the city. The Triplets don't like the busy, modern city. You'll have to head out East. To the Old Forrest. If you follow the path you'll come to the Triplet's dwellings.'

As they finished eating Spinner placed the money on the counter and thanked him.

'I hope the Triplets can help you.' came the reply.


They flew East in hope. Through the city towers and people. Spinner kept the ship low, close to the ground. Usually he flew high, soared up in the sky. But now once out of the city they would be looking for the path into the forrest. Streets and shops whizzed past. After a while the towers became fewer and the streets quieter. They pressed on. Suddenly the towers and paved streets were behind them and they were surrounded by grass, green grass, long blades. The tall blades swayed in the breeze. It was like watching ripples on an ocean.

In the distance they could see the forrest they had been told of. Tall trees stood to attention. The ship was high enough for them to see the vastness of the Old Forrest. Row up on row of trees. It stretched back as far as the horizon. Spinner had never seen anything like it. He was used to the modern upto date world. A world of the latest technology. The rest of Batina looked a lot like home but this, this nature was the strangest thing he'd ever seen. From Inia's expression she was as in awe as he was.

He steered the ship down toward the entrance of the forrest. They rushed down Blue Neon's exit ramp and paused, taking in the sight, smell and sound of the wood. This was a totally new experience. Spinner supposed it might have been how his ancient ancestors might have felt the first time they travelled through space. Senses reeling with new sensations. There was a dirt path leading into the heart of the forrest. It looked like an old road from the days before the metropolis had risen up. It was wide, maybe wide enough for a cruiser but not wide enough for his ship to pass. They would have to travel the rest of the way on foot.

Spinner grabbed two torches. Tossed one to India. The last thing they needed was to be stranded and lost when darkness fell. Hopefully they would have consulted the Triplets by then.

'I'm scared, Spin.'

'I know.' he patted his pistol. 'We'll be okay. Come on.'

They walked with focused, determined strides into the forrest. The dirt crunched under their feet as they walked. They marched in silence, both their thoughts occupied with the task at hand. The path wound through the trees turning left and right. Spinner looked at the skies high above the green corridor of trees. Night would fall for hours yet.

An hour later they saw a square log cabin in a tiny clearing. The surrounding trees gathered close to the cabin. It seemed to Spinner as though they were standing on sentry duty. He guessed that the cabin was built on the site of the trees felled for it's contruction. The structure looked old and solid. Maybe the Triplets looked old and solid too.

They approached the cabin door warily. Spinner's nerves were on edge. He was glad he had the pistol. Should anything happen, should they get into trouble this would be their safety net. He glanced at India. She nodded, urging him to knock. He took a deep breath. Raised his fist. He was just about to tap on the wooden door in front of him when it creaked open.

In the doorway stood an elderly man. He was nearly as tall as Spinner and had thick grey hair tied in a long pony tail. He had deep  crows feet around his blue eyes and wrinkles around the whiskers on his lip and chin. Spinner wouldn't even like to guess how old this guy was. He just looked old. He looked as though everything in his appearance had been distorted by age. Like too much snow on a SiNan mountain top. The snow buried the mountain so that you could hardly make out the peaks underneath. He wore a dyed woollen shirt. Everything about him seemed to be natural and organic.

'What can I do for you?'

'We're looking for the Triplets.'

'In that case you'd better come in.'


It was exactly what Spinner was expecting. As he crossed the threshold Spinner looked around. He was unsurprised to see the inside of a log cabin. The stone floor was covered by a huge knitted rug and on top of this sat a sturdy wooden table and four chairs. Once they were seated around the table the man cleared his throat. Looked at Spinner. As he met his gaze Spinner felt the deep blue eyes touch his soul. For some reason he couldn't quite explain he felt safe and trusted the old man.

The gaze he held him with seemed to ask and answer a hundred questions at the same time. Spinner shifted on the hard wooden chair. Looked to India. She shrugged at him, unsure of what they had gotten themselves into.

'We're from Kanion. I'm sure you've heard what's happened there.'

The man nodded solemnly, stroking the grey whiskers on his chin thoughtfully.

'And we hope the Triplets will be able to help us.' said India.

'Can you take us to the Triplets?'

The man smiled and leaned back in his chair.

'I am he.'


Spinner and India explained at length how they had to do something to save their planet and that they hoped that the Triplets would assist them. The man known as the Triplets was deep in thought. He didn't explain why he was called the Triplets nor that he had been known by the epithet for the best part of a century.

They had no doubt they were consulting the person they had been searching for but something also told them that they shouldn't press him on the obvious fact that they were expecting three people. Maybe, Spinner thought, he was known as the Triplets because he was as wise as three people.

The Triplets sat in silence for what seemed live an age. His eyes closed tight. Spinner thought that this must be what it felt like waiting for the verdict in Kanion's court. Suddenly the Triplets opened his eyes and looked at each of them. The jury had, it seemed, reached a verdict.

'To restore freedon to your planet you must enlist the help of the Nexians.'

The way he put it it was as though if they did as he told them then Kanion would be free. No doubt about it.

'The Nexians, as you probably know, are a race of people from our region, this Echoes region of ours. You must go to Nexia. Contact a senator by the name of Perrin. The Government of Nexia want to form an alliance of the planets in the region. Tell Perrin that I have advised that it would help persuade Kanion's Governors to join the alliance if Nexia gives them back their freedom. It would also deter the Vega-Rillas if the planets are united.'

The Triplets smiled warmly. Spinner could almost feel the wisdom flowing from this man. It seemed to seap through his pores.

'What do you think our chances are?'

'Well, Mister Spinner,' Spinner flinched. He didn't recall telling him their names. 'You will free Kanion if you enlist the help of your neighbouring planet. And they will help you if you mention to Senator Perrin that I have advised it. But one last piece of advise. Distrust the man with a star on his chest.'

'What do you m-'

'Now if you will excuse me. I am quite tired and must rest. Have faith. Trust your instincts.'

He stood slowly and shuffled them towards the door. He shook their hands and wished them all the luck they needed.


Nexia was a gloomy planet which spent most of the time under downpours of rain. The buildings were made of some native pale stone and on the whole stood no more than five or six storeys. In one of these large square buildings Senator Perrin sat behind his desk. Across the bank of computers in front of him two sat nervous looking people from a near-by planet.

Spinner cleared his throat and held the senator's stare. The senator's green, even stare was inquisitive. He was middle-aged, whatever age that was these days. He had thick dark brown hair. Spinner guessed correctly that this colour was as artificial as the hair itself. His skin wore a couple of wrinkles covered by a light brown tan. In short he looked every inch a politician. He grinned an empty grin and shrugged a 'so-what-can-I-do-for-you'.

India began gently explaining that they were refugees from the occupied Kanion and that they had to do something to help free their home. Her pretty expression was pleading and yet proud. Perrin nodded and tapped at the keyboard in front of him. His expression however gave nothing away, a real black star poker face. Spinner leaned forward.

'The Triplets told us to see you. To inform you that he suggests that Kanion's parliament would be inclined to support your plans of an alliance should you grant it's wish of freedom. He said he advises it.'

Perrin rubbed his tanned jaw and he considered what he had heard. Spinner got the impression that people usually followed the Triplet's advice. He hoped that would be the case this time.

'I think our wise friend has a point.. It would break the ice, as it were, between the two governments and the whole thing could be played out to everyone's benefit. And it would deter the Vega-Rillas of trying anything of this nature again. To take on one planet is courageous. To take on united planets would be lunacy. No, no. I quite agree with the Triplets.'

He tapped furiously at the keyboard and told them to come back to his office in an hour. They thanked him and left.

Spinner and India spent the hour pacing the lobby of the senate building. Pounded the dark blue carpet whispering to each other about what would happen. As they sat in the large armchairs Spinner noticed how tired India looked. She looked pale and exhausted. He figured he must have had the same appearance.

Perrin summoned them back into his office. They took their seats again expectantly. The senator paused a moment before speaking. His expression was grave.

'I have spoken to the other senators and we have reached a decision. We will do whatever it takes to liberate your planet. Star Marshall Hawt will be in charge of operations.' he pushed a button on his desk.

Before he had let it go a large man in pale blue military uniform entered the room.

'Star Marshall, do come in.'

With a snappy salute Hawt crossed the room in long confident strides. He nodded to India and Spinner sternly and turned his hard military gaze to the senator. He seemed to Spinner to be a giant of a man. His massive arms bulged in the uniform's shirt sleeves. Black hair cut short all over his head.

'Hawt, you have been briefed on the mission to free Kanion of the Vega-Rillas.'

Hawt gave a curt nod.

'Then you have a lot of work to do. Spinner and India will go with you. What they lack in military experience they make up for with heart and love for their planet.'

Despite cringing at the politician's syruppy way of putting things Spinner agreed totally with the sentiment.


Ten days later Spinner took in the view of his home planet sitting captive among the stars. India gasped. Spinner would have admitted that the sight of your home planet viewed from space was a breath taking sight. A second later he realised this was not what had startled her. He lurched forward in his seat.

Orbitting the planet was a large grey ship. It was a huge thing. It was a Vega-Rilla battlestar. It seemed to Spinner to have a menacing, intrusive quality about it. And it wasn't there when he'd left Kanion. He looked at the Nexian fighter ships which hung beside Blue Neon. Spinner was glad they had enlisted the help of the Nexian people. He knew that the fleet of fighters assembled beside them now were there and willing to die for the cause of liberation and unity.

The fighter ships were slightly smaller than Blue Neon and had laser cannons on each wing. In the days leading upto this Blue Neon had been fitted with laser cannons. The sick feeling in Spinner's stomach told him he would need the artillery. Keeping an eye on the giant battlestar in front of him he tried to count the ships beside him. An impossible task. The Nexians had pulled out all the stops. He felt part of their number, his ship sitting as an equal among their fighters.

A voice burred through the dashboard. It was Hawt.

'Enemy battlestar up ahead. Watch yourselves. Units one point one to four point five attack!'

A fleet of what must have been seventy fighters swept forward. Spinner watched as the fighters darted towards the planet and the battlestar guarding it. They shot through space. His heart pounded. This was it. They were about to engage the hostile force which had his planet and his people in it's fist.

As the fighter ships neared the docile battlestar it lowered a ramp. It gaped open like a huge mouth. Like it was about to speak. A second later enemy fighters came darting down the ramp. For minutes they kept coming, one after the other. Pouring out into space. These ships, although similar in size to the Nexian craft they did not have wings. These fighters were propelled entirely from engines at the rear. There was also, Spinner painfully noted, laser cannon perched centrally at the front of the sloping nose. Had these not been the hostile ships of the Vega-Rilla he would have been impressed with the ships. Fear mixed with anger in the pit of his stomach.

The Nexia winged fighters headed straight towards the enemy ships. As soon as they emerged from the battlestar the Vega-Rillas steered straight for their enemy. Spinner and India were gripped with panic. It reminded Spinner of an accident he'd had a few years ago. Some idiot wasn't paying attention and had rammed his cruiser into the side of Blue Neon. In the seconds before the collision everything had run in slow motion yet he could do nothing to avoid the other vehicle. He felt the same sensation now.

The fighters headed for each other. As they neared one another both sides began firing. Red, high pitched laser fire was exchanged. One of the Nexia wing fighters took out one of the Vega-Rilla craft. It exploded in a bright, white shower of light. Spinner and India shielded their eyes.

The next ship to be taken out was a Nexian. After that it was utter chaos. It was hard to tell exactly who had conceded more casualties. Fighters were exploding all over as the carnage erupted in front of them. Spinner's head was all over the place. He couldn't turn away from the battle. He was compelled to stare wide-eyed as the war raged. The normally silent black space was shattered by cannon fire flashes and blinding explosions. For every feeling of elation at one of the enemy fighters being destroyed there was the agony of seeing one of the Nexian ships explode.

Two winged fighters managed to get through the carnage and past the battlestar. They were making for Kanion. Spinner felt like a punter watching a race. His hands became fists as he willed on the two brave pilots. From nowhere a Vega-Rilla fighter was on their tail. He was gaining fast. The enemy fighter settled behind the first ship he reached. A second later he fired. A shot of red flashed towards the fleeing Nexian. It made contact and destroyed it.

The Vega-Rilla turned and darted after the second fighter. Again he raced towards his target. Flew right up behind the Nexian ship. Paused, waited for what seemed like until the end of space. Then fired. Despite the pilot's best efforts there was the inevitable explosion. Spinner's heart sank. He swallowed hard. He stared out into space. Looked for some signal of hope amongst the horror.

He saw one winged fighter speeding towards the battlestar. He felt like drumming his palms against the screen in front of him. What was the guy thinking? A fighter against a battlestar. Only one possible outcome. The battlestar would would swat the fighter away. The Nexian was shooting towards the hulking battlestar like a burst of laser cannon fire. This was suicide. Spinner recalled the last time he had heard that word. It was when he had told Quaye of his plan to go back to Kanion. Maybe, he thought, we all needed to do something everyone else considered lunacy once in a while.

The fighter was close to the battlestar. He flew right upto it and up the ramp into the mouth of the craft. Spinner and India looked at each other in disbelief. He saw tears in her eyes. As they turned back to the carnage they saw the fighter rush out of the mouth again. The fighter was fleeing. Racing away from the huge enemy ship.

A voice came across the receiver.

'Mine planted, sir.'

'Detonate!' came Hawt's reply.

Spinner blinked hard. So the fighter had got inside the battlestar to plant a mine! As he struggled to get his head round what the pilot had done his eyes were stunned by the flash of light and roaring explosion. The giant battlestar was now reduced to a shower of light. Spinner and India hugged. For the first time since they'd started on the journey home they both believed they could actually succeed.

Despite the circumstances or maybe because of the emotionally charged events Spinner found he wanted India more than ever. Maybe it was because they had been through so much together in the recent weeks. His thoughts were interrupted by the receiver.

'All crafts stand-by.'

A few seconds passed.

'Let's go!'

Spinner steered Blue Neon forward towards Kanion. All around him he could see the Nexian fighters. They all headed for the planet. Those he couldn't see where showing on the ship's intruments. The swarm of ships raced ahead. Any rogue enemy ships were distroyed by the charging fleet. They pressed on and shot through Kanion's atmosphere like a meteor shower.

Spinner's heart leaped as he saw the familiar towers of his planet. Although he had been determined to save his home and his people it was at this moment that it struck him how much he had missed the place while he had been travelling the region. As Blue Neon and the Nexian fleet swept lower he could see the damage which scarred the buildings. Some of the towers were now short charred stumps. This was a sign of how hostile the take-over had been.

They swept lower and lower. Down between the towers. Vega-Rilla soldiers patrolled the empty streets. Spinner was shocked as he saw the soldiers, armed and hostile. They wore red high-collared tunics and dark hair covered their faces. As they saw the influx of ships the enemy troops pulled laser guns from their holsters. They fired on the attacking fleet. Laser fire sparked off the nose of Blue Neon. Spinner, like all the fighter pilot's around him returned fire.

The soldiers would fire a couple of bursts before turning and running. The first few troops managed to shoot at Blue Neon before Spinner could put a smoking hole in their chests. Initially he would take them out as they were running away. After the first few encounters he was practised and prepared. He would fire and hit the enemy troops as they were drawing or aiming their weapons.

Above the noise of the laser fire the dashboard burred.

'Intelligence tells us that the Kanion people are either in the prison at sector nine or under virtual house arrest. Units five to eight take the prison. Nine-ten, I want the people of Kanion free and the troops wiped out.

'X Squad and Blue Neon, you're with me. Vega-Rilla Viceroy Meddle is using the Presidential Mansion. If we take that they the planet will be secure. All units, let's go to work!'

Fighters sped in all directions. Spinner could see some of the Nexian craft land and their pilots emerging, laser rifle in hand. They engaged the enemy troops on foot. Other fighters darted south to sector nine. The red sun shone down casting shadows of ships and warriors. Dust hung in the air like fog.

Spinner followed Hawt's fighter on it's journey north. Towards the Presidential Mansion. Blue Neon perched to the right of the Star Marshall's ship. Adrenelin rushed through him. Below the battle raged. India watched the destruction unfolding, eyes wide. He couldn't tell if she wanted to cry or kill somebody.

'Spinner, look what they've done to the place.'

'I know, I know. They invaded our planet. It's time to take it back.'

India nodded. Determination in her gaze, jaw tightened. Hawt, Spinner and the squad drove forward. Minutes later he could see the large impressive shape of the mansion. It was a square building, ten storeys high. Low in comparison with the tall towers of the rest of the planet. Where the towers were like fingers reaching to the stars the mansion was more like a fist. It stood squat and defiant. It seemed to Spinner to be more like a fortress than a mansion. Maybe that was the idea when it had been built. Perhaps the design was bearing in mind that the president, President Ermin, needed to be protected. It struck Spinner as they neared the building that it must never have occurred to the designers that a liberating force would have to attack the building to rid it of the invading army.

They emerged from Blue Neon armed with black laser rifles. It felt heavy and dangerous in Spinner's hands and was as long as his arm. As they rushed down the ship's exit ramp they knocked the safety switches off and fingered their triggers. He sighed as his feet touched Kanion ground. It didn't feel like home. Not yet. As he breathed in the afternoon air he could taste the tinny taste of laser fire and destruction.

Ahead running towards the entrance of the mansion he saw Star Marshall Hawt. They followed, accompanied by the X Squad troops. His ears were ringing. The sound of charging feet and laser fire echoed in his ears. One of the troops ran ahead through the chaos heading for the large metal doors. These doors were the main entrance to the mansion. The doors stood, large, grey and lifeless. They were locked tight.

The soldier crouched at the base of the door and planted some kind of device. Spinner guessed it was a mine. The soldier leapt back as an explosion tore a large smoking hole in the doors. Vega-Rilla troops appeared from inside the mansion and rushed out through the hole. Their laser pistols blazed as they headed for the attacking army. They wore the same high-collared red tunics as the others who had fired on their ships. Up close Spinner was startled by their appearance. Fine dark hair covered their faces and their eyes were green and animal-like. Every Vega-Rilla warrior he could see wore a spitting snarl.

Hawt gave Spinner and India a firm nod. Gave the order to charge. Spinner couldn't say where the rage inside him came from but his boots dug into the ground as he darted forward. Red laser fire filled the air like a blizzard. Soldiers, enemy and allied fell all around him. Men fell as they were hit. A Nexian directly in front of them took a head shot and dropped to the pavement.

The red sun sitting in its sky seemed oblivious to the warscape. Normally Spinner would have complained that the weather was too hot for him, that this was the kind of day to spend in an air conditioned bar in one of the megatowers. On this day the hot afternoon didn't even register with him. Adrenelin continued to pulse through him. The real thing, natural adrenelin, not the recreational kind popular in recent times.

Spinner and India fired shot after shot. Enemy soldiers howled as they were hit. As one target fell Spinner lined up the next. The laser rifle shook in his hands like a sonic drill. Despite taking casualties they reached the door. The bodies of both armies littered the area. They slipped quickly through the hole and rushed down the long white corridor of the mansion. Spinner was impressed by the size of the place. The corridor stretched as far as he could see. It was lit by pale yellow 'amber runners', strips of light on each wall just above head height.

Every few feet there was either a set of doors or another corridor running off to some other part of the building. Each door they came to they opened. The most they discovered was some Vega-Rillas who were speedily taken care of. They moved quickly, dashing in practised fast steps. The sound of their footsteps rang out along the corridor.

As they passed a corridor on their left they could see someone walking towards them. Hawt, Spinner, India and the Nexian troops paused. They all aimed their weapons at the man. Walking slowly, shakily to them was a tall, thin man. He moved as though each movement pained him. The grey double breasted suit he wore was torn and in rags. He had unnaturally brown hair. He wasn't a Vega-Rilla unlike everyone else they'd come across but was native to Kanion.

'Thank Space you're here! We'd given up all hope. I am Senator Uric. These monsters have us. I am nothing more than a prisoner in this place. They keep me here alive in case I can be of any help. The things I've seen-' Tears filled his eyes.

Hawt looked at Uric. The troops waited for orders. Their faces were blank. They were trained to follow orders and until they had orders they waited. Spinner felt for this senator. He was the first captive Kanian he had encountered. His face was a picture of sadness and fear. His eyes pleading.

Hawt was as military he always was. Spinner supposed this wasn't the first warzone the Star Marshal had seen. Maybe that was why he had climbed up to the lofty rank of Star Marshall. Because he could be counted on to be level headed in the worst of circumstances.

'Senator, we must capture the Viceroy. If we do this your planet will be free. Can you take us to him?'

The senator's face brightened.

'Of course. Yes, yes. It

Submitted: January 16, 2014

© Copyright 2021 CTPlatt. All rights reserved.

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