98.1 \ 290

Drift X’s hold was filled to capacity for the first time since the advance rescue from Anzi on Genesee. That was when Toller had first set foot on this magic carpet that’s since taken him to planets across the stars, the way he used to get to the next town. Though he was only about a year older, he’d breached the threshold of a new age. He was a real teenager now, and the entire actual world had changed, besides finding the surfaces of other planets. He’d met people in it that not even the King, or the Queen before him knew, like the Aureny, and these scientists including the Hoopoe, another new bro; he’d discovered new sentience along its own road to self revealing. Is this always what puberty is like?

Toller was in possession of two lists – one to check, with the names, nicknames, or pseudonyms of their passengers, and the other was the one he was helping them make right now. They needed to think of small vacation towns, with a bar or hangout with a calling line. They were allowed to pick places they really liked, even expensive places, but the choice wouldn’t ultimately be theirs. They wanted people to think of as many as they could, so the right locations and routes could be chosen.

It was the original incoming group with the addition of thirty-some head researchers and assistants – the ones most likely to be targeted by enemies or scalpers, first and second names on soon-to-be-released papers. They may be getting out of this particular mess, but the root of the danger they were in was still at work out there. In the hold here, they’d improvised cargo crate furnishings, and had also deployed everything comfortable and soft in their possession for this transitional intergalactic road trip campout.

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