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But here he was.
The subject strode purposefully toward the weathered hills. His brown hair was longer than the picture in her handcomp. The wind blew it–and his coat–straight forward. His shoes must have been full of sand. What was he doing?
“Subject sighted walking west toward foothills near Sunrisan border,” she said into her wrist. “List time.” Oh, he’d better not go north and cross. Her license wasn’t exactly valid there.
“Mr. Gate?” Blue broke into a run. A hand instinctively reached for her e-stun. No. Why that? Sure this was strange. He was likely completely gone on the stripe, but the situation wasn’t anywhere near that. Calm down.
“Mr. Gate,” she repeated as she drew near, “your family is very worried about you.”
He strode on, as if she had said nothing. As if she wasn’t even there. Mother Time Unchanging, was he really that gone?
She maneuvered herself into his path. “Look, I’m not the police.” She thrust her license forward. “See. I’m just a freelancer. I need to get you on a flight back to Grenod.”
From this angle, Blue finally got a look at his face. Yes, it was the man in the picture, but his eyes–they glowed. She gasped and took a step back. What? They were the same color as the stars above them. It was like something out of a period holo.
Something hit her chest.
The world lurched. Her back hit sand. She raised her head so her unarmored scalp and neck wouldn’t scrape as she slid across the beach. The rest of the air that hit her rushed over her face. Air?
She relocked her sight onto Gate. He finally seemed to notice her. Well, he was certainly walking toward her with his face all contracted in concentration and annoyance.
What was he going to do next? Blue didn’t want to find out.
So it came to this.
She slid the stunner out of its holster and readied it in one practiced motion.
She hoped they wouldn’t sue.
Her thumb unleashed a brief onslaught of lightning. When it reached Gate, he vibrated . He blinked, and the starlit eyes vanished, replaced by ordinary brown. The eyes then closed as his legs gave out from under him. He collapsed onto his hands and knees.
Blue released the breath she held. She rolled and brought herself to her feet. What in time just happened?
Solstice has a condition, one of his mothers had said. Condition, indeed. A man with the antiquated and useless title of “Mage” on his birth certificate just went and conjured something like it was two hundred years ago. As if the curse never happened.