“You’re avoiding Telema.” Katie-Anne said.

“I’m not avoiding her,” Squeak replied.  “I’m just not making any effort to see her.”

“Why can’t anyone ever seem to remember that I read minds?”

“I didn’t forget,” Squeak said.  “I just assumed that you wouldn’t in polite company.”

“In polite company, I don’t,” Katie-Anne said, “But I’m talking to you.”

“Fine.  I’m avoiding her.  She did try to kill me, you know.”

“You’re really going to hold that against her?  It was a battle.  She was trying to kill lots of people.  And we were on the wrong side.”

Squeak wasn’t sure that was the case.  They had been on the bigger side, the side that was more likely to win, while Telema’s Crew had led the smaller rebel forces.  Being the underdogs didn’t necessarily make the rebels more moral.  Of course, Squeak could see why Katie-Anne might think that way.  She was a Free Person, after all.  Minorities tended to sympathize…

Squeak remembered too late about Katie-Anne’s mind reading.  He could feel her glaring at him and tried to ignore it.

“Don’t get me wrong,” Katie-Anne said after a moment.  “If you don’t want to see her any more that’s fine by me.  At least I won’t have to listen to you two humping like bored bunnies every time I let my mind wander.”

“Wait just a second!  You could hear that…?”

The Transit Car doors opened, cutting off further conversation, and Squeak and Katie-Anne found themselves on the ground floor in the main concourse of the tallest of Terrasend’s five towers.  Fifteen stories of shops and stalls stretching across a space that would normally contain a city block, the Terrasend market was enormous.  After six months, the cavernous expanse of the place no longer awed Squeak as it once did.  Instead, he now found his senses overwhelmed by the shear number of people occupying it. 

The five towers of Terrasend were supposed to support a population of one million, but the devs never seemed to have considered that this concourse was one of relatively few places in the city that actually boasted anything to do.  With the Khatid a constant threat looming just outside the shield wall, it felt as though all of the SIM’s recent population surge was seeking diversion in this market.

Katie-Anne headed out into the crowd.  Squeak followed as best he could.  Katie-Anne was both small and slight, even for a girl of fourteen, and she was difficult to keep track of in the bustling crowd.

He caught up to her at a fountain next to a sprawling food court.  Katie-Anne climbed up on the railing around the fountain and scanned the crowd.

“So where is she?” Squeak spoke loudly, to be heard over the dull roar of the concourse.

“How should I know?” Katie-Anne answered.

“You’re the master telepath.”

“You know it doesn’t work like that.”  Looking down at him, Katie-Anne tapped her head with a finger, “It’s just as loud up here as-”

Katie-Anne was cut off by a loud crack.  Halfway across the concourse, a mass of benches, debris and people were tossed into the air as if thrown by an explosion. The panic started immediately, and people began to stampede away from the source of the commotion.  The cries of several people who had been injured in the blast were barely discernable over the yelling of the crowd trying to get to safety.

Katie-Anne jumped down from the fountain.  “Found her,” she said, and then charged toward the source of the blast, vanishing into the panicking crowd.

The End

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