IT’S ONLY IN the brief stages of pre-entry that the human passengers are allowed to see what lies beyond the clear blister of the observation dome.
Of course, the passage of the shift would present a picture meaningless to our eyes—“inducing acute perceptual and cognitive schism” is, I think, the official cybernese—so the alloy shield clamps down tight. Even the hardened traveler tends to spend the pauses between jumps harvesting a quick crop of stars.
And the stars that turn into suns.
It had been a while since I’d seen this particular sun as more than a distant flicker. Now it burned sullen orange beyond the edge of the stressplex dome. Its innermost world sat like a pale-green and turquoise cat’s-eye on a black matte gaming table, a last glittering target for the crystal shooter marble cupped in the palm.
What odds for a backboard ricochet into the tripling ring? The click of credit-counters around the table as you cradle the clear shooter and cock your thumb for the last chance to send it spinning down that long black table, connect cracking with that winking target, go for the big one, Go Home . . .
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