The Colors of Space (Chapter 2, page 1 of 9)


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Chapter 2

For a moment, pulled off balance in the fat stranger's hug, Bart
remained perfectly still, while the man repeated in that loud, jovial
voice, "How you've grown!" He let him go, stepping away a pace or two,
and whispered urgently, "Say something. And take that stupid look off
your face."

As he stepped back, Bart saw his eyes. In the chubby, good-natured red
face, the stranger's eyes were half-mad with fear.

In a split second, Bart remembered the two Lhari and their talk of a
fugitive. In that moment, Bart Steele grew up.

He stepped toward the man and took him quickly by the shoulders.

"Dad, you sure surprised me," he said, trying to keep his voice from
shaking. "Been such a long time, I'd--half forgotten what you looked
like. Have a good trip?"

"About like always." The fat man was breathing hard, but his voice
sounded firm and cheerful. "Can't compare with a trip on the old
Asterion though." The Asterion was the flagship of Vega Interplanet,
Rupert Steele's own ship. "How's everything?"

Beads of sweat were standing out on the man's ruddy forehead, and his
grip on Bart's wrist was so hard it hurt. Bart, grasping at random for
something to say, gabbled, "Too bad you couldn't get to my graduation. I
made th-third in a class of four hundred--"

The Lhari had surrounded them and were closing in.

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