[Hey, remember that book you’re working on — remember that?]
[You seem to be spending a fair amount of time on this side project. Shouldn’t you…?]
[SHUT YOUR FACE.]
The Ferris Wheel waits, a grand circle enclosing the horizon.Even the children who have never been to the Fair can recall the grand spectacle when it is operational. A thousand lights and the turn of the wonderful machine.
The Midway leads to the Wheel, a hundred blind alleys and elaborate devices of fun and excitement that could hide a furious overweight green-guard and his allies.
“Of course it still works,” Crim laughed. “It’s robot-steel, nothing can break robot-steel. And we’re going to get a bunch more closer. The toy cart with the unlocked door, where I found all my stuff. It’s right at the base of the Wheel.”
“Must. Get. Toys.” Mark’s hands clutched the air with desire.
The portly guard pounded through the streets of the Fair after the children, but soon lost them. He leaned against the side of a Funnel Cake stand and panted and wiped runnels of sweat off his brow. The silver name tag on his shoulder gleamed, the name “KANLEY” neatly etched.
Two more guards pounded into view. A tall, lanky man who was a friend — and a broad, bearded man who was not.
“Kanley, you alright?” his friend asked with diffident concern, trying to avoid the anger-fueled gaze of the bearded man.
“I’m….fine….Jak.” Kanley panted.
“Fine. I’ll show you fine.” the bearded man, who was his superior officer, slammed a hand into Kanley’s shoulder. “A Rune-discharge? Here?!? At a bunch of ragamuffin children?”
“I’m sorry sir. There was a cat, and the running, and I thought…”the fat guard began.
“You thought nothing. Like you always do. Private Jak. Pull up your fat friend, Private Kanley, by the buttons if you have to, but get moving. Find those children. They have no idea the danger they are in. We must find them, and find them now and remove them from harm’s way. If they encounter the Target…” the bearded man pulled the communicator from his right breast and barked into it. “All units, scramble. 5-8 minors have been spotted in the Fairgrounds, must be detained and removed to safe distance. Priority One. Keep an eye peeled for the Target, and don’t take any risks – but we have to get those damn kids out of here on the double.”
The anger-gaze turned back to Jak and Kanley, the latter weakly tried to snap to attention. “You’ve put those children in danger with your incompetence, Private. We’ll speak more of this at the barracks. But remember, nothing will save you from me if anything happens to those children. Dismissed.”
“Yes, Sgt. Towerlock!” the two guards cried in unison.
The green-guards moved quickly, eyes darting as they searched the Fair. Hands checking their runes at every dark alley, at every can that rattled in the wind. They did their best to cover the vast area of the Fair, but they were stretched too thin.
They feared to find their quarry, and they feared that they would not find the group of children that had wandered into the fair at the most inopportune of times.
“Hey, look!” Nora pointed. “A node!”
A blue Observer Node appeared, a few short steps away from the gazebo.