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an eye on the road ahead, as well as the rooftops above. Every step of the way the Ky'Thain shadowed him, flitting from building to building as he wound his way toward the spaceport.

For several minutes he seemed to be out of danger. The spaceport loomed ahead, the sight of a ship taking off, its thrusters raging like thunder, spurred Vance onward. Hopefully the security would be as lax for leaving Zhabar as it had been on arrival.

Vance soon saw the hangar where their freighter was housed, and no security controls or personnel blocked his progress. Keeping the skimmer steady, Vance headed straight for the hangar, passing between too low outhouses. As he did so, a dread shadow fell over him. Vance ducked instinctively, feeling the displacement of air that told him he had narrowly avoided death. The Ky'Thain was on top of him immediately, the extra weight dipping the front end of the skimmer and driving it into the ground

An ear-piercing screech ripped through the air as the front end of the skimmer scraped against the hard earth, buckling the metal chassis and throwing Vance and the Ky'Thain forward. He rolled and regained his feet at the same time as the nimble creature. It advanced immediately, its face a bloody mess after hitting the ground. Vance's own shoulder hurt like hell, probably dislocated. With his good arm Vance drew the autopistol and unleashed a burst whilst moving away toward the hangar. His wounded leg began to throb, fresh blood trickling from the reopened wound.

The burst from the autopistol repelled the Ky'Thain, which covered its vulnerable head from the spray of rounds. As soon as Vance took his finger off the trigger it advanced once more, striding forward on its spidery legs. Vance kept firing, limping toward the hangar, but the Ky'Thain
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