Bren ran down the concourse to his ship’s boarding gate. He tried to catch glimpses of it through the windows, but his view was blocked by other starships at berth. With the quickness of youth he dodged passengers and station workers, occasionally baring his teeth or pointing his ears at them. It wasn’t polite, but the locals, leaf-eaters, would get out of his way.
A security agent noticed the young Woofheimer running down the concourse, dodging people left and right. Eyebrows furrowed and ears pointed forward, the woof bared his teeth in something between anxiety and irritation. Light-fur and foofy clothes indicated a member of the Woofheim nobility: harmless. The agent ignored him and scanned the crowd for security threats.
Bren saw the Tarkel’s Glory, a sleek and shiny passenger liner. A trick of perspective made it look like it was backing away from the dock. Bren stopped to check … it was backing.
“Crap!” he said.
He came to the waiting area and looked around. There were ticket agents behind the counter and some security police, but no passengers. Panting, he approached the ticket desk.
“Yes?” said a long-snouted agent.
“That’s my ship. I need to get on it.”
“You mean that ship?” the agent asked, pointing out the window at the receding Tarkel’s Glory.
“Yes! That ship! I need to get on it!”
“Settle down, young woof. It is pushing off; there’s nothing we can do. Do you have a ticket?”
“No. My father has my ticket. And he’s on that ship. Along with the rest of my pack.”
The agent shrugged.
“All my littermates and two of my uncles. I have to get on that ship.”
“You don’t have a ticket. The ship is gone. There’s nothing I can do.”
Bren sighed and looked at the agent. Rey-brown fur, long snout and ears, eyes widely placed, big fat tail. A local. Bren bared his teeth at the leaf-eater.
“Now look here, young woof,” said the agent calmly. “There’s no reason for you to be rude.”
He looked over at a security agent who began to take interest in them.
“If you don’t clear out immediately, I’ll call Security and have them deal with you.”
Bren knew when he was dismissed; he would not get anything more out of this agent. Bren looked at the security agent, covered his teeth with his lips, folded down his ears, and tucked his tail. He sighed and walked away from the ticket counter. All he had was the clothes on his back. No ID. His sire had taken care of all that.
His datapad! He pulled that out … it would not turn on. The battery was dead. Useless! Bren thew it on the ground; the glass surface broke. He sighed and looked around. Some people looked and frowned. Bren picked up the remnants, stuck them in his pocket, and walked away from the space port.
Bren left the dock area and came to a wide boulevard with storefronts along the sides, benches for people to sit, and a central avenue for pedestrian traffic. Above he could see balconies of higher levels: offices and residences overlooking the avenue. High above them, through the station’s windows, he could see the stars. Perhaps one of them was Wolfheim’s star.
People of many species were walking about, some with packages, some with traveling baggage. Most were Cratif. Bren saw a few wolves—Canine Cibosans was the technically correct term—like himself, some catlike Rasafac, thick-tailed dinosaurian Rshast, and a raptor wearing metal armor: a Dein.
Bren’s stomach rumbled. It had been a long time since he had eaten. He had no money. His sire had taken care of all that, too. Wandering the big avenue of the space station’s commercial area, he followed his nose to a place he recognized from the other day: a cozy sort of place, perfect for wolves.
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