free-fire zone, came next. As they neared, Malila saw small heaps of scorched feathers littering the plowed earth.
“Fall migration,” said Sophie.
Then came the Rampart. (footnote 6) The Rampart itself was no longer made of anything so crude as concrete. It showed on the horizon as a single line from the skimmer’s altitude. It loomed closer, unbroken and resolute. The pulse-cannon muzzles along a kilometer curve of the Rampart detected the approaching craft, moving in unison. Even at this distance, Malila saw the bottomless black stare of the weapons. She licked her lips.
“This is Charlie-Alpha-Tango-one-niner-niner. Requesting passage, two skimmers, Station one-one-Dog-Zulu-Bravo,” Jayden said.
Malila heard a distant and imprecise buzzing in her earpiece....
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