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Why would anyone want to kill a tender of mechanized vegetation — with, of all things, a watch and a little red bird?ExcerptThe furry little animal edged cautiously toward him, ready to scamper up a tree. But the kernel on the ground was tempting andMoreWhy would anyone want to kill a tender of mechanized vegetation — with, of all things, a watch and a little red bird?ExcerptThe furry little animal edged cautiously toward him, ready to scamper up a tree. But the kernel on the ground was tempting and the animal grabbed it and scurried back to safety. Richel Alsint sat motionless, enjoying himself greatly. Outside the park in every direction were many tiers of traffic. He was the only person in the park- it was silent there except for birds. One in particular he noticed, all body, or entirely wing — it was impossible to say which at this distance — soared effortlessly overhead, a small bundle of bright blue feathers. The wings, if it had wings, didnt move at all- the bird balanced with remarkable skill on air currents. Everything about it might be small, but the voice wasnt, and it made good use of every note.Alsint twisted his hand slowly toward the sack beside him.In that position the ship watch was visible. There was no need to look- it was connected to the propulsion processes of the ship and would signal long before he had to be back. Nevertheless he did glance at it.In sudden alarm, he jumped up, scattering the contents of the sack. The circle of animals fled into the underbrush and the birds stopped singing and flew away.He left everything on the bench. It was untidy, but his life would be more untidy if he missed the ship. He ran to the aircar parked in the clearing and fumbled at the door. The bright blue bird was changing to red, but he didnt notice that.He bounced the car straight up, sinking into the cushions with the acceleration. High above the regular levels of traffic, he located the spaceport in the distance and jammed the throttle forward. The ship was there, and as long as it was, he had a chance. Not much, though. The absence of activity on the ground indicated they were getting ready.He dropped the aircar down as close as he could get and left it. There was no time to take the underground passage that came up somewhere near the ship. The guard at the surface gate stopped him.Youre too late, said the attendant.