Chapter 2. Blink Outs
"Tell me again why we do this?" Star called out breathlessly to the man walking several steps ahead of her. Jon laughed as he moved quickly and effortlessly up the mountain.
"Do you like to eat?" he joked, not even breathing hard.
"Maybe I could learn to live without food," muttered Star, as she cut a wide berth around a sleepy snake sunning on a rock. And she wasn't alone in her opinion. These days, most Wurc-Urs found climbing not just mundane, but maddening. The thankless monotony of scorching days on the trail; the threat of being seen by Highlanders monitoring the hillside from below—it was a constant balancing act between the effort needed to get the job done and the restraint necessary to avoid drawing attention. She and the other Wurc-Urs spent a good part of their day complaining to each other and hiding from the Highlanders. Not that they were really watching much anymore, but you could never be too careful.
Stopping in the shade of a small tree, Star looked up at Jon. "Hey, you ready for a break?" she said.
Jon winked and turned back to join her. He had the athletic build of the Wurc-Urs, with pale translucent skin and hair. It would take a sharp-eyed Highlander to spot him, thought Star. That is, if they ever cared to look.
"I don't know how he blends in so well," Star mumbled with respect. It was no secret that Jon was one of the most skilled climbers among the Wurc-Urs. He had once reached the elevation where precious diamonds could be found. ...