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Rikki

Rikki shucks out of the jumpsuit, which won’t help if things go badly. She pops an ampule and spills yellow silt into one hand. If Canard’s wrong, she’s dead. If he’s right, it’ll dice her pheromones into something resembling a spineback’s: a label saying Don’t Eat, Not Worth The Trouble. She starts smearing.

Up a tree, over a wall–easy, but Rakshasa’s got better defenses. One long limb bows and suddenly Rikki sees them. Orange. Black. Shimmer like heat haze.

The first one notices her, scents the air: here’s the test. Rikki holds her breath, a strange Daniel, naked among tigers.

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