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The heat of the blood-red sun is unbearable, as is the desert planet’s gravity. A thousand cloaked dwarves march across the dunes in chains. At the front, a reptilian slave driver leads them—whip in one hand, rifle in another. A patrol craft soars overhead, walker-machines on the flanks. The dwarves bemoan their situation.
“Where are we going?”
“Why must we march?”
“How do we escape?”
Chall, a dwarf, overhears this.
“The others plot to run!”
But the slave driver turns and guns him down.
“No talking! Keep moving!”
The others march over Chall’s bleeding body—no pity for sycophants.

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