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Star Performer

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avir gingerly fitted the round opening in the bottom of the silvery globe over the top of his hairless blue skull. He pulled the globe down until he felt tiny filaments touching his scalp. The tips of the wires were cold.


The moderator then said, "Dreaming Through the Universe tonight brings you the first native Martian to appear on the dreamwaves—Gavir of the Desert Men. With him is his guardian, Dr. Malcomb Rice, the noted anthropologist."

Then the moderator questioned Malcomb, while Gavir nervously awaited the moment when his thoughts would be transmitted to millions of Earthmen. Malcomb told how he had been struck by Gavir's intelligence and missionary-taught ability to speak Earth's language, and had decided to bring Gavir to Earth.

The moderator turned to Gavir. "Are you anxious to get back to Mars?"

No! Gavir thought. Back behind the Preserve Barrier that killed you instantly if you stepped too close to it? Back to the constant fear of being seized by MDC guards for a labor pool, to wind up in the MDC mines?

Mars was where Gavir's father had been pinned, bayonets through his hands and feet, to the wall of a shack just the other side of the Barrier, to die slowly, out of Gavir's reach. Father James told Gavir that the head of MDC himself had ordered the killing, because Gavir's father had tried to organize resistance to the Corporation. Mars was where the magic powers of the Earthmen and the helplessness of the Martian tribes would always protect the head of MDC from Gavir's vengeance.

Back to that world of hopeless fear and hatred? I never want to go back to Mars! I want to stay here!

But that wasn't what he was supposed to think. Quickly he said, "I will be happy to return to my people."

A movement caught his eye. The producer, reclining on a divan in a far corner of the small studio, was making some kind of signal by beating his fist against his forehead.

"Well, enough of that!" the moderator said briskly. "How about singing one of your tribal songs for us?"

Gavir said, "I will sing the Song of Going to Hunt." He heaved himself up from the divan, and, feet planted wide apart, threw back his head and began to howl.

He was considered a poor singer in his tribe, and he was not surprised that Malcomb and the moderator winced. But Malcomb had told him that it wouldn't matter. The dreamees receiving the dreamcast would hear the song as it should sound, as Gavir heard it in his mind. Everything that Gavir saw and heard and felt in his mind, the dreamees could see and hear and feel....


It was cold, bitter cold, on the plain. The hunter stood at the edge of the camp as the shriveled Martian sun struck the tops of the Shakam hills. The hunter hefted the long, balanced narvoon, the throwing knife, in his hand. He had faith in the knife, and in his skill with it.

The hunter filled his lungs, the cold air reaching deep into his chest. He shouted out his throat-bursting hunting cry. He began to run across the plain.

Crouching behind crumbling red rocks, racing over flat expanses of orange sand, the hunter sought traces of the seegee, the great slow desert beast whose body provided his tribe with all the essentials of existence. At last he saw tracks. He mounted a dune....