#TeamDecoPunk - Love Guides the Wandering Star

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Love Guides The Wandering Star - Part One - Holly_Gonzalez

July 14, 1934

Margritte Helmrich hunched on the porch swing with her slender ankles crossed. An Ecrivain's Special smoldered in her fingers, a costly habit she'd never been able to kick. Four farm dogs laid nearby in a weary heap. The mutt in her lap nosed her hand and knocked cigarette ashes onto her trousers. She didn't bother to dust it away. Thoughts flitted through her mind tonight like the gnats against the screen door.

The radio pumped a lively jazz number through the open parlor window, a song she'd loved to dance to years ago. Five years ago--when she'd been the big star of the wordless wonders. Only the silent and silver dreams of a has-been goddess remained.

With a sigh, she re-read the telegram she'd just received. Bad news. The Party Consulate had denied her citizenship appeal due to 'questionable correspondence' with a German address. They must have intercepted the package of medicine and money she'd mailed to her friend in Berlin. Greta's poor daughter had a severe case of pneumonia, but war and sanctions didn't favor the innocent.

Margritte took a long drag on her cigarette and puffed a flawless ring. Static crackled over the radio speaker. The music ended, and the hourly news began.

"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen." The news announcer chattered in a Transatlantic flourish. "News from the front. Allied forces still hold their positions in Europe, Africa, and the Pacific, but we mustn't become complacent. The enemy lurks at our borders. We have reports of U-Boats sighted off the Eastern Seaboard. In national news, the stock market stabilized after a rocky week for investors. All gratitude to the Party Consulate's undying vigilance in averting economic crisis."

"Undying vigilance...Scheisse," Margritte grumbled to herself. "More like an undying nightmare," She pushed herself to her feet and crushed the cigarette under her boot heel.

The announcer continued. "In entertainment news, the Consulate has announced a new telecast of the Labyrinth Of Time. The network just dispatched their summons to the potential contestant, and we hope to reveal his or her identity within the hour. Stay tuned, friends."

This was interesting news. The Labyrinth Of Time telecast was the Party's ultimate test of suspected traitors, the bread-and-circus flaying of a human mind before the masses. Whomever the Consulate selected for the next round, Margritte pitied them. Few passed the Labyrinth's trials, but the Party promoted the Psychometer's successes despite its ghastly failures.

Shadows darkened over the western fields. She yawned and stretched. Time for a quick supper, then sleep. More plowing awaited her tomorrow, and her back was already stiff from driving the tractor. Her stylish former fans would hardly recognize her now, the most glamorous starlet in cinema reduced to a humble alfalfa farmer to make ends meet. It wasn't as bad as some might judge. She was self-sufficient and as far as she could get from the Party's spying eyes. Best of all, she had peace and quiet. She'd worry about the Consulate and their damned telegram in the morning.

Before she reached the door, the rumbling of a Teslectric engine disturbed the air. The dogs lifted their heads and ears. Margritte stepped off the porch and searched the sky for the source of the din.

Above the roof hovered a robotic messenger unit. Compact thrusters blazed white-hot along its streamlined frame and serrated wings. Copper plating and finned brass accents gleamed in the light of fading dusk and swept in sleek arcs toward the axe-like tail. The robot resembled an eagle of sorts, given the curved razor hook of its beak. Chromed talons scraped the ground as it landed, dust billowing beneath its rotors.

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