Flight

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Once Quinn was through the airport security checkpoint, she turned and looked back again at the vast departure floor. High windows rose from sandstone walls, bathing harried travelers in a wash of natural light. Then, just for a moment, Quinn thought she saw Toby standing, framed against the glass doors at the other end of the floor. When she craned to get a better look she found that no one was there, and cringed momentarily at the very real distance that existed between them now.

A little up ahead, Daniel studied his boarding pass, motioning for Quinn to follow as he headed toward their gate. As they arrived at the gate he waved at a tall, lean man in a dark suit, carrying a black bag that looked like it contained equipment of some sort. The man nudged a few people standing beside him, and they turned to face Quinn and Daniel, appraising the two of them as they walked over to where the rest of their group stood.

Quinn was nervous, and let Daniel take the lead. The letter of acceptance she received from Live-Play had offered only a general itinerary, including a plane ticket to Los Angeles, and an assurance that Live-Play employees would meet her at the airport to brief her on the project in greater detail. She had assumed this meant she would be met by representatives of Live-Play at the airport in Los Angeles, and would then receive more information about what the internship entailed. It now appeared that she would travel to Los Angeles as part of a team that included Daniel; she registered somewhat ruefully.

"Ali! Good seeing you man; how are things holding up?" Daniel asked the tall man whose coiffed black hair emphasized striking features. A smile lit his handsome face, the light dancing in his dark eyes as he and Daniel clasped hands.

After vigorously shaking Daniel's hand, the man turned and smiled at Quinn, extending his hand. "I am Alejandro Moreno, and I will be directing production on this little adventure. It is a pleasure to meet you. You are Quinn Moore, I presume?"

"Yes...Quinn," she replied, feeling her cheeks warm as she blushed. She attempted to return his firm shake, hoping her hand was not noticeably sweaty. "It is nice to meet you, Mr. Moreno."

"Ali will do. The only way we'll ease our vagabond state of employment over the next few months is to address each other as friends. Let me introduce you to our compadres." He turned to a woman at his side who appeared to be in her late thirties. She had sandy blonde hair and freckles. "This is Sonia Hart, our virtual worlds programming specialist."

Sonia blinked rapidly, smiling shyly at Quinn as they shook hands. "Glad to meet ya," she said in a southern accent, shaking Daniel's hand after Quinn's.

"And this," Ali continued, motioning at a large man on Sonia's other side, "is our camera man extraordinaire. There are very few people who possess digital media expertise that rivals that of Jeremy Horn's."

Jeremy's voice carried a high-pitched rasp that was somewhat surprising, considering the size of his frame. He was well over six feet tall and broad shouldered, but when he spoke his voice sounded as though it hadn't quite clambered out of puberty. "Hi...He's full of it." He said, also shaking hands with Quinn and Daniel.

Alejandro Moreno checked the screen on his tablet before addressing them as a group. "As you all know, the duration of our trip is scheduled to last nine weeks. Subtracting travel time, this leaves us approximately eight weeks for filming on location in a total of four cities. This means we will have about two weeks in each city, so we must make good use of our time. Lodging and transportation have been arranged, and I will brief you all over the day's agenda at breakfast each morning in our dining quarters at 7:30 a.m. As long as you are able to take direction, you should find navigating the next nine weeks a relatively simple affair. We will travel to Los Angeles first, then to Tokyo. From Tokyo we will travel to Prague, and then on to New York City, before concluding our trip. Are there any questions?"

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