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Chapter XXIII

            "Steve, there's a cock-eyed rocket outside with your name on it." Steve Vendor glared through the pseudo-crater window on "Sally Lou" as the two-passenger ship wove through the asteroids.
            "I don't like the looks of that ship," Steve grumbled, "we'd better ignore it; they'll never find us in here."
            Ted Mitchell, whom the other two criminals living with him on their tiny asteroid home nicknamed "Practical Pig," was of a different opinion. "It seems that someone is going to a lot of trouble to find you, Steve," he said, "and even though he seems to know that you are here in the asteroids, we haven't had any trouble with investigators, so he probably isn’t unfriendly. I suggest we make a sign so he can see where we are," he concluded. Since it wasn't habitual for them to disagree with Ted's reasoning, they donned spacesuits, stepped out onto the surface of their home, and spread a banner of white paper across the asteroid like a ribbon enveloping a round package.
            In the blast of braking rockets, the ship stopped, and a figure detached itself from the hull of the ship and swam toward the three on the small planetoid. All four extended their arms in front of them in an exaggerated show of friendship and weaponlessness; even though Vincent Harrison had ordered the pilot of this ship to shoot the three if they made a move, and Warren Sigfield had a button on his belt which would direct a stunning bolt of force toward the advancing spacesuit. Cautiously, Vincent Harrison drew close to the trio standing on "Sally Lou." The closer his hand went to a small bag at his side, the closer Warren's hand came to his belt, but when Harrison drew out three small objects that the voluntary outcasts could see, they felt at ease. In his hand were a book, a packet of stamps, and a rock.