Chapter One My fingers shook as I reached for a new handhold in the slippery rock. Below me, the cliffs plunged into the sea. Crashing breakers churned up a white froth of foam. "You can do it, Tria!" Star called. But I couldn't. My hand lost its grip, my feet slipped, and I plummeted down, arms windmilling. With a thud I landed on the sofa. Oof! I rolled over and pulled off the AlmostReality headband. Star knelt beside me on the sofa, looking worried. My best friend wasn't a climber. She preferred to sink herself into her studies. "Are you okay?" she asked. She was wearing Borgarian gauzy purple pants and an embroidered sleeveless jacket. Our tutor, Mr. Willoughby, had been teaching us about the planet Borgar, which is best known for its outlandish clothing. "You were really high on the wall." I glanced at the gel strip that covered the back wall of our pod, and tried to estimate where I'd been. "I did get a lot higher this time, didn't I?" I loved these virtual adventures. Once I'd even climbed the famous Supoorian banyan tree. "I hope Mom brings another AR game back from her travels." Star stared into my eyes like a doctor. "You're looking a little disoriented. We'd better do something quiet for a while." "Okay." I took off the rest of my AR gear and settled on the living room floor. My heart was still racing and my hands were sweaty. AlmostReality games were so good I felt like I'd just fallen off the real Cliffs of Redvor. I wiggled my bare toes in the tufted carpet. My tense muscles relaxed. "Cards, please. Go Fish," Star said, dropping down beside me. "Not that game!" I protested as the holo cards appeared and dealt themselves out. There was a glitch in our copy. "At least take the queens out." Star grinned. "They're the best part." "You just like to remind me of my mistakes," I said grumpily. We fished back and forth, and it wasn't long before Star announced, "I only have one card left, Tria. Once I match it with the other three, I win!" She swung one slippered foot in time to the bells and cymbals of the Borgarian music she'd put on. I took a guess. "Got any fives?" Star twirled a finger through her violet hair and smiled. "Go fish." Rats. "Fish," I said, and a card winked into existence in front of me. A nine. I didn't need any nines. Star sat up and her card moved with her. Her eyes were dancing. "Got any queens?" I groaned. "Ye-es," I said, dragging the word out reluctantly. Two of my three queens jumped out of line and spun smartly over to Star. "Go on," I said to the third queen. "Get over there." It didn't move, and Star giggled. "Go!" I poked it, but my finger went right through the holo card. The queen still didn't move. Star collapsed on the floor, holding her stomach and laughing madly. I pretended to be angry. "You're never going to let me live this down, are you?" When we were seven I had decided to reprogram the Go Fish playing cards. I've always liked to tinker with things and figure out how they work, especially holograms. Back then I thought it was a great idea to make the cards move only when you said, "Pretty please with sugar on top." Star figured out my trick right away. When Mom returned from off-planet, she made me put the cards back the way they'd been. "Reprogramming so you'll win is called cheating," Mom had said. "I wasn't cheating!" I had mumbled. "I just thought it would be fun to trick Star." "Fix it." I did my best. But putting things back the way they were was so boring. And things never seemed to work the same again. Like the queen of hRector, Rebecca Kraft is the author of 'Tria and the Great Star Rescue', published 2003 under ISBN 9780440418245 and ISBN 0440418240.