She kicked loose gravel and sand under her boots, following the trail to a steel and grate footbridge above the tracks. She stopped in the middle. The hour was late, too late for anything but freight, approaching with no end in sight. Another blast of the horn pushed a wall of air in front of it and then the train was a blur of metal speed passing under her.
It was wonderful. Hero sat down in the center of the grilled walkway, tilted her head back against the handrail with eyes closed. She sat and listened, feeling the air flow around her. This was her sanctuary, here, in the blaze of a native machine hurling past, giving her its power and volition in a strong, rushing current that transcended the earth and was no longer bound by it. For several minutes her invisible temple of wind and thunder stood around Hero. She opened her eyes when it had gone, vanished into fading echoes.
She rose to her feet, invigorated, the clammy air of the dinner party dispelled and her sense of mission now a primary focus.
The dark palisades left in the freight train's wake bore an anomaly, made small by distance. A single source of sulfur light amidst black hills. To get there she needed to make good time. The night, despite her wishes otherwise, had only a few hours left before the dawn spoiled things.
Drawing upon her renewed vitality for a burst of running speed, she turned to hit the beach at a sprint...
"Hold up, sister."
The voice belonged to a bearded man dressed in black armbands and shorts. He seemed to have materialized from the beach at the very instant Hero wanted to cross it.
"This is a private beach," he said, and if that was true, she would have believed him. But she didn't. "Best just turn around and forget the whole thing."
She made it a firm policy never to take advice from liars.