Part III

 “Told you there was something out here,” the Alliance soldier grumbled, studying the recently made scrapes on the side of the tree processor.”

“Those scratches don’t prove anything,” the second soldier muttered, wiping sweat off his brow as he leaned against their cruiser doing his best to stay in the shadows and out of the heat. 

“What about the boot tracks around here?”

“They could have been left by workers when they were trying to get that thing running.  Heck, it’s been sitting out here so long who knows how many people might have been around here.”

“Only cruiser tracks are ours,” the first soldier pointed out what both of the men had already seen.  “How do you explain that?  Think the workers walked out here?”

“Who knows,” the second soldier grunted, he was not happy to be standing in the hot sun listening to his companion.  After returning to their camp two days before, the man had reluctantly accompanied the other soldier as he reported the brief appearance of the two unidentified blips on their scanners.  Questioned why they hadn’t immediately investigated, he had done his best to downplay the importance of the sighting.  Unfortunately, their commander had seen matters differently and both men were told to return to the location of the sighting with orders to find out what or who had been picked up by their scanners. 

“I think we should take a look inside,” the first soldier said as he reached for the button to release the ladder.

“Listen, Stoderd,” the second soldier frowned, his eyes scanning up the side of the mammoth machine to watch the ladder appear.  “You mouthed off to the Colonel and said there was somebody out here.  Why he sent me back here with you, I’ll never know but one thing for sure I have no intention of doing much more than taking a quick look around then going back and telling him we made a mistake.  You want to climb up into that tin can, be my guest.”

“Okay,” the first soldier grabbed hold of the ladder and started to climb skyward.  Reaching the door at the top of the ladder, he pushed it open and entered the control room.  Stoderd watched as he disappeared inside.  After several moments, the solder stuck his head back out of the doorway, “get up here, Kampo.  Someone’s been in here and not very long ago.”

“Damn,” Kampo muttered, pushing himself away from the side of the cruiser and shuffling to the ladder.  “You better not be chasing another ghost blip,” he grumbled as he climbed.

“I’m not,” Stoderd said as Kampo joined him inside the control room.  “Look,” he pointed to a number of sharply defined boot prints in the layer of dust on the room’s floor.  “Those can’t be more than a day or two old.  And look there, it looks like they slept in here.  Probably that night I saw the blips on the scanner.”

“Damn,” Kampo grunted.  “Now what?” he asked even though he already knew the answer.

“Now,” Stoderd said triumphantly, “we go after them.”

“Who do you think they are?” Kampo asked as he followed the tracks around the room.  “Can’t be from Beta II, we would have heard if the vaporizing field failed.  Besides if it had, they’d be more than just a couple of them running around.”

“Only one way to find out,” Stoderd said as he began to climb back down the ladder.  “Come on,” he called to Kampo who was warily examining one of the robots.

“Yeah, I’m coming,” Kampo called back.  “Things still give me the willies when I’m around them,” he shivered as he took one last look at the idle androids before following Stoderd.


Terri stood gasping for breath, “how much further do you think?”

Standing a few steps behind her, Tarp looked to where the trail topped the ridge they were ascending.  “Hard to say,” she panted, “another half a click maybe.”

“Think this is the last one?”

“Sure hope so,” the captain sighed, staring at the steep trail ahead of them. 

Since leaving their overnight camp, the women had been climbing steadily as they followed the narrow trail they had stumbled upon the day before.  Several times they had labored up to the top of what they hoped was the last steep incline only to find other ridgelines waiting beyond.   They had no idea where the trail was leading them but they also had no option but to follow the rocky path that twisted and turned as it made its way through the forest.  The terrain was uneven with sudden dips and steep inclines that made traveling difficult and discouraged them from leaving the trail to try to make their own path through the thick underbrush.

“I’m going to need to rest soon, Midge,” Terri said as she gazed up to their immediate destination, the top of the ridge.

“Why don’t we try to get up there,” Tarp tipped her head in the direction of the crest.  “If it’s like the others, the trail should level out for a piece and we’ll find someplace to get off our feet.” 

“Okay,” Terri grunted as she turned away from the Captain and forced her tired legs to carry her up the trail.  “Sure hope we find water soon.”

Tarp didn’t answer as she followed the sergeant, their empty canteen hanging from the pack she carried.


“Great.  Just great,” Kampo groused as he pulled two heavy packs from the storage compartment of the cruiser.  “This is just how I wanted to spend the next few days, chasing a couple of ghost blips into the forest.”  He dropped the packs on the ground at his feet then reached back into the compartment for the laser rifles fastened securely inside a weapons locker.

“Can’t take the cruiser into the forest,” Stoderd explained unnecessarily, joining Kampo.  “What are you doing?” he asked when he realized the other soldier was setting the laser rifles to their maximum strength.  “That’s high enough to kill ten men.”

“I’m not setting them for men,” Kampo grumbled, continuing his work.  “I’m making sure they’re ready if we meet up with one of those tigers.  I don’t plan to give them a chance to get me.”

“Keep your rifle pointed away from me,” Stoderd said, leaning over to lift one of the packs off the ground on onto his back.  “I don’t want to end up dead because you panic if we happen to see something.” 

“Just make sure you’re not standing between me and a tiger,” Kampo grinned wickedly at the man he held responsible for being here in the first place.  “Because I won’t wait for you to get out of the way,” he warned as he handed over one of the rifles.

Stoderd studied his companion for several seconds before accepting the rifle.  “Somehow,” he muttered as he slung the weapon over his shoulder and turned for the woods, “I believe you won’t.”

Kampo chuckled as he settled the remaining pack on his back.  Choosing to carry his rifle in his hands rather than over his shoulder, he followed Stoderd.  “I surely won’t,” he declared as he trotted after the other soldier.


Terri, her head bent down as she focused only on finding firm footing for her next step, was several feet over the crest of the ridge before she realized the ground was no longer sloping steeply upward.  She lifted her head, “Midge, look,” she cried excitingly when she discovered she was standing atop the highest summit in the long string of ridges they had climbed.

“Yeah,” breathing heavily, the captain stepped up beside the sergeant, “I see.”

“We made it,” Terri exclaimed, whirling around in a full circle pleased to see nothing blocking her view.  “We made it,” she smiled at Tarp, stopping her spin when she was facing the captain.

“Yes we did,” Tarp smiled back.  “Looks like its all downhill from here.”

“Wherever here is,” Terri smirked.

“Well,” Tarp studied their surroundings.  “I’d say here is about midway between Beta II which is way back there,” she swung an arm back in the direction they had come from.  “And the sea way over there,” she swung her other arm in the opposite direction where she could barely make out the distinct deep blue coloring of water.

“The sea,” Terri turned to look where the captain was pointing.  “It’s been so long since I’ve seen it,” she whispered, tears filling her eyes.

Tarp stepped forward, her outstretched arms wrapping around Terri, “you’ll see it soon.  I promise.”

The women stood silently for several minutes, Terri comfortable in the captain’s embrace and Tarp content to hold the sergeant while she composed herself.

“Let’s get out of the sun,” Tarp finally suggested as the afternoon sun was beating down on the women standing in a small clearing.

“That sounds good,” Terri smiled, wiping at her eyes.  “It’ll feel good to get off my feet.”

“Come on,” Tarp took hold of the sergeant’s hand, leading her off the trail to the shade of some tall trees.  “Sit,” she said, shrugging off the pack before she also took a seat on the ground.  “Hungry?”

“No,” Terri leaned back against the rough bark of a tree, “but I could sure use a drink.”

“Maybe we’ll find a creek when we start down,” Tarp sighed.  “In the meantime, put these in your mouth.”  She handed Terri a couple of pea–sized pebbles that she had plucked off the ground.

“What for?”  Terri asked suspiciously, examining the stones resting in the palm of Tarp’s hand.

“They’ll keep your mouth wet,” Tarp explained as she placed a couple of similar sized pebbles in her own mouth.  “It’s not much, but it should help until we find water.”

“Too bad Hovart couldn’t find more than one canteen,” Terri mumbled around the rocks she was warily placing in her mouth.  Moments later, she was surprised when she could feel moisture forming on her dry tongue.  She looked over to voice her appreciation only to see Tarp leaning back against the tree, her eyes closed as she savored a similar pleasure.  Not wanting to disturb the captain she relaxed back against the tree, her eyes darting aimlessly from one point of interest to the next.  Amidst the jumble of forest sounds she slowly became aware of another, faint but recognizable. 

Terri pushed herself up onto her knees, a smile spread across her face as she assured herself that she was indeed hearing what she thought she was.

“What’s wrong?” Tarp asked, sensing the sergeant’s movements.

“Nothing,” Terri leaned over and kissed Tarp’s temple before pulling the canteen free of the pack.  “I hear water.”

“Where?” Tarp asked, already halfway up to a standing position.

“Over here,” Terri said, walking towards a section of slope heavily covered in shrubs and vines.  She forced her way through the thick growth, the captain following on her heels.

At first, the women found nothing as they moved deeper into the vegetation but they knew by the growing sound of moving water that they were getting close to the source. 

“There you are,” Terri called out when she spotted a small spring.  It’s crystal clear water bubbling up from deep beneath the planet’s crust to fill a small depression before flowing into a small channel that directed it to some destination far below.

The brush around the spring made it difficult for the women to access the needed water but after a few minutes of whacking at the bushes with the jagged piece of metal they carried as a weapon, Tarp cleared a small opening for them.  Plunging their hands into the spring, the women used the makeshift cups to lift the cool liquid to their mouths and moaned as it slid down their parched throats.

“I never thought water could taste so good,” Tarp sighed as she dropped her cupped hands under the pool’s surface.  Lifting her hands, she tilted her head back, pouring the water into her waiting mouth.

Terri squatted at the edge of the pool, filling the canteen.  She lifted the full container to her mouth, letting the water rush inside.  What she couldn’t swallow washed out, soaking her shirt but she didn’t seem to mind.  Her thirst finally satisfied, Terri plopped back onto the ground.  “That is the best water I’ve ever tasted,” she wiped droplets from her chin.

“Won’t argue with you on that,” Tarp dropped onto the ground beside the sergeant.  “Sure glad you’ve got such good hearing,” she grinned at Terri.

“Is that all you like about me?” Terri teased.


“What else?”

“That, sergeant,” Tarp tapped the tip of Terri’s nose, “is something you’re just going to have to wait for the right time to find out.  Right now, I think we should fill the canteen and get back under cover.  You never know when an Alliance transport might be overhead.”

“Hmpft,” Terri grunted, knowing the captain was right to be cautious but she would have liked an answer to her question.  As Tarp took the canteen from her and leaned over the pool to fill it, the sergeant’s eyes were drawn to something unusual.

“Midge, what do you think that is?”  Terri stood up.  Shading her eyes, she looked down slope at an odd shadow barely distinguishable from the other shadows in the forest below them.

“What?” Tarp asked as she also stood.

“Down there,” Terri pointed, “in the trees.  See that shadow, it almost looks like a building of some sort.”

“I don’t see it,” Tarp squinted as she tried to see where the sergeant was pointing.

“Just to the right of that split tree.”

“I see it,” Tarp nodded.  “At least, I think I do.  Can’t really see much more than a shadow though.”

“Think we should take a closer look?”

“Yes but let’s wait.  It could be an Alliance outpost of some sort and I don’t want to just go walking up to it if it is.  It’ll be dark in a couple of hours and it’ll be safer to approach it then.”

“Okay.  What do we do until then?”

“Sleep,” Tarp said, pushing her way back through the thick bushes to where they left their pack.  “I’ll take first watch.”

Terri followed Tarp back to the safety of the trees.  She pulled their blanket from the pack and spread it out on a small grassy patch of ground.  “Okay, but I’ll need my pillow if I hope to get any sleep,” she grinned as she settled on the blanket waiting for the Tarp to join her.

“I see you’re a woman of habit,” Tarp laughed, sitting beside the sergeant so the Islander could snuggle against her.

“Definitely,” Terri sighed happily, draping herself over the captain.


“Now what do you have to say?” Stoderd asked as he examined the campsite.

“Okay, you were right,” Kampo grumbled.  “Somebody is out here,” he knelt beside the creek refilling his canteen.  “Happy?”

“Yes,” Stoderd studied the boot prints on the ground.  “Looks like the same print we found around the processor.”

“Okay, they’re out here,” Kampo walked up to the other soldier.  “Still don’t know who they are or why they’re here.  Could be a couple of Alliance scouts for all we know.”

“Could be,” Stoderd looked at Kampo, his disgust with being straddled with the soldier evident in his eyes.  “But I doubt we would have been sent out here to find them if the Colonel thought they were Alliance scouts.”

“Maybe,” Kampo glared back.  “Come on,” he turned to follow the boot tracks as they left the campsite.  “Still a couple of hours of sunlight, let’s not waste it.  I want to see the look on your face when we find them, and they’re nothing but Alliance scouts or a couple of Mainlanders trying to avoid serving in the Confederacy forces.”

“Jerk,” Stoderd muttered as he followed Kampo.


With the sun dropping from the sky, the women cautiously moved down the slope towards the mysterious shadow they had spotted earlier.  Careful to keep the numerous trees between themselves and their objective, Tarp led Terri into the twilight.

“Damn,” Tarp blew out a long breath when the setting sun suddenly lit up the part of the forest that obscured the shadow to reveal a building painted in dark browns and greens.  She stopped behind a tree to take in the unexpected sight.

“Think it belongs to the Alliance?” Terri whispered from behind the captain.

“Don’t know.”

“I don’t see any guards.”

“No.  No movement at all,” Tarp murmured.  “Interesting.  Let’s move closer.”

The women continued, moving silently from one large tree or boulder to the next until they came within a few strides of the building.

“No windows,” Terri observed as they studied the structure which was slightly larger than the meal hut back in Beta II.

“Got to be some way inside,” Tarp started to work her way around the perimeter of the building.  “I don’t believe it,” she stopped suddenly causing Terri to collide into her.  “Sorry,” she smirked as the sergeant grabbed on to her to regain her footing.

“It’s okay.  What don’t you believe?”

“That,” Tarp pointed at a symbol she spotted when she moved around the corner of the building.  It was painted on a small box to the side of a door.

“That’s a Confederacy depot symbol.”

“I know,” Tarp smiled as she stepped out from the cover of the trees.  “And if this is what I think it is, we just hit the jackpot.”

“Jackpot?” Terri questioned.

“The lottery.  Pot at the end of the rainbow,” Tarp tried again but knew by the look of befuddlement on the sergeant’s face that she wasn’t making her point.  “We just got very lucky,” she tried again.

“Oh,” Terri smiled, finally understanding.  “How?”

“Let’s see if we can get inside and I’ll show you.”

“I’m sure that door is protected by a Command Security code,” Terri said as the captain reached for a panel next to the entry. 

“Well, let’s hope my master override code still works.”

“Your master override code?  Midge, why would you have a Command Security code?”

The captain didn’t answer as she pulled open the panel to reveal a panel of buttons marked by numbers and symbols.  Punching in her code, Tarp grinned when a loud click announced the door had been unlocked.  “Shall we?” she asked, pulling the door open.

“You didn’t answer my question, Captain,” Terri stayed where she was standing.

“I know I need to explain that to you but we don’t have time right now, Terri.  Please trust me on this.  Let’s go inside, please.”

“I expect an answer,” Terri told Tarp as she walked past her and into the building.

“I thought so,” Tarp looked gleefully around the room after pulling the door shut behind the women.  “Now, we can cause some trouble.”

Terri stood in awe as she looked at a room full of Confederacy tasars.  “Is this one of the secret stockpiles you told me about?”

“Must be,” Tarp walked up to the closest flyer.  “Boy am I glad to see you guys,” she patted the underbelly of the tasar.

“Midge can you fly one of these?”

“Sure.  That is if their crystal batteries are installed and charged up.”

Looking around the room, Terri saw no opening big enough to get one of the tasars out of the building.  “But how will you get it out of here.  And how did they get them in.”

“Up there,” Tarp pointed up at the ceiling as she ducked around the nose of the tasar.  “Roof opens up.”


“Terri, see if you can find a tool box around here.  I need to get into the battery locker.”

“Okay,” the sergeant began a search of the room for the requested item.  “Going to be too dark in a few minutes to see anything,” she said as she searched.

“Well if the battery is in here and charged, we’ll be able to use the tasar’s lights to see.”

“Here’s something,” Terri called out when she spotted a small tool box resting on the floor under another of the tasars.  She leaned down to pick it up, “and look what else I found.”

Tarp looked over to see Terri walking back to her surrounded by the glow of a crystal lamp.  “Good girl,” she smiled when the sergeant handed over her discovery.  “Let’s get this cover off and see what’s inside.”  She opened the toolbox, rooting around inside of it until she found the correct tool to help her remove the battery’s cover.

“Well?” Terri asked, anxiously as Tarp pulled off the cover and peered inside.

“We’ve got a battery and,” Tarp grinned as she connected the cables hanging loose inside the compartment to the battery.  “We’ve got power.  Ready to go for a ride?”

“You bet,” Terri grinned back, “anything to keep from having to climb any more mountains.”

“Alright,” Tarp replaced the cover.  “Let’s find the release for the roof so we can get out of here.

It didn’t take the women long to find the control panel for the roof and after Tarp again entered a series of commands the roof opened to reveal a sky full of stars. 

“Come on,” Tarp ran for the tasar.  “Opening that is probably going to set off some alarms someplace so we better get out of here quick.”  She scrambled up onto the wing of the flyer and pressed the release to open the cockpit hatch.  Stepping into the pilot’s seat, she immediately began punching in commands into the control panel.

Terri ran after Tarp and followed her onto the tasar’s wing.  Once the captain had settled into the pilot’s seat, she stepped into the gunner’s and pulled the safety harness tight around her body.  It would be her first flight in a tasar and she wasn’t taking any chances.  A few moments later she would be glad she had taken the precaution.

“Ready?” Tarp called back over her shoulder as she watched the control displays blink and flash as the tasar’s systems came on line.

“I think so.”

“Okay,” Tarp hit the button to close the hatch.  “Here we go,” she punched in a series of commands.

The tasar’s nose began to lift up until the flyer sat at a sharp angle pointing skyward.  With a punch of a button, Tarp initiated the tasar’s engine and the women were propelled out of the building at a speed that forced them back hard against their seats. 

While Terri wondered if she would ever be able to move again, she listened to Tarp’s shouts of joy as the tasar burst from its hiding place to blast into the night sky.

The captain put the tasar through a series of turns and flips just for the fun of it before leveling out and slowing the speed of the tasar until she could decide on what course to set.  “You okay back there?” she asked of her silent companion.

Terri wasn’t sure if the tasar was still spinning or if it was her spiraling brain but all she could see was everything around her moving in directions and at speeds that didn’t seem possible. 

Tarp took a quick peak over her shoulder to see the sergeant looking a distinct shade of green.  “Oh, oh,” she muttered, horrified that her actions had caused Terri obvious distress.  She immediately looked for a place to land the tasar and see to the suffering sergeant.


“What the heck?” Kampo looked up through the trees to try and see the source of the sound.  “Is that what I think it is?”

“Sure looks like it,” Stoderd said as he followed the tasar’s flight overhead.

“What is a Confederacy tasar doing here?”

“More important,” Stoderd frowned, “is where is it going?  And why?”

“What do you mean?”

“If it keeps flying on that course, it’ll fly right over the cruiser.”

“So what?”

“You want to explain to the Colonel how a tasar managed to destroy our cruiser?” Stoderd shouted as he took off running, Kampo less than a step behind him.


Tarp set the tasar down in a small clearing not too far from where they had camped their first night in the forest.  A distance that had taken the women almost two days to cover on foot had only taken a few minutes for the tasar.  As soon as they were safely on the ground, Tarp opened the hatch and leaped out onto the wing so she could get to Terri.

“Hey,” Tarp said as she leaned over the queasy sergeant.  “Are you okay?  I’m so sorry,” she softly patted the Islander’s cheeks, “I didn’t think about you never flying before.  Oh, Terri,” she cried.

“I think I’ll be okay,” Terri said even though she wasn’t too sure.  “I just need to sit for a while.  At least until everything stops spinning.”

“Lean back and close your eyes,” Tarp urged. 

“You really should warn someone before you do that stuff, Midge,” Terri groaned as she followed the Captain’s instructions.

“I’m sorry.  I forget that not everyone enjoys flying as much as I do.  I have a reputation for needing gunners with strong stomachs.”

“I can understand why.”

“Can I get you anything?”

“No,” Terri forced open one eye and was pleased to see the world had stopped spinning.  “Woo, that was quite the ride, Captain,” she grinned at the upset officer.

“Sorry,” Tarp shrugged, embarrassed.

“Can we stay on the ground for a while?”

“Yes, it’s too dangerous to fly any more tonight.  Especially since we don’t know where we’re going.”


Seeing that the sergeant was regaining color to her skin, Tarp began to relax.  “Guess we can set up camp here.  We have the means to start a fire if you want.”

“Is that safe?”

“Well,” Tarp looked around but the dark night prevented her from seeing much more than shadows.  “We’re not too far from the valley so I guess it’s possible that the light could be seen by any cruiser that might be out tonight.”

“What about any transports flying over?”

“Those too.”

“Guess we do without a fire,” Terri sighed, thinking how nice it would be to sit beside a fire with the captain.

“Guess we do.  We could sleep inside the tasar, it might be safer.”

Terri thought about spending the night in the cramped confines of the flyer and decided she’d rather take her chances sleeping on the ground.  “No, I refuse to give up my comfortable pillow now that I’ve found it,” she smiled, letting the captain know she was forgiven.

“You sure?” Tarp asked, glad the sergeant was letting her off so easily.

“Yes,” Terri unbuckled her safety harness and began to stand.  “But you will probably have to help out of this thing, my legs are still shaking.”

“That I can do,” Tarp reached out, her arms steadying Terri as she stepped out of the tasar.  She helped her to the ground and made sure she was comfortable before returning to the tasar to get their blankets and some food.


“What are you thinking?” Tarp asked the woman she was holding in her arms.  They were lying on a blanket with another covering their bodies, having found the tasar fully equipped with weapons and emergency supplies they were making good use of.  A laser rifle rested against a tree within easy reach of their positions and the remains of their evening meal still occupied a corner of the blanket.

Terri had been quiet for some time.  “Nothing much,” she said as she turned to snuggle closer to Tarp.  “I was just wondering about that trail we followed.”

“What about it?” Tarp asked, nuzzling the sergeant’s hair.

“I was wonder who made it.”

It was a question Tarp had considered many time times but had never wanted to voice.  “You don’t think it was an animal trail?”

“No,” Terri sighed as Tarp tightened her arms around her.  “It was too defined.  That trail has seen some heavy use, too heavy for animals.”


“What does that mean?”

“Well,” Tarp considered her answer.  “We know the Mainlanders didn’t make it.  We haven’t been on Organi long enough to do it.  And it wasn’t made by the Islanders since they never leave the islands.  Doesn’t leave many possibilities.”

“Do you think the Alliance made it?”

“Doubt it.  They seldom travel on foot.”

“The Confederacy?”

“Same as the Mainlanders, there hasn’t been time.”

“Someone had to make it.”

“How much do you know about the Mainland?  I mean besides the expeditions that never came back.”

“Not much.”

“It’s possible that there are others living on Organi?”

“Do you really think so?”  We’ve never encountered any others.”

“The Mainland is pretty big and we’ve barely explored the area around our settlements.  And if they never went to the islands…”

“We’d probably never know they were here.”


“But if they are here why have we not heard of them now.  The war would surely affect them as much as it does us.”

“Maybe they only live in the more isolated areas of the Mainland, like the mountains.  If we hadn’t been escaping from Beta II, we never would have been in these mountains and we never would have found the trail.  And it’s possible that they are no longer on Organi.  By the looks of that trail, we were the first ones to use it in a long time.  Maybe whoever made it left a long time ago.”



“I feel there are still here.  Somehow, I feel they are protected by Mo-Tah.”

“I don’t know about that,” Tarp shifted, attempting to squirm out from under the sergeant.  “I’m going to clean up that food and check the tasar.  Then I think we should get some sleep.  I want to get going first thing in the morning.”

“I’ll help,” Terri sat up.  “You check on the tasar and I’ll clean this stuff up.”

“Okay,” Tarp agreed.



“Where are we going in the morning?” Terri asked as she gathered up the food remaining from their meal.

“Well, we have two choices,” the captain said as she climbed up on the tasar’s wing to check the cockpit.  “We can start looking for a Confederacy base.”


“We can go back to Beta II and see if we can destroy the vaporizer field and free Hovart and the others.”

“Think we can?” Terri asked as she placed the food back inside a storage compartment on the tasar’s side. 

“Can what?”

“Destroy the field?”

“We know it has at least one weakness.  Maybe we can find another,” Tarp dropped off the wing beside the sergeant.  “Need help?”

“No, all done,” Terri said as she straightened up after securely the compartment’s door.  “What’s that?!” she cried as the ground shook under their feet and the dark sky lit up with bright flashes.

“Tasar ground rockets,” Tarp dove to the ground, pulling Terri with her.  “Something is getting blasted, and close.”

After several minutes, the blasts stopped and the ground stilled.  A distant roar announced the departure of the unseen tasars as they left the scene of their attack. 

“Maybe there is somebody living in these mountains,” Terri said as Tarp helped her to her feet.

“Maybe,” Tarp muttered, a far-away look in her eyes as she visualized the building they had entered hours before.  And the ruins that most likely remained after the tasar attack.  “Let’s get some sleep.”

“Beta II,” Terri said, referring to their destination in the morning.

“Beta II,” Tarp agreed.



Continued in Part 4...


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