Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Chapter Forty-five

According to my calculations," said Price, "we should be getting close to one of the landing teams."

"Lieutenant?" asked Coollege.

Monier, who was crouched next to a large rock, said, "I know what you're thinking." And then she realized that she shouldn't have said that. "I mean, you think that I should be able pick up on the soldiers."


Price said, "I'm getting a little tired of the bickering here. It will end now."

"Yes, sir," said Monier.

"Sorry, Tree."

"Now, if you two are through, has either of you noticed anything?"

"You mean that the sand has been disturbed around here, looking as if a large force has been through?" asked Coollege.

"Exactly," said Price. "I'm glad to see that you're still paying attention."

"But we don't know whose force it is," said Coollege.


"Human. Definitely human."

"Now how can she tell that?"

Price said, "It doesn't really matter because she is right about it."

Coollege looked at him. "How do you know?"

Price held up a knife still in the scabbard. The clasp that held it to the pistol belt was broken. Someone had dropped it but didn't know it.

"Okay," said Coollege. "Where are they?"

Without thinking, Monier pointed. "In that direction. Not far from us. Want me to take the point?"

"No," said Price. "They don't know we're back here so they might be a little trigger happy."

"Oh good," said Coollege. "Why wasn't that arranged before we left."

Price shot her a glance and wondered what her problem was. The answer to her question was clear. The invasion started early. Price had expected to be off the planet's surface long before the first of the infantry landed.

"How do we do this?" asked Monier.

"Very carefully," said Price. "I'll take the point. We move quietly and carefully."

"I'll watch the rear," said Coollege.

They moved off then, crossing the rest of the open area and into the city itself. They moved along street, watching for signs of anyone anywhere. They crossed the street, rounded a corner and kept on going, searching.

It took them thirty minutes to find the rear guard of the infantry. When that happened, letting them know they were being followed was easier than Price had thought it would be. One of the soldiers of the rear guard spotted him, stepped into the street and aimed a rifle at him. Price raised his hands above his head and yelled, "I'm Captain Price. Take me to the company commander."

"Come forward and be recognized Price."

Price walked forward slowly and watched the barrel of the soldier's rifle. When it dropped away from his chest, he said, "I assume I'm recognized."

"Yes, sir. Come with me."

"I have two others with me."

"Let's all go." He turned and started off.

It was as easy as that.

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