Published as a part of A Companion In Zeor #13, 14, 15 & 16
Warren looked from one man to the other. 'I take it you know him?'
'He's the one I gave transfer to shortly after I found Rick's body.' Archer explained. 'Glad to see you got out of there in one piece. I didn't expect you to.'
'Neither did I.' Vidal said honestly and then smiled. 'At least we can introduce ourselves now, I'm Vidal Trent.'
'Warren.' The Gen gave a brief nod.
'You know I'm still trying to work out why you helped me in the first place?' Vidal admitted.
'You want an honest answer?'
'I simply wanted to get rid of the selyn I was carrying.' Archer replied. 'In fact, if I'd been able to simply express it from my body, like a nursing mother gets rid of excess milk; I'd have done that. But I couldn't, so you were the next best thing. Sorry.' He laughed almost cynically. 'Just so you don't run away with the idea that I did it out of compassion for you or anything like that!'
Vidal stared at the young Gen. 'Thank you for telling me. Although I must admit I still don't understand your reasoning.'
Warren glanced at his cousin's face and decided to try and answer for him. 'Rick was his friend. Perhaps that says it all.'
Vidal nodded his head in acknowledgement and murmured. 'I see.'
Although in truth, if he was honest with himself, he still didn't understand the Gen's reasoning. In the Tecton every dynopter of selyn was precious, and no one would ever consider just "getting rid of it." But of course this was probably a Distect philosophy, and as such must therefore be accepted by outsiders, if not entirely understood by them.
Warren studied him for a moment or two and then said 'I can't zlin you so please correct me if I'm wrong; but I get the distinct impression that Archer's arrival has raised even more questions for you Vidal, am I right?'
The Channel nodded his head a small frown crossing his brow as he wondered whether it was wise to say anything more to Warren at this time, when he had already achieved far more than he had expected.
'I have the distinct feeling that there are several things we have to sort out here. I suggest we retire to my office. It's the one place that I can almost be certain that we'll not be overheard.' He stood up.
The Gen grinned ruefully across at Vidal, 'I have learned that only fools are absolute over things of that nature. After all, if someone is desperate enough and really wants to find out information or indeed get in or out of somewhere that's locked, then that person will usually find a way to do so. Nothing is totally invincible, no matter how much we might pretend otherwise. Don't you agree?'
'Unfortunately yes,' the Channel conceded wryly.
The Administrator led the way out of the dining room, saying over his shoulder. 'You don't mind if Archer joins us?'
'Not at all, after all whatever he might say to the contrary, I owe him my life.'
Warren stood behind a huge cluttered desk and waited as the other two men took their seats, before he did.
'As I said, you are free to talk openly in here. I have it swept for listening devices every day.'
Vidal's eyebrows those in surprise, 'and do they find many?' He asked, curious despite himself.
Warren smiled. 'About one a month. The Organisation's operatives are nothing if not persistent. Now I can sense you're burning up with curiosity. So what do you want to know?' His smiled broadened. 'I can't promise to answer your questions, but you can at least ask them.'
'Fair enough,' Vidal stared from Warren to Archer before he asked. 'When you came into my cell at the Complex Archer, you said you had not used any sort of device to enable you to do so. Tell me, how the shen did you just walk through that wall?'
Archer glanced across at his cousin and then said. 'I'm sorry Vidal, but I can only give you the same answer that I gave you then. I'm not at liberty to tell you.'
'Just a moment Archer,' Warren looked across the desk at Vidal as he placed his elbows on the polished top before resting his chin on his hands.
'Unfortunately Rior has recently had to acknowledge that the Organisation are apparently aware of some, if not most of the things we have tried over the years to keep from them. Which means they are no longer by definition "secret"; and that being the case, I can see no logical reason why we shouldn't answer your curiosity.'
Warren paused, and then went on, suddenly changing tack. 'Now first, no matter how much you might protest to the contrary Vidal; I am still convinced that if you do not actually belong to Zeor, then you are associated with them in some way. After all, why would you send a message to them if not?'
Vidal hesitated momentarily and then decided not to prevaricate. After all if he wasn't entirely open with Warren, how could he expect the Gen to answer his queries? 'Very well, so I'll admit that at the moment I am working for them, but I'm not actually a part of them.'
'Good. Now tell me, shall we try to be honest with each other, at least as far as we are able?'
Vidal studied the Gen carefully before he replied guardedly. 'I suppose it depends on what the questions are, and whether I'll be betraying anyone by answering them. With that proviso clearly understood, I'll gladly answer what I can.'
'Thank you. Then I'll be candid with you and perhaps save a large number of unnecessary questions.' Warren settled back in his chair with a certain air of satisfaction as he explained. 'Archer is one of several Gens and Simes that we have found to have PA.'
'Perhaps you call it by a different name? Psychic Abilities.'
'When you say Psychic Abilities; you do mean abilities similar to those possessed in the past by someone like say - Ercy Farris?'
Warren considered the question and then nodded slowly. 'You're going rather a long way back in history, but I suppose it's a good enough analogy. After all according to Digen Farris himself, his daughter was definitely "gifted". But surely you've now found many PA's in your own Households on Earth, not counting your colonies? I mean, I realise you're not going to broadcast the fact to just everyone; but Rior has always assumed…?'
Vidal shook his head. 'To be truthful we haven't even looked. Oh, I'm not saying that some of the Households from time to time haven't recorded something strange or unusual amongst their people. And of course it also goes without saying that most of the Sectuib of Zeor and their immediate families over the years have had certain abilities that were far and away above the average.
'However at this moment, we have no procedures in place to follow up on such phenomena. Even the process of looking for them has been forgotten, and if a record was made in the past, it's probably been filed away and then lost in someone's archive.' Vidal met his host's eyes openly as he tried to explain. 'Zeor, like all other Households on Earth has, over the years, lost most of their own influence to the Tecton. Which of course inevitably means that along with our waning authority has also gone all our leadership and expertise both in this area, as well as many others.'
Warren nodded as he acknowledged. 'Some of our off-world researchers came to the same conclusion, but no one quite believed them. After all, for more than a century Rior appeared to do little more than run along behind the other more accepted Households, just trying to do catch up. The idea that we may now be more ahead of even the prestigious House of Zeor in our knowledge of these matters, takes a little getting used to.'
Vidal nodded ruefully. 'I can understand that,' he conceded, 'but tell me Warren, have the number of PA's that you've found over the years always remained static?'
'Static?' Warren shook his head quickly. 'No. Now that we know what to look for and how to detect it, the number is steadily rising.'
'But it's not the same with the others.' Archer reminded his cousin.
'Others?' Vidal looked in bewilderment at the two Gens.
'Of course you wouldn't know about the others,' Warren said in a somewhat less friendly voice. 'You never had that particular problem on Earth did you?'
Vidal couldn't help looking even more confused as he felt the conversation was somehow getting away from him.
Warren sighed. 'I'm sorry. It's still a sore point among the Distect and especially Rior. As you know we were the first of our people to travel to Argo, or Peridot as we now call it, with a view to setting up a small settlement there if the indigenous people were willing.
'At that time of course we were totally unaware that the Tecton had already been to the planet, and had found out something that we were not privy to. Also you have to remember that we did not have your scientific expertise, and so were in ignorance of what would happen if any of our people had sexual relations or interbred with them.'
'I see.' Vidal murmured. Warren went on as though he had not spoken.
'By the time we realised that they were not exactly what they seemed, it was too late. Many hundreds of us had been to Peridot, lived there, moved away again, had children.' Warren raised his hands in the air and then shrugged with resignation. 'Since then of course we've been trying to live with the consequences. It's not been easy; especially for those of our people who are still afflicted.'
Vidal sifted back through what he knew about Argo, and what he had read or been told by Jordan. 'You're referring to shape-shifters?'
The two Gens nodded.
'I've been told that the authorities on Earth were aware of a problem with Argo.' Vidal admitted.
'And chose not to warn us,' Archer stated.
'I'm sure no one knew that actual interbreeding would take place between members of the Distect and the indigenous population.' Vidal said.
The Gen snorted rudely.
'I'm sorry for what happened to your people Archer, but I don't believe that the Administration at present in power on Earth, can be held totally responsible for what happened so many generations ago.' Vidal stated. 'I admit that what happened was wrong and, for what it's worth, I offer my sincere and unreserved apology to you and the Distect. What else can I say?'
Archer sighed as he thought of Jay Lynn and confessed, 'nothing. I suppose we all wish it hadn't happened.'
Vidal's tentacles danced between his fingers as he zlinned the two Gens before him as he went on. 'I've read about the shape-shifters on Tal'Sha'Va, who hasn't? But they were easy enough to spot, not even a blind man could ever mistake them for human.'
'Not like the natives of Argo.' Warren replied.
Vidal sighed deeply. 'I really am sorry that no one from Earth thought to warn you about them. But we both know that things were different back then. I don't believe such a thing could happen today. Someone would tell you, if not the Tecton, then you would learn soon enough through the media.'
'I doubt it.' Archer said almost scornfully. 'We all belong to the Distect after all. Most of your people still think of us as less than human.'
'No Arch.' Warren interrupted quickly. 'He's right. The media are different today than they were generations ago when all this happened. If they discovered another planet like Peridot today, everyone would know about it. And remember, when all this happened neither we, nor our parents or grandparents were alive. So like he said, we can hardly blame his people for a mistake made that long ago can we?'
'I guess not.' Archer said ungraciously, because he desperately wanted to blame someone.
Warren smiled looked across at Vidal who smiled back. It seemed the two men were beginning to understand each other.
'How many shape-shifters are there?' Vidal asked.
'At the moment I understand there are less than four dozen. Some of them over the years have agreed to be sterilised, to try and stop the affliction from being passed on. On top of that of course our scientists are still working to try and isolate the gene responsible. Unfortunately we don't have the facilities that the Tecton has available to them.'
Vidal looked surprised, 'why's that? Surely that shouldn't be a problem. The Organisation must have a surplus of funds by now.'
Warren laughed softly. 'We tried for years to keep the existence of both the PA's and the shape-shifters a secret from the Organisation. In the main we've been quite successful, at least as far as the PA's are concerned. Then more shape-shifters started to appear, and inevitably one of the Organisation's many spies overheard a conversation - and they found out.'
Archer sighed as he said frankly. 'Once it became general knowledge that they existed. Then inevitably the Organisation started to pressure us to turn some, if not all of the shape-shifters, over to them. You can imagine what would happen if we capitulated, some of them they would coerce into working for the Organisation, others would doubtless be experimented on - I don't have to draw you a diagram do I?'
Warren shook his head sadly as he went on. 'It's getting harder and harder to keep the shape-shifters hidden amongst us. To be honest we're in the middle of a process whereby we're going to try and send all of them, over a period of time, to another Rior Household on a planet not too far from here.'
Warren did not say which planet, and Vidal did not ask.
'Apropos to what you were just saying Warren. I feel I should perhaps take this opportunity of talking to you about something that may interest you.' Vidal hesitated. Not because he didn't want to give Warren any information, but more because he felt that it was perhaps Jordan's place to do this rather than his. But of course the Sectuib wasn't here, and Vidal had no idea where exactly he was; and could he really let this golden opportunity pass by?
'Which is?' Warren pressed.
'Well, as you may have gathered when I left Earth originally it was not to come here. I went to Aryanous, and it was there that I was captured by the Organisation and brought here.'
'I take it you weren't alone,' Archer stated.
'You're right. I wasn't.'
'Who exactly are you working for Vidal? You say Zeor plays a part, but what about the TIB or the Tecton or one of their many offshoots?' The Administrator pressed.
'Sorry Warren but as you yourself said, you can't guarantee confidentiality even here, and I don't want to jeopardise the safety of my friends. But if and when that ceases to be a major factor, I promise I'll tell you - agreed?'
'I'd probably feel the same way if I were in your shoes,' Warren admitted quietly.
'Thank you. Now there really is something I must speak to you about. As I said before, originally we went to Aryanous to talk to the Distect. Unfortunately the demarcation lines on that planet between the Organisation and the Distect are a lot less defined than we had anticipated.'
Both Warren and Archer leaned forward as the Administrator said. 'We're aware of how things are on Aryanous, but now you've really got my attention, please proceed.'
Slowly and distinctly and choosing his words carefully, Vidal explained to both Gens the reason why both he, Jordan, and the others had originally come to the Zhariot System; which included the offer of a new home World for the Distect. As Vidal pointed out, it included a Class M planet for any members of the Distect who were prepared to accept it. It would be a place where both Rior and the Distect could live at peace according to their own style and tenets, with no interference at all from Earth or any of her colonies.
The offer also included free trade between the Distect and Earth, including all her colonies; and limited travel would be offered between all the planets for the purpose of such trade; with the Distect agreeing to certain limitations and guidelines being imposed on them.
As Vidal stopped speaking, Warren glanced across at Archer and both Gens looked genuinely surprised by the unprecedented offer.
'Of course it goes without saying that the Organisation would never agree.' Archer said emphatically.
'They aren't being asked.' Vidal admitted honestly, 'which is why we tried to contact members of the Distect on Aryanous. We were willing to speak to anyone as long as they were not connected to the Organisation. It was far from easy.'
Warren laughed harshly as he stated. 'I can't think of anyone on that planet who isn't connected in some way to the Organisation. They either work for them, trade with them, or are related to someone who does one of those things. But even so, I think if they were approached in the right way, then most of the ordinary people who live and make a living there would be more than prepared to listen to the offer you have just made and give it serious consideration. After all, no parent wants to bring up their children underground away from the Sunlight, and afraid of the next attack from space. Not counting the Organisation sitting on the sidelines waiting to enrol new recruits and pulling everyone's strings!'
'The benefits would be enormous,' Archer agreed, 'but would the Organisation allow it to happen?'
'Not if they could stop it.' Warren admitted, 'but if enough people decide it's really what they want. I don't see how they can do anything about it. The ordinary Distect people far outnumber the Organisation. So if they didn't agree to step aside, then in the end they'd be marginalised. After all it's not like we'd be asking them to leave any of the planets they operate from. They can stay on them and carry on as usual, if Earth allows them to. We'd be the ones who are leaving.'
Vidal waved a tentacle in agreement. 'That's what we hoped would happen. We also thought that if we could get the right people on our side, who would tell the others the truth about what it is that we're offering them. To counter the propaganda the Organisation will no doubt churn out. Then in time it might just succeed.'
'Couldn't you do that Warren?'
The Administrator looked across at his cousin wryly as he admitted. 'I can't make a unilateral decision Archer, not over something as big as this. It's got to be discussed by the Council of Elders in full session, and then voted on. If Vidal wishes to speak to them as a visitor to Rior, he may do so. If not, I can put the case on his behalf.'
Vidal smiled enthusiastically. 'That sounds good. It's far more than we ever expected. And I should tell you that if the vote goes in favour of the proposal, then diplomats can be exchanged to discuss all the finer points involved and to answer questions. I should also tell you that some of the diplomats will include representatives of Zeor.' He paused. 'Having a little experience of just how long agreements of this nature can take to come to fruition, not counting ratification, I have to warn you that it may be many years before everything is finalised.'
'I'm probably more aware of that than you are. If we can make progress in my lifetime I shall be satisfied. However, I must warn you I can guarantee nothing. I am only the Administrator here, which allows me only to make decisions about the day to day running of Rior. Apart from that I have very little direct power.
'On top of that of course, for decades now, unlike the Households on Earth and her colonies, Rior has been run on democratic lines. All of our people when they reach the age of fifty can sit on our Council of Elders; but only if they wish to do so, it's not mandatory and most decline. However, if they do so choose, then for ten years they can do this as a right. At sixty, if they wish to continue, then they must put themselves up for election. Although since the number of seats is then restricted, only a few will succeed.'
Archer grinned. 'The only exception is Warren, he's Administrator till he's sixty unless he chooses to hand over to one of his daughters before then. In either event he can sit on the Council of Elders for as long as he wishes.'
Warren smiled sheepishly. 'I have made representations to the Council on numerous occasions because I feel that the system of hierarchy as far as my family is concerned is hardly democratic, but so far no one is prepared to listen to me.'
'And why should they? You can trace your family right back to Hugh Valleroy,' Archer reminded him.
'Ah but as you know cousin, there are several connections on the family tree that probably wouldn't stand up to close scrutiny,' Warren admitted honestly, and then went on to point out. 'Besides it's your family too.'
'Oh I'm not in the same league as you Warren. Tammy is maybe, but not me,' and he dismissed the argument with a flick of his hand as his cousin shook his head and turned back to Vidal.
'In light of all we've been discussing Vidal, I will send the message you gave me to Zeor.' He promised.
'Thank you.' Vidal felt a wave of relief run through him. At least his friends would know that he was still alive, even if they could do nothing as yet to help him. Then the Channel suppressed a deep sigh as he also wondered how he would ever be able to explain to Jordan what had happened to his Companion? They had all known that Tony was the most inexperienced of them all, and Jordan had naturally expected Vidal to look after him, and he had failed in the worst possible way.
It was ship's day, and the lights in all the corridors and main rooms had been raised up to maximum.
Tony had been told officially in the last few hours that as far as his physical self was concerned, he was fully recovered. No one on board the freighter was really sure how the experience had affected him mentally; and in truth he had no idea himself.
The Gen doctor had insisted he be given a small cabin that adjoined sickbay so that he could keep an eye on his patient, and Tony had not argued with him. Indeed the thought that he might otherwise have been expected to share a cabin with someone else either Gen or Sime, had pressed an unexpected panic button in his subconscious. One that up until that moment he had not even realised existed.
Leaving the communications section of the huge vessel Tony hurried back to his quarters glad that he did not meet anyone on the way, and therefore did not have to stop and speak to them. Indeed not until the door had once more closed behind him and he was alone, did he realise just how vulnerable he now felt.
The Gen doctor had tried to help him, because there was no Sime physician on board although the doctor was in communication with a Zeor Therapist who was offering his assistance.
The doctor had told him that there were now three types of rape that could be suffered by a Gen, and were recognised by the Tecton. Rape of the body, rape of the mind, and the rape that he himself had suffered, the stripping of selyn from his body against his will. This had almost led to his death, and only the fact that he was a trained Companion had saved his life.
Tony poured himself a glass of iced water and went to sit on his bed. For the last hour while he was in communications, he had been talking to Sam Betjeman and Hajene Nicholas, a Zeor representative who he had only met once before while he was in Jordan's presence. Both were back on Earth, and had a string of questions for him to answer regarding Vidal, Jason and Jordan.
To their chagrin Tony had been unable to give them much information in that regard; because apart from the fact that Jordan and Jason had gone down to the planet to search for Vidal, as everyone on board the freighter knew, he really did not have anything else of great significance that he could tell them. Indeed there were a multitude of questions that he himself would like to have answered by someone.
Tony sighed as he recalled that the doctor had requested to see him again later in the day. Which no doubt meant that the Gen doctor had spoken to at least one more Zeor Channel about what had happened to his patient, and how he could be helped. It was one of the few things that Tony had always abhorred. The complete lack of privacy that living under the auspices of a House like Zeor afforded to all its members whether Sime or Gen.
At this moment in his life the last thing that Tony wanted was for everyone to know what had happened to him. To discuss him like he was a thing, and not a person with feelings and rights. Oh, of course intellectually he knew he was being ridiculous. Zeor was not like that. Its Channels most certainly were not like that, they were there to help and in no way could they be called voyeurs. Yet even knowing that he could not help feeling that his privacy was being invaded; put simply, he didn't want their shenning interference!
Tony realised with genuine surprise that he was actually getting quite angry. It was a feeling that was totally alien to him, and was perhaps more akin to how Jason or other Gens like him who were not Householders, might feel. So why was he feeling like this now?
It was a question to which he had no rational answer. After all, he had been brought up in Zeor, as had his parents before him. He knew the way the Household worked; and he also knew that whether it was a renSime or a Channel, to every one of them Gens, even in today's ultra modern world, were still the most precious commodity they had.
Oh, he could understand that to an outsider like Jason the very concept that a Gen's life might be considered by a Sime to be more important than almost anything else, had to be strange; but not to someone like him who had been born and bred to accept the idea.
Now suddenly this idea as far as he was concerned was being turned on its head, as he realised that just as all creatures on the Earth breathed oxygen to live, so Simes needed, yes they needed the selyn that Gens provided in order for them to live. More importantly perhaps, they could not obtain selyn from any other source.
He remembered an article he had read many years ago. It had been published by a very right wing Gen group who called themselves "Gens First." In the article it had asked why Simes still got the top jobs in most organisations, and why they held most of the positions of authority in the Tecton. A fact that was undeniably true.
It also went on to say that in truth Gens were the dominant race because Simes were nothing more than parasites, who could not even exist if it were not for a Gen's selyn. Of course the media had immediately called this assertion monstrous, almost akin to blasphemy!
With all the eagerness of youth he had asked both his mentors and teachers about all this. And they had simply laughed it away, and had asked if he was going to be silly enough to believe such blatant propaganda?
Which raised the question of why he should be thinking of all this now, when he was so many light years from his home planet? More importantly perhaps, why had it become something that he could not accept with his usual equanimity? Why? Why? Yet even as his mind asked the questions, no voice came to answer him.
For several minutes he sat staring into space, till he suddenly became aware of pain. Glancing down at his lap he saw that his hands were tightly clasped together, so tight that the skin over his knuckles was white.
Drawing them slowly apart he stared in surprise at the small round marks his fingernails had made in the soft skin on the palms of his hands Then as he watched in surprise, blood rushed to the surface and oozed out of the tiny wounds.
Jumping to his feet Tony almost ran into his small bathroom to wash away the blood. What was the matter with him? Hadn't he already been through enough without all this soul searching on top of everything else? Perhaps he was going crazy?
He'd read reports years ago that blows to the head or other unusual events that were completely outside a person's normal understanding, could on occasion drive a person to insanity.
He had also read that whilst the condition could be cured, there were many occasions when it could not, and the sufferer might well end up being watched over by a Sime physician for the rest of his or her life. It was not a future that he wished to contemplate for himself.
So what was wrong with him? Why was he becoming obsessed with all this?
Then it came to him like a light being switched on inside his brain. Of course his Sectuib would know what was wrong with him and put it right.
That was the solution. He had to speak to Jordan. But where was he and why wasn't he here? Surely he should be here when his Companion was sick? Yet then again somehow, at the very back of his mind, he thought he might know the answer to that question; but he could not remember what it was.
Walking out of the bathroom he stared around at the strange room. What was he doing here? Where was he? Surely it was wrong? Shouldn't he be down on the planet? He searched his mind and then nodded his head with satisfaction as he recalled the name – Aryanous – yes that was it. He remembered it now, that's where he should be.
Jordan was down on the planet. The people on board this ship were trying to keep them apart! He could not allow them to do that. He must get down to Aryanous. But… how?
Almost in a daze Tony stepped out into the corridor and crossed over to where a plan of the ship's interior was displayed on the wall. Quickly he found the two places he had to visit if he was to get away from here.
The first place was one deck up, and he made his way in that direction, although he still did not really know why it was so important. He found the rear observation deck with little difficulty, and soon ascertained that the freighter was in a high orbit around Aryanous. As far as he could tell with his limited knowledge there were at least three other vessels in orbit beneath this one.
Even as he stood there looking down a much smaller vessel suddenly appeared through the planet's atmosphere and he watched fascinated till it grew smaller and smaller and then entered hyperdrive disappearing quickly from view.
Tony was just about to leave the observation deck again when two off duty crew members strolled in. Thankfully they were both Gen for if they'd been Sime they would have sensed the agitation that he felt and had no way of controlling. But why was he agitated, and why did it matter if anyone knew? It was yet another of the endless questions to which he could find no answer.
Tony froze in position as the Gens walked over to stare out of the window at the far side of the deck. Terrified they might see or speak to him.
'I thought we were supposed to stay hidden from the planet Mac, yet here we are in plain view.'
'Yeah I know, the scuttlebutt in engineering says that we're picking someone up from the surface.'
The one called Mac gave a bark of derisive laughter. 'How should I know? I'm not privy to information like that. When was the last time you saw the Captain confiding in me?' He demanded. 'All I know is that they're sending a shuttle down to the surface to make a pick up. It's a straight down and up job.'
'When's it leaving?'
'Anytime now. If we stay here we'll see it go.'
'To be honest I'm starving, and I'm not really fussed whether I see the shuttle or not - are you?'
Tony guessed the other Gen must have shaken his head in negation, because his colleague went on. 'Good, let's go eat.'
Once the two men had exited the observation deck Tony quickly followed; making his way down to the bowels of the huge freighter where the shuttles were kept.
In the past he had seen other people pilot shuttles but had never had any experience himself. Therefore he knew that if he could just get on board the shuttle that was scheduled to go down to the surface of Aryanous, he would have overcome what was undeniably his greatest obstacle.
Thankfully he had no difficulty in fulfilling his goal. No one challenged him as he clambered abroad the shuttle, and hid himself away close to the rear exit of the small vessel, where he knew they would normally load or off-load cargo, and settled down to wait.
Once down on the ground he did not wait around to see who was being picked up. For one thing he was not really interested, and perhaps far more importantly than that, to do so might well leave him open to discovery.
Leaving by the rear exit of the craft he had quickly run for cover towards a number of plain square buildings. He did not remember Aryanous being like this, as far as he could recall it had been covered by jungle. Nevertheless as far as he could see in all directions, there appeared to be very little green vegetation apart from some trees, no matter in which direction he looked. Perhaps this was a part of the planet that he had never visited before?
From his makeshift hideout between two buildings he watched as the shuttle rose up into the still air, and then sped away on its journey back to the freighter, presumably with its passenger now on board.
Once the shuttle had disappeared from his view Tony felt safe. Then with a sigh of relief, he turned to begin his search for one of the many entrances that would lead him down below the surface of the planet, to the network of tunnels and caverns where he was sure that he would find Jordan and the others.
Read Chapter 8
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