Gender: Male Age: 53 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
I stood on the wide station porch and watched as several men continued to unload the filthy sheep from my trailers. I smiled as the tiny woman pressed against my side and spoke, “did you ask them to wash the trailers?”
I looked at her, “aye.”
She nodded as she looked around, “that’s good because I’m bloody not going too.”
I grinned and then frowned as the comm relay chimed, “I thought you shut that off?”
She grinned as I lifted the small relay screen and froze when I saw the encrypted message. She bumped me, “what is it?”
I looked around as I tried to think, “trouble.”
I stepped off the porch, “come on.”
I had taken extra precautions over the years and hoped they paid off. We were a week away from Globe, the capital and starport. Behind my truck cab I pulled the two hover bikes off and went into the center storage box, “grab a bag.”
Emily didn’t ask questions, she climbed into our truck to shove clothing into a bag. I pulled two bags out of the storage box, “Alex!”
I strapped one of the bags onto a bike as a large man walked back from the trailers, “what’s up?”
I glanced at him as I stripped, “people are going to come asking about me. Leave my rig behind the station.”
He nodded and looked at Emily when she climbed down, “you going walkaround?”
I shook my head, “I’m going to war.”
I put the camo uniform on and added my personal weapons before securing the bag on top of the other. I looked at Emily as she sat waiting on the other bike, “I told you what I was and that this day might come...”
She growled, “shut up and get on the bike before I beat you.”
I grinned as Alex chuckled and glanced at him, “stay safe.”
I swung onto the bike and started it before accelerating straight north into the green fields with my mate following. I went over the alternate routes back to the starport as I turned east and went behind a ridge. I glanced back before continuing along the side of the ridge and then turned north and went into a narrow gully through another ridge.
I turned west when we came out and made room for Emily to move up beside me. It was getting dark when we approached the tall sandstone ridge. I slowed and then stopped as I looked at the small herd of hoppers. The weren’t like earth marsups, they had fur but were actually reptile. Emily barely hesitated as she lifted a rifle and fired, “clean it while I get a fire going.”
I smiled and shut the bike off, “we need to get under cover.”
She snorted as she swung off the bike and started collecting sticks. I shook my head and went to skin and clean the animal. I was always amazed at what Emily could do and this time wasn’t an exception. An hour later I had a full belly and we were slowly riding between sandstone and into a narrow tunnel. I switched on the light and led the way as I continued to ride.
I stopped in a wide cavern with a hole in the roof. It was close to midnight as I swung off and stretched. I pulled a poncho out of my bag as Emily hurried into the dark. She came back slower and smiled as she laid beside me on the poncho and put her head on my shoulder. I held her as I thought about and hoped the tunnels had not collapsed over the years.
They led all the way to the edge of Globe. Of course there were gaps between some of the ridges but for the most part we would be hidden. I was up early and stretching before Emily got up and pulled a couple of rations out of her bag. Several hours later I slowed as we were reaching one of the openings. I stopped short and Emily pulled up behind me, “what’s wrong?”
I was looking at the cavern in front of us with the slit leading out but something had changed. I shook my head before swinging off the bike and moving forward slowly. I pulled my pistol at the slight sound of sand shifting. The huge shape flowed away from a wall and towards me as if it was just a hump of moving sand. I aimed and fired three times.
The sand shark thrashed around emitting subsonic screams that made my head hurt. When it stilled I looked around before moving to check it and then turning to the bike. Sand sharks were like a snake, it didn’t have legs. They had a camouflage system like a chamaeleon and blended into whatever they were on. The mouth was very large with several rows of razor sharp teeth.
I shook my head before holstering my pistol and heading back to the bike. Emily grinned and let me lead the way out and across the kilometer gap before entering another tunnel. This time I went slow since it had been raining outside. Water fell from the roof holes as we kept riding and I came into a central cavern for this ridge.
I looked at the pool of water that seemed to fill the whole cavern and glanced back, “wait but follow exactly where I go.”
Emily nodded as I turned to move along the left wall with water pushing away but coming back to wet my feet. When I reached dry ground on the other side I stopped and turned to watch Emily. When I saw the ripples I pulled my pistol and aimed, “faster!”
The huge lizard surged out of the water as she accelerated and it missed. I fired and turned to watch the water as she pulled around me and stopped. I grinned, “wait until tonight.”
She smiled and glanced back, “get moving you lazy boy.”
I turned as I put my pistol away and started moving. It was almost dark when I came out of the ridge to another gap. Emily turned and slowed before stopping, I stopped and looked back as she got off and went behind a bush to go to the bathroom. A minute later I heard the shot and was off the bike and running. I came around the bush where she was and she pointed to a dead hopper, “dinner.”
I put my pistol away, “one of these days I’m going to spank you.”
She grinned and put her pistol away, “in your dreams.”
I went to clean the hopper and put it on my bike before leading the way into the next set of tunnels. I didn’t go far before stopping for the night. Emily made a nice dinner using a small stove and I sat holding her after as I tried to think about what could be waiting. It was a few days before we came out of the tunnels and stopped, now the hard part would start.
I led the way using gullies as I watched the storm clouds gather. We came in from the stockyard and I slowed as I used one of the sheep runs. I parked beside a large warehouse and got off. I undid the straps holding my bags and slung one like a pack and shouldered the other. I reached out as Emily walked up and took her bag, “remember how to get to the Dodge House from here?”
She nodded and took the lead as I followed. I watched the shadows and alleys as we left the pens behind and entered streets with one story houses and wide porches. The flash of lightning showed four men spreading out in front of us. I was tempted to stop and pull my pistol, a man appeared out of the shadows right in front of Emily, “what do we have here.”
He was sneering as she started and kicked out, “THIEF!”
The man folded over holding himself and dropped to the ground as the other three men moved forward, “don’t move!”
I shifted and waited as Emily stopped kicking the downed man, “what... who are you?”
The men looked at each other and one shook his head, “it isn’t him.”
Emily put her hands on her hips, “I asked a question lad.”
One of the men looked at me and grinned, “we are soldiers lady and we are here looking for traitors to the council.”
Emily snorted, “you can’t be a traitor to the council moron. Only the emperor or the empire, now get out of our way so we can get home.”
The man stepped closer and growled, “treason...”
He screamed as Emily grabbed between his legs and yanked, “I said move lad.”
He dropped and the others lifted rifles. I shook my head, “Emily.”
She looked at me and I tossed a bag towards the two men still standing. I pulled my pistol as the first man tried to find his weapon. I fired and he jerked as he went over and onto his back. The two men I had throw the bags towards had been surprised and reacted to catch the bags. That was a deadly mistake as I brought my pistol up and shot the one on the right in the throat and the one on the left between the eyes.
The last man was lifting his rifle when Emily put the muzzle of her pistol against his head and he froze. I smiled and put my pistol away as I took the last bag off and moved to yank the man up. I searched him and took his pistol and knife. I patted his cheek, “we don’t like government types bullying us. Now why don’t you head west and go walkaround.”
He swallowed and nodded and I turned him and gave him a push. I watched him walk away and retrieved my bags, “no more fooling around.”
Emily nodded and sighed, “yes sir.”
I glanced at her and nodded in the direction we had been going. It was a couple of blocks before she turned down an alley and then went across a street to a brightly lit restaurant hotel. We walked in the front doors and Emily stretched, “Dad!”
She headed for the stairs as an ancient man walked out behind a counter, “Emily?”
I smiled, “we need a quiet room and I need the small case.”
He nodded, “I’ll bring it up.”
I followed Emily up and around to a room on the second floor and in a corner. I never know where she keeps things but she pulled out a master key and unlocked the door. I followed her in, “and how do you know there wasn’t a guest in here?”
She grinned as she headed for the fresher, “dad never rents out my room.”
It was maybe ten minutes before her father knocked and I let him in. Beside a small case he had a tray with our dinner on it. We could hear Emily singing from the fresher and he grinned, “I see she remembered where the bath was.”
I grinned as I set the tray aside and opened the small case. I pulled out the two sets of idents, an encryption key and a small comp. I thought and worked for a minute before going to the wall comm and sent a message. I turned, “I need a ship list of who is leaving and where they are headed.”
He nodded and left while I striped and headed for the fresher and a shower. I had to pull Emily out of the warm water when I was done and wrapped a large towel around her before heading into the other room. She sat to eat as I dressed carefully before joining her. Her father returned and handed me the list as I sat back. I looked at it and grinned at the choices, “we are taking a vacation Em.”
She snorted, “I’ll believe that when I am walking in the surf.”
Her father laughed as he headed towards the door, “and then he will spend the whole time trying to pry you out of the water.”
I grinned as she stuck her tongue out at her father and used the small comp to make a reservation for two on a liner leaving in a couple of days. Emily stood and pulled me up, “enough, we have a real bed at least for the night.”
I smiled as I held her, “and what did you have in mind?”
She grinned up into my face, “sleeping on you and shopping tomorrow for new clothes.”
I grinned and shook her before letting her pull me to the bed. I undressed but set my pistol beside the bed within reach. I woke to silence and checked around us before realizing I was holding the pistol. I turned to spill Emily off me and slip out of bed. I hesitated before dressing and moving to the door. I used the door vid to check the hall and stared at the black clad commando by the stairs.
I moved to the bed quickly and woke Emily and bent to whisper as her eyes opened, “we have company so get dressed.”
I moved back to the door and watched the vid as Emily dressed and moved around the room. She stopped beside me and looked at the vid before pulling on my arm. I followed as she grabbed her bag and I slung my heavy one and lifted the other. I followed her into the bathroom as she crossed to the tub. She grinned at me as she stepped in and pushed the wall panel in.
I blinked as it sank into the wall before sliding aside. She stepped out of the tub and into the space behind the wall before stepping to the side and onto a ladder. I followed her and turned a little to pull the panel. It moved back into place and we were left in darkness. I heard Emily start down and hesitated before feeling for the ladder and following her.
We went down past the first floor and then past what would be a basement level. Several moments later there was a slight glow and I stepped off the ladder beside Emily as she lifted a chemical lantern and grinned, “this is an old root cellar I shielded and added a narrow tunnel to.”
I nodded as I looked around before following her as she started walking, “It comes out under what used to be my grandmother’s cottage.”
It was awhile before we reached another ladder and she started up. I followed and then had to wait for a minute before she stepped off the ladder and disappeared. I climbed up and saw the shielded glow from the lantern and stepped off the ladder. Emily closed the lantern and a panel slid open before she stepped out. I followed and looked around at the crowded garage filled with boxes.
She grinned and whispered. “Dad only uses this for storage now.”
I led the way around to a back door and listened before opening it. I was a little worried about her father but I should have known better. A huge shadow drifted out of the night and I lifted my pistol before his hand covered it and my own, “quiet. Brantly is still decoying them with a game of cards.”
I looked at the old man and realized he was one of many that Emily’s father had around him. He let my hand go, “go around to the south and follow the wash to a dry pond. Go east to a large house with a lot of lights. Knock on the back door and tell the woman that answers you want the special.”
I looked at Emily but didn’t say anything. She snorted and hit my shoulder, “I saw that look and I know Marie’s house.”
I grinned and turned to head south and walked beside Emily until we walked out of the dry pond. I shifted and moved forward as we approached the house. When the door opened the woman that stood there grinned and held the door wider, “welcome back Em.”
I turned to look at my wife in surprise and she shoved me in, “where did you think I learned about sex?”
I grinned as she kissed the woman, “we need the special Dawn.”
A few minutes later we were in a hidden room with no windows and scan protection on the walls. We spent the next day and a half talking and loving as my wife told me about working here when she was a girl. Her father was fine, the commandoes searched the hotel and restaurant just as they did others. I dressed in a store bought suit when it was time to go and the three bags turned into fancy suitcases.
We took a hire car from the house to the port and I followed Emily in as if she was the boss, which she is most of the time. The one time a commando stopped us Emily dressed him down like a drunken sailor in a brothel until he backed off with a white face. He must have warned the others because besides a few looks of pity they didn’t come close.
We took the first shuttle up and waited two days before the liner started moving.
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