The reports from the others echoed what he and Goa had found. Empty rooms, tech long gone, only fragments left over – the product of two full days of searching– not even enough to fill an empty crate. At least Kyso seemed to be happy with the sculpture Goa found. Traejan watched as he caressed the object’s curved surface. He smiled when he looked up, beaming.

“Thanks boy, it’s better than what everyone else found.”

Traejan had to nod.

Althea looked over the scraps, held one of the micronics plates, a dour look on her face.

“Sorry,” Traejan told her. “I wish we could have found more.”

She dropped the plate back onto the pile, looked back over at him.

“I was hoping…” her voice trailed off. Then she turned back to him, serious, demanding. “We have to find more.”

He couldn’t help but shake his head.

“This is not the first time searches have come up with nothing,” he reminded her. “It’s not just the danger from the mechs we face here, it’s the lack of anything left. The mechs stripped everything wherever I’ve been.”

He could see the anger on her face building.

“We’ve only checked a couple days,” she replied tersely, “in a few places. They couldn’t have stripped it all.”

“How many days are we going to search?” he challenged. “Do you think the things are sleeping?”

“Look around,” she told him. “There aren’t any signs of constructs at all. Even the others say they haven’t seen a site so barren of activity.”

“How many more days? Are you going to risk our lives?” he repeated, demanding a real answer.

She held her stare.

“Maybe four or five,” she told him, “at the most.”

“The mechs won’t wait that long!”

“It will only be a few more days!” she replied, releasing her own pent up frustration. “We’ll find what I’m looking for!”

“What if we don’t find a GTF?” he wanted to know. “How are you going to destroy the Macro then?”

“There has to be something still here,” she insisted. “If not, there will be somewhere else.”

“Do you have enough trilium to pay them for another trip?”

Her expression turned angry.

“Do you think I’m unaware of the stakes here, Traejan? This is nothing new to me!”

Her eyes narrowed in anger as her voice rose.

“I told you. I told them. This isn’t a risk free ride.” she waved her hands as though it would magically dismiss his valid fears. “It’s not just you and me and Kyso, or even the greggas. You told me yourself that the population in Panak has been dwindling. How much longer are your people going to survive with the Macro out there?”

Traejan glanced back at the table, the junk, then back to her.

“If they come?” he challenged her. “When they come – what are you going to do?”

She walked right up to him. For a moment, thinking she was going to hit him, he backed away.

“I’m not here to get people killed!” she told him. “If there is any choice to be made, whether we are going live or die – it’s going to be for life, do you understand?! We will leave, all right? Is that what you wanted to hear?”

He held his empty hands up, a gesture he hoped would calm her down.

“It’s not going to be much longer,” she finished, turning away from him, voice dropping. “Not much longer – believe me.”

She grabbed her coat, turned away from him, walked towards the lifter’s door, slammed it on way out.

Go To Chapter 80

Go To Chapter 82