A season in Hell
for Progeny’s companions
ends in cleansing fire.
Shagrug and Karil were dumped, still manacled, on the bunkhouse floor. Messer stood over them with his rifle and tossed the keys to a man nearby. "Un-cuff them," he snapped, and the man hastened to obey. "There's no sense trying to escape," he went on. "One of those chips in your head will set off the perimeter alarms and emit a signal my dogs can hear, plus it'll give you one hell of a headache. Like this." He touched a button on his belt and Karil and Shagrug screamed in pain. "You can't even get out this door at night, unless I program it to let you through, right, Hill?" He held out his palm for the cuffs and left, slamming the door behind him.
The other men helped Shagrug and Karil to their bunks. "I'm Hatley," said one. "This is Hill, Perez, Gold, and Mann."
"I'm Shagrug, and this is Karil. Is he right? Is there no way out of here?"
"We know of one man who tried it, from one of the other bunkhouses. We heard the alarms, and they brought back his body, horribly mangled by the dogs, and dumped him in the yard. We buried him out back."
"What are you doing here?" Karil asked. "How did you get here?"
"Same as you. Same as the other bunkhouses. Diagnosed as morally unwell and sent for treatment in the fresh air. Some of us are homosexuals, intellectuals, a few are genuinely mentally ill; there's even a few real criminals."
"I know you," said Mann, coming forward. "You're the spacers."
Looks of surprise and approval were exchanged. "What happened to the Martian philosopher? Progeny? Did they get their hands on him?"
"Progeny? Some Quasi Pig from Nueva York took him," Shagrug said.
The man shook his head. "Well, his mind is safe for the time being, but I doubt he'll ever get out of the Citadel. That place is impregnable."
"We'll see," said Karil. "As soon as we get out of here, we'll have to go and get him."
His statement received looks of mingled admiration and incredulity. "That would make me happy," said Gold. "There's nothing that would make the Dolls look more ridiculous. And it sure would enhance Progeny's reputation. Already, some people think of him as some kind of supernatural hero, sent here to free them from Quasi tyranny. And tyranny like this." He waved his hand at the filthy bunkhouse.
Karil actually laughed. "Proj would find that very depressing."
A figure emerged from the shadows in the corner and came forward. He bent to stare at Karil with wide, yet somehow unfocused eyes. "Are you really from up there?" he asked.
"I wasn't born on Earth, if that's what you mean."
"They've come then. I told you." He looked around at the others with a smug expression and retired to his corner again.
"That's Joe," said Perez. "He's genuinely mentally ill. He talks to somebody we can't see, thinks they're coming for him from outer space. Messer's afraid of him a little bit, I think."
"Because Messer never met a superstition he couldn't believe," laughed Mann.
"And because Joe's impervious to pain. Messer zaps him with his little toy, and he doesn't feel a thing. He could walk right out of here, if the dogs didn't get him, but he won't leave the bunkhouse. Afraid the aliens won't be able to find him if he leaves."
"Where's the girl?" Gold asked. "Progeny had a young wife, I understand."
"They took her into the main house," Karil said.
The others could not meet his eyes.
"What is it?"
"If you really can break out of here, you'd better do it soon," said Hill; he was Karil's age and slight of build. "Get her away from Cavallo as soon as possible." He looked Karil up and down. "And get yourself away from Messer. He'll be after you as soon as he gets tired of me."
Maria led Terry into their room, under the roof-tiles at the top of the house. There was a cast iron bed, a washstand, a dilapidated old wardrobe. "Have you been wearing this same nightgown since they took you away?" she asked,
Terry nodded. She looked down at her clothing, which was torn and filthy.
Maria helped her peel it off and took her to the washstand. Terry let herself be washed; she seemed to be in a daze. "You’ll have a maid’s uniform," said Maria. "It’s pretty and clean, though the skirt’s too short. He likes that."
Terry looked at her. "Cavallo?"
Maria spat on the floor and muttered a curse in Spanish. "He’ll leave you alone for a few days at least, to make you wait. I can teach you how to please him, so you’ll have less pain, though it won’t stop the pain entirely. He’ll want to see you cry and beg."
She helped Terry on with a fresh nightgown, sat her down on the edge of the bed and knelt behind her to brush the tangles out of her hair. "It’s so beautiful," she said. "I suppose he’ll be tired of me soon and I’ll end up buried in the forest somewhere. At least the ordeal will be over. Where are your friends? In the shacks, I suppose."
Terry nodded. “I guess so.”
"Messer is just as cruel as Cavallo," Maria went on. "He’ll have an eye for your beautiful young friend. Where is your husband? Dead?"
"He was taken to Nueva York."
"Nueva York? I’ve been there. The Citadel is no better than this place. People go in and don’t come out."
Tears began to flow down Terry’s cheeks. "Oh, I’m sorry," said Maria. "I wish there was something I could do." Terry did not see the look of indecision that crossed Maria’s face. "Come. You’ll need your sleep."
Terry crawled under the covers; Maria turned out the light and crawled in beside her. Terry broke down and began to weep uncontrollably. Maria held her in her arms and rocked her like a child. Long after Terry had succumbed to exhaustion and drifted off to sleep, Maria lay staring into the darkness, gnawing her lip in indecision.
Karil and Shagrug worked in the fields, bent over in the blazing sun like all the others. Their cone-shaped coolie hats offered some protection, but it was obvious that most of these people, if they survived long enough, would contract skin-cancer from the punishing ultra-violet. Karil was young and healthy, and Shagrug was tough, but neither had ever ached from labour like they did now. Messer and his men watched them from the shade of nearby trees, rifles in the crooks of their arms, and Messer's belt was studded with buttons that he could touch and instantly incapacitate any man he considered a threat.
"Control yourself, Stillborn," said Shag.
Shagrug gestured with his head. Cavallo's car was approaching. It stopped, and he climbed out and opened the back. Terry emerged, carrying a bucket of water and a dipper. The sight was incongruous, and it made Messer laugh, but no one else. She was dressed in a crisp maid's uniform and looked achingly beautiful, with her hair tumbling down to the hem of her short skirt, but she wore a dog's collar around her lovely throat and Cavallo was holding the leash.
Shagrug stepped in front of Karil. "Karil, listen to me. This whole spectacle is designed so you'll lose control, and they can put you down in pain in front of Terry. Do you see that?"
Karil nodded, but his body trembled, and his palms began to bleed as his fingernails dug into the flesh, so tightly were his fists clenched. Karil looked about him at the other men in the field, expecting some sort of catcalls or remarks from them at Terry's expense, but none came. One man turned and spat on the ground. Another followed, and another and in a moment every man there had spat on the ground in disgust. Karil's eyes filled with tears of gratitude, but he wiped them away, lest Terry see them.
Each man accepted his ladle of water and thanked Terry with extreme politeness, then went back to his work. Terry stood before Karil; he could smell her. He took a drink, ignoring Cavallo's obscene smirk. "Are you all right?" he whispered quickly.
"Have they brought in Atty?"
"Then she's still out there."
"Be careful, Karil. You too, Shag."
There was no more time to speak, for Cavallo yanked on her leash and dragged her down the line. He was obviously disappointed that the hoped-for reaction was not forthcoming and did not notice the man running up to Messer and speaking to him in an agitated state. Messer ran to Cavallo's side.
"Boss, the whole south fence is down--smashed like kindling. The horses have lit out for the hills."
"They must be halfway across the mountains by now."
"Damn it. Take the girl back to the house."
Cavallo raced for his vehicle and took off. Messer's eyes met Karil's for a moment, suspiciously. Karil's face was without expression, but when Messer turned away, dragging Terry after him, her eyes met his and he smiled.
Hours later, Cavallo stumbled into the house, exhausted and filthy, to find Terry on her hands and knees, scrubbing the floor. She tried not to look up at him as he stomped across the clean floor with his muddy boots and stood before her, hands on hips.
"Hard at work so late?" he guffawed.
"My boots are dirty, thanks to your friends out there. Clean them."
Terry said nothing but began to wipe his boots.
"Now dry them." She looked about for something dry, but there was nothing. Trembling, she began to wipe his boots with her hair, hoping that this indignity would be enough for now.
"How many are there?"
"Your friends. They’ve got your vehicle."
“What do you mean, Sir?"
Cavallo took a small black object out of his pocket and Terry caught her breath. "How many people are there?"
"There are no people out there, that I know of, Sir."
"What? How many people are helping you, Girl?"
"Not a living human soul, Sir. You know I can’t lie."
Cavallo looked at the readouts and snorted in disgust. "Maybe this thing doesn’t work."
He pressed another button and Terry collapsed on the floor. She cried out and trembled in the throes of orgasm, then lay panting with exhaustion in the spilled water. Cavallo’s filthy laugh and clomping boots echoed down the hallway.
She struggled to her knees again, trembling with rage, and went back to scrubbing the floor.
That night, Karil was awakened by the sound of Hill returning from Messer’s cabin.
"Are you all right?" Karil asked as Hill climbed painfully into his bunk.
"I’ll live, but he wants to see you at lights out tomorrow."
Karil lay back in his bunk and stared at the ceiling.
"What are you going to do?" Hill asked, after a few minutes of silence.
"I’m going to kill him," Karil said. "Or at least I’ll try."
"Then what? Kill yourself? Or run? That’s the same thing."
Karil swung up and stood by Hill’s bunk. "If the guards see me going to Messer’s cabin, they won’t expect me back for a while. We have a vehicle out there, with weapons. If I can get to it..."
He felt a presence and turned suddenly to find Joe standing quietly behind him. He removed his hat and gave it to Karil. "Wear this tomorrow night," he said. "It’ll protect you."
"From what?" Hill laughed. "Space aliens?"
"No. From Messer. Don’t forget to take me with you when you escape, all right?"
"I won’t forget, Joe," said Karil. "We’ll take all of you."
"Good. I’m going to bed now." Joe retired to his corner and began to snore.
"What the hell was that all about?" Hill wanted to know.
Karil was busy feeling the edge of Joe’s coolie hat. He peeled up a little bit of the rice-paper lining and began to chuckle to himself.
"What’s so funny?"
"Here. Feel this."
"It’s crinkly. What is it?"
"It’s aluminium foil," Karil said.
The next day, working in the fields, Karil told Shagrug of his plans. "It sounds pretty desperate to me," he said.
"Well, we're in a desperate situation. Do you have a better idea?"
"Not really. But can you kill a man?"
"I think I can kill Messer."
Shagrug smiled grimly. "Tonight," he said, "before you leave, I'll show you how to do it quietly. When the alarm is raised, we'll make a fuss in the bunkhouse. They won't be sure where to go. If you really can kill Messer and get to Atty, maybe we'll have a chance."
They looked up as Cavallo's car approached. Terry came by with the water-bucket, led by Messer this time, as Cavallo lounged in the shade. Though she looked haggard and worn, she smiled warmly at Karil and Shagrug. "We're going to try to get to Atty," Karil told her.
"Jesus, Karil, be careful."
Messer strode forward, grabbed Terry by the arm and threw her to the ground. Water splashed in all directions. "What are you saying to them, you Martian witch?" He aimed a vicious kick at her ribs.
Karil leaped for him, but Messer whirled about and touched a stud on his belt. Karil went down on his knees, gasping for breath. His hands went to his neck, his eyes bulged, strange noises issued from his throat.
"Didn't know about that button, did you?" Messer laughed. "We can stop your breathing any time we like."
"Messer!" It was Terry's voice, and it spoke in a commanding tone. He turned to find her staring at him, her eyes ablaze with green and gold fire. "Release him now. Or you'll burn."
"What are you saying, Witch?"
"Mars was green like Earth once. Magicians destroyed it in their struggle for power. I know the secret of their witchcraft and I can unleash it on you." She reached out as if to take something in her hand and crush it." Messer began to sweat. "Already the fire begins," she said. "Release him now or you'll be a human torch."
Perspiration was pouring down Messer’s face. He touched his belt and Karil collapsed in relief, panting.
"God damn it, Messer," Cavallo shouted. "What are you doing? There's a fire. It looks like the whole west sixty's burning."
Messer whirled and saw the smoke billowing skyward in the distance. He turned and looked at Terry in horror, then ran to Cavallo's side. "She did it, Boss. Kill her now."
"I have no intention of killing her now. Take her back to the house. And I want her to arrive safely, understand me? Then get some men and meet me at the west sixty. We’ve got to stop this before it spreads to the whole estate."
Terry climbed the stairs to Cavallo’s suite, her arms filled with folded towels. As she placed them in the linen closet, she heard what sounded like a child’s sniffle coming from the next room. Cautiously, she opened the door to the Master Bath and peeked inside. A young Asian girl, probably no older than thirteen or fourteen, was slumped on the floor of the bathroom. She was naked and chained to a pipe.
"Oh Jesus," Terry said, and went to the girl’s side. She was filthy and covered with scars and bruises, her wrist particularly injured by the cuffs. The girl looked up at her, barely comprehending, and fingered Terry’s hair with puzzlement. Terry looked about as if she might find some tool to free the girl but gave up in despair. Her eyes filled with tears.
The door slammed open, and the girl whimpered and tried to crawl into the corner. Cavallo strode into the room, his clothes filthy and smelling of smoke. "I see you’ve met Toy," he said. He touched his belt and pain exploded in Terry’s head. She collapsed with a scream and writhed in agony. The girl whimpered. In a moment, blessedly, the pain stopped, and Terry gasped in relief, but lay motionless on the tile floor, exhausted by the ordeal.
"Report to Maria," he said. "I want you in the game room tonight." He squatted beside her and took her chin in his hand. "You’re the game."
Terry sat before the vanity while Maria brushed her hair. "The room is soundproof," said Maria. "I’ve been there." She shuddered. "No one outside can hear what goes on in there."
"In that case," said Terry, "Cavallo can’t hear what’s going on outside either."
"That’s true." Maria put down her brush, a look of determination on her face. She went to the wardrobe and opened it. "We’ll probably both die for this," she said, "but I don’t care anymore."
She placed an object in Terry’s hand. "I found it under the mattress the day after they took you away. I thought I might use it on him, or on myself, but I can’t. I don’t have the courage, but I think you do."
She knelt in front of Terry, lifted her nightgown, and tied the stiletto to her thigh. When she was done, Terry pulled down her skirt, saw that it covered the stiletto nicely, and left. She made her way down the stairs into the basement and rapped tentatively on the game room door.
"Enter," said Cavallo.
Terry flexed her fingers, ready to reach for her weapon at a moment’s notice. She pushed open the door and entered the darkened room. She heard a click and felt the handcuffs on her wrists, then felt herself dragged struggling across the floor, and lifted into the air. She felt pain in her wrists as her body weight was suspended from the cuffs.
The light went on, blinding her for an instant, and then she saw Cavallo’s grinning face. She hung painfully from her wrists in the centre of the room, her toes barely touching the floor, and her weapon well out of reach beneath her skirt, where Cavallo would no doubt discover it shortly. She found herself hoping he would fly into a rage and use it to kill her.
At lights out, Karil was able to pass through the door without setting off the alarm. His coolie-hat, lined with foil, was in his hand, and a thin, strong cord was in his pocket. He approached Messer's cabin cautiously, tying on his hat and noticing that there were no lights on, and tapped on the door.
"Come in," said Messer's voice.
He pushed open the door and the moonlight poured into the room, revealing the shape of the figure on the bed.
"Close the door." Karil shut the door behind him and, in the dark, shook the cord out into his hand. He wrapped it around his wrists quickly, pulled it tight, then walked toward the bed, his hands down in front of him in apparent shyness. Suddenly he leaped on the bed and wrapped the cord around Messer's throat; one snap and both windpipe and carotid artery would be severed, rendering Messer at first mute and then dead. But he felt no hard flesh beneath the cord.
The lights blazed and Karil saw that he was strangling a dummy. Messer stepped out of the shadows and stabbed at a button on his belt, as Karil leaped to his feet and dove through the window. He landed in a hail of broken glass and leaped to his feet, oblivious to the fact that he was bleeding in a dozen places.
Alarms rang all over the estate as he raced toward the forest, his coolie hat bouncing on his head, but securely tied beneath his chin. Behind him, he heard shouts and the smashing of furniture in the bunkhouses. Karil ran like the wind across the field, vaulted a fence, darted across a road, and plunged into the forest. Dogs began to bay in the distance. He pushed through the trees, stumbling on the rough ground, and fell several times. The sound of the dogs drew closer. Finally, he burst through the undergrowth and tumbled into the now nearly dry riverbed. Atalanta's tracks were there, but she was gone.
He hesitated for only a moment, splashed across the stream, and plunged into the woods, though he could not have said precisely where he was going. In any event, he had only gone a few steps before he heard the baying hounds splashing through the water behind him. He turned to face them and stopped, saw them burst through the undergrowth, and leap for his throat.
A slim, dark body stepped in front of him and collided with the dogs in mid-leap. They went down in a yelping tangle of limbs and scrambled to their feet, as Loris tucked and rolled into a crouching position. The dogs turned their attack upon her; she whirled like a dervish, kicking one in the side with the sound of cracking ribs, and the other beneath the jaw, breaking the bone and driving it back into the creature’s narrow brain. Both dogs went down; one lay still, blood pouring from its mouth, and the other writhed, yelping piteously.
Messer appeared on the other side of the stream, only a few yards away, and raised his rifle to his shoulder. Karil knew that neither he nor Loris could reach him in time; they could not even dive for cover before his finger tightened on the trigger. But even as the thought occurred to him, Karil saw Johanna rise from the undergrowth, step up beside Messer and grab the rifle. The weapon jerked upward, they heard the crack of a shot and the bullet thudded into a tree above Loris’ head. Johanna yanked the rifle downward again; its hardwood butt struck Messer a terrible blow between his legs. He screamed and doubled over, but his scream was cut short as the rifle-butt came back up again under his jaw. The force of the blow lifted him off his feet and laid him out on the ground. The entire brutal ballet had not taken more than three seconds.
"Merciful Allah!" said Karil.
"Are you okay, Karil?" Johanna called.
"So, you can talk, after all." Karil and Loris strode over to Messer’s body, and Karil knelt to undo his belt. He laid it on a rock and smashed it repeatedly with the gun-butt until the wiring and chips inside were a mass of silicon fragments.
Loris grabbed his arm and hustled him through the forest. They burst into a meadow and a ship descended on a cushion of air before them. Loris pushed him into the hatch and the women swung up behind him.
"Anais Nin, meet Karil. He’s Atalanta’s astrogator."
"Pleased to meet you, Karil." The voice was similar to Atty’s in softness and timbre and spoke in a delightful French accent. Johanna dropped down into the well at his feet; Karil barely had time to buckle himself into a passenger couch before the ship leaped into the air and the forest tilted away below them.
"How did you find us?"
"Shag was overdue at Nearside Station. Then these strange stories started drifting into Nueva York about some Martian sand-rover out in the Americas, and we figured Shag was in the middle of it, somehow. Anais kept an eye on air-traffic from the Citadel, and when she saw a Dolly ship highballing it toward the southeast and back again in a few hours, we decided to check it out. Atty signalled us when we passed over. Now tell me, where is the miserable sonofabitch?"
"Shag? In a bunkhouse along the east road. I’ll show you. But I’ve got to get to the main house. Now."
"We’ll drop you, and Atty can bring you back."
The guards at the main gate lounged in boredom in the night. One played solitaire and one was half-asleep, his chair tilted back and his feet on the table. They heard a rumbling sound, looked at each other, and peeked out the door. In the distance, a dust-cloud was coming down the road, barely visible in the moonlight.
"What the hell is...?"
Their heads seemed to explode with the thunder of a giant cargo-transport's air-horn, and they clapped their hands over their ears. The sand-rover rushed down the road and careened through the gate, as the guards dove for cover. The gates flew across the road and crashed in a tangle of twisted steel; Atty rumbled over them and roared into the courtyard in front of the house. Her guns popped out on all sides with a series of clicks, and bullets flew in all directions; windows exploded, chips flew from stone walls, tree limbs tumbled to the patio. She blew the locks off the stable doors and the horses bolted, racing past in panic flight.
"Come out with your hands up," Atty bellowed in a gruff male voice. "We've got you surrounded." Men poured out of buildings, with their hands on their heads. "On your faces, maggots, and don't look up. Sergeant, if one of these fuckers so much as raises his head, blow it off. Got that?"
"Yes, Sir," she replied to herself in another voice entirely.
The men lay face down in the dust, immobile. Even when Anais Nin descended from the skies and the dust clouds swirled about them, they did not move. The ship hovered above the ground and Karil dropped to his feet, holding Messer's rifle.
"Glad you could drop in, Karil," Atty cooed. "Don't move, you maggots, or I'll blow your fuckin' heads off."
Johanna dropped down behind Karil. She charged her shotgun with a loud crack and placed her back against a wall, just in case one of the men on the ground realized that there was no one actually in the rover capable of blowing their fucking heads off. She waved and Anais rose into the air, banked above the big house, and shot off toward the bunkhouses.
Karil rushed into the house. He took the stairs two at a time, smashed open the door of the bedroom with the gun-butt. He saw movement in the bathroom and swung his rifle in that direction.
"Don't shoot, por favor," said Maria. She was helping to unlock Toy's chains. "He's in the basement with Terry. It's soundproofed and he won't know you're coming." She looked up at him. "Please kill him."
"I’ll do my best." Karil turned and bounded down the stairs. In the basement, he crept down the hall, put the rifle to his shoulder, and blew the lock off the door. He kicked it open and plunged into the room.
It was a kind of throne-room, with a comfortable chair on a dais, a half-empty decanter of brandy and a smoking cigar on a table beside it. Terry hung from manacles on her wrists, her toes almost able to reach the floor; her nightgown was ripped and hung from her waist, and her upper body was naked in the flickering firelight. Karil stared at her for a split-second and something crashed into him, bearing him to the ground. Cavallo wrenched the rifle from his grasp and flung him across the room.
Terry lifted her head and stared with a dazed expression. "Karil?"
Cavallo crossed the room in two strides and swung the gun-butt at Karil's head as the boy was scrambling to his feet. He ducked, but not swiftly enough; the weapon caught him on the side of the head, not hard enough to knock him out, but hard enough to send him flying into Terry. He looked up at her as Cavallo raised the rifle to his shoulder. "I have my stiletto," she said.
Karil reached up under her skirt, felt up her thigh, and snatched the weapon from its sheath. He whirled and flung it with all his strength. Cavallo stared down at its hilt protruding from his chest, dropped the rifle, and stumbled back into the wall. He continued to stare at the weapon as blood poured down his chest, then he slid down the wall to a sitting position.
Karil unfastened Terry's bonds and lowered her to the floor. "Help me up," she said. "We have to get out of here." She clambered to her feet and walked shakily, leaning on Karil.
"Are you sure you can walk?"
She smiled. "Yes. Thank you, Karil." She kissed him.
As they stumbled past Cavallo, he moaned. "He's still alive," Terry said, and bent down to look at him. "Help me," Cavallo mumbled, staring stupidly at the knife in his chest.
"You missed his heart," Terry said. With a swift movement, she yanked out the knife and plunged it back in his chest. He squirmed a bit as she held it there, and then lay still. "There. That was his heart."
Johanna burst into the room holding her shotgun. She glanced down at Cavallo's body. "Well," she said, "it looks like you two have got the situation under control."
"Jesus, Karil," said Terry. "How many women have you got helping you?"
"Four," Johanna laughed. "But two of them are ships." She helped them up the stairs and out into the courtyard, where Loris and Shagrug were loading the sand-rover into Anais Nin's capacious hold.
Maria, with Toy under her arm, came to embrace Terry for a moment before climbing into Cavallo's troop-carrier. Hill was at the wheel and Joe sat beside him, grinning with satisfaction. "I told you they’d come," he said.
"Where are the other prisoners?" Karil asked Shagrug.
"They’ve got the estate’s vehicles and horses, and they’re heading out in all directions. By the time these guys,"--and he gestured toward the trembling figures on the ground--"can report what’s happened, they’ll be long gone." One by one, their fellow prisoners said their good-byes and drove off.
The rover was locked into place and the cargo hatch began to close. The crew of Anais Nin and the rescuees climbed through the forward lock to the bridge.
"If I were you," Shagrug said to the men on the ground, "I’d get the hell out of here." He pulled a pin on a fire-grenade and tossed it through the open door of the house, then swung up into the ship.
The men scrambled to their feet and took off. Anais rose into the air, banked, and shot off across the forest. Behind her, the house erupted in a tower of flame. A series of concussions followed as one by one the outbuildings exploded, and soon there was a pillar of flickering smoke billowing into the sky.
Anais Nin’s emission trail was still visible to the ship’s sensors. It approached from the forest, peering at the destruction below, the fleeing men and horses. It hovered over the compound, and the corpse behind the controls gazed down at the blazing inferno through sightless eyes and implanted lenses, as the instruments gathered information. Dimly, the semi-intelligent systems recognized the sand-rover's tracks in the courtyard, understood the meaning of Anais Nin's landing-gear marks: the enemy was beginning to strike in populated areas now, and there was air-support as well. The enemy rover had been loaded aboard a ship, and now the ship was headed for the East Coast. All this information and analysis was displayed for the pilot, but still the pilot did not respond, and there were no more messages from HQ. The ship referred to standing orders: to reconnoitre, to keep the enemy under surveillance and, if necessary, to defend the civilian population against enemy attack. At the approach of aircraft from Lynchburg, the dead ship turned away and sped off over the hills, in the direction of Nueva York.