MENTAL ESSENCE
PAGE 139
" Change of plans.   OM, give Pace the scanner for the Linggets.  Pace, you and Handy continue with your own judgment calls, and we will return with the materials necessary to complete the eradication.  Ship and OM, we will go to Hoylous. "  Stated Trent.

" I'll save a few Celder for ya. "  Pace thought to Trent, than ordered the Hoyla on to the nest site.

" There are several nuclear weapon dispersal and debris zones between us and Hoylous.  The long way around will cut journey time to one week. "  OM stated.

" Take the debris zones, we might find some useful intel. "  Trent ordered.

Three days later they were in the middle of the debris field.

" Neutron weapons.  They must have come from Hoylous. "  Thought Trent.

" Total devastation.  There will not be recoverable intel anywhere near here. "  OM thought back.

" How far to Hoylous? "  Asked Trent.

" Two to six weeks.  There are many unknown debris fields. "  OM replied.

" Awake to a shimmering Hoylous. "  OM thought to Trent.

" Neutron? "  Said Trent.

" Yes, and on a massive scale.  They apparently wanted Hoylous unusable.  The outer planets have areas of similar damage.  I would guess they obliterated their outposts to deprive the Celder. "  OM answered.

" Where is the next location to seek assistance that the Celder could not possibly have reached? "  Trent asked.

" There is a galaxy one hundred and Fourteen thousand light years directly above us. "  Replied OM.

" Wake me. "  Trent ordered.

One month into the journey they came across a drifting Celder transport.

" Trent, look what we have run across. "  OM announced.

" I am guessing there are no life signs. "  Trent thought.

" None.  There is no electronic activity either, so I assume the neutron weapons nullified the Celder and the electronics.  The nuclear drive apparently burned out because there was no one to provide maintenance.  There should be retrievable intel. "  OM thought.

" It would be impolite not to drop in and say hello.  Stabilize the transports rotation before we enter, I find it disconcerting. "  Thought Trent.

" They look chilly. "  Trent said looking at the Celder who were covered with a quarter inch of frost and scattered about the transport.

" To your right is a memory bank, and up near the forward control panel is another. "  OM stated.

Trent removed the devices for later study.

" These look like sleep pods of some sort. "  Trent thought.

" They are, but primive.  They would not provide much more than quiet and a buffer against vibration.  They food storage is in the rear next to the propulsion system. "  OM stated.

" Do not put looking into one of these food lockers on any ones things to do list. "  Trent said looking at half eaten corpses.

" There is an energy signature coming from a chamber three feet further down the walkway. "  OM thought.

" Blue crystals in two foot by six inch cylinders.  OM, establish a containment unit for this cylinder. "  Trent said tucking one under his arm.

As Trent left the Celder transport he kicked one and it was definitely freeze dried.

" Just to be sure, Ship atomize that ship. "  Ordered Trent.

In a flash the Celder ship was a cloud of gas and dust, and they continued on their way.

At that moment Pace was on site six.  The Celder were catching on to the tactics the Pace and the Hoyla were employing.

" The tunnel portions I can scan show no Celder. "  Said Handy.

" We're surrounded.  Prepare for attack. "  Pace shouted.

As the Hoyla turned the Celder came at them from the woods and  leaves and other debris they had covered themselves with.  The fighting was brief and went better for the Celder than the Hoyla.

" They expected we were coming. "  Said one of the Hoyla as she applied a tunicate to her leg.

" They did indeed.  I'm guessing we need a new game plan.  Destroy the tunnels. "  Ordered Pace.

Pace and the Hoyla built several large campfires after destroying the tunnels.

" The Celder are all around us, but they are a fourth our number. "  Said Handy.

" It's not likely they will attack tonight.  They probably have reinforcements on the way or they would have left. "  Pace said to the Hoyla huddling around the fires.

" What kind of a game plan? "  Asked one of the Hoyla.

" First light we will begin the fight.  Sleep if you can.  Handy and I will keep watch. "  Pace state.

As the sun broke Pace ordered everyone to the top of a rocky mount a quarter mile away.  The Celder provided halfhearted attacks as they went.

" We will take the high ground, and they won't be able to tunnel under us.  Move, move, move. "  Pace shouted.

They made their way to top of the rocky outlet.

" I do believe we are surrounded, and by a large number. "  Said one of the Hoyla.

" Yap, and the number of Celder is growing by the minute. "  Replied Pace.

The fighting began to intensify when the cargo ship swooped down from the clouds.  Handy, who had snuck away during the night, was hanging from a side port and applied a high intensity microwave beam in a circular pattern around Pace and the Hoyla.  The beam killed everything within a mile perimeter.

" Did any get away? "  Pace thought to Handy.

" None on the surface. "  Handy replied.

" Surface? "  Thought Pace.

" Yes, the surface.  There is a tunnel entrance between those bushes next to the trail to your present location.  There is an inferred signature at its entrance. "  Said Handy.

" How far does it go? "  Asked Pace.

" As you are aware I can only scan down a foot or so depending on the type of soil. "  Handy answered.

" Do a perimeter scan out two miles out. "  Ordered Pace.

" Pace, we have many casualties. "  One of the Hoyla shouted from the center of the carnage.

" When Handy completes his scan we will take them to station two.  Lom, there is a Celder in at the tunnel entrance over there. "  Pace replied pointing to the place where Handy had scanned the inferred signature.

" It's not a Celder.  It's a young boy. "  Said Lom holding the boy by the arm.