“You took out their radar?”
“Yep. You heard the first explosion? That was it. Now they can't tell anyone what's happening, nor know when the Sholans arrive. And with some thirty groundcars destroyed, they're going to have a hell of a job moving troops about Keiss.”
Kusac turned back to Hughes. “She's coming round,” he said, seconds before Carrie began to stir.
Hughes gave him a startled glance.
“How is she?”
“She's fine. Just a couple of nasty cuts on the scalp and a lump or two. We'll check her out for concussion when we get her on board the groundcar.”
They could clearly hear the whine of the groundcar's engines now, and within moments, it came into sight round the back of the bunker, settling down a few meters from them.
Carrie moaned and tried to sit up.
“Easy now,” said Hughes. “You got a nasty bump on the head.”
“Kusac?” she mumbled, looking owlishly around.
“Here,” he said, taking her by the hand.
“Are we safe yet?”
“Time to go,” said Hughes, getting to his feet and picking her up in his arms. She let go of Kusac's hand.
Davies got up and helped Kusac to his feet, supporting him as he limped the few meters to the vehicle where Vanna and Jo helped pull him inside.
Hughes brought Carrie down to the back of the vehicle to join them and Vanna began to do her own check on both their wounds.
“It's not that I don't trust you,” she said apologetically, “but ...”
“You just don't trust anyone but yourself,” finished Hughes with a grin. “I understand.”
“When we get to the cave, I'll seal your wounds and dress them properly,” she said as the groundcar took off to rendezvous at the gate with the others.
Anders banked sharply to the right, sending them sliding toward the port side hull.
“Hey, watch it,” Vanna complained.
“Sorry,” he said.
As soon as they touched down, the others scrambled on board. Of the giant spotlights at the gate, only blind metal struts remained. The Base was now lit by the glow of many fires, the largest being the groundcar pool.
Anders managed to do a head count as they boarded and as the last man was hauled in, he sealed the hatch and took off, flying high over the fence and into the swamplands.
Remarkably, no one else had been injured.
“Did you send the signal?” demanded Garras, asking the question on all their minds.
Kusac nodded. “We sent it,” he said.
Garras settled back, relieved. “Then it's only a matter of time.”
“What now?” asked Richard. “What happens while we wait?”
“We lay the groundwork for a Sholan/Terran treaty,” replied Garras.
“We get the basis laid for the diplomats so that they can't screw it up,” added Skinner, with a rare smile. “Your father will already be on his way to join us, along with the leaders from the nearest towns.”
“I'm not looking forward to that meeting,” murmured Carrie uneasily.
Vanna leaned forward to pat her arm encouragingly.
“Don't worry,” she said. “You're with us now, and you'll stay with usâmore than that, you belong with us.”
Kusac put his arm round her and hugged her close to his side.
“He daren't risk an incident by demanding you stay with him on Keiss,” he said.
he continued mentally,
I have a feeling Skinner will convince him you are an ideal spy in our camp!
“Do I truly belong with you, or will I be just another Alien to your people?” Carrie asked Kusac, turning a tired and bloodstained face to him.
“We belong together,” he said gently, licking her ear.