Q6

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Q6 - HOSTAGE

Azibeel soon learned the hard limit to the value the bene elohim placed on the life of Chayn. Despite hyz threats, hy was only able to secure a guarantee for himself, four pilots, and the Ark to be returned to the Taurus-Littrow valley, plus safe transit to the Trespasser. Two transports would be taken, and they would be loaded in such a way that no one from Taurus would know which one contained who or what. Meanwhile the forty yeng trapped in the offices overhead were prisoners of war. The body of Abaddon was non-negotiable, it would stay, no doubt to be paraded on the Swarm. Aides had already taken it. For his part, Azibeel promised that Chayn would be transferred to a lifeboat with sufficient life-support to allow her to be retrieved alive once Trespasser was safely underway.

There was no need to return to the roof of Taurus. Shyla had dug many tunnels through the North Massif, so it was a simple matter to provide a truck and allow Azibeel and company to drive on a level route directly to the valley floor. Within an hour they were back in space, heading outbound.

As agreed, no one from Taurus City pursued Azibeel, but around this time Shyla was coming in with the avatar of Binah after a record fast run from Earth, bringing the team that had served in Israel. There were options now.

Robyn knew Chayn was another one of Hunky's surprises, like Chuck, but sha couldn't bring herself to kill har own daughter. Still, the Trespasser seemed to be heading on a line directly away from the sun, rather than pitching over to point closer toward Jupiter. So Robyn told Shyla to go on ahead a bit and have a look. She already had the velocity to do so. Shyla found a long tube, square in cross-section, made of an intricate latticework of metal. Everyone knew what it was the instant Shyla transmitted the image. An ID Grid, the front door for a wormhole that led between the Sol system and Alpha Centauri. It was supposed to stay at Jupiter.

My guess is Belial thought he found a loophole in the Summit agreement, Robyn told Chuck, who was helping har in the Taurus City war room, more to keep an eye on him than for any aid he could render. Fly west out of the Land We Know and the elohim will send you to the ID Grid in this star system, but they don't pay attention to where that ID Grid is physically located here. How could they? And why should they? It's supposed to be serving hyz colony at Jupiter. Abaddon had the ID Grid moved through real space to within a million miles from Earth so he could do his Moon raid and be back home at Gorpai before anyone knew what was happening.

The huge structure was completely demolished by Shyla, live on Interworld. She did this on her own initiative, without waiting for permission or orders, to avoid the possibility of Navy of Belial reinforcements arriving. This attack did nothing to violate the arrangement, but Azibeel didn't see it that way and ordered the Trespasser to torpedo the transport he was not flying in, costing him two of hyz own pilots. Chayn was safe with hym, and why should she not be? Both of them had been possessed by Hunky.

The enemy carrier just took out one of the transports, Shyla reported.

Azibeel just broke the deal, Robyn replied. Shyla, you are now weapons red and free on all Centauri contacts, but save Azibeel for last.

The primary weapon Shyla had at her disposal was raw star-stuff from the core of Proxima, sent by a fold-door carried in the avatar of Binah which also doubled as its drive. The Trespasser and her much-diminished retinue of fighters and bombers didn't stand a chance, nor did they have much hope of destroying an avatar designed to survive a plunge into a star.

I'm alive! Chayn blurted on the radio when it was down to just one transport. Cease fire! It's Chayn. I'm in the last ship!

Red and free on all Centauri contacts, Robyn reminded Shyla.

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