Saturday, 5 May 2018

Alien Secrets: Blog the Book 4

If you missed the start of Alien Secrets, Flight of the Kestrel book 2, here is the link. To help your imagination, my idea of Hoy is a young Jackie Chan.

Hoy (young Jackie Chan)

Chapter 4

They found themselves in an open parking area, with a few vehicles, most with wheels. Only one had hover capability, and it was in a specially-marked parking space. Unfortunately the car park was enclosed by a high chain link fence, but at least they could see there was no one about. They moved away from the lit doorway and crouched down between two vehicles parked close together.

They were surprised to find it was dark, and glad to see the lights were widely spaced, although the vehicles were too. Parks struggled to focus and keep his attention on what was happening. He had come closer to breaking than he cared to admit. The temptation to stop, to let his mind and body shut down was strong, but it was vital he keep it together, not jeopardise their escape.

'Can we steal a vehicle?' said Reuel.

'It would take too long, and we’ve no tools,' said Hoy. 'Now, how are we going to get out of here?'

The car park exit was a heavy sliding gate with a card reader on a post, and an obvious security camera. Hoy and Reuel scanned the fence, looking for gaps. Reuel signalled to wait and slipped off to where the fence joined the building. He had found something.

'The fence has been damaged, and there is a small gap near the wall,' he reported when he returned.

It took some time to reach the side of the parking area. Parks was weak and suffered bouts of trembling. Although the gravity was less than Earth-normal, which allowed Reuel to move normally, supporting Parks wasn't easy. For Hoy, carrying Tanu was awkward because Tanu was taller than Hoy.

They moved from the shadow of one vehicle to another, and manhandled Parks and Tanu through the gap. They crossed the road and went into a side street. They had originally approached the security building from the front, so they were surprised to find it was in an urban area. Four-storey apartment blocks stretched in both directions along the road. Square, flat-roofed, and built of grey concrete blocks, they were ugly and looked to Parks like something out of Earth history.

Reuel turned to Hoy. 'Not very modern, are they? I know the Bokans have only just discovered warp drive, but it seems only the city centre has been developed. Perhaps these are accommodation for those working in the security centre. I would hate to live here.'

'But have you noticed how large the windows are?' said Hoy. 'They obviously like a lot of light. Let's hope they've all got their curtains closed, we don't want to be spotted.'

Lights were on in most windows but no one was about outside.

'Looks like early evening,' Hoy continued. 'Everyone’s home from work. We need to get away before people start going out for the evening - if that’s what they do here.'

'Which way?' asked Reuel.

Hoy shifted Tanu on his shoulder and looked up at the stars, trying to shade his eyes from the street lights' glare. 'We hid the shuttle south of the city. This way.' He set off to the left.

They made slow progress as Parks needed to rest every few minutes, and after a while Tanu began to come round again, and struggle in Hoy's grip. After turning a couple of corners they came to a small area of open land like a park, with trees and bushes and paths laid out. The plants looked spikey, but the spikes turned out to be soft.

Hoy hurried them in and ducked his head behind bushes growing against the wall of the neighbouring apartment block. He backed out again and signalled for Reuel to help Parks scramble in and sit down. Then Reuel came out to help Hoy to get Tanu in. Tanu cried out as they manhandled him behind the bushes, and Reuel ran back to the street to check for alarm or pursuit. Hoy was trying to calm Tanu when Reuel returned and climbed into the space.

'It is quiet here,' Reuel said, 'but there are lights and vehicles at the far end of the street. It could be a patrol or a search party.'

'I need some water,' said Parks, and Reuel passed him the container from his pocket.

Hoy spoke quickly. 'We’ll never make it like this. Sir, you rest here and look after Tanu. Reuel and I will be much quicker on our own. We’ll go for the shuttle and come back for you. Hopefully we’ll also draw them away from here, but you must keep Tanu quiet.'

Parks nodded and moved closer to Tanu. 'Go, go!'

Hoy and Reuel disappeared into the darkness. Parks lifted Tanu’s head and helped him to drink some of the water. He leaned close to Tanu’s ear and spoke softly.

'I know how you feel, but you’re going to be all right. My friends have gone for help. You must stay quiet.'

For the first time, Tanu managed to focus on him, and realise he was not a guard. Tanu frowned in confusion and paused for thought. Finally he swallowed and said, 'Safe?'

'Very nearly, pal, just hang in there.'

The ground was hard and dry but under the bushes it was softened by a thick layer of fallen leaves and the soft spines. It smelled musty and woody. It reminded Parks of the forests back home. He adjusted their position to be sure they were out of sight.

Soon they heard the passing patrol. Parks covered Tanu’s mouth but smiled to reassure him. He could hardly breathe while he waited to see if they would enter the park. He strained his ears for sounds of tracker animals, but there were none, and the patrol passed by.

Once the noise faded, Tanu relaxed. He seemed to go to sleep. Parks checked he was breathing, just to be sure. He felt exhausted himself, but had to stay awake and on watch.

His thoughts turned to the mission. What a mess! He couldn't see anything they did wrong in their investigation since they arrived - up to the point where they asked a plain clothes policeman about the security building. That was a mistake and could have been better handled.

And now, they were hiding from the security services under a bush and no idea about the secret weapon they had come to investigate. Still, it looked as if they might escape after all, and the Bokans didn't know who they were. Thankfully.

***

When Hoy and Reuel slipped away from the park, Hoy cautioned Reuel to slow his walk.

'We mustn't run or look furtive, because it makes us look suspicious,' he said. 'Walk at a normal pace and chat, like friends out for a stroll. If anyone speaks to us, I'll reply - your Bokan isn’t good enough.'

'What should we talk about?' Reuel whispered.

'Reuel, whispering’s not normal,' Hoy said. 'Talk about anything.'

Reuel sighed. 'Well, suppose you explain to me what the plan is.'

They turned another corner into the shadow of a building, Hoy pointed to the sky. 'See that group of stars? They're in the south, so we follow them out of the city. I'm hoping we can circle round and pick up where we came in, that'll make it easier to find the shuttle.'

'Let us hope we did not camouflage it too well,' Reuel said with a grin.

Hoy pulled a small item out of his boot. 'Don't worry, I brought this. Once we reach the right area, this button will make the shuttle respond. It'll tell us where it is.'

'That is a good idea, because we hid it well.'

There weren't many people about, but those who saw them, frowned and kept their distance. Then a vehicle passed them, turned round and came back. Three men got out and approached them.

Hoy said, in Bokan, 'Can we help you gentleman?'

One of the men came forward and stood close, towering over Hoy. 'Who are you, what are you doing here, and what is that?' he said, pointing at Reuel.

Hoy signalled to Reuel to stay calm and replied evenly, 'He’s my friend. We're part of a team of sociologists, come to study your culture.'

'You won't find much culture round here,' he said, laughing with his friends.

One of the friends said, 'Look, his hat is moving!' He made a lunge for Reuel's hat and Reuel reacted instinctively and parried the arm. The man yelled and cradled his arm. 'What did you do that for?'

While Reuel was distracted the third man reached out and pulled Reuel's hat off, revealing his cranial spines, writhing. They all recoiled in horror.

Reuel said in broken Bokan, 'Do you want to see my other powers?' and pointed his hands at them.

They decided they didn't want to, and hurried off, throwing Reuel's hat back to him. Hoy dragged Reuel round the nearest corner and burst out laughing.

Reuel was puzzled. 'Did I not do well? I made them think I had strange powers.'

'Very strange indeed. Do you know what you said? "Do you want to see my other electricity?"'

Reuel laughed. 'They went away, so it worked. Let us go before they find their courage.'

They picked up the pace, came to the end of the road and looked left and right.

'Does this look familiar to you?' Hoy asked.

Reuel looked again. 'This way,' he said, pointing right. 'I remember the broken gate over there.'

They turned right and found the road ended in open country. They crossed a field, over a gate and headed for a clump of trees. Hoy pressed his button and the shuttle beeped and flashed a light. They hurried over and began removing the branches covering the ship. Under the branches was a camouflage tarpaulin. They had just begun working on it when they were startled by a voice behind them.

'What are you doing?' A man with a small two-legged furry animal on a lead had been crossing the field, and was coming towards them.

Hoy thought quickly. 'Come and see what we've found,' he shouted. 'There's something hidden here.'

The man came over and tied his pet's lead to a tree. 'What is it?' he asked.

'It looks like a shuttle. Help us uncover it.'

Reuel kept his head down and moved away to help pull off the tarpaulin.

'This isn't one of ours,' the man said. 'We need to inform the authorities.'

Reuel looked at Hoy in alarm, but Hoy smiled.

'Definitely,' Hoy said, 'but there's no rush. After all, the people can't escape - we've got their shuttle. Let's see if we can open it.'

Hoy “found” the door release and the man rushed forward to look inside. At which point Hoy hit him with a broken tree branch and knocked him out.

'Quickly,' Hoy said to Reuel, 'help me move him out of the way.'

'I could never have talked to the man like that,' Reuel said as they carried him over to the trees near his pet. 'I have decided I need to learn more languages.'

***

It seemed a long time before the sound Parks was waiting for reached his ears: the low hum of a shuttlecraft’s engines. He thought it got too loud as the shuttle came in to land. Parks was sure the noise would attract the neighbours, and probably the patrol.

He began to drag Tanu out of the bushes, but the man was unconscious and Parks was too weak to make much progress. Each time Parks fell his level of panic rose. The wind from the engines whipped the bushes and rattled the nearby windows. Parks had to pause and take a calming breath.

Keep it together, you're even more of a liability if you panic.

There was a shout and Parks looked up to see a figure running back into the adjacent building. They had come out to see what the noise was and were going to report it. Reuel appeared and heaved Tanu over his shoulder and disappeared with him back to the shuttle. Parks staggered to his feet as Reuel returned and ducked under his shoulder.

'Quickly, sir,' Reuel said. 'We could see the patrol lights in the next street as we came in to land. They will be here at any moment.'

'We've been spotted by a neighbour too,' said Parks.

Parks and Reuel reached the shuttle, where Hoy was trying to strap Tanu into a chair. Tanu had come round and was frightened to find he was being strapped down, but too weak to do much about it. Hoy handed over to Reuel and ran for the controls, as a shot from a laser pistol grazed the doorframe. The patrol had arrived. Parks ducked and lost his balance, falling out onto the ground. With Hoy intent on the controls, the shuttle began to lift.

Reuel screamed, 'Wait! He is not in yet,' and leaped out after Parks. He threw himself down to cover Parks.

The shuttle settled again and Hoy appeared at the doorway giving covering fire. The patrol ducked and Reuel scrambled up, dragging Parks to his feet. As they struggled to the doorway, Parks cried out and stumbled.

'My arm! I'm hit.'

Hoy fired again and rushed to help. They almost fell into the shuttle. Hoy slammed his hand on the door control and ran for the controls. The shuttle took off, even before they found their seats. They stumbled about, and managed to get strapped in. Parks was distracted by pain, but saw Tanu was crying, and Hoy was concentrating on flying. Reuel had snatched off his hat to free his agitated cranial spines and ran his hands along them, trying to soothe them.

After a calming breath, Reuel reached over to the injured alien. 'Tanu, it is me, Reuel, you are safe, trust me.'

As they broke orbit, Tanu gave a watery smile.

[If you missed book 1 Intruders, you can find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, Scribd and Smashwords. Next week Parks and Tanu in sick bay]

Ann Marie Thomas head shot (80x90) (300dpi) Web GravatarAnn Marie Thomas is the author of four medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, is out now. Follow her at http://eepurl.com/bbOsyz

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