The colonists were not moving fast enough for Hector. It was taking too many turns to move all the equipment into the landers and get it to the surface.
He signaled Lar Vonn. “How are the shelters coming?”
“The colonists are working hard, although a few are still a bit groggy, captain,” Lar said.
Lar’s status had now changed. He was in charge of the activities on the planet. Hector was not to be questioned concerning ship’s business, but now they were contemporaries.
The colonists were cooperating well. Search parties had located caves that could serve as temporary shelters. The mountains would serve as formidable fortresses once they had time to shape them with their laser cutters.
Lar even had to credit Wald Bergmann. The Universal Mineral geologist had taken a party over the mountain range and found a labyrinth of caves while searching for mineral deposits. Perhaps those caves could function as mining headquarters or even human habitation.
The valley where Wald had searched did not look promising for colonizing. Its narrow, sheer mountains emptied into the river at the bottom of the meandering valley.
The security chief marveled at the success of the bio-formers. Many of Earth’s plants and animals thrived here, as well as genetic successes from some of the other colonized planets.
Even Wald’s valley teemed with deer, rodents, predators, birds, and fish. The bio-formers had not missed any opportunities to establish ecozones everywhere. Most of the zones expanded across the planet, except at the highest altitudes where the native moss still grew.
Thank the heavens most of the colonists are on the planet, Lar thought. One more lander trip should be able to bring down the remaining colonists. But there was always more equipment.
“We’re right on my schedule, but behind on the captain’s. Typical,” he said to no one in particular. As he turned to walk toward a group of colonists moving equipment, he noticed Taryl Bryann standing a few meters away, waiting to get his attention.
The Seer had made him nervous when they first met. He couldn’t help it. The diminutive woman was beautiful, with bright red hair and eyes so dark they reflected his image when he looked into them.
Lar was not shy around most women. He liked nothing better than to laugh and talk with them. He was quite charming and no stranger to sharing his bed.
However, Taryl was different. The quiet woman kept to herself and would interact with the rest of the crew only when necessary.
Lar did not understand her abilities. In the past few decades, many Earth colonies included Seers. They were always women, and their ability to sense emotions in others had proven valuable for colonists when dealing with humans from different cultures.
Could she read my mind? he had wondered, but then tried to shed that thought, embarrassed.
The two had been on the same sleep/wake cycle during the voyage to Verde Grande. Lar often woke up to find Taryl glancing his way while fighting off effects of transport sleep. At other times, Taryl would be fighting the deep-sleep grogginess and find Lar gazing at her.
The security chief intrigued Taryl. When she connected with him, she saw her eyes staring back at herself. However, she felt warmth from him, not the usual fright or lust she’d felt from the others.
Lar couldn’t help but stare at those beautiful dark brown eyes. Something in them stirred his soul. He wanted to reach out and stroke her hair. The security chief enjoyed being with women, but this one had softened his heart. While on his rounds in the ship, he found himself thinking about her and made excuses to be near her when he could.
It wasn’t long before the two were often seen walking together down the halls of the ship. They often shared meals and met in the observatory late at night, looking at the stars while the ship sped toward Verde Grande.
Innocent touches led to hand holding and more intimate gestures. Lar ran his fingers through her hair and she smiled at his attention. She liked to touch his well-muscled arm while they talked.
Their good-night kisses and hugs lasted longer and longer. Parting left them both anxious to see the other as soon they were awake. After one long good-night kiss, Taryl took Lar by the hand and led him into her quarters. The next morning was the only time the security chief was ever late for his shift.
No one had objected when Lar asked Taryl to fly with the first group to Verde Grande’s surface.
“I do not mean to bother you, Lar, but I believe we might be in danger,” Taryl said, putting her hand on his shoulder.
“What is the problem?” Lar asked, appreciating she was not mincing words.
“I believe we are being watched and listened to by others,” Taryl said, fear shining in her eyes.
Lar stared at her. The hair on the back of his neck was standing. “Go on, what you have found might be very important,” he told her.
“I was meditating alone, trying to get away from all the activity. I was having a hard time concentrating,” she said, looking at Lar.
Taryl knew “normals” did not understand that the hustle and bustle of human activity and frantic thoughts that went with those activities could upset Seers. To escape this explosion of images in their minds, they had to refocus their thoughts.
She saw Lar frowning and tried to explain. “I felt others. I believe they are watching us,” Taryl said, gesturing skyward.
“Do you mean the Colonia Nueve?” he asked, but feared it was something else.
“No, not from our ship,” she struggled to explain. “I can see through their eyes. I see images. The watchers can see Verde Grande and our mother ship.”
“Our scans have not picked up anything, heard no communications,” Lar said.
“They are there, Lar. They are listening to our communications. They are very interested where our people are going. And one other thing,” she said looking at Lar’s deepening frown. “They are anxious and excited.”
Lar did not argue with the Seer. What she told him was too serious. In all likelihood Tanlians were observing them, waiting for an opportunity to attack.
“Yes, they must be Tanlians. I saw a star chart with routes all leading to the planet Tantalum 2,” she blurted, startling Lar with her confirmation of his thoughts.
“Thank you, Taryl. You may have saved us, if we can act fast enough. Can you tell me more about them?”
“No,” the Seer said. “But I will concentrate on them. I will inform you of any changes.”
“Please stay close,” he said bending down to give her a hug. “We will need your assistance and besides I feel better when you stay close to me.” Lar allowed himself one more long look into her face and then went to work.
“Requesting to speak to Colonia Nueve Captain Hector Nandez,” he spoke into his communicator.
Hector frowned as he received the message, recognizing the danger code formality. “Yes, Colonia Nueve security chief?” the captain answered in like formality to let Lar know he recognized the code.
“The weapons are in place and everyone accounted for. Defenses are approved,” Lar said in his best formal tone.
Hector feared the worst, but continued the charade-like conversation. “Perhaps you should join me on ship and we can pick out test targets, security chief. I want to see these sonic cannons in action. I’m glad the colonists, except for a few stragglers, are all on surface and accounted for.”
Lar understood the last message; — there was a large group of colonists remaining to be transported to the planet.
Sonic cannons? he thought. That should give the Tanlians something to ponder.