Worming it out of her………

The pain subsided as I took command and quieted the others. **Sarita needs our assistance,** I projected, **rolling around in the fungus feeling sorry for ourselves isn’t helping.**

We gathered together, twenty or so of us, mostly now Boils and Mature Boils. I was the only great Boil among us, and the eldest, so I took the leadership role. I marshaled our collective Psi and sent a probe across planet to Sarita.

It was faint when it reached The Hive. Psi defenses had been erected, probably the work of Ota Kyi, whom I had heard Sarita speak of disparagingly, and they were difficult to penetrate. **Help us, Planet,** I implored.

**Little One, you must do this on your own.** came Planet’s response. **But I will tell you this – you must work co-operatively or you will not succeed**

I strategized with my brethren. **We cannot sustain a prolonged probe. We must husband our energy, and send it out in bursts, to breach their defenses.**

We huddled, then flared. We reached her. Fighting the urge to withdraw and cower as her psychic terror looped back to us, we picked up snippets of her thoughts during pulses.

**…….mind probes….torture….the pain……warn…….laser knives……Lal…..locusts to Hive….destroy Planetbusters……**

The signals weakened.

**…excising sensor nodes……..probes…..blind…..ignore pain……sensory failure…..Little Hatchling…..go……warn……………………………………**

Blankness. Blackness. Silence. Emptiness.

We howled in unison in psychic grief.


The Hive.

Pang cautiously inserted the probes into Sarita’s temples, being careful not to touch the ends together as he brought them over. Ota was standing by, observing the procedure, and hooked up to the apparatus directly. Chairman Yang himself had entered the secure operating room to view the procedure – the interrogation and, if necessary the torture, of the Peacekeepers’ special forces operative.

Pang looked over at Ota and nodded. She activated the connection.

As the neural scream erupted, Ota collapsed to the floor, hands scrabbling for the connector nodes and ripping them from her skull. She writhed on the floor in a paroxysm of mental torment. The technician studying the consoles reported “Sir, Sarita spiked the reading right of the scale. We think the overload trashed one of our programs”

Sarita’s body slowly calmed its spasmodic jerking. She was conscious, her soft brown eyes looking deep into Yang’s soul.

“You bastard” she said.

He shrugged. “You will tell us all,” he said, “in your own time> We are just encouraging you to be quick about it”.

The technician reset the programs, and tested them.

Meanwhile Ota had recovered somewhat, and under Yang’s implacable gaze had reconnected herself to the interrogation console. “Resume”, she said to Pang.

“Sir”, said the technician, we are getting erratic readings. The system seems to be experiencing energy fluctuations, but they are emanating externally”.

“It’s her damn Mindworm troops”, said Ota. “I’m picking up their telepathic probe to Sarita and trying to counter it, but they’re focussing a pulsed psi beam to break through”

“Turn up the pressure.” Chairman Yang ordered Pang. He complied.

Sarita’s body spasmed again. Fighting back the screeching in her mind, she focussed on conceptualizing her thought, trusting that Little Hatchling would be able to make sense of what it could pick up.

**They’ve started using .mind probes on me, trying to torture me. I can’t stand the pain much longer. You must warn…aaah, they’r e bringing out the.laser knives…warn Lal and get him to send locusts to Hive. He needs to destroy Planetbusters being produced there.**

Pang was now carefully focussing the laser blade on the sensory node embedded just behind her left ear. There were six in all to remove.

**They are excising sensor nodes and continuing the probes**

“She might have some implanted in her retinas as well”, Yang offered

The laser blade moved over Sarita’s eyes and her sight departed.

**I’m..blind I can’t ignore the pain much longer. I’ll soon have total sensory failure. I need you Little Hatchling to go to Lal and warn……………………………………**

The last sensor node was cut out of her skull, and Sarita finished her thought, aware that it would probably not reach Little Hatchling, but needing to make the attempt.

**…warn Lal that he needs to build more Orbital Defense satellites. Yang has too many Planetbusters for us to cope with**

She collapsed into unconsciousness.


Area 331, N of Mt. Planet

Arvid sat at the controls of the Super Former and carefully aligned the huge bucket just ahead of the last dump. He deposited the mass of soil and boulders a few meters in front of the previous, and then swiveled away for another load. It was a tedious job, building a land bridge a few meters at a time across two clicks, but he had been the closest to the peninsula when Lal’s order came through.

He could feel the beginnings of a huge headache, and cursed himself for not bringing some analgesic tablets with him to the site.

As the bucket dipped to scoop yet another load, he saw them, and sweat broke out. His heart began thumping and he thought his head was going to split.

A swarm of dozens of Mindworms – the largest he had ever seen, were heading his way. He coaxed his former into top gear, and turned, realizing immediately that he was not going to outrun them. He resigned himself to a painful death.

His headache cleared, and a thought entered his consciousness….**we are peacekeepers** .

‘I don’t believe it’, he thought ‘ they are ours.’

He heaved a sigh of relief and wondered what they were come for. As he pondered, he was possessed with a sense of urgency to get the landbridge completed. Although he had a break due, he felt that he needed to continue working to save as much time as possible. Clicking the Former into high gear, he accelerated to the head of the deposit line to drop his next load.


I had marshaled my troops, and decided to make for the peninsula. I knew from Sarita that for some unknown reason Lal had built no water transports, so the only way to rescue Sarita was via the land bridge being built.

I brought them to the worksite where a single former was going about its slow business. The gaggle of Mindworms were chattering telepathically as we approached, and I sensed the distress being felt by the alien.

**Hush** I admonished, **we are frightening him.**

The babbling ceased. I cautiously probed his mind, letting him know that we were friendly and instilling him with a sense of urgency to complete his assignment. We settled down to wait.


The Hive

“She’s of no further use” Chairman Yang said. “Execute her.”

Pang cranked the dial past the safety mark.


**Little One** I sensed Planet entering my consciousness. **Go back to Zeta Sector Base. You can do nothing further here. Sarita has joined with me.

**Her dying thought was ‘Tell Little Hatchling I loved him’**

My brethren pulled apart to let me grieve in solitude.

[This message has been edited by Googlie (edited June 08, 1999).]