The Space Guardian

The Space Guardian by Max Daniels

Book: The Space Guardian by Max Daniels Read Free Book Online
Authors: Max Daniels
Tags: Sci-Fi
was set and ready, because response was quicker than Lahks had expected. Within a very brief time of casting herself down despondently, the distant hum of a flyer was perceptible. Lahks earnestly thought sad thoughts. She pictured herself as an abandoned orphan waif; she called to mind how much she missed Ghrey; she concentrated on the emptiness inside her when she had cut off Ghrey’s communication. Soon tears were pouring down her face and her body was racked by the most convincing sobs. When the sound of the flyer forced itself past her concentration and rose above her whimpers of grief, she started, sat up, and stared. Leaping to her feet, Lahks ran toward the rapidly approaching machine, waving her arms wildly and screaming for help.
    Inside the flyer the men smiled and sighed with heartfelt relief. They would be well rewarded for bringing home this prize and, from appearances, the prize would actually be grateful to them. Moreover, it would be blessedly easy. There would be no hunter to do away with—a breed notoriously hard to kill. Nor would they need to decide whether to make the woman hate them by destroying the idiot or endangering themselves by bringing him along. Wise hunter. Wise in the ways of the Landlords. He had abandoned the woman.
    Then one said, “But if he wished to abandon her, why endanger himself by hiding with her for three days?”
    The other laughed coarsely. “Are women so plentiful that he would not wish to sup off her before he ran?”
    Shocked, but with his doubts removed, the younger man nodded agreement. Of course, a hunter would not care that the Landlord had claimed the woman. A flicker of longing for the freedom of a hunter’s life was quenched immediately by his knowledge of the realities of hardship and danger—and there were no women at all in the deserts.
    Within his bubble of concealment, Stoat cursed luridly, and Shom stirred uneasily under the impact of his emotion. Running toward the flyer that way might convince the men in it that she was glad to see them, but it would make them land so far from him that even the laser would lose accuracy. A renewed wave of suspicion—for Stoat no longer doubted either the nerve or intelligence of his companion—slid away into a feral grin of appreciation.
    The Trader’s daughter knew flyers. Since landing was a relatively long process—amin rather than secs—and since she had given every sign of being hysterical and foolish to boot, the men would be afraid she would run right into the machine. Naturally, they would overpass her and land well on the far side, knowing that her need to stop and turn would give them extra time. And that would force them much closer to where he and Shom were hiding.
    However, that would also mean that the door the men opened would be on the side away from him. Stoat thumbed the stunner charge up to maximum, hoping both that the flyer did not sport sonic-resistant plexi and that the ship would be enclosed. He did not want to scramble any brains. He had another moment of anxiety when it looked as if the ship might set down right on top of them, but realized that the comcov had distorted his view a little. The flyer was definitely settling nearer than hoped. Stoat had lost sight of Lahks, but he was not worried about her; her only real moment of danger had already passed.
    Lahks had recognized the peril, too. When the flyer passed overhead, she had thrown up her arms, as if to reach for it, flicking on all the electronic devices in her body at once in the hope that they would disrupt any stun-beam directed at her. None was, but the beeps, buzzes, clicks, honks, and wails of her own equipment responding to the myriad devices on the flyer nearly felled her. The panic-stop shut them off before any harm was done. Giggles now mixed with Lahks’ sobs because she could not help appreciating how effective her stagger and shriek of dismay had been.
    Arms still outstretched, she turned and began running back toward the

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