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A HEART OF ICE

By ... Steve Lucky

CHAPTER THREE

As they were being carried away, Linda suddenly had an idea. It was the same plan she had been wanting to use all along. At they first intersection they came to they would scatter in all directions forcinq the guards to split up. Odds were that one of them would be able to make it to safety. The only problem was, at Peter pointed out, that the guards were armed and they weren't. They could all be shot down before they even had a chance to do anything.

Linda noticed that the guards weren't pushing them around anymore. Perhaps, it was because being taken to their doom anyway and they wanted to give them some respect in theirs moment of death.

"Get moving! " yelled one of the guards noticing that Linda had slowed down to think things over.

Linda obeyed drawing as little attention to the incident as possible. If they knew she was thinking up an escape plan, they would at least prepare for it. They might even punish her in the most painful method they could thinks of.

"At least they're not pushing us around anymore," Linda thought to herself, but it didn't bring her much comfort.

Peter, Hank, Lisa, and Kental were scanning the area and noticed that Linda had something in mind. Part of their training with M.W.G.D. was in non-verbal communication which they used discreetly until all of them had a pretty good idea what to do next. All they had to do wait until the time was right.

Silently, they continued onwards. It was so quiet that the inexperienced guards could fool the silence and secretly they were afraid. They were so busy trying not to lot their fear show that they only half-heartedly noticed Linda hold up one finger.

"Obviously some sort of code," thought Kental.

Knowing his newly found friends were part of Shawn's personal staff and had been working together for years. His only regret was that he had to remain in the dark and felt like excess baggage, at least for the time being.

When Linda saw an intersection up ahead she pointed to Lisa. Lisa immediately fell to the floor as if she had been shot. Peter, Hank, Linda, and Kental completely ignored the guards and came to Lisa's aid. Hank waved the others aside and took control of the situation.

"She's still breathing," Hank reported calmly acting as if the guards didn't even exist. "Pulse" about-"

All of the sudden Hank overpowered the guard next to him and took the gun away from him. Linda and Peter each took a guard and struggled to do the same. It took them longer since the guards knew what was going on, but the results were the same.

A more exprienced team of guards would realize that they still had the uppers hand. The M.W.G.D. officers would still have to find a way to escape and couldn't afford to have any Pleaser battles, even if they were the overwhelming favorite. However, the guards could only count weapons. It was five against five, but the M.W.G.D. officers had three weapons and they only had two. As far as they were concerned, the only thing they could do was surrenders.

"Drop your weapons" commanded Linda as Lisa got back on her feet.

As Lisa and Kental took the remaining weapons the guards finally realized what suckers they had been, but it was too late. Even experienced guards couldn't win against such odds.

Linda left no doubts that she was in control. "Now, tell us the quickest way out of here."

Once again the guards let their inexperience show by telling them. More experienced guards would have refused to talk or even lie about the way out. The later hardly ever worked against such worth adversaries but it didn't tell them anything either except which way not to go. As it was, they knew exactly where to go which made things much easier on them. Better than they could even imagine about five minutes earlier.

The five weapons were pointed at the five guards each of them wondering if this was their final minute of life. They were greatly relieved when Linda told them to go and not try to follow them. Following them was the last thihhg they wanted to do.

"Reinforcements will be here any time now," Kental remarked once again feeling important. "We'd better run away from here and run fast."

Kental gave an appropriate demonstration by taking off as fast as he could go. They were on his home planet so he felt it best that he should lead. If the others had any objections they would have to catch him first.

TIME : 6:00 A.M.
PLACE : The M.W.G.D. base on Frigida

Shawn knew that his friends were going to need a little bit of help so he set course for Frigida before he ever gave them their assignment. However since he was a much greater distance away, he got there too late to see them depart on their mission.

Navillian came out to greet him and quickly brought him up to date by telling him everything she knew. She was proud to have the leader of M.W.G.D. at her base and pushed herself to do her best. The last thing she wanted to do was let him down.

"How long have they been gone?"' asked Shawn.

"They left here about forty-five minutes ago," she replied. "They should have had plenty of time to explore the fort by now "

"I have a feeling that this mission might be more then they can handle," Shawn said gravely. "I think we better go after them."

Navillian knew that that was more than a hint and prepared a ship for take off.

"Is your Thermal Protection Suit working properly?" cautioned Navillian making sure the leaders of M.W.G.D. had the maximum protection possible.

"Check," he called back on his way to see the ship.

"Good " stated Navillian. "The South Pole of Frigida is not exactly what you would call room temperature.

"I can take it if you can," Shawn remarked enthusiatically.

He knew this was nowhere near the case, but like Peter he liked to straighten out a difficult situation with his sense of humor. As leader of M.W.G.D. he had to be careful what he said, but he could find time to tell a joke every once in a while.

"That's what I wanted to hear," agreed Navillian.

The two of them got inside the spaceship and left in search of the others. The only thing they knew to expect was the unexpected which could be just about anything.

TIME : 6:03 A.M.
PLACE : Inside the fort

The inexperinced guards, not knowing what else to do, returned to their master to report the bad news.

"The prisoners have escaped," one of them explained nervously. "They took our weapons and forced us to tell them the way out."

At first they thought their boss was going to loose his temper, but his feeling of anger was quickly laced with a feeling of indifference.

"Let them go," he commanded obviously dissatisfied with theirs performance. "It won't make any difference to our plans. There is no way that they can stop us in time."

He turned to a Frigidan who had approached him from the opposite side of the room.

"Is everything ready for the attack?" he demanded.

"Yes," the other Frigidan reported happily. "We can begin our attack on Altair 7 immediately."

"Prepare for take off!" the scarred Frigidan announced to the entire ship. "We area launching in precisely three minutes."

He repeated his message one more time as sirens sounded all over the fort. Kental had almost reached the exit when he heard the announcement followed by the sirens. He hesitated long enough for Peter, Hank, Linda, and Lisa to catch up with him.

"What's wrong?" Hank wondered.

He had heard the announcement and the sirens as well, built he was more concerned with getting out of there than with what was going on around him.

"I don't know," Kental admitted. "but it doesn't sound promising."

The five of them continued their frantic pace toward the exit. However, when they finally got there, the door was sealed.

"Two minutes till launch time," boomed a voice they knew all to well.

Kental suddenly realized what was going on. He lowered his head in shame and put his hands over his eyes. His embarrassment was plainly obvious.

"How could I have been so stupid?" he muttered in anger. "The entire fort is really a gigantic spaceship. That's how he can move such a large weapon so quickly. We're trapped inside the spaceship."

"Not yet," declared Peter with grim determination. "We still have two minutes to get out of here."

Peter fired to the right of the door where he believed the locking mechanism would be. It had no effect. Then all of them fired simultaneously at the same spot. Sparks flew everywhere, but other than that it looked like nothing else had happened.

Kental was the first to notice that the doors were now slightly ajar. With all of them trying to pry the doors open, they managed to open up a space just large enough for them to slip out. The doors were not severely damaged and closed again automatically after all of them had left.

They were outside the ship, but they couldn't afford to rest yet. A ship that size taking off would cause a blast that could be felt for miles. The five of them ran as fast as they could. Kental once again led the way since he had no Thermal Protection Suit to slow him down. They kept running until they could hear a loud rumbling sound behind them. They squatted on the ground and watched the entire fort rise into the air. It rose higher and higher until it disappeared from sight leaving behind only a trail of smoke, something not seen too often on Frigida.

"We'd better radio M.W.G.D. Headquarters and tell them the ship has already taken off," Peter advised the others. "Shawn will want to know as soon as possible."

"Good idea, Peter, except I have already sent a message to M.W.G.D. headquarters" a voice from behind informed him. "I do want to know things as soon as possible. That's why I came here to see it with my own eyes."

Peter turned around and saw Shawn and Navillian standing before him. Peter rose to his feet not knowing what else to do in the company of his superiors. He looked at the others and was relieved to see that they were just as surprised as he was.

"Our ship are slightly faster than that one," Shawn informed them getting straight to the point as usual. "We can follow them until we are able to catch up and perhaps sneak on board."

"Why can't we just let him destroy Altair 7?" wondered Kental. "Let the Ruler and the lunatic destroy each other. That way the galaxy will be a much safer place for the rest of us. We can stop him afterwards."

Shawn turned to him in anger.

"There are millions of innocent people on Altair 7," he began. "Most of them want the Ruler killed as much as you do, but destroying an entire planet isn't the answer. How would you like it if everyone judged Frigida on the actions of the lunatic."

Kental didn't answer. He hadn't really meant what he said. He was just sick of people like the Ruler causing so much misery in the galaxy.

"The sooner we leave, the sooner we will catch up with him," reminded Navillian who had decided to accompany them on their mission.

"She's right," Shawn agreed. "Navillian and Kental will get in one ship and the rest of us will get in the other."

The pursuit of the fugitive from Frigida had begun.

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