Chapter Seven

Somewhere over the Pacific Ocean:

Elan'nah was the last of the six to arrive, two minutes before 10:00 a.m., local time. They were two hundred kilometers from land, approximately, over a hundred miles from the nearest ship. Out here, they could be themselves, even "walking" on water if they wanted to. Fortunately, Junior had tired of that little trick years ago. So they simply floated, a few feet above the ocean, and disrobed.

After a moment or two of shared affection and greeting (hugs, touching of cleavage, the usual), Co'ra'na got to the point, in Vel'ana. "Nobody's heard from Miri, have they?" Heads shook all around. "All right. She's the reason we're out here, instead of the movies or online or whatever. I needed to talk with you."

Co'ra'na sighed. She hated this aspect of her job. It wasn't exactly babysitting, looking after Protectors. But she hated to remind them of it. She knew they hated it too. Protectors were Protectors, and Scribes were Scribes, and that was that, Lynn Besta notwithstanding. Co'ra'na hated it even more though: today, she'd be forced to use a technique she'd prefer stay hidden for a few decades. This was going to tip their hand to the Arions, and a smart one might be able to learn a lot of valuable intelligence on the new Team.

"You all know what happens with sound through liquids, right? It carries for kilometers. Here on Earth, they call it 'sonar'. It's the same way with Orgone, but on a different plane. Some Velorians naturally have a passive form: they can tell when others of our kind, or Arions, approach. Scribes have special training in this passive sonar, and also in 'active' sonar."

To the puzzled looks of the others, Co'ra'na went on. "It's sort of like screaming at the top of your lungs. Everybody close enough can hear you -- and you can hear echoes off of them. The only catch is that the range is literally millions of kilometers. So any Arions will have a fairly good idea of where you are and who among our kind is nearby."

"I called everyone here because I need to send this pulse in order to find her, and I wanted to warn you. The instant it fires, everyone needs to move. Find a spot away from here and from your usual hangouts. Beyond Earth orbit is probably best. The residual effects of the pulse last for a couple hours, so stay on the move. If you sense another approaching you, veer away. You'll know when someone's coming," she said ominously.

"Let's meet again, at the magnetic south pole, in six hours," Carrie said. "Hopefully, you'll have some news for us," she told Co'ra'na.

Co'ra'na simply nodded and began "charging" for the pulse. Her muscles began tensing, as she started flexing them each in sequence, more and more. Her swimsuit, which would have fit her somewhat loosely a few moments ago, would have no chance of containing her now. Her glutes swelled, her biceps and triceps exploded outward, her legs and calves grew tremendously. Her abs, previously "abs of steel", became a checkerboard of monstrous power. She made the moves in a rhythmic pattern, a cross between a mid-air dance and posing, flexing a muscle and then releasing it, then flexing it again. Gel'tri brought her sunglasses down her nose and peered over them in awe -- Co'ra'na was getting pumped up in one big hurry. Fast enough where her bosom wasn't expanding yet to accomodate what she was doing. Co'ra'na, lost in concentration, instinctively started doing a very slow backflip ten feet above the water. The neck muscles grew larger than most Velorians were capable of, while her back redefined itself into a sea as choppy as the one below her. Junior felt the hair start to rise on her neck, a slight tingling like static electricity building in the air.

Carrie smelled honey.

Finally, a frightening image of Co'ra'na righted itself, her face reflecting the intensity of her sudden and brief exertions. She said through gritted teeth. "Ready..." There was a faint trace of sweat on her brow.

Everybody tensed, preparing to break away. Co'ra'na looked straight up, making sure airspace directly above her was clear. She breathed in, and thought to herself, Last chance, girl. Then she shook her head. It needed doing.

She "fired".

The four Protectors and Junior all felt a sudden firm push against them across their entire bodies, most intensely against their breasts and nether regions. Instantly, Elan'nah gained a sudden sense of each of them in her proximity. They were so close! Elan'nah felt their power, power beyond what any humanoid ought to have that close to her, right next to her, and was scared out of her wits. She rocketed away at supersonic speeds -- without needing Co'ra'na's warning.

The others felt the same way about each other. Several sonic booms erupted from the same spot. Co'ra'na for her part resisted the urge to flee, holding her place, listening very carefully for the reverberations. A Russian attack submarine nearby moved to investigate the sonic booms shaking the waters.

O'mara was eating a lasagna when it hit her. All of a sudden, she felt a wave push her forward a bit in her chair -- maybe thirty centimeters.

The Betans in the room seemed a bit more alert instantly to her. A little bit dangerous. The two Primes in the room (Go'ra'ba being one of them) abruptly felt a lot closer to her. Too damn close. Too damn powerful. And more than a little frightened themselves.

She blasted Go'ra'ba with her laser vision while retreating from the threat of her colleagues. It wasn't enough to incinerate him, not by a long shot (that sort of power takes deliberate action, not instinct), but it threw him out of his chair in shock.

The room emptied in seconds, the building seconds later.

"This is Professor Brown," he said to his radiophone.

"Professor, would you come to the tokamok, please? There's been a slight power surge, and we can't identify a reason for it."

"I'll be there in fifteen minutes."

Luthor felt a little shove from his left side. He looked up, startled. Then, he got very angry. Somebody was messing with his head, at his cabin, his home. He suspected Aunt Sky.

Lynn Besta, recharging by trailing Mercury in its orbit close to the Sun, felt it too -- just a fleeting touch against her, like a reversal of the solar wind. She grew even more panicked than any other in the Solar System.


Co'ra'na floated there, a mere thirty feet above the ocean, listening. From all over the planet, reflections of her pulse came back, bounced off other Velorians and Arions, bouncing off each other, feeding back to her their distances and bearings.

Everyone has their own distinct signature, Co'ra'na knew. Protectors tended to have one type of signature, and Primes another. So she was distinctly surprised to "hear" six different types of signatures. She spent a few minutes figuring out who was who.

Two types were familiar. One group of signatures, five in all, was rapidly moving away from her. She identified them as the Protectors and Junior (who had an odd secondary characteristic). Another group, about fifteen, was scurrying around: Primes. A third type, of which there were only three on the planet, was unfamiliar but very energetic. Two of them were female, so that probably made them the T'set'lar. The other was male, and had a signature similar to Junior's secondary. Her dad, Co'ra'na realized. She smiled. Nice to meet you too, Luthor.

A fourth type had a very faint signal, but numbered in the hundreds, maybe the thousands, she guessed. She recognized them as the Betans. That's a lot of them. What are they doing here in such numbers? The Prime Directive applies to them too...

The fifth type was almost imperceptible amidst all the other noise. She strained to filter out everything else to capture it. It seemed familiar...

Co'ra'na's smile grew even wider. Ah, of course. Shara'Lynn. Too bad I don't have time to deal with you right now.

The sixth signature type was odd. It was unlike anything she had ever heard before. It was like a single flat tone, no pitch to it at all. No doppler, either. There were about a dozen of them on the planet.

She stiffened. No doppler! Part of the reason her "sonar" worked so well was it detected objects in motion. It was not very good at detecting stationary objects. (She had known beforehand that the Team would be scared stiff by the pulse and its effects on them -- so she didn't waste time trying to convince them to stay put. She instead emphasized mobility.) But for me to detect those signatures at those distances... and they're not moving! She did some rough calculations in her head, based on the reflection levels and distances. She never finished those calculations: the rough numbers were higher than anything she'd ever seen before. By a few orders of magnitude.

She paused. She went back to the first type of signatures. Five. Not six. Miri'am was still missing. That meant she was immobilized -- and there were only two ways she knew of for a Vel'yena to be immobiziled that completely. One of them was permanent...

Co'ra'na tried listening again, tuning out all the known signatures one by one. As she was tuning out one of the flat ones, she noticed a slight oscillation in it. She listened harder, trying to identify it.

"Got'cha," she murmured softly, triumphantly. The oscillation was of the first type.

The Russian captain had his periscope videocamera recording all of her motions, of course, but amidst the noises of the ocean's surface, his sonar crew could not pick up what she said. The Admiral will enjoy this, he thought, as much as I am enjoying it now. His bridge officers wondered what had set him to such a happy, excited stature. They found out when he let the crew see the tape. Morale improved considerably after that. The "show" went on for a good fifteen, twenty minutes before the lady glided out of visual range. It aired on the closed-circuit televisions for three days.