3.1 Battle Plan

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"You have destroyed my followers, but will I die easily? I am Yeresunsa. Some of you telepaths remember what that meant. I have the storm on my side. Come and kill me. I will bring you with me into death."

- The last stand of Iriade


Wonderment spread through the villagers as Thomas outlined some kind of plan in the slave tongue. Alex figured it must be a battle plan, because their wonder soon became excitement. They shouted questions.

"Thomas," Margo said with caution. "Where would we go? Where are you planning to take us?"

Alex expected dismissiveness, but Thomas said, "The galaxy is a huge place. The Torth claim to own everything, but they haven't explored every mile of every wilderness on every known planet. I can find someplace habitable where we're likely to disappear for the rest of our lives. I mean, the rest of your lives," he amended.

Margo's gratitude didn't look entirely convincing. She had told Alex about some of the people she missed. Friends. Coworkers. Her mother. Earth wasn't just books and TV to her. It was family and relationships that Alex could never imagine, and that he would never have.

She had lost more than him, and in a way, it was his fault. If not for Alex's existence, she would be safe on the world where she belonged.

It should be within his ability to bring her back there.

"Thomas," Alex said. "Isn't there more of your medicine on Earth? We should stop there, and pick it up."

Thomas looked surprised.

"Right!" Margo's face lit up with excitement. "His extra supply is in Rasa Biotech, in Boston. We should ... well, I guess steal it. He needs it."

Thomas's disparaging gaze said that he had lived a thousand years, and he had no intention of living a thousand more. But he only said, "Let's have that discussion later."

He turned back to the villagers and rattled off what sounded like instructions.

"What's he telling them?" Alex wondered.

"He says we have everything we need here in this cave." Margo paused every so often to listen. "Yellow rocks? I don't know why, but he wants them to gather yellow rocks, and a lot of wood charcoal. Even ashes. Also, some kind of soap material? I don't know that word. And silver rocks?" She looked mystified. "Ground into powder. I don't know why he'd want silver powder."

Alex felt just as doubtful. Maybe Thomas was trying to invent primitive weapons, but surely that was no match for blaster gloves or whatever else the Torth were packing. Besides, they had Alex. They shouldn't need homemade weapons.

One of the villagers said something challenging.

"Right," Margo said, listening. "How are they supposed to kill an army of Torth with one blaster glove?"

"He wants ... ummins ... to kill Torth?" Alex asked, making sure Margo understood what she was translating.

Thomas sounded remorseless.

"He says ..." Margo faltered. "They'll have more blaster gloves after they slaughter hundreds of Torth and raid their corpses." She met Alex's gaze, and he saw his own misgivings there. "He said they'll have to do it quickly."

Weptolyso snorted. "Killing Torth should be our job," he said in his gravelly voice.

Alex nodded, grim. He didn't want to wrench bodies apart, but he'd bludgeoned alien monsters to death before. Using his powers to do so might not be entirely different.

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