The blip on Commander Gorthan’s vidcom flickered and suddenly went dead. The Commander swore before he rapidly crooked his forefinger and contacted the Archbishop.
“ Your Highness, the secondary was just terminated. Are any of your men already there? “
“ No, none I know of. “
“ Well, I’m relaying his last known co-ordinates to you. Send the Church’s scramjet to this location.”
Gorthan began relaying the co-ordinates to the Archbishop, but the Archbishop cancelled the transmission.
“ Your Highness, I don’t understand. . .”
“ My son, it is not very fruitful to continue to follow people when one can directly locate what we want, the very essence of our objective. The means to do that will soon be in my power. I am sorry, my son, you tried, but you also failed. “
The Archbishop’s tel-image abruptly disconnected, leaving Commander Gorthan feeling crushed.
“ The bastard. What was he thinking ?”
“ Calm yourself. Let us not dwell on what has happened, Ali “
“ You do realize that they probably already know where we are.”
Gunnar had of course figured that out some while back, and his analytical mind was racing to find a solution. And one was slowly forming in his mind. He knew what had to be done.
“ Ali, I know. Now tell me, the Leya is a freighter meant for carrying heavy loads, right ?”
“ Yes, but . . . “
“ And clearly we cannot continue this mining operation any longer. So we need to leave now, we have maybe 30 minutes before someone, anyone who’s been tracking Franklin gets here. So, tell me, and this is very important, does the Leya have good quality onboard lasers?”
“ Yes, but why on Earth would you …”
“ Because we don’t have the luxury to be on Earth anymore. I hope that those modifications to my hover-drone will prove useful. “
“ Finalta’s made sure the signal is as accurate as can be. But I still don’t understand why you’re so worried about Professor N’Gula. “
“ I’m not. It’s the quarkograph I’m more worried about. “
“ Convenor, we just received word, the EMC quarkograph machine has been stolen from Professor N’Gula’s laboratory.”
Finalta smiled grimly and thought, “ Gunnar, how do you always know?”
57 minutes later, a party of Amenorites descended from the Church scramjet, onto the icy floor of the Antarctic. They were greeted by two things : the body of Franklin Delaney, and a large gaping cubic hole in the ice, at the very depth of which lay Gunnar’s hover-drone, emitting a quark spectrum perfectly similar to the signal of the God-seed and much stronger, so perfect that even Professor N’Gula’s own quarkograph was fooled.
Meanwhile, somewhere in the stratosphere , the Leya continued its journey to Luna.
Gunnar chuckled and said, “ You know, it was really you who gave me the idea. Something you said. So , Gunnar Skjold really has become the guardian of an ice block. “
They both looked in the direction of the holding bay, where a large block of ice, cut out from the Antartctic melt with the ship’s lasers, was slowly thawing, with the God-seed inside it.