Argus studied the ground carefully. Reya had moved northwards from the clearing. Her tracks were slight but he was able to follow them. She was obviously adept at moving over the ground with the least amount of disturbance. Not a common skill these days.
Not bad, he thought approvingly. He wondered why she would have had this skill.
He moved swiftly; following the tracks and barely leaving any of his own. A quarter of a mile on he stopped. Reya had dropped to the ground suddenly, lying flat. She had seen or heard something.
Argus looked at the perimeter sensor he had removed from the air-cycle. He had judged it better to move on foot and avoid the noise of the cycle. The sensor indicated no movement.
That did not mean that there wasn't anything out there. These types of sensors were of limited use. They could be defeated by someone lying fairly still. Argus's commando groups had often lain still for days in order to set a trap; when they knew that these types of sensors were being relied upon by the enemy. The rebel leader doubted if Ellis's groups would have this ability but it was always safer not to assume anything in this kind of situation.
Argus cast about carefully in the direction she had been watching. It did not take long to locate. Just as he had guessed, a group had been moving through here. They had made no attempt to conceal their movements. No subtlety here. They had been heading towards the clearing but for some reason had changed their minds. From the tracks, it was not apparent why. All he knew was that they had stopped for awhile and then had reversed direction and went quickly back the way they came. Reya had waited until they were almost out of sight and then got up and followed them.
Argus followed the group's tracks and kept an eye on Reya's. Again he was impressed with her skill. Unlike the group they were both following, she had great subtlety.
Now if only you were capable of that in person, thought Argus.
Vila was sitting on the flight deck of the Justice. Literally. He was seated on the ground, staring at a full glass of green liquid on a low table. He had been like that for an hour. The thief had not had a drink since the contact with Jenna.
Do you plan to do something? Or is this your substitute for useful action, the Avon-voice asked him.
The voice had left him alone while he sat staring but now it was back.
Of all the voices, do you have to sound like Avon? Vila thought.
Annoying isn't it? Remarked the Avon-voice smugly.
I refuse to listen if you insist on sounding like Avon.
No more sounds came from the voice.
Good, thought Vila.
It was eerily quiet. Too quiet.
Argus stopped. The tracks he had been following ended. There had been vehicles here and the group had boarded them.
Troop transports of some kind. Like Borel's, noted Argus as he studied the imprint of the vehicles. He went back to look for Reya's tracks. Now where did she go?
At that moment instinct caused him to whirl around and put up his hands. Someone had launched themselves at him. They both fell to the ground, their bodies rolling, each trying to gain the upper hand. This person was good but he finally managed to trap one of the hands and rolled on top.
"Do you mind getting off me?" Reya told him.
Argus let go of her hand as if it burnt him. He immediately rolled off and stood up. Reya got up and brushed the dirt off her fatigues.
"You're not bad," she remarked critically. She hadn't been able to resist.
"Another test?" asked Argus sarcastically. Actually he thought that she wasn't bad either.
"No. Just some fun," she replied.
"You're crazy. You know that? I could have killed you."
"You're too good for that."
Argus looked at her suspiciously. "You knew I would follow?"
"Of course. You're very predictable."
Argus scowled at her. At least the insult was familiar territory. A compliment from her made him uneasy.
"Well since you know everything, do you know where the group went? I'm assuming these were the infiltrators we were looking for?"
"You assume correctly. We have to get back to the cycles. We'll talk on the way."
Cally waved her electronic key across the door panel of her apartment. Delik had set this place up for her as part of her cover. The door slid open and she entered. The automatic lights came on and the door slid closed behind her.
She was shocked to find Delik and Jenna sitting inside waiting for her.
"I thought you said we should have as little contact as possible," she remarked to Jenna.
"They're watching you. Not your apartment," Jenna told her.
Cally had been aware that she had been followed ever since the day the bar owner had sent her up to the tenth floor.
"Now are you finally going to tell us what's going on?" Jenna asked Delik.
"You've been up to the tenth floor?" Delik asked Cally.
She proceeded to tell them of her strange encounter.
"That was Kam. The one with the bass voice," Delik told her. "I told you he would notice you." He was sounding very pleased with himself.
"You still haven't told us why you were so sure he would," Jenna reminded him.
"Oh didn't I say? Kam was involved with a girl from this bar. Or I should say, he still is. But no one has seen her in months. And he's practically lived there since she disappeared."
I can hear a coincidence coming, thought Jenna. "Don't tell me. She looks just like Cally."
"Well, not exactly. Cally has some similar features. Especially around the eyes."
"That must be why they asked me if I had a sister," Cally remarked.
"They asked you that?" Jenna asked.
"That was their last question before they let me go."
"So where do we go from here?" Jenna asked Delik.
"Just continue what you've been doing Cally. He's going to contact you again. He won't be able to help himself."
"Have you considered that he may have killed her?" Cally asked.
"Actually, no. He was in love with her. It drove his father crazy."
That must have been what Rane had been talking about, thought Jenna.
"What was her name?" asked Cally.
"It's best that you don't know that," he told her.
"You've given a good performance so far," Delik said reassuringly. His voice was like silk. "Oh by the way, they checked those references I gave you as a cover story."
Cally looked alarmed.
"But don't worry. I made sure they were real references. So you're clear."
"I'm impressed," said Jenna.
"Does that mean I'm growing on you?" he asked.
"Don't push your luck."
"When will you ever stop thinking the worst of me?"
"I'll let you know. You seem to keep forgetting the incident that landed me and Cally chained in the cellar."
Delik sighed. "So who's getting the bed?"
"Well, we can't leave until after Cally leaves. Remember? They're following her."
She had forgotten that.
"That's easy," said Cally. "I will make a trip out to the food market. That way they will follow me and you can go after I leave the apartment."
Delik looked very disappointed.