"Stop! We move on to the next post," stated Pace in a very firm and demanding voice.
The Hoyla stopped in their tracks, turned around, and they moved on to the next post.
"Either they can fend off the Celder or they can't. We'll know on the way back," Pace stated.
"You don't know what it's like inside a post when the Celder are attacking. It's horrible," said one of the Hoyla.
Pace had been looking backward while she was talking to the Hoyla. When she turned back around there was a line of Celder holding weapons to the throats of hostages.
"Whoa," Pace said in surprise.
"Drop your weapons or their heads come off," demanded one of the Celder.
"Drop the weapons!" different Celder yelled.
Pace opened fire cutting them all in half. The stunned Hoyla stood in frozen in silence for a few moments.
"Why, why did you do that?" shouted one of the Hoyla as he run up to the bodies who's worm blood was steaming in the cold night air.
"They are all Celder. Check their mouths," Pace said as she continued to walk toward the next post.
"How did you know?" asked the same Hoyla after opening the mouth of one hostage.
"If I were one of those hostages, I'd be showing every sign of fear possible. Let's move," Pace answered.
"OM, how far has the message concerning the Celder reached?" Trent thought
"The transmission will have reached Lummet, Lindrous, Waklon, Heptom, and Hoylous. I keep the transmission to normal light speed because none of the planets we have had interaction with were advanced enough make use of hyper transmissions. I will send additional transmitters in other directions once our interactions with the Celder have diminished. The one sent toward Loma Dena will take another two months to complete the journey. The one I sent toward Hoylous will continue on from there, but I am unaware of who might lie beyond," OM answered.
"If the Lingget are still around they'll be more than advanced enough to be a great help in with the Celder. Unless they created the Celder," Pace added.
"That is not a cheerful note. What is your current situation?" Trent asked.
"Well, prowling around in the dark for Celder is not my first choice of activities, but it's stimulating. Not in a good way stimulating. No injuries," said Pace.
"That's post four. I don't see a light." stated one of the Hoyla.
Pace used the inferred scop, but could not see signs of life.
"We will approach one step at a time and in unison. Follow in my steps," ordered Pace.
They slowly made their way to the post. It was empty.
"With this amount of blood I would say they put up good fight," Pace
"The blood trail leads that way," a Hoyla said in a whisper.
"No need to whisper. They know exactly where we are, one just moved into the trees," Pace replied.
"Do we follow the blood trail?" asked a Hoyla.
"They would like us to do just that at night. We will stay here til light. Inside," ordered Pace.
That morning they followed the blood trail to small opening in the forest floor. The bodies of the Hoyla sentries had been obviously butchered for food. One of the Hoyla became ill having never seen such a sight.
"It gets worse," Pace added.
"We hear stories, but seeing for myself," said another of the group standing in frozen stance.
"Ya. This is meant to force you to lose composer. If they are going to fight it's better for them if your functioning in a state of mind that interferes with competency," said Pace, then thought to herself, "I'm starting to sound like OM."
"It's working," said another.
"Okay, you guys stay at the post. I'll send replacements in a few minutes. Trent how do things look at your end?" thought Pace.
"Fine. No sign of Celder because there is nothing to eat. Their home planet must be a pleasureful place," Trent thought.
"I can't help but ponder the fate of an untold number of beings on other planets dying at the hands of Celder. OM, can you predict how long it might take to eradicate the Celder here," asked Pace.
"Not possible to calculate do to the Celders ability to hibernate and live underground. If they chose to fight it out in an all or nothing campaign, a year maybe. Big maybe," OM answered.
"Anything happening at the moment?" Pace asked OM.
"We have not stopped firing in the last fifteen minutes. The Celder have lost two hundred and six, seven, eight, you get the idea. It seems strange they maintain the same tactics," OM answered.
"With better communications they might alter tactics," Pace replied.
"That would do them little good. When fighting they charge at an opponent knowing the beings standing on either side are going to put him down. When they take a hostage, it is for food and to get a little closer to their targets. They are definitely designed for individual performance and sacrifice. That is good for everyone else," thought OM
"OM, can you make me a probe that will scan just for the word Lingget without slowing down on the Celder?" ask Trent.
"You will have it in thirty minutes," OM replied.
"Have you detected any useable or repairable warships?" Pace asked OM.
"None of the warships or weapons that I have identified are restorable. They all have composite components that were not engineered for usage of three hundred years. You could organize a group to engineer a projectile weapons production facility with existing usable equipment," suggested OM.
"Good idea. I'll start on that right now. Can you make a link we can use?" Pace asked.
"I do not have all of the raw materials. Plus, it would require me to stop all other activity. A link as many small, intricate, and delicate components," OM replied.
"We'll make do," Pace thought back.
" Pace! Pace!" yelled a voice from just outside the window she was standing next to.