"Should I sanitize the area around your present location?" thought Handy.
"Sure. Get'em all if you can, then guard this location so the Hoyla can rest up," Pace responded staring at the ground in front of her.
"There is a group of seven Hoyla in the grove of trees next to the bend in the creek," Handy stated.
"How do you know they are Hoyla?" Pace asked.
"Their heart beats are fast and strong. The Celders imitation is soft and steady," answered Handy.
"What! How long have you known of this difference in heart beats?" Pace thought not wanting to disturb the resting Hoyla.
"Just now," Handy returned.
"Good thing. I would have dismantled you. Take me to them, then come back here and guard these guys," Pace ordered.
Pace stood in front of a stand of trees.
"Hello there! I'm Pace. Do you know who I am?" she asked.
"Ya. We are bait. Run," yelled a voice in the dark.
"Not any more. No Celder for a quite a ways. We got em. Your safe." Pace replied.
There was a rustle of leaves, a snapping of trigs, and then the face could be seen in the moon light.
"We're up on that ridge. How Mobil are you?" asked Pace.
"We have injuries, but we will make," said one of the Hoyla.
Pace could tell their injuries would prevent them from making the trek.
"We'll use the cargo ship," Pace stated.
Soon they were on the ridge.
"Now there Handy, how far away can you detect heart beats?" Pace asked.
"Individuals, if it is quiet, about ten yards. In battle, nine inches or less," Handy replied.
"I believe a stress test could come in handy. What other differences about the Celder can you detect?" asked Pace with impatience.
"If crowded in a room I suppose it would be possible to detect differences between their carbon dioxide levels and levels produced by most other species. The Celder have very efficient respiratory systems. However, long range x-ray, radar, and thermal scanners will be the ideal," Handy replied.
Within an hour all the Hoyal were safe aboard the cargo ship.
"Take them to the island training base. I'm going to do a little reconnaissance," Pace ordered the cargo ship.
Pace made her way down the valley to where the creek spread into small trickles creating a marsh. For a moment she thought how peaceful it looked in the moon light. Then she noticed there was no noise except small splashes made by the water flowing over the pebbles attempting to block its way.
"Where are you?" Pace thought scanning with the inferred filter.
Suddenly there was a Celder smashing rocks she held in each hand on a large rock in the creek. It was obvious she had been hiding in the water. Dozens of Celder rose from the creek, looked around, and ran toward Pace. Pace cut them down with little effort. Several made their way up a short slope disappearing behind the trees.
"I'm over here," Pace shouted as she ran after them.
Pace rounded the trees and saw the Celder crawl into a whole on the other side of the small clearing.
"Anyone order a cave collapse? Got one. I make deliveries," Pace said out laud as she waked toward the whole.
The ground beneath her collapsed and she feel into a trench about ten feet deep. The Celder wasted no time in covering her with boulders and dirt.
"Handy, can you hear me? Monitor AL-22 are you receiving this transmission? Control, give me a diagnosis," Pace requested from her personal control chip.
"Personal shielding is functioning at thirty two percent, emergency oxygen with recycling and reduced activity could last approximately five days, waist recycling is good for one cycle, thermal maintenance will last two weeks or more," reported the chip.
"Okay, Handy will come looking in a few hours at worst. He will get my last signal reception to the monitor, and I will be dug up like vegetable. Could be worse." thought Pace while trying to slow her heart rate.
Paces' shielding was strong enough to allow her two inches of wiggle room head to foot.
"The language of the Celder is similar to Yi. There are references to a file named Umber. File Umber is coded. The code is not breakable. There are many parts that require inside knowledge as to colloquial definitions. However, there are extensive listings of locations, commerce, and weaponry including nuclear and biologics. There is extensive info on genetics as well," announced OM.
"Anything that would lead us to their home world?" asked Trent.
"Not by name. The inter-galactic charts they have used for navigation indicate one pathway from the neighboring galaxy they reference as Nee. It is entirely possible to follow that passage to a location which is possibly their home world," OM stated.
"Their propulsion system, physical structure, and life support technology suggest they could not possibly traverse such a long distance," Trent thought.
"They may have used cryogenics to survive the required acceleration, but so far we have not seen evidence of such apparatus. Then there is why come to this galaxy when they have a whole galaxy of their own. Perhaps they only get supplies from Nee, or someone else has made or is making the trip," suggested OM.
"Perhaps they have eaten everything in their galaxy and are farming this one, and there could be pathways to other galaxies used by other sets of Celder," thought Trent.
"I believe we will need a lot of assistance," OM stated.
"I wonder if there are worse critters than the Celder out there?" thought Trent.
"Logic suggests there must be. After all, all things are predator and prey," OM stated.
"There is a delightful thought. I wonder what it would look like?" thought Trent.
"Perhaps we could make one. In fact, I have the blueprint ready to go," OM stated.
"What does it look like?" asked Trent.
"A virus," OM answered.
"Wake me when we get to Hoyla," Trent thought.