So she would die now, and for what, for not cooperating? Words of protest tumbled into her mind, but none of them made it past her tongue. It was all too quick.
So, the backhoe that neither of us could drive sat there waiting, and Greg had the key, which was the place to start – He sat in the cab and started the engine, then basically fiddled about until he knew what most of the things did, or at least how to move it forwards and backwards.
The caravan was on the road, too, and had been there through the night. We picked the spot for our driveway and Greg practiced with the backhoe by filling in the sudden drop from hill to roadside, and generally smoothing down a pathway. It was still very steep but was the only way onto the block.
When all was as good as it could be, Greg towed the caravan off the road and up to the brow of the hill where it would remain for some months before we ventured deeper. Our first mission a success, we then encountered the first snag. Greg couldn’t turn the engine off again. The key didn’t do it.
After half an hour searching for a switch or a lever that would turn the beast off, Greg gave up and asked me to give it a go. I did pretty much what he did, I searched everywhere, but finally spotted a bit of metal sticking out that had a screw thread, but nothing on it. Wondering if a button was missing on the thing, I played with it. It turned out to be the decompression lever and the engine, thankfully, died.
Great. So now we had Greg with a basic understanding of how to operate the backhoe, and me knowing how to turn it off. The next day was Monday and Greg went to work, leaving me alone to “tend the property”. That involved putting a road in, he informed me, jokingly, before heading away for the day. He had done the driveway bit, maybe a hundred feet, so it was my turn to learn and operate the heavy machine.
I don’t think he was expecting much, and I know I could have left it, but I thought I might just give it a go and surprise him. I was the one in for some surprises, however. If we thought the driveway was steep, I was about to learn that the other side of the hill was even steeper and dropped down far lower than the road.
Tires squealing, the body of the big truck trying to push past the cab, promising to jack-knife if he didn’t stay in front, Raoul eased up on the brakes and let his rig promise imminent and total destruction.
The electromagnetic buffer kicked in, cushioning the impact but jolting them violently all the same as he collided with the carrier.
His gaze rose from his notes and focused on nothing for a moment. Then, looking perplexed, he faced her. She met his stare, not knowing what the problem was.
“The Khekarian Empire is the largest ruling force in the galaxy,” he enunciated with deliberate patience, “Do you mean to tell me you really know nothing about our society? Our ways?”
Aleisha forced a brave answer. “It didn’t seem important.”
“It’s extremely important.”
“Rest up awhile, Stephen, you work too hard.”
“I need another form, here, Charlie. Had an accident out on the highway, got a death to report.”
There’ll be a body.
Charlie fumbled with his glasses, knocking them off his face.
“If you dislike Terrans so much, why choose me? Why not choose a Khekarian or a Chiddran?”
“We have truthseers. While they are excellent in knowing a lie when they hear one, they rarely offer the scope of a good Terran psychic. As we are at war with the Chiddran, I would hardly trust a Chiddran. Most of all, I want someone who is not sophisticated in the art of duplicity. Someone who has no other agenda, no contact, nor want of any, with the manipulators of court intrigue. There are factions out there, some deadly in their dealings, some not. I need people around me I can trust. You will help me with that.”
“No,” Aleisha ventured. “There are better psychics out there, I didn’t come here for you.”
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NOW, HERE’S THE QUESTION… After a near-miss on the road, one of Raoul’s team members ended up in an unfortunate position in his cab. Who was the team member and how did they end up?
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