Julie looked at the huge shuttle bay doors in wonder. Willie and Mike stood with her. After a short pause, Mike looked back at Julie. "I hope he knows what he's doing.", he said. "Yeah", Julie sighed, also turning her eyes away from the doors. "And I hope we know what we're doing, too. What're we going to do now, until we hear from them again?" "Perhaps Philip can tell us what to expect from the Leader. In the meantime, perhaps we should look into what we'll be doing with LA. No one's heard from any of the State or Town officials for months, and we might be the only organized group out there.", Mike said. They turned around and walked up to where Philip was standing in front of Diana and James. Philip turned toward the small group of resistance people when he heard them approach. "You're welcome to join me on the bridge, as soon as I see these two to their cells. We'll not be able to work out all the details of the peace negotiations until the Leader is done talking with Elizabeth, but we should be able to discuss some matters.", he said. Just then a Visitor trooper shouted an alarm. "Commander! The Leader's shuttle just disappeared from the Flight control screen." Philip turned around as if stung. The resistance also started, looking at each other and at Philip, who went over to the nearest screen and requested the full information. "What happened?", he asked the trooper. "It just disappeared. I was monitoring its flight, but when it reached the dark side of the planet, just before it'ld fly out of our range and I'd have to give it over to one of the other ship's Flight Control, the signal went off the screen.", the Visitor stammered, catching the mood of his Commander and the others looking over his shoulder at the monitor. Philip spoke to the Visitor trooper. "Contact the Mother ships on that side of the planet and ask if they saw anything. I want to know what is going on." The trooper typed a few commands on the computer console, then looked up at Philip. "The Rome ship reports seeing a disturbance in the sky, possibly an explosion, at the time the shuttle disappeared, sir." Philip swallowed hard. "Get them back on line and give me any details they got. I need to know exactly what happened out there." Diana's voice, coming from across the shuttle bay, made them all turn around. "I think it's pretty obvious what happened out there. The resistance and the Fifth Column traitors have blown the leader's shuttle out of the sky. Seize them!", Diana ordered the few troopers in the bay. Most of the troopers hesitated, obviously not quite following what was happening, but a few immediately pulled their firearms and advanced on Philip and the rest. Diana had made sure she had some of her people at hand. Philip's face and voice were hard as stone. "You arranged all of this. You actually assassinated the Leader. How can you possibly think you'll get away with this?" "How could I have assassinated the Leader?", Diana asked innocently. "I was standing there under guard, because you and your traitorous friends set me up by blowing that first shuttle. But YOU are definitely not gonna get away with it." she said. The Visitor troops, knowing she'd indeed been nowhere near the shuttle and pulled along by the ones who'd been Diana's all along, closed in on the small group standing around the monitor. "This is ridiculous,", Julie cried. "You can't really believe we'ld blow up the Leader's shuttle, definitely not with Elizabeth aboard. Of course Diana didn't get near the shuttle, but she's the one who's behind it!" The troopers were not impressed. Mike, Julie, Willie and Philip backed slowly up against the computer console. "Looks like it's time for plan B", Mike said softly. "If we only get the slightest opening, we'll make a break for it." "Got you", Julie whispered back. She didn't see an opening coming any time soon, though. Then, from somewhere to the left, a laser pistol was fired and took one of the troopers out. "Thelma", Willie said, while they all ran for the door, which fortunately was right next to the console. The troopers were taken by surprise, and they all made it out into the corridors. They heard shouts behind them, but they managed turn the corner and barricade the next door before Diana's troopers could catch up. They ran for the nearest weapon's locker and armed themselves with laser pistols. Then Mike turned to Philip. "We've got a landing craft in bay 3, you better come with us", he said, but Philip shook his head. "Diana's got a large number of troops on her hand, but it's still mutiny. I have to try and save as much as I can here.", he said. "If I can get the situation under control, I'll get in touch with you." Mike hesitated only a moment before nodding. "Good luck", he said, then took off the other way. Julie, Willie and of course Thelma followed closely. Diana obviously did not have control of the whole ship yet, and they reached the shuttle bay on the third level without further incidents. Then they were clear of the Mother Ship. When Diana took control in the shuttle bay, there had been no time to really think about anything but escape, but now what had just happened really hit home. "We'll have to go to the store and pick up some equipment, but I think it'll be safer if we find another base for now. Philip knows this one, and if Diana takes him prisoner...", Mike said. "We'll keep an eye on the place, though we will probably be able to tell what went down up there from what'll happen to the store." he added. "Kyle was right after all.", Julie said softly. A moment of silence followed. "Kyle, and Elizabeth", Mike said. "Do you think there's any chance they're still alive?" Julie shook her head sadly. "We all know Elizabeth has worked miracles before, but I'm afraid they're gone. They blew the shuttle, Mike. SHE blew it." No one had to ask who Julie meant. Silence fell again until Mike put the shuttle down near the store that had been their latest Headquarters. Meanwhile, on a long abandoned field that grew corn once but was mostly weeds now, Kyle and Elizabeth were taking shelter from the pouring rain underneath the wreckage of the Leader's shuttle. Elizabeth huddled closer against Kyle, pulling him tight, both for comfort and warmth. "You were great, flying the shuttle and setting it on the ground.", she said admiringly. Kyle answered with a short laugh, "If you insist, it wasn't so bad for a crash. But I couldn't have done anything if you hadn't kept the power going in that thing." "But I couldn't keep her in the air any more than you could," Elizabeth said. "Now how are we gonna go back home?" "I don't even know where we are," Kyle answered. "As soon as the rain stops, we'll have to find that out first. I'm afraid we might be a long way from L.A., though." "You think we are in Europe or something?", Elizabeth asked. "That could be. It'd fit the time difference. It's hard to tell exactly, but once it gets light, I can calculate about what time zone we're in by looking at my watch and seeing what time it is in L.A." Kyle said. Elizabeth shivered, and they huddled even closer. "We should try to get a bit of sleep", Kyle said. "We can't move about in the dark in this weather, but we don't know what we'll find in the morning, what we're up against." Elizabeth laid her head against Kyle's chest and they were silent, but neither had slept much when the first light appeared. The small group of resistance fighters quickly gathered most of their gear from the Headquarters and loaded it into the van. Willie and Thelma drove it off toward an abandoned insurance office several blocks away, where they could set up a new HQ in case it was needed, and Mike and Julie took up a position from where they could see anyone coming toward the store. Several hours passed, in which they sometimes exchanged a few words about the events of that day, but mostly just watched the store and the surrounding area in silence. Then a man came walking quickly from the opposite direction, scanning both ways before ducking into the doorway and knocking on the door. Mike and Julie looked around, scanning the area for other people, then crossed over to the store and called softly to the man. "Hey! Looking for us?" Mike said. The man turned around, and Julie recognized him. "Howie", she said. "What happened? Do you have news?" Then Mike also identified the man in human clothing as the Visitor Fifth Columnist who had helped them several months ago when Willie had been shot. "I can't stay long, but I had to warn you. Philip told me where to find you. Diana has taken over the ship, she has arrested Philip and Lydia on charges of treason. She's going to interrogate them. Philip said he'll try to hold out as long as possible, but he did warn you to be careful with any things or places he knows about.", Howie said. "We know something of Diana's interrogation methods." Mike said grimly. "I guess that means the war isn't over yet." Julie said just as grimly. "I'm afraid it isn't," Howie said. "There was still some fighting aboard the Mother ship when I left, but almost everything fell apart when Diana announced Philip and Lydia had been taken into custody. She announced the charges over the ship's intercom system, and all but the real Fifth Columnists went over to Diana. The Fifth Column got hit hard - I'll be surprised if there's more than a handful left after tonight." "Then you should come with us this time," Mike said. Howie shook his head. "I have to get in touch with our people aboard the Paris Mother Ship, and warn them. I was one of two inter- ship contacts, and the other contact got taken into custody today. I must go right away and get to them before Diana interrogates her, and gets the means of rounding up most of the Fifth Column on that ship, too." Howie shook hands with Mike and Julie. "See you around the galaxy, maybe.", he said. "Good luck.", Mike said, and Julie added "Be careful". Then Howie took off in the direction he had come from, leaving Mike and Julie to take the bad news to Willie, Thelma and the rest of the world. Julie took off for the insurance office which was to be their new base of operations, while Mike stayed behind to see whether anything else might happen to the store, and to make sure any people who did not yet know all the events that had taken place those last hours would not get caught in anything happening to it. The first thing Julie did when she got to the new base, was curse. She had been keeping her emotions under tight control ever since the first sign of trouble aboard the Visitor Mother Ship, and once she pulled the door shut behind her, she had to let go of some of it. Willie gave her a worried look. "I take it that means the news was no good.", he said softly. Julie gathered herself, let out a long breath, and finally answered, "No, it's not.", and she proceeded to tell Willie what she had just heard from Howie. When she was done, another moment of silence followed, then she looked around and went over to where Willie had just started to install the communications equipment. There still was no time for feelings, she had to get on the air and tell the other resistance groups out there what had happened. She already knew who she had to contact first of all. Hearing the voice of Ham Tyler was a greater relief than Julie had ever thought it would be. She might not like all of Tyler's methods some of the time, but in the years of fighting side by side against the Visitors they had got along well. "Am I glad to hear your voice," Julie said when they made contact. And the same tough fighter, who never let his own emotions show, heard the relief in her voice and asked, "What's wrong, Julie?" As every time before, a short period of silence followed when Julie related the events of the day. They were, after all, some pretty serious events. Then, Tyler came back on the air. "Chris and I will come to L.A. as soon as we get the news out in the Chicago area. Is there anything you need over there?", he asked her. Julie answered, "No, not really, we still have everything, except people. We could really use you guys here. We have no real fighters left. There are a few new people who joined since you left, but they just don't have the experience." She let out a long sigh, and added, "Looks like they're gonna get it, though." Tyler replied, "You are a real fighter, you and Donovan. Just don't tell him I said so." "Thank you," Julie replied. "Listen, do you know how I can get a hold of Robin? I have to tell her...", she trailed off. "She was in New York until yesterday that I know of," Tyler answered. "She might have wanted to come back if the war had really been over, but I don't think she would be on her way yet. No one has really started to move yet." "I'll try her over there," Julie said. "I better radio her and get this over with. It'll take a while before everyone hears the news anyway. Hopefully not too many people will be caught unprepared, but I have to talk to Robin before she hears it through some other channel." "Chris and I are on our way," Tyler said. "We'll be a few days, under current conditions, but we'll get there by Thursday if we can. Take care. Out." With a "Thanks, Ham. Julie out." Julie signed off, too. Then she sighed deep before picking up the mike again and radioing New York. It took not long for someone to find Robin, who had been at the Freedom Network broadcasting station since the cease-fire had started. Julie had told the woman who manned the radio in short what had happened, and Robin had obviously picked up on her mood, sounding worried as she came on. "Julie, this is Robin. What is going on?" Julie swallowed deeply, then said, "Robin, I don't know how to tell you this, but Elizabeth... I'm sorry, but we must assume that Elizabeth is dead.", she finished. She heard Robin's breath catch. "Dead? Elizabeth? But how? What happened?", she managed to get out, and Julie told her what had taken place. Only when she had told the whole story it really started to sink in by Robin what Julie was saying, and she struggled to keep her voice steady enough to ask for the how and where, which Julie did not know any good answers to. Julie could hear the woman who had been on the radio, and another voice in the background, and knew Robin was at least not alone. "Look, Robin, I am really sorry, but I don't know anything else. Do you have anyone there you can be with for now?" she asked. "Yes, I, I think so," Robin stammered. Taking another deep breath, Julie said, "Listen, I have to sign off now, there's people all over the world who need to know about today, maybe we can talk later, okay?" Robin choked out, "I, I'll be okay.", but didn't sound it. Julie kept her own voice steady as she said, "Robin, if you want to come back to us, you are always welcome, I want you to know that. Think about it. Julie out." As she logged off, she took her head in her hands and sat for a long moment. Then she took up the mike again and set to the long and tiring job of calling all other resistance units she could reach. Slowly, other resistance members, sent by Mike as they came to the old Headquarters, or informed by others who had gone there, started to arrive at the new base. It did not take long to get everything set up again, and it was not long before Willie came over to where Julie was broadcasting. "Can I get you something to eat?", he asked. Julie did not feel like eating at all, but she knew this would be a very long day and she had not eaten since going to the Mother Ship that morning, so she answered, "I think I better. Just some sandwiches or something, I'll eat here." Willie went to get them, and that was when Mike walked in. "How are they taking it?", he asked Julie. She looked up with a weary look. "Most people take it better than I expected, perhaps those who've been in the resistance long enough weren't as sure it was true to begin with. The setback and disappointment will be far worse for the people who really believed the peace was for real." "It's a good thing Diana did not have everything together for a really big strike right away, at least we got some time to warn everybody, spread the news." Mike said. "Yeah," Julie said. "Especially the regular civilians and the smaller groups would've been sitting ducks." Then Willie came in with the sandwiches. "Here they are. Would you like some, too?", he asked Mike. "I'll take some," Mike replied. "We're going to have to get some more food before there's a renewed rush on the few stores that are still open." he added. Julie agreed, and they decided to sent Jolene and Terry out to get some supplies at first light. They were relatively new members of the resistance, joining up after their home town was raided and the people who were left scattered. They didn't have the experience some others had, but they knew how to stay clear of trouble and they were good at finding places to stock up on all those regular things, like clothes, food, and other day-to-day items.
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