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SOUL-QUEST: RIVER OF THE SOUL

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Soul Quest: River of the soul
By Kay De'Vil

 

Bullets peppered the ground behind them as they ran for cover. It had been a set up. The Aliens had been lying in wait for them and now they were trapped, cut off from the rest of the team.

Dr. Suzanne McCullough glanced over her shoulder as she ran towards the riverbank, the only source of cover near by. Her friend and teammate Lt. Colonel Paul Ironhorse was several feet behind her, laying down covering fire. She could see that the Aliens had now left the cover of the trees and where giving chance.

With her attention still on Paul and the advancing Aliens she didn't see the log ahead of her, which was partly covered with leaves, and so was unable to stop herself from tripping over it. She hit the forest floor hard, knocking the wind from her.

Knelt on the ground gasping for breath she was shocked when a strong hand closed around her arm and pulled her to her feet. "You alright?" Questioned Paul as he continued to fire at the Aliens. Unable to speak yet, she simply nodded and allowed herself to be propelled forward by his firm hand.

Realising he had to buy Suzanne enough time to reach the river bank, Paul dropped to one knee behind the log and emptied his Uzi's magazine at the Aliens. Tossing aside the empty gun he retrieved two grenades from his utility belt and pulled the pins. Standing he threw them at the Aliens before turning and running after her.

Jumping over the edge of the riverbank Suzanne gasped as she found herself immersed in ice cold water. As she returned to the surface coughing and gasping for air she could still hear gunfire from behind her. For several heart stopping moments the gunfire stopped, then a fast moving form appeared at the edge of the bank and dove into the water just as two explosions
rocked the forest.

Turning in the frigid water to search for Paul she was relieved when she saw him broaching the surface and swim towards her.

Already shivering both from the temperature of the water and the rush of adrenaline coursing through her body she didn't move, she simply watched as he approached. "We have to keep moving" he stated as he grasped her arm and began to drag her out deeper into the river "There are more of them on the way, it's not safe here." Returning to her senses she nodded and began to swim, staying as close to him as the increasing current would allow.

As they reached the middle of the river they were caught by it's strong pull and began to be swept quickly down stream.

The rivers current was faster than he had anticipated and he soon realised that if he didn't do something quickly there was a strong possibility they could get separated.

Grabbing Suzanne as she came into reach he pulled her to him. It took almost all of his strength to move his body so he and Suzanne were floating down stream feet first with her body resting on top of his. Wrapping his arms around her and resting her head on his shoulder he offered words of reassurance "It's going to be OK Suzanne" she just nodded as she placed her hands upon his which where tightly clasped around her waist.

Just beyond the bend in the river they were quickly coming up on he could see the spray of white water and vaguely hear the thunder of fast moving water, crashing against the rocks.

Cursing he searched the banks ahead but could see no way out of the water. Increasing his grip on her he looked into her eyes "What ever happens, DO NOT let go of me"

"Not a chance of that happening" she replied with a weak smile.

She knew what they were heading into and she understood they couldn't risk getting separated.

He returned the smile and kicked out, turning them into a better position to brave the rapids ahead.

As they entered the rapids he did his best to control their path and avoid as many of the boulders as possible, but the pain in his back told him he hadn't been completely successful. He heard Suzanne gasp and risked a glance at what she had seen.

A hundred yards ahead of them the river suddenly vanished, they where headed for a waterfall, he had no idea how high it was or what awaited them at the bottom.

Silently cursing the cruel twist of fate he tried to fight against the current, to edge them towards the bank but it was too late. Within seconds they where thrown over the edge of the waterfall and where falling towards an unknown fate.

****************

As consciousness slowly returned, Suzanne tried to roll onto her back but something heavy was laid on top of her. Opening her eyes she took a moment to clear her head.

Almost every inch of her body hurt and she found herself wondering what could have possibly happened. As she felt the water lapping over her legs, their ordeal came crashing back to her. She remembered the Aliens, the rapids and especially the waterfall. Carefully releasing his clasped fingers she eased her abused body out from under the weight she had quickly realised to be Paul.

Even after loosing consciousness he had somehow managed to maintain his grip on her. She wondered if he had brought them to the shoreline or if it had been the river its self. It didn't really matter she realised, all that mattered was finding out how badly Paul had been injured.

After checking herself over she had been both amazed and relieved to discover that she had only suffered a few cuts and bruises. She could only hope that Paul had gotten off as lightly as she had.

Pain greeted him as he slowly returned to consciousness, along with exploring touches all over his body. Groaning in objection, he tried to remove one of the offending hands but gasped in pain when he moved his right arm. "Don't try to move Paul" came Suzanne's fuzzy but insistent voice "Can you open your eyes for me?" She questioned as he felt a soft, gentle hand touch his cheek.

He wanted nothing more than to return to the pain free oblivion of unconsciousness at that moment but something told him it was important he remain conscious. Slowly he opened his eyes but winced at the bright sunlight. A blurry form appeared above him, blotting out most of the light, easing some of his pain. "How many fingers am I holding up?" Questioned Suzannes calm, professional voice. He squinted trying to see her hand but all he could see where shadows.

Groaning he closed his eyes again "OK lets forget that for the moment. How do you feel, does anything hurt?"

"Everything" he replied sounding weak, even to himself. "What happened?"

"We took a roller coaster ride, without the roller coaster." His eyes shot open and he sat up quickly as he remembered what had happened but instantly regretted it as his body cried out in objection "Suzanne... you... alright?" he gasped as he fought back waves of nausea.

The soft sand cushioned his body as she gently guided him back down, his eyes were looking around frantically as if searching for something. Even in the amount of pain she was certain he was in he still considered her safety and well being above his own.

For a while Pauls protective nature had been the cause of many a joke to the members of the Blackwood Project. However as time had passed and they had gotten to know Ironhorse better, they each realised that Paul didn't risk his own life simply because it was his job to protect them. He did it because he hated the thought of loosing anyone in his unit if it was not
absolutely necessary, and he mourned each lose of human life in his own, private way.

As he groaned and bit his lip fighting back the pain, she gently placed her hand on his forehead, tenderly stroking his head as if he were Debi and she could take the pain away with a simple touch.

She knew it wasn't true, she knew that she couldn't make the pain go away, not without proper medical treatment but that meant they had to move. They had to find Harrison and the others. "Paul, I need to finish examining you. Do you feel up to it?" He nodded and turned his head into her palm, her touch clearly offering some small measure of comfort.

As she gently ran her hands over his body, searching for broken bones she reflected on how lucky they both were to even be alive. She glanced up at the waterfall, it was over 100 feet high with large boulders at the base, it was nothing short of a miracle that neither of them had landed on the boulders and been killed instantly. As she ran her hands gently over his chest she watched his face for signs of pain. She had known Ironhorse too long to expect him to tell her if he was in pain. All that would matter to him would be getting them to safety; his own physical injuries would certainly take a back seat to that.

His brow creased and he bite down on his lower lip as her fingers brushed over the left side of his rib cage, she could feel the injured ribs beneath the fabric of his combat fatigues. She wasn't sure if they were broken, but she suspected they were at the very least fractured.

Kneeling at his side after completing her examination of him she took a moment to steady herself "Paul, your right arm is broken"

"I. Figured that out" he replied with a small smile "Ribs?"

"Fractured, perhaps broken I can't be sure"

"What else?"

"I'm worried about your head injury, I'm certain you have a serious concussion and it hasn't stopped bleeding yet"

"Head wounds, bleed... a lot." She nodded and sat back on her calves, her hand once again going to his brow gently stroking away the lines of pain. Slowly he opened his eyes and looked up at her, she wasn't prepared for the level of pain she saw reflected in his dark, seductive eyes.

Unwilling to move yet; he studied her with his eyes searching for any injuries, he was relieved when all he could see were some cuts and bruises. Lifting his left arm and pressing it against his injured ribs he prepared himself for the pain that was about to come. They had to keep moving he had to get them back to the rest of the unit and away from the Aliens as quickly as possible. Taking several deep breaths he forced himself up into a sitting position. Her hands were instantly upon him, trying to force him to lie back down but he knew they didn't have time. He could already hear the Aliens approaching he knew it would take them sometime to find a way down to them, but the same couldn't be said for their guns. "We... have to... get moving... their... coming" he gasped as he reached out for her shoulder, using her as support as he got to his feet.

Once he was on his feet she quickly joined him, he swayed dangerously and he almost collapsed but she held onto him until he had balanced himself. Now she too could hear the voices of the approaching Aliens, speaking in their native tongue, encouraging her to assist him as they started towards the tree line.

(PART 2)

Harrison paced outside the station wagon, his eyes scanning the surrounding tree line for any signs of their missing friends. Even now he couldn't understand how they had become separated, all he remembered was the hail of bullets that had struck the trees were his head had been. If it had not been for Streaks and his quick reflexes he was certain he would have been
dead.

Sergeant Deriman jogged over to him from the military transport and communications vehicle that Omega squad had travelled in. As he came to stand at Harrison's side, he too searched the tree line "There's a lot of talk on the Alien frequency" he stated

"Do you think it's about Paul?"

"Possible, they had planned to wipe us out today. They knew we were coming and laid a trap for us. The Colonel and Dr McCullough are the only ones not accounted for, thanks to the Colonel's warning we didn't suffer any casualties."

"Apart from Paul and Suzanne" muttered Harrison as he lowered himself into the front passenger seat of the station wagon. Hearing the fear in Blackwoods voice Deriman laid a supporting hand upon the mans shoulder "We don't know that they are casualties. I'm not counting the Colonel out until I see a body and even then not until he's six feet under"

"I just hope your right"

"If the Colonel is alive, he's going to back track for a few clicks. He won 't risk leading the Aliens right to us."

"So how long do we wait?"

"Our position is secure for the moment, so I suggest we hold here until dawn. If he and Dr McCullough haven't arrived by then we'll head back to the Cottage and start counter measures"

"What if they've already got him and taken over his body? They could be heading here right now" Harrison looked up at Deriman with concern, the thought of Paul or Suzanne being taken over by the Aliens was something he didn't want to think about, but he had to be a realist in this situation. Paul wouldn't want them to compromise the operation simply because of him.

Stravakos heard Blackwoods question, it was something he to had been thinking about. Like Deriman and Blackwood he didn't want to count the Colonel out yet, but they had to make plans. Exiting the station wagon he headed over to the other members of Omega squad and began to organise them, creating a safety barrier between Blackwood and the main troops from any possible enemies. Even Ironhorse if need be.

************

The sun was quickly setting on them as they made their way through the trees towards what Suzanne hoped was safety. She could see the pain Paul was in and had tried to get him to rest several times but each time she did he simply said that the Aliens were still to close and pressed on.

Now as he trembled at her side she knew she had to make him stop. He stumbled and fell to his knees gasping for air as pain coursed through his body "Paul, we have to rest" she whispered as she knelt at his side, her hand coming to rest on his back. He gasped as her hand lightly touched his back driving him down to the moss-covered ground "Paul?"

"I'm OK, just... give me a minute"

"Your not OK, I can see your in pain. Just lie still, and let me check you over" she instructed. He shook his head and tried to rise but her hand again touched his back, sending him back down to the ground gasping in pain and trembling. Carefully she pulled his shirt up to reveal the
multicoloured array that was his back "Jesus Paul, why didn't you say anything?" She demanded as her fingers brushed over the bruises.

Closing his hands into tight fists he struggled to stop himself from hyperventilating as he fought against the pain her gentle touch was bringing. He knew that they weren't safe yet, they had to keep moving. He hadn't heard the Aliens for the last two hours but simply because he didn't hear them anymore, that didn't mean they weren't still following them. Her felt her slowly running her fingers down his spine and bite into his lip when she touched the most tender area "No time... Have to keep going"

"Damn it Paul just lie still!" Hearing the fear in her voice he slowly turned his head so he could see her in the dim light.

He could see the tremble within her own body, she was scared but from her tone he couldn't tell if the tremble was the result of fear, the cold, or perhaps even anger at his hiding his injuries from her.

When finally she lowered his shirt again he lay watching her for a moment; she was chewing on her nails, looking around as if searching for something. When she finally looked at him, he could see tears glistening in her eyes. Slowly moving his hand he touched her hand that rested at his side "I'll be OK"

"You need to be in a hospital Paul, not stuck out here in the middle of nowhere with Aliens chasing us." He smiled and squeezed her hand "You've injured your back Paul. I don't know how serious it is and I don't know how much damage we've already done moving around like we have been"

"I've had worse"

"Will you stop with the macho bullshit Paul this is serious. You could have damaged your spine!" He was stunned by the anger in her voice, but quickly recognised it for what it was; a fear based response. Carefully he turned onto his side and began to sit up "No macho bullshit Suzanne"

"Right" she replied sarcastically. He smiled as she helped him to sit up her arm slipping around his back, being as careful as possible not to aggravate his injuries, where it remained even after he was sat up as straight as his bruised and battered body would allow.

The simply warmth his body brought helped to ease some of the fear she had felt welling up within herself, as his hand tightened around hers she looked at him, suddenly becoming conscious of the closeness of their bodies. She felt awkward but at that moment in time she really didn't care, all that mattered was she was warm, and she wasn't alone. His confident raven eyes watched her as she studied their surroundings, she could feel them following her every move and for a second she wanted to shout at him, to tell him to stop staring at her but she knew he wasn't doing that. He was more than likely checking to make sure she was holding herself together enough to continue. Squaring her shoulders she looked at him with a raised eyebrow, mirroring an expression she had seen him use on Harrison many times "So what now?"

"Now, we get moving again... If you're up to it?" He questioned. She laughed and shook her head in disbelief. He was the one with serious injuries and he was asking if SHE was up to it. "Yeah, I'm up to it. How much further do you think we need to go until we can safely rejoin the
others?"

"Another three clicks... then we can double back" he replied as she stood and reached out a hand to him, helping to ease him to his feet. Sighing she looked at him "In English please?"

"Another hour or so" he replied amusement lacing his voice. As he stood at her side, she once again slipped her arm around him, pulling him closer to her both to support him and to share some of their body heat.

It could get cold in the mountains at night, and as she looked up at the clear sky she realised they were soon to discover exactly how cold.

*************

Harrison wrapped his hands around the cup of coffee Deriman had brought him; the temperature had dropped dramatically the moment the sun had vanished behind the mountains. Now as he stood looking into the dark foreboding tree line his mind wondered, imagining the horrors his friends might have been facing at that moment.

'Suzanne laid dead at an Aliens feet, Paul held securely by a second by the throat.

He cried out in sorrow and pain as he looked at Suzannes motionless body just a few feet away from him. As he turned to look back at the Alien that held him his cold, now emotionless eyes watched as a third arm appeared from the Aliens chest reaching out to him. He uttered one last cry as the hand melded into his skin, and the flash of a blade was seen in the moonlight.

A moment later, both human and Alien lay upon the forest floor, one slowly bleeding to death the other dissolving into a green bubbling mass.'

Harrison shivered and tried to shake the morbid thoughts from his mind, he had to think positively. Ironhorse was a survivor; he had been and always would be. Latching onto that hope Harrison took a sip of his coffee and turned back to where the other members of the team sat awaiting news of their missing comrades.

(PART 3)

More and more Suzanne found herself supporting Paul's weight, clearly his body was reaching its limitations, she had to find them some form of cover. Somewhere they could hold up for the night and get some rest.

They stumbled on into the dark forest for well over an hour, until finally a ray of light penetrated the darkness, guiding them towards what appeared to be a cabin, to what Suzanne hoped would be a warm bed and a hot meal.

At the edge of the tree line Paul brought a halt to their slow advance, he was nervous. Resting against a near by tree he studied the clearing before them that would take them to the cabin, something about this didn't feel right to him and he didn't want them to wonder in their blindly. "Stay here I'm going to check... it out"

"Don't be stupid Paul. You can hardly stand on your own, how the hell do you expect to check the perimeter?" She questioned folding her arms across her chest. He tried to push off the wall in a defiant action to show he was able to perform his duties, but his body agreed with Suzanne and he stumbled back against the tree again. Shaking her head Suzanne touched his shoulder.
"You stay here, I'll check the perimeter and make sure its safe." With no energy to argue he handed her his handgun and watched in silence as she quickly vanished into the darkness.

Moving as quietly as possible she used the cover of the trees to get closer to the cabin, she could see someone moving around inside, but wasn't prepared to risk moving out into the open just yet. Holding the gun slightly raised and aimed towards the cabin she dropped down to her knees and studied the perimeter closely. She couldn't see anything to warrant concern, but she knew she wasn't the one trained to do this, for all she knew she could have been crouched five feet away from a potential hostile and would never know it.

With Suzanne no longer is sight Paul found it harder and harder to remain on his feet. His strength had given out on him along time ago, he had only remained upright and mobile through sheer will power alone. Cursing his own body he slowly slid to the leaf covered ground, his eyes were threatening to close, but he refused to allow them to betray him as well. He had to remain alert and conscious if he and Suzanne were to stand a chance to making it out of here alive and he had no intentions of dying this day.

The movement within the cabin stopped and the light coming from inside diminished. Clearly a lantern lighted the cabin as the light simply dimmed but did not go out completely. With less light penetrating the clearing she made up her mind. It was time to get closer, she had to know what was going on inside before they could decide what they were going to do.

Staying low and keeping the gun at the ready she jogged across the clearing to the East Side of the cabin. Pressing her body against the outer wall she slowly edged her way along until she was beside the window. She listened for a moment, hoping to hear the location of the person or persons within the cabin; the last thing she wanted to do was peek into the window and find herself face to face with the residents. Hearing nothing she suspected that whoever was inside had turned in for the night. After several slow deep breaths she moved to peer into the cabin.

The sound if movement jarred Paul back to full consciousness, he hadn't even noticed he had dropped off and silently shouted at himself for giving in to his weakness. Drawing his hunting knife from its sheath he searched the trees.

A hand suddenly darted out from behind the tree he was resting against and grabbed his wrist, pulling the knife towards his throat. He struggled against the strong grasp using the last of his strength to pull away and struggle to his feet, adrenaline was now coursing through his body, pushing him on past his physical limitations, to a state of awareness he seldom reached.

The knife was jarred from his hand as a dark massed slammed into him, staggering back he stumbled, the mass falling on top of him. Desperately he struck out at his attacker. He had to get to Suzanne, there might be more of them out here, she was alone only his sidearm to defend herself. He managed to deliver a solid blow to his attackers face, he felt a heavy weight descend upon him and he cried out in pain, his bruised and battered body objecting, taking his breath away.

Paul's cry echoed through the night. The moment Suzanne heard it she broke away from the cabin, running as fast as her legs would carry her. It didn't matter if the occupants of the cabin heard her now; all that mattered was getting to Paul.

*************

Everyone at the campsite looked up at the sound of an agonising cry echoing through the forest. Harrison was immediately at his feet and starting towards the tree line, but Deriman and Stravakos both grabbed him holding him back "That's Paul! We have to rescue them!" He tried to break free of their grasps but they remained steadfast. Deriman spun Harrison around to look at him; his own pain and sorrow matching that of the astrophysicists. "It might not be them. It could be a trick; the Aliens might be trying to lead us into a trap" he stated

"But what if it's not, what if it is Paul and he's hurt?"

"If it is the Colonel then he's still alive. He wouldn't want us to come after him at night, not like this, not simply because we heard a cry in the night. We'll start the search in the morning, if that was the Colonel he's going to have to hold on until then"

"But..."

"No buts Doctor. I've known the Colonel a long time so trust me when I say, if we go after him now, in the dark its not going to matter that we did it to save him, he'll bust our balls till the cows come home. I know its hard to sit around here like this, we all feel the same way you do, but we have to do this right. We have to wait for sunrise." The conviction in Deriman voice reached Harrison and he finally looked at the two soldiers. Without a word he allowed them to lead him back over to the campsite, where he sat dow n in silence, his eyes searching the tree line while he sent up a silent prayer for his friends.

(PART 4)

Breaking through the trees she could see someone stood over Paul, throwing caution to the wind she charged at the man, dropping her head she slammed her shoulder into the man's back sending them both crashing to the ground. He struggled beneath her but she kept hitting him, over and over again until the man pushed up tossing her of his back.

Rolling and jumping back up to her feet she pulled the handgun from the back of her jeans were she had hidden it and aimed it at the man. "Set away from him... You just get the hell away from him do you hear me!" As she spoke she flipped off the safety and placed her finger over the trigger, ready to fire should the man make any sudden moves.

The man raised his hands and slowly backed away from Pauls motionless form.

Her eyes shifted to glance at Paul but when she looked back at the man he was gone. Slowly turning in a circle she searched for any signs of the man who she had just attacked but there was no sign of him.

Pauls groan caught her attention and she rushed to his side, keeping the gun at the ready in case the man should appear again. As she knelt at his side a hand suddenly appeared from nowhere and snatched the gun from her hand "if you're going to kill us do it now!" She stated defiantly as she placed her hand on Pauls chest, she could feel is weak heartbeat beneath her hand and looked down into his pale face. "It's OK Paul; you can rest now" she whispered to him, hoping he would pass out again and be saved the sight of her death.

The man stood for a moment just looking at them, the gun held securely in his hand. She looked up at him "Well what are you waiting for?" She demanded not relishing death, but not wanting to prolong Pauls suffering any longer. As she watched him the man did something she hadn't expected, he slipped the gun into his waste band and moved forward, coming to kneel beside her. "I'm not goanna kill you lady. I just came out to see who was sneaking around my place and found your friend here" the man leaned forward listening to Pauls raspy breath. "He doesn't sound to good, help me get him inside." Suzanne knelt there for a moment just looking at the man in disbelief "you goanna help me, or what lady. I'm too old to carry him on my own and dragging him isn't going to do him any good" he stated as he moved to Pauls head. Unable to say anything she stood and moved to lift Pauls legs as the stranger gently lifted his upper body.

The stranger kicked open the door to the cabin and guided them over to a small wooden bed in the far corner of the cabin. Carefully they placed Paul on the bed and Suzanne was finally able to get a good look at the stranger. He was in his mid fifties he stood well over six feet tall, with silver grey hair and ocean blue eyes.

She was surprised that in the soft light of the cabin he looked friendly "I'm sorry about what happened outside" she began "It was just when I heard him cry out I thought you were trying to hurt him"

"Think nothing of it, he thought I was attacking him and thought he needed to protect you from me... Guess I was the one who needed the protection from you" commented the stranger as he rubbed at his side were she had hit him repeatedly. She shifted nervously under his gaze before turning her attention back to Paul.

He stood watching her from the foot of the bed as she slowly and carefully unbuttoned his shirt to reveal a mass of blue/black bruises. Wincing he turned and went into a curtained off area of the cabin, returning a few minutes later with a first aid kit.

As Suzanne carefully eased his arms from the shirt Paul began to return to consciousness.

As soon as his eyes opened and he saw the stranger stood behind Suzanne holding something, his instincts and training kicked in. Sitting up bolt upright his hand reached for the holster in which is gun was usually held. "Paul no. Relax he's OK, he's here to help" he could hear the anxiety in her voice but continued to watch the stranger. There was something familiar about the man, he knew him but he couldn't remember from where.

The man moved to stand at her side, the first aid kit now clearly visible, but still he wouldn't sit back and he wouldn't relax "Who are... you?" He gasped.

A small smile spread across the strangers face as he sat down on the bed and patted Pauls leg "Been that long has it... Never thought you'd forget me Ironhorse"

"Paul you know him?" Questioned Suzanne in confusion as she looked at each of the men. Confusion was clear upon Pauls face, but there was also a slight hint of recognition.

The stranger simply smiled, his eyes twinkling as if he knew the answer to some untold joke. "Wesco... Colonel John Wesco" muttered Paul as he finally began to relax. The older man laughed and nodded. "About time you remembered, I always thought I was unforgettable to the cadets" he replied grinning

"Would someone mind explaining to me exactly what the hell is going on?" Demanded Suzanne, the strain of the last few hours and the diminishing adrenaline making her tone sound angrier than it was meant to. Wesco patted Paul's leg. "You lie back son and get some rest; I'll explain everything to the lady"

"My name is Suzanne, Dr Suzanne McCullough"

"Nice to meet you Suzanne, guess as your a doctor I'll leave the tending to Pauls injuries to you" his tone was pleasant but something in his eye as he looked at Paul told Suzanne that Colonel Wesco had the wrong idea about them.

Paul had also seen the glint in his former instructors eye but he didn't have the strength or the inclination to set the man straight, besides he was certain that Suzanne was about to put the record straight, if the expression on her face was anything to go by.

Wesco watched as Suzanne eased Paul back down onto the mattress, his smile growing when he saw her gently brush a wayward lock of hair away from Pauls eyes. "Colonel Wesco, I don't know what you THINK you know, but Paul and I AM NOT involved! Colonel Ironhorse and I work together; he's a friend and a colleague, NOTHING more!" She stated as she looked at him. His smile broadened as he looked at Paul "Colonel huh, I knew you'd go far kid"

"Will someone PLEASE explain to me how you know Paul?" She was quickly growing frustrated with the situation.

Colonel Wesco winked at Paul who was watching him through partly closed eyes "Call me John, you see I was one of Pauls instructors back at the point. The stories I could tell you about this scrawny little kid who had a chip on his shoulder as big as the state of Texas." Paul groaned and closed his eyes, the pain finally taking him back into the pain free world of unconsciousness.

Pauls groan erased the last of Suzannes anger from her body and she quickly returned her attention to him. Seeing her opportunity to get a better look at the damage done to his back Suzanne looked at John "Help me turn him over, I want to check his back again"

"What happened to you two?" Questioned John as he moved to stand at Suzanne's side. Together they slowly turned Paul onto his stomach, his head resting to the side. John gasped and looked at Suzanne. Pauls entire back was nothing but a mass of cuts and bruises, not a single inch was left undamaged. Again she ran her fingers along the length of his spine, gently
pressing at areas she felt were swollen. Shaking her head she sat back down on the bed and sat forward, resting her head in her hands "Thank god, it's not as bad as I first thought" she muttered to herself as she began to tremble and tears escaped to trace a path down her face.

John saw the tremble in her body and knew that she was crying, they had both clearly been through something traumatic and he knew that her anger and tears was the release she needed. Standing up he placed his hand on her shoulder for a moment, then headed over to the kitchen area to pour them both a cup of coffee, it was gong to be a long night.

An hour later John and Suzanne sat before the open fire neither had spoken a word beyond answering to Pauls medical needs. With his cup of coffee in hand John glanced over at Suzanne, she looked tired but was clearly still on edge, something was going on, something that had her and Paul Ironhorse running scared. "Suzanne can you tell me what happened?" he finally questioned again, he had asked her earlier but her attention had been on Paul so he suspected she hadn't even heard him. The loud sigh she uttered told him it wasn't going to be pretty. "We were ambushed; Paul and I got separated from the rest of the team. The only way we could escape with our lives was the jump into the river, but we hadn't accounted for the rapids or the waterfall. Paul managed to protect me from the rapids, I remember him turning us as we fell over the waterfall, I think I landed on him when we hit the bottom." Her eyes wondered over to the man in the bed. "I think I broke his ribs" she whispered.

Quickly moving over to her, John crouched before her, taking her trembling hands within his own "You didn't do it to him Suzanne, he did what he had too to protect you" he stated. She looked up at him, tears once again streaming down her face "It's my fault, if I hadn't wanted to examine that... " She broke off remembering that he didn't have clearance.

His grip on her hands tightened for a moment "You don't have to tell me the specifics, I understand its probably classified"

"He sacrificed his own body to keep me safe. I know its supposed to be his job but it hurts. Why does he have to get hurt... perhaps even die? I don't want him to die for me; I couldn't live with his death on my conscience"

"Suzanne let me tell you something about Paul. Even before he met you he was putting himself in the line of fire for others, even when he was in the Academy he would get into fights with other cadets, simply because he doesn't like to see other people get hurt. He cares about you, that much is obvious... he loves you. Maybe not in a romantic sense but he does love you. He'll do whatever is necessary to keep you from harm." John had his own suspicions about Pauls feelings for Suzanne, something about their interaction earlier told him that perhaps, somewhere deep down inside of Paul he wished they could been romantically involved, but John knew that
while he was protecting her. There was no way Paul would allow himself to becoming involved with her like that; it was just too risky.

She looked from John to Paul easing one of her hands from his she wiped away the tears "I just wish keeping us all safe didn't mean him putting himself in harms way"

"I know, but he's not going to stop putting himself in harms way if it means keeping you and anyone else on your team safe." A small smile appeared on Johns face as he glanced over at Paul "I always suspected he had a little bit of a hero complex going" Suzanne chuckled and shook her head.

(PART 5)

It had been a long, cold night for Harrison and the members of Omega squad, on several occasions one of their perimeter guards caught sight of the Aliens moving through the forest, but they had never come close enough to constitute a threat.

As the early morning sun broke through the clouds Deriman and Stravakos assembled the men and gave them a short briefing on what they were about to do. "We'll split up into four teams" Deriman quickly divided the men into the four teams "Your to head East, West, South and North" as he spoke he pointed to each group telling them the direction they were to head in.
"Search for any signs of either Dr. McCullough or the Colonel, if you find anything report in immediately, then hold your position until the rest of us join you."

"Dr. Blackwood, you'll be coming with me" stated Stravakos. Harrison just nodded; he didn't really care which team he went with as long as he was helping in the search.

After completing the briefing the teams gathered their equipment and headed off in their assigned directions.

*************

John had woken up several hours before sunrise. When Suzanne finally stirred from her position on the over stuffed chair in front of the fire it took her a few moments to realise where she was. Stretching she glanced around the cabin, searching for John but she couldn't see him. A low groan from over on the cot cut short any concerns she might have had a Johns absence.

Sometime during the night Paul had developed a fever, she cursed herself for falling asleep when Paul needed her the most, but from the articles laid on the floor beside the bed it was clear that John had been ministering to him. The bowl of water was fresh, still cold from the nights chilled air, the hand towel however that lay beside it was hot, clearly it hadn't been removed from Pauls brow all that long ago. Dipping the towel into the cold water she began to gently stroke her friend's brow, his head turned into her touch but his eyes remained closed.

As she rung out the hand towel for the third time in ten minutes the door to the cabin opened. Grabbing the handgun from its location on the small wooden table at the bedside she turned and aimed at the new arrival.

Unconsciously she held her breath as she waited for the arrival to enter the cabin; her finger hovered over the trigger, her heart pounding in her chest.

When the arrival finally entered, closing the door she breathed a sigh of relief "Good morning to you too" commented John his back still to her.

Lowering the gun she rubbed her face "Sorry, I thought you were someone else"

"Those guys who were after you?" he questioned as he put the freshly cut logs before the fire "Their still out there, a few miles away and heading in the opposite direction for the moment. I laid a few false trails while I was out this morning" he added as he joined her at Pauls side, his hand reaching out to touch the injured mans face.

***************

'He stood on the edge of a precipices looking out across the valley, he could see for miles but the fog that covered the tree line prevented him from seeing beneath the canopy of the forest to whoever or whatever was moving within.

The cry that echoed through the valley sent chills down his spine, he knew that sooner or later he would have to face the demon. "The demon not of this earth, cries out for vengeance" came a whispered voice from behind him.

Slowly he turned and nodded, his eyes locked upon the grey eyes of his grandfather "I know grandfather, but I am not ready. I still have much to prepare before I am ready to face it" he replied. His grandfather nodded and moved to stand at his side, both of them once again looking out across the valley. Other cries mixed with that of the demon, the cries of Mother
Nature as she fought to contain the evil that lurked within the forest below.

An eagle soared over head, its predatory cries calling out to the other creatures of the forest "Time grows short, mother earth can not win this battle alone, not this time. Come, the elders are ready for you now"

"I'm scared grandfather. What if I fail?"

"If you fail others are there to take up the battle, but mother earth will have been greatly weakened. You must not fail or we may all be lost to the demon" his grandfather replied as he lead Paul from the edge over to the sweat lodge in which the tribal elders awaited them.'

****************

John and Suzanne pulled back the covers, they had to get Pauls temperature down, if it went any higher there was a strong possibility he would go into convulsions and if that happened he could easily suffer brain damage.

Looking at the bruised and battered body before them they knew that the simple sponge bath wasn't going to be enough to bring down his raging temperature and could possibly aggravate his existing injuries. "Keep his cool while I see what I can come up with, the sponge bath isn't goanna do it, we both know it, and right now the only other option open to us isn't goanna do him any good either" stated John as he headed out of the cabin again. Suzanne gently stroked Pauls pale and contorted face with the cloth. She knew that the other option John had mentioned was the stream just behind the cabin, but he was right, putting Paul in there while his temperature was so high could easily send him into shock, and they had no way to combat shock here at the cabin.

As John exited the cabin he looked out at the early morning sky, the birds were soaring over head, crying out as if in answer to the pains of the man within the cabin. Sighing he turned and started towards the small shack on the far side of the clearing, if there was anyway he could help Paul it would be inside of the shack.

Suzanne couldn't believe how quickly things had gotten so bad so fast, there only hope was to get Paul to a hospital. She knew it but at the moment she couldn't see any way to achieve that. He turned into her touch as she stoked the sponge over his face, she could feel his temperature growing, she knew she had to do something, but what?

Movement from outside the shack caught his attention, he glanced around spotting his old double-barrelled shotgun he left the shack and slowly circled around the back to creep up behind the intruders into his property.

As he came around the back of the shack he could see three men, two of them were heavily armed, the third didn't have the usual soldier appearance, but then again neither did Paul.

Somewhere along the line Paul had lost the crew cut, adopting a more casual appearance, it looked good on him.

Raising the shotgun he stepped out into the clearing "Just hold it right their gentlemen" he cautioned. All three turned to face him; the two soldier types raised their guns, the third man didn't move except to look at the double-barrelled shotgun. "Now what are you boys doing here on my land?" He questioned

"Sorry to intrude, but we're looking for a couple of friends of ours. They went missing last night after we got separated." Explained the man who didn' t look to be a soldier, keeping a wary eye on the other two he looked at the curly haired scrawny man "And who might these friends be?"

"We really don't have time for twenty questions, there are bad people after our friends so its important we find them as soon as possible, so if you can just tell us if you've seen a man and a woman travelling together and in which direction we would be most grateful." Stated Stravakos growing impatient with the way the old man was stalling.

Not willing to take the chance of handing Paul and Suzanne over to whoever these people were he shook his head "Haven't seen anyone around these parts for near three months, its out of season" replied John directing his answers to the curly haired man instead of the younger military man. "Out of season?" questioned Stravakos. John could see that this guy had been a city kid, probably never seen a forest until after he had joined the Army.

"Fishing season son, we've got some lovely big trout and occasionally some samon up these parts"

"We'll if you haven't seen anything we'll get out of your way, but if you see anything or anyone can you please call this number." As he spoke Harrison handed over a piece of paper with a phone number on it.

"Sure will." replied John slipping the paper into his pocket "If I see your friends, who should I say is looking for them?"

"Harrison and Derriman, they know who we are." John nodded and watched as they headed back out into the woods to continue their search.

As they headed back into the tree line Harrison glanced over his shoulder to see the man heading back into the cabin. He had a feeling that the man knew something but clearly he didn't trust them, that wasn't unusual with people living alone in the woods, there was a good chance that the man was a veteran who couldn't coupe with society anymore so had vanished back into
the woods, if that was the case, it would explain the mans behaviour.

Suzanne glanced up as John reentered the cabin "Who was that?" she questioned. John stopped as he closed the door, he appeared uncomfortable about something "Just a couple of kids hiking" he replied "I found an old steel bath in the shack, we can use it to slowly emerce Paul."

"That sounds good, you want to get him ready while I take care of the bath?" she questioned. John nodded as he gathered together a few things they would need. Reluctant to leave Paul even for a moment, it took Suzanne a few minutes to stand and leave the cabin to get the old steel bath.

As the door to the cabin closed John glanced over his shoulder and watched Paul as he tossed and turned on the old wooden bed "What kind of trouble have you gotten yourself into this time kid?" he questioned absently.

Shaking his head he gathered the towel, wash cloth and other items into one arm and moved over to strip Paul down "I sure hope you haven't gone commando on us kid, that would prove rather embarissing for the lady"

"What could prove embarissing for the lady?" questioned Suzanne as she pulled the bath into the cabin.

Dropping his burden onto the bed, he hurried over to help Suzanne with the bath. As they got the bath settled infront of the fire John smiled at Suzanne "I was just saying to Paul, if he's gone all commando on us, this could prove embarissing. Suzanne grinned "I'm sure Paul doesn't have
anything I haven't seen before"

"I'm sure he hasn't" agreed John with a grin. Suzanne slapped him on the arm and shook her head "Come on, lets get this bath filled" he nodded as he returned to Pauls side and began to undress him.

(PART 6)

As they moved through the treeline Harrison found himself looking back more and more, he couldn't shake the feeling that they had missed something back at the cabin.

He suspected that the old man had been lying to them, but he had not proof, all he had was a gut instinct. Looking at Derriman and Stravakos he found the old sargeant watching him "You feel it too?" questioned Derriman. "You mean the feeling like we missed them, that we're ahead of them?" questioned Harrison not wanting to assume anything. Derriman smiled and nodded "The feeling like that old guy back at the shack new something" he added. "You guys think that guy knew something?" questioned Stravakos as he joined them. Both men nodded "So lets get back there and find out what he knows" even as he spoke Stravakos turned and started back in the direction of the cabin.

Immediately Derriman grabbed his arm stopping him "Lets not go rushing in there half cocked Alex, I think we need to do a little recon before we make any kind of move"

"What about the other teams?" questioned Harrison, it was clear that the two soldiers were formulating a plan. "We'll check in with them, see if they've found anyting, we don't wanna pull them out of their searches incase this is nothing but a wild goose chase." replied Derriman as he grabbed the radio and contacted the three search teams.

*************

Once the bath was full she turned to see how John was getting on with stripping Paul "Whoops, looks like we're in trouble"

"What, is something wrong... Is Paul alright?" she hurried over to Johns side and looked down at Paul "Doesn't look like we get out peep show, should have known the kid wouldn't go commando on us" he grinned as Suzanne elbowed him. "Your incouragable, come on lets get him in the bath." John grinned and carefully lifted Pauls limp body from the bed, carrying him over to the bath tub he slowly placed him in the cool water, which had been slightly warmed by the heat from the fire.

Suzanne knelt at Pauls side gently stroking his upper body with the cool cloth, his temperature was starting to come down, she could only hope that after it dropped and he had some rest he would come round, she needed to see his eyes, she needed to hear his voice. Up until this moment she had never realised how much she relied on him to reassure her, to make her feel safe.

Sighing and rubbing her forhead with her arm she looked over to where John was changing the beding, she liked his but something abut him bothered her, she couldn't put her finger on it but she found herself wondering about those people John had encountered outside the cabin.

Could it have been the Aliens, using a hiking story as a cover, if so then why didn't they take Johns body over, they wouldn't have left a man with Johns knowledge of the surroundings untouched, he might have been useful to them. Maybe it had been Harrison and the others, perhaps they told him they were just hiking as a cover story. Surely John would have been able to tell they weren't just hikers, surely he could have told that they were soldiers, probably not Harrison but definately Stravakos and Derriman. She had so many unanswered questions, she need the answers to before she could trust him.

Returning her attention to Paul she realised that the only person she could rely on was herself, Paul wasn't in any condition to help her should something happen, but she still had Pauls gun and she knew how to use it.

*****************

Debi entered the basement office of the Cottage and moved to stand at Nortons side, she had done this every hour for the last 14 hours. Glancing up at her as she put her hand on his shoulder he tried to give her a reassuring smile, but she knew it was weak "Hi"

"Hey, any word yet?"

"Nothing so far, but I'm sure their OK. You know the Colonel he's probably got your mother somewhere and is waiting until its safe before they march back in here, demanded coffee and some of Mrs. Pennyworths apple cinamion cake." Debi grinned and nodded her agreement "Yeah, with fresh cream" she added as she slipped into the seat at his side.

He nodded "Of course, you know how the Colonel is for his fresh cream"

"Almost as bad as Harrison" Norton laughed and nodded "But somehow I don't think Mrs. Pennyworth is going to let Harrison within a hundred feet of that fresh cream until Paul and your mother have had their fill.

The phone began to ring, they both looked at eachother for a moment before Norton answered it. "Speak to me"

/ "Norton, we don't have any concrete leads yet, but we do have a possibility" / Came Harrisons voice over the headset.

Norton glanced at Debi, he could see the question with the girls eyes, he hated to disappoint
her, but he couldn't leave her wondering so he shook his head. She sighed and leaned forwad in her chair despertately trying to hide the disappointment she felt inside. She had truely hoped that they had been found, that this nightmare was finally over. "We've had a few Alien transimssions spiking in that area, be careful out there"

/ "Will do Norton, but we're not ready to give up on them just yet. Paul's to resourceful to give up on." /

"Right, give us a call as soon as you know anything more"

/ " Will do, and tell Debi I'm sure her mother is fine, the Colonel will look after her" /

"OK" Both men hung up and Norton turned to face Debi, he could see the tears glistening in the young girls eyes but he didn't have any words of reassurance, none that she hadn't heard numerious times in the lat 14 hours, so he simply did the only thing he could, he pulled her into a tight embrace reitterating Harrisons words to her in a gentle whisper.

***************

Harrison put the mobile phone back into his jacket pocket and looked at Stravakos and Derriman who had been watching him. Squaring his shoulders he looked back towards the cabin "Lets get going" he said, the two soldiers nodded and they started back towards the cabin.

****************

'Sat within the sweat lodge he looked at the elders gathered with him. he remained silent, it was disrespectful for him to speak until they addressed him. His eyes fell upon those of a very old Indian, his appearance reminded him of the medicine men of old, when they had been the strong guiding force of the tribe, when they had been the life force of the tribe.

The elders eyes where grey, they held a knowledge of the ages, it was almost as if they were looking right through him deep into his soul.

His grandfather placed his hand on Paul's bare shoulder, "Are you ready grandson?"

"I am ready to do whatever is needed of me for the good of the tribe" replied Paul recieving nods of satisfaction from all the elders except the ancient one. The ancient one stood and began to circle around within the sweat lodge until he came to stand behind Paul.

Remaining motionless Paul simply waited for the ancient one to speak "Your heart is true and your soul is pure, young one, but something is not right within you."

"Part of his heritage is missing" commented his grandfather.

The ancient shook his head "That is not it, his heritage does not come from the years he spent with his people. He holds the knowledge of the ancients deep within himself, but something is blocking this knowledge. If he is to triumph this day we must set free this knowledge."

The other elders nodded and made sounds of agreement "Can this knowledge be released, I feel the problem cuts deep into his soul" commented another of the elders.

The ancient ran his hands across Paul's shoulder and up stopping a few millimeters above his
head.

The elders slowly began to leave the sweat lodge, Paul looked to his garndfather, but the older man just smiled reassuringly before following the others out of the sweat lodge. The only one who remained was the Ancient.

He moved to sit before Paul his hands coming to rest on his thighs "Many thing have happened to bring you to this point. Many were not pleasant, many seemed to hold me meaning or purpose, but trust me young Shaman, they held purpose and meaning. You must trust the great spirits they will guide you in this mission."

"Mashamia speaks the truth young Shaman" a familiar voice filled the sweat lodge, and slowly from the smoke of the fire a face began to appear. Paul watched in silent ore as Joseph Longtrees face appeared in the smoke

"Mashamia will guide to the path you must travel, together we faught the first battle now, now you must embrace your heritage and summon up the courage within yourself to face what is to come."

Unable to say anything in light of what he had just seen Paul just nodded "Listen to him young Shaman, he shall guide you in everything you do from this point onwards. Listen to his words and learn." Then the smoke cleared and Joseph Longtree was gone.'

*************

Pauls fever was breaking, she could feel the heat that had radieated from his body earlier slowly dropping, it looked as though the worst might just be over. While he had been in the bath, Suzanne had used the oppertunity to check for internal injuries, she had been relieved when she didn't find any.

John had taken up a position over by the window watching for something or someone, he had been on edge since the so called hikers.

Standing she brushed her hand over Paul's still too pale cheek before she moved to join John over by the window "See anything?" she questioned.

He shook his head "Nope, its all quiet out there now" he glanced over his shoulder at Paul "Hows the kid doing?"

"I think his fever has broken, his temeperature is down and he's starting to get some colour back in his cheeks." She cold hold back the smile that crossed her face, she was so relieved to finally have some good news. She noticed the strange expression that crossed John's face, she couldn't tell what it was he was thinking but something in the older mans deminior had changed.

(PART 7)

They could see the clearing in which the cabin was located just ahead, but they could also see movement along the tree line. Harrison glanced at Stravakos and Derriman and could see that the two men were deep in conferance. After a few minutes they split up, Stravakos headed back into the woods while Derriman joined him.

"Whats the plan?" questioned Harrison in a whispered voice, they didn't need to alert the Aliens to their presence prematurely.

Derriman didn't answer immediately he was watching the Aliens intently "Alex is calling in the others, we're going to hold here until they arrive... Is that clear Doctor?"

Harrison nodded, he wasn't going to risk doing anything stupid, not with his friends lives at stake.

A few minutes later Stravakos rejoined them, as he lay on the ground beside Harrison he glanced at Derriman "The other teams are on their way in, they should be here in 10"

"Right... I'm not sure we have that much time though, those guys are getting ready to attack the cabin"

"Yeah, we could hold them of long enough for the others to arrive" commented Stravakos as he indicated he would head off to the left, and circle around so he could seek up behind the Aliens. Derriman nodded and watched as Alex vanished into the heavy growth of the forest. Looking back at Harrison he fixed the astrophysist with a cold glare "Stay here Doctor" not waiting for
Harrisons repsonce Derriman also vanished into the forest growth.

Feeling slightly indignant at basically being told to 'sit and stay' Harrison leaned up against the mound of leaves infront of him and pulled out his binoculars from his napsack.

****************

Paul's low groan caught them both by surprise, leaving the window they both moved over to crouch at the bath side

"Paul... Paul can you hear me?" questioned Suzanne as she tenderly brushed away a stray lock of hair from his eyes.

Slowly he opened his eyes to look at her, there were red rimmed, and pain filled but they were the most beautiful sight Suzanne had ever seen.

She smiled down at him "Hey there, you had us both worried" she whispered her hand continuing to stroke his hair, even though the unruly lock of hair was now back in place. His eyes shifted around the cabin, studying his new location, when he finally looked back at her, his eyes held confusion "Do you remember what happened?" she questioned.

Seeing John at Suzannes side he nodded "Roller coaster ride, without then roller coaster" he replied echoing Suzanne's explination from back at the base of the waterfall.

She laughed and nodded "Yeah that about describes it" She had to move fast when he tried to get out of the bath tub, she grabbed his arm helping to support him "Paul you shouldn't be moving yet" she cautioned.

He looked at her with lost little puppy dog eyes as he replied "Waters, cold."

She shook her head and sighed "OK, but the furthest your going right now is across to the chair... Your fever has broken but your still far from 100%"

"'kay" she could hear his weakens in his voice and found herself wondering if even that short move was such a good idea.

As he stood within the bath tub, he looked down at his state of undress and looked at Suzanne with a raised eyebrow. Suzanne grinned as she slipped her arm around his waiste helping give him the extra support he clearly needed to step out of the bath. "Don't worry about it Paul, it's not as if you have anything I haven't seen before" she commented unable to keep the laughter from her voice.

He stopped and looked at her, then whispered into her ear "How do you know, if you didn't take a peek?"

Surprised she did a double take then looked at John "OK, I think we need to get him back in the bath... Paul Ironhorse doesn't pass such comments... he clearly still has a fever!"

John grinned and shook his head "Guess she doesn't know the Paul Ironhorse I remember."

Paul's strength was quickly failing him and standing around while John relayed stories of his past wasn't something he was interested in doing. Starting towards the chair again he was releaved when Suzanne followed along with him.

The sound of gunfire suddenly filled the air, Paul grabbed the gun from the belt of Suzannes jeans and hurried over to the window. Suzanne was shocked at the sudden burst of energy that came over Paul, but she recognised it for what is was, a rush of adrenaline he was certain to pay for later.

Moving to his side she touched his arm "Whats going on out there?" she questioned

"I think the hostiles found us" commented Paul as he moved towards the door.

It was only when Paul cracked open the door to the cabin and looked that Suzanne realised that John had said anything, glancing over her shoulder she looked for John but couldn't see any signs of him

"Paul have you seen John since the shooting started?"

He looked back at her but shook his head but quickly returned his attention to the gunfire outside.

****************

Things had moved faster than any of them had expected, the Aliens had opened up on their position, clearly they had seen them coming, and now they were dangeriously close to being pinned down.

Harrison looked from Stravakos to Derriman, both men had been caught out when the Aliens had opened fire, he couldn't tell what had alerted the Aliens to their presence, but clearly something had.

From behind him Harrison could hear something, someone was coming up behind him, turning so he could see who was approaching but also maintain some small level of cover he was releived when he saw Rodriguez leading the other teams to his location.

After a quick discussion with Rodriguez the teams split up and began to work at holding back the Aliens.

*****************

Several of the Aliens had broken free of the tree cover and were now advancing on the cabin. Checking the pistol Paul took aim and began firing at them, he was careful with his aim, he only had a limited amount of ammunition for the pistol and he didn't want to leave them defenceless.

(PART 8)

John exited the cabin by the back door and headed towards the tree line. Vanishing into the undergrowth of the forest he could hear the increased gun fire, along with several shots from inside the cabin.

******************

The Aliens were quickly over running the position, it wouldn't be long before they made a break for the cabin, Stravakos and Derriman could see someone within the cabin shooting at the Aliens as well but they could see if it was the old man they had encountered before.

The Aliens made their break for the cabin, in two waves, Stravakos and Derriman tried to hold them off but they were out numbered and out gunned. As the second wave started towards the cabin gun fire suddenly errupted from behind them, both soldiers spun around only to find they other units joining them. As they turned back to the cabin they saw three of the Aliens kick in the door and enter the cabin.

***************

Paul had seen them coming, he knew that his men would do everything they could to hold back the Aliens but they were out numbered. Several of them reached the porch of the cabin, he shot two but three quickly advanced on the door kicking it in. As the door flew back towards him he was sent stumbling back into the centre of the room. Suzanne moved to his side, John's forgotten double-barrelled shotgun in her hand.

As the Aliens began to advance on them Paul used up the last of the bullets in his pistol, all they had left was the shotgun and as Suzanne raised it and pulled the trigger, nothing happened. With no time to wonder what had happened Paul grabbed the useless weapon from Suzanne and used it as a club, striking the closest Alien.

In Paul's weakened condition Suzanne knew she couldn't stand idily by while he dealt with the Aliens, it would be the end of them both. Looking around the cabin for anything she could use as a weapon she grabbed the broom in the corner and attacked the Aliens aswell, all the time hoping that the Omegans would reach them in time.

***************

Alex knew they had to reach Ironhorse and Suzanne quickly, they didn't have time for airs and graces when it came to dispatching the aliens. Selecting his shots very carefully he quickly cleared a path to the cabin door, he had no