After the death of Jo, and the escape of two of his companions with their
recovered bombs, the Ricop commander ordered an intensified search of the plain.
The searchers worked in twos, not threes, to maximise the number of patrols. The
leader of the first patrol knew that the aliens were cunning and desperate, and
it was surprised when they found the two of them almost immediately. Perhaps
tiredness was making them careless.
The two, both young and small, wre
standing in the middle of the track that led to the plain, almost as if they
wanted to be seen. When the Ricops spotted them, they turned and ran off between
the rocks. They moved slowly, as if every tired, and the patrol was soon right
behind them. "Pursue and exterminate," ordered the patrol leader. "The commander
advise no prisoners to be taken. They must be exterminated !"
The aliens disappeared once they were among the rocks and the Ricops were
forced to hunt for them. Although there were only two of the, they moved
confidently forward, quite sure of their ability to deal with the escapees.
Zip and Parot collapsed panting behind a rock. "Are you all right, Parot ?"
"Just about. Never run so fast in my life !"
Zip peered from behind the rock. "They're coming. Ready ?" Parot nodded. They
sprang from the rock and sprinted off with the pursues hot on their heels.
They reached the giant boulder they had carefully chosen. The path was narrow
here, and the Ricops would have to move in single file. They waited. When the
two pursuers came in sight, Zip stepped from hiding, then instantly ducked back.
even so, he moved only just in time. The blast from its gun charred the rock
above his head.
The patrol leader ordered, "Give protective fire," and moved off alone. The
second Ricop followed more slowly, its gun swiveling suspiciously all around.
The patrol leader rounded the boulder and moved cautiously along the trail that
bordered the ice pool. Suddenly Zip appeared from behind one of the rocks,
disappearing again almost immediately. The Ricop moved forward. Another blast
from its gun seared the rocks very close to Zip. It was near to the edge of the
pool now. Suddenly Parot appeared from hiding. He charged the pursuer gripping
it from behind so that the gun could not be aimed at him. He shoved the Ricop by
force towards the ice pool.
Slowly he edged it towards the pool. The Ricop resisted with all its
strength. All the time it was calling, "Assist ! Assist ! I am being attacked !"
Further down the trail, Zip saw the second Ricop speed forward to answer the
call, and realized that he had to delay it. He dashed across the trail and the
pursuer swung round in pursuit. Zip's foot turned on a small rock and he crashed
to the ground, sprawled helplessly on the path as his pursuer bore down on him.
As his enemy was bout to fire, Parot jumped on it from the top of a near-by
boulder. He had a piece of cloth in his hands which he threw over the Ricop,
covering the eye-stalk completely. The Ricop spun around helplessly, shrieking,
"Vision circuits impaired. I am losing control."
Somehow Parot stayed perched on top of the Ricop, holding the cloth firmly in
place. Zip recovered and ran to grab the Ricop's gun and jammed it upwards, so
that the blast of its firing exploded harmlessly into the air. Between them,
they shoved the helpless Ricop along the path taken by the patrol leader. As
they rounded the boulder, they gave it a mighty shove that sent it splashing
into the ice pool. The water bubbled and hissed, and its cries ended abruptly as
it shared the fate of its leader.