The ship was a whir with flashing lights and beeping buttons when they arrived. Now locked onto the Missiles' satellite radar, the ships system had detected an approaching object but couldn't get a lock on it or its signal. The range of the Little missile was illuminated on Suthersbys view screen as they both jumped down to take a look. The missile was in place about 25,000 feet up and already sending out relays and a combination of interstellar distress signals. It also showed an unidentifiable object closing in on the signal.

The men leaned in closer.

"That cant be a Freerange already , the scans showed nothing at all up there!"

" Maybe its just some kind of interference." Marcus mused

"What kind of interference has its own third class sonic amp homing device?" Suthersby's voice was lowand angry.

Every three pulses the missiles radar would miss a beat or be cut off by some sort of sonic interference. The visual readouts on the side of the view screen flew by at a disjointed angle for a few seconds then straightened out.

"This is no system malfunction." Suthersbys eyes were wide with terror. The signal glitches were coming faster and closer together , whatever was homing in was practically right on top of them.

Outside the pod the wind had kicked up. There had been no clouds in the creamy sky since the missile launch but now something dark and amorphous was growing on the horizon. The wind buffeted the ship harder and harder .

"System! Full scale assault ! All options level .Lock Down!" Marcus barked as he slid down into the ship. For once the computer took his orders. The ship rolled a little to its specified upright position and focused equilibrium of each compartment. Suthersby and Marcus jumped into their seats and harnessed themselves, locking their chests and legs in place.

"What's going on up there !" Sutherby bellowed over the screaming control board. The lights had began to flash again. The missile radar let off two piercing beeps, then a prolonged silence followed. Outside something slammed up against the ship sending it rolling. The two men, secure in the interior of the pod weren't as badly effected by the movement because of the equilibrium equipment that kept them balanced but they felt the impact none the less. Something was going on out there and luckily they couldn't see.

"I'am no astronomer!" Marcus yelled over the noise "But I knew that thing was moving too fast to be a storm.. its like ....its alive!"

Just then something slammed against the little ship sending it hurtling end over end . The system was momentarily knocked offline. The rudimentary lights and other working controls winked off before the low energy Syru-system kicked in. The Equilibrium equipment took a bit longer to kick in again and so the men experienced the full force of the next impact before slipping into a syru induced coma.

This time the computer system responded simultaneously releasing both men from their induced comatose states. They slumped in their chairs breathing hard and long. Finally Marcus was able to speak.

"You alright back there Sly?"

"Yeah , You alive Arulu?"

"Yeah but don't know for how long. My oxygen light is on."

"Yeah, mine too."

They sat quietly for a minute listening to the moaning of the wind and the beeping control boards.

"I think its over."

"Not over ,gone." Marcus whispered.

"System, system respond."

The view screen light up showing static for a moment before words began to scroll by.

'Vocal out put offline. Please key in unlock code to retrieve Vocal Systems, or give direct commands to continue from this platform.'

The cursor light blinked patiently for his response.

"You see that Marcus?"

"Yeah , But lets wait before we unlock. Do a systems check or something."

"System , scan perimeter."

'System scan complete.'

The words faded and a topographic map appeared. According to the map the ship now lay at the base of a cliff. There was no information under exterior bio scan activity.

"System , scan wind currents."

Another map overlay the first showing that there were no particular patters in wind direction. The swirls of wind on the new map seemed to say that each was operating separately with no distinct directional pull.

"Holy shit....." Suthersby cursed under his breath. Marcus..."

"Were being watched." Marcus said hoarsely. "Key up the grid , do you see how they have us surrounded?"

"What the hell are they ..."

"Wind...and judging from the exterior damage report...with teeth."

Suthersby keyed up the grid then made room on his view screen as he called up an image from an outboard camera in the ships hull. The view was of six parallel lines gouged into the Syru-titanium siding of the ship.


"Suthersby...they're moving in....."