"Don't they have any type of surveillance?" I asked.
Troy laughed a hard, forced laugh.
"No. These were our facilities. We had no enemies. We had no need for surveillance."
Facilities? What sort of facility was it? Where was it? I had assumed it was a spacestation of some kind, with the Earhart docked within its walls, but it could just as easily have been a hanger on a planet.
"Is this place on your home world?" I asked.
"No. This is ... was ... a research station that orbited our world. When the Dancers seized it, they modified it to become a military installation and science laboratory. They created the kaleg here."
"And your home world, the world below us, what do you call it?"
Troy turned, looked at me and gave a crocodile grin.
"Before the Dancers, we called it ours."
"You know what I mean," I scolded. "Does your planet have a name?"
He smiled, a much warmer expression.
Had I heard him correctly?
"I beg your pardon?"
"Our planet ... It is called Hell."
"Oh," I said softly, "and you are the Helvetians."
The thought amused me. The beautiful Dancers that glowed and moved with the grace of angels were quite evil. They killed without care or mercy while the Helvetians, who looked so dark and sinister, and lived in a place called Hell, they were the peaceful, kindly, benevolent race. It just goes to show how deceptive appearances can be.
"And where are we going?" I asked, anxious about Luke.
"You tell me. I'm only doing what you asked."
"But you must have some idea!"
"No. This wasn't my plan. Remember? You were the one that said save Luke, save Luke, " and he mimicked my voice derisively.
"What about your mission? I don't believe you're risking your entire mission to save Luke just because I said so!"
"No. I'm risking my entire mission in the hope that you'll wake up and start using your brain instead of acting purely on impulse!" he retorted sharply.
Oh great, I thought. Make the whole problem my fault, and then I realised, he had been right all along. I hadn't thought about any of this. I had been following my heart. Rescuing Luke had been an act of compassion not of logic, and I remembered those immortal Vulcan words. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. I had only thought of Luke. I hadn't considered the bigger picture, my crew or my mission.
"Wait." I shouted.
Troy stopped, turned and looked at me expectantly.
"Okay. You're right, I admit it, but this isn't my area of expertise—"
"I can tell."
"Okay, so what are you suggesting we do?"
He shrugged and looked at Luke.
"You tell me. You created this dilemma", and he made it quite clear that he expected me to make a suggestion. The minutes ticked by.
"Okay," I finally said. "How soon will they miss Luke?"
"Hard to say, but the bleaching is a long process. Once started they may not check on him for twelve hours or more."
"So they probably won't miss him. Is there anywhere we can hide him in the meantime?" I knew it was a stupid question and the look on Troy's face confirmed that he thought likewise.
"Hmm. Okay and what do you need to do to complete your mission?"
"I have to take control of the kaleg."
"And how do you do that?"
His ebony brow furrowed.
"You don't know, do you," I exclaimed.
"Well, not exactly—"
"What does not exactly mean?"
"We were a two-man team. I am a warrior. My partner was the specialist. All I had to do was protect him and ensure he got to the right laboratory."
"So where is he?"
"I failed. He's dead."
"Oh." My lips puckered as I considered. "So do you know where to go and what needs to be done?"
Troy looked uncomfortable.
"More or less."
"Which is it? More ... or less?"
He shook his head.
"Well, ain't we the pair!"
We glared at each other, neither of us quite knowing the answer, and then an idea struck me.
"What do you need to complete your mission then?"
"Someone who understands temporal mechanics and space anomalies."
"Is this your area of expertise?" Hope rose in his voice.
"No, but I know where to find one!" and I grinned, pushing my shoulders back triumphantly. "My crew!"
"Who are captives."
"Then we break them out—everybody! Hey! If we break everybody out, we can launch an attack!"
"No, we can't. You're not thinking again. This is a spacestation and the Dancers don't need air to breathe. We, on the other hand, do."
I thought again.
"But what if we broke out just one person? Someone who can help us?"
Troy grinned broadly.
"Now you're thinking."