Canto Forty-Six – Outside the Bio-Dome
Harmony led her troops up to the front door of the Bio-Dome. They waited quietly for her to signal the next step.
“Shalar? This is the only mostly-intact building in the entire area. Do you think this could be where they went?”
“If they are still alive, this looks like the kind of shelter they might be drawn to.”
Harmony went forward to the entryway and peered in.
“Oh, my goodness! All their clothing and equipment is piled in there. Their weapons too. If they are still in there, they are naked and unarmed!”
Shalar adjusted her own breath-mask to reassure herself. “If they are not still in there… or if the air in there is the same as it is out here… then they are already dead.”
“No! Not my children! We will enter here and go find them!”
Suddenly the metal man with a handful of spinning blades appeared on the ledge above the door. His hand-blades whirred menacingly.
“Men! Catch it in a crossfire like I taught you and take it out.”
The Telleron soldiers knew better than to disobey Harmony. Four took the left flank and two went right. The crossing skortch beams fried the machine man, and quickly reduced it to dust and vapor. Shalar shuddered at the realization of how ruthless and efficient Earther humans truly were. Her semi-incompetent Telleron soldiers were displaying an unusually high amount of self-discipline and military know-how which they had learned entirely on this mission by following the old Sunday-school teacher’s battle commands.
“That was impressive,” Shalar remarked.
“Of course it was,” said Harmony. “Now let’s get inside.”
The Telleron soldiers filed in using the precise order and the sweeping-for-enemies maneuver that Harmony had taught them on the way to the Bio-Dome. The soldiers secured the entryway and the hall beyond while Harmony and Shalar went through the pile of belongings that had belonged to the tadpoles and the Morrells. Shalar noted all the items on her computerized notepad. The inventory suggested that everything the tadpoles had taken with them from the crash scene was present.
“They were all here, Harmony,” Shalar said. “And they don’t have anything with them wherever they’ve gone.”
“We will take all this gear with us so that the young scamps won’t be gadding about naked. Why they took everything off here is a mystery. But in my experience with human kids, it usually involves hormones and misbehavior. We not only have to save their little lives, but save them from sin as well.”
“Well, it’s complicated. But running around a dying planet stark naked can’t be pleasing behavior to a loving but righteous God.”
“Oh, of course… that.”
Shalar looked down the dark hallway. She was worried about the children. The mystery only seemed to deepen and the peril looked increasingly worse.