your appetite, this is how the book starts:
The wail of a siren warned Larry that
he’d been detected.
Oh shit – he’d stayed too long. Either
the Ziloni had spotted him from below, in spite of his care,
or there were hidden intrusion detectors he hadn’t seen. He
was in deep trouble. The Ziloni had carefully concealed
their illicit operation deep underground on this remote,
frozen planet, and damn fool that he was, he’d stumbled
Of all the planets in the Galactic
Union, Zilon had the most hard-line regime. Not the best
group to tangle with if they were planning something illegal
on this scale.
Like an overturned anthill, the cavern
far below became a flurry of activity. Four vehicles began
driving purposefully toward the start of the slope leading
up to his hiding place in the mouth of the tunnel.
Time to beat a rapid retreat.
He jumped up from the shadowy recesses of the rock crevice
and fled back up the tunnel. The low gravity enabled him to
bound up the slope in long leaps, despite the encumbrance of
his bulky spacesuit. As he climbed, the light from the
He’d been an idiot to ignore Annek’s
worries, and climb down this fissure alone to try and find
the source of the anomalous gas discharge, even though he’d
never dreamt that it was manmade.
What would happen if the Ziloni caught
him? Would they find Annek as well, before she gave up
waiting for him and went for help? Worse still, what if she
ignored his instructions and left the ship to come after
him? She was still a trainee agent and might not understand
the need to follow the Interstellar Exploration Programme
protocols. In desperation he tried calling her on his comm.
earpiece, but it brought no reply. It wasn’t surprising,
the rock would be shielding the signal.
He paused for a moment to glance back.
The men pursuing him had reached the tunnel entrance. Their
vehicles slowed on the rough, sloping rock, but they were
still gaining on him.
His helmet lamp cut a bright, circular
hole in the inky blackness, as near panic drove his
exhausted muscles. Light beams flashed around him from
below, seeking him out. The way grew steeper and the sound
of the vehicles stopped. But now he could see the Ziloni
troops were chasing him on foot, and they would be fresher
The narrow beam from his lamp bobbed
furiously about with his exertions, making it difficult to
see the uneven terrain. Twice he slipped, and barely
managed to grab a rock to avoid falling backward. He had to
slow down, in spite of the danger. He could only hope his
pursuers were having the same problem.
The first glimmer of light filtered
down from the planet surface above. Up here in the top
section of the fissure, the slope was much steeper, and it
was no longer possible to run. Sweat poured down the inside
of his suit as he gasped for breath, progressing in a
succession of leaps. Occasional glances told him the men
behind were closer each time. Now and again, the beams of
their lights caught him. When that happened, he leapt
sideways to try and lose them, praying his reaching hands
would find something to hold onto.
At last he could see the mouth of the
fissure above him. Blood pounded in his ears as his heart
hammered. His breath came in great, wheezing gasps. A
burst from a laser rifle hit the tunnel wall just above him,
making him jump. A cascade of ice fragments showered him
and a large puff of steam burst from the hard-frozen ice
that formed the rock on this iceball of a planet.
chill ran through him in spite of his efforts. They weren’t
just trying to capture him, they wanted to kill him!