I ran ahead of Blondie and past the big-headed Martian, then I climbed down the ladder into the tunnel and turned left, away from the Rogarian hideout. I’d decided Blondie wasn’t worth putting my ass on the line, but I hadn’t bargained on meeting four armed guards at the bottom of the ladder. One of them stuck his rifle in my chest, and I put up my hands. The schmuck Jerry was with them.
“Turn around,” the guard said.
I never argue with a man with a gun, so I complied. I could see light about five hundred feet ahead.
“Move,” the guy said.
We walked along the tunnel toward the light. I’d forgotten how disgusting it was down there, and I gagged. The guy kept poking me in the back, and I heard Jerry call out Blondie’s name.
“Move faster,” he said.
“I’m moving, give me a break.”
My guts tightened as we approached the Rogarian’s hideout. I knew the big guy wouldn’t be happy to see me, and I really liked my eyes. I began to sweat as we got closer to the light, and the guard had to push me into the room.
My Rogarian friend was there, and it was hard to tell if he was happy to see me or not, but I figured not. There were more guards, and some guy who looked familiar. I’d seen this dude’s face before. Then I thought, shit, it’s that ambassador from Neruta. What the hell is he doing here?
Three guards brought in Blondie, Jerry and the big-headed Martian. We all looked at each other, then at the guy in the royal getup.
“Who are you?” Blondie asked.
“My name is Ganov. I’m an envoy for the King of Neruta.”
The big guy kept looking at me. I tried not to notice, but since he took up most of the room, it was kind of hard not to.
“I’ve never heard of Neruta,” Blondie said.
The royal dude smiled. “We keep a low profile,” he said. His voice began to break up and his little metal translator fell on the floor. He picked it up and quickly reattached it.
“I’ve heard of it,” Derrick said. All eyes turned toward him. He didn’t say anything else.
“Where is this planet located?” Blondie asked. I could see she didn’t like this turn of events, or learning that Derrick knew something she didn’t know.
“Several light years away, but there’s no need to trouble yourself with those little details, my dear.”
“Don’t ‘my dear’ me,” Blondie said. “Now, where’s the chip?”
Her eyes were narrowed, and I saw her press her hand against a small bulge on her thigh. Blondie’s Glock had been confiscated by the royal goons, but she didn’t seem the type to leave anything to chance. She was packing another weapon.
“The chip is perfectly safe, my…madam. My Rogarian friends have been...hired by my king. Since you know about the chip, I assume you also know of their plan to use it.”
“The destruction of Earth,” Derrick said. “That’s what they plan to do. What’s that got to do with your king?”
Jerry put his hand on Blondie’s arm, but she shrugged it off. “Not now,” she whispered. Jerry backed away from her.
“We’ve had dealings with Earthlings in the past, and it didn’t go well. My king simply wants to settle things once and for all.”
“Bullshit,” Derrick said. “This is bullshit.”
“Settle what things once and for all?” Blondie asked as she glared at Derrick.
“You really don’t know, do you?” Ganov said looking at me.
“Know what?” Derrick shouted. He was pissed, and as he moved toward Ganov, the royal guards pushed him to the floor.
“Would you like to tell them, Mr. Martin?”
Now all eyes were on me. I looked at Blondie, the big-headed Martian, Derrick and Jerry, and sighed. This was gonna be a long night.