"You've been here twenty-five years and have never been able to escape?" asked Dark incredulously. "This place isn't guarded," replied Old Beard, with a wry smile. "They don't have to guard it. All they have to guard are the supply room where the marsuits are kept and the motor pool of groundcars.

Then we'll take off at once for the Icaria Desert, before the Mars City task force gets here. He and Maya walked hand in hand through the blasted airlock. The three groundcars were there, waiting. The two of them stood for a moment, before getting aboard the groundcars, and looked out together across the red desert toward the sinking sun. Death? Desolation? No, not for them.

"They can be here in about five hours, and it will take those rebels, or whoever they are, two or three times that long to burn through one of the emergency barriers, even if they blast an opening and bring their groundcars into the building to bring the groundcars' big guns on it." "Should I stick it out here, or seal all the barriers and come below?" asked Vidonati.

We went to a dome farm operated by a friend of the Phoenix in Pandorae Fretum, and stayed there until we could trickle gradually into Ophir. Dark: You had quite an odyssey. Cheng, I want you to bring your twelve in groundcars, with what weapons you can get, and attack the Canfell Hydroponic Farm. I'll try to break it open from inside.

"Between the Toughs at that end and our heatguns at this end, we ought to be able to force them back below without much trouble. Are we ready to move out?" A different voice came in over the intercom, the voice of the tenth Master, who was on duty in the farm's control room. "Placer, the screens show three groundcars moving up from the south," he said.

"What," he asked at last, "are you doing here, tinkering with a groundcar?" "Nuwell and I were on our way to Mars City by helicopter, when it failed and crashed," she explained. "This was the only place near enough for us to make it afoot, and the marsuit radios don't have the range to call for help. We've been here more than two weeks now, trying to repair these groundcars."

"None to Solis?" asked Childress in surprise. "No, sir, nor to Phoenicis, either," answered Fancher. "They're both so far, and Solis is a resort, where they might be easier to detect. We're using both public transport and private groundcars.

So now I know what to do next: I'm going to Ultra Vires." Old Beard smiled sadly. "Have you forgotten we can't get out of this place?" he reminded. "We can't get at either the marsuits or the groundcars." It was Dark's turn to smile. "I believe you said there aren't any guards on the airlocks to stop one from walking out at night?" he said. "That's true, but "

"That settles that," said Nuwell, more philosophically then Maya would have expected. "Our only hope is to find a groundcar." That necessitated another search, but at last they found the motor pool. And there were three groundcars, all in various stages of breakdown or dismantlement. "It looks like we'll have to walk, Nuwell," said Maya. Nuwell shook his head.

I'll tell Cheng to pick you up in one of the groundcars, and then Happy and Shadow can come back here to help us." "I'll do nothing of the sort," said Maya flatly. "You need them up here now, and I won't leave you. I'm going to stay here and help you. After all, I can handle a heatgun better than any of these Jellies." "But, Maya, I want to know that you're safe."