Glaf Councilor Glaf entered into his office with a rush. His staff turned to look as he strode to the projector. He nearly slammed the courier’s orb into the receptacle and as it displayed its message in the air over the projector. His staff stood and watched. One of them picked up his communicator and began to contact other Olan councilors. As the orb began to repeat itself Glaf turned to his staff and began to bark orders and assign tasks to different people. All the facts were to be verified, other sources were to be checked, every system would be investigated. The Dawlg fleet was on the move and computer projections put the destination of all of the ships in the same system that his scout had disappeared. This the council could not ignore. This demanded action and he would make sure it happened one way or another. The UTC restriction on that system was about to be violated. Bob My next stop was a hair salon. These ladies would definitely notice the difference between old Bob and new Bob. Time to give my story a try. I walked into the shop and began to address the lady in charge. As I talked she looked up, and then did a double take, staring at me with a look that said, I’ve seen you somewhere before but I’m not sure where. I introduced myself as my own son Mike Lee. Bob has had an accident and is still recovering. He asked me to fill in for him till he’s better. A look of realization came over her face as she listened. I looked just like my dad of course, except I’m much younger. They were very sorry to hear about Bob and hoped he would get better. After I cleaned the windows they asked if the price was the same and commented on how good a job I did. I was told to send their regards to my dad. As I hauled my bucket and stuff out the door I couldn’t help smiling at their kindness and concern. I had cleaned their windows for nearly a decade. Just like many of my accounts, even though I didn’t spend a lot of time there, it was almost as if we were old friends. Next door was a fairly new account. I had cleaned them for about three months. The water was getting fairly dirty now so I put the old bucket in the van and opened the other one. For some reason, the clean fresh water caught my attention as I pulled off the lid. The look of it was so inviting, almost like something I used to look at in the past. I stood there trying to think of what it was that it reminded me of. Before I realized it, it was as if I was floating. As in a dream when you see things though someone else’s eyes. I became the observer. The person who stood there in the door of my van now, standing in my body, was not me at all. That person was now remembering that time in the past that I had been reminded of. I/Goulna had enjoyed getting away from the house. Just when the afternoon was cooling I/Goulna would go sit under the shade of the tarlonjo plant. There under that plant was the water tank for the calgan beasts that his/my father raised. The smaller bucket that was used to fill the tank was about the same size as the bucket we looked at now. This memory was so vivid I was lost in it. I saw all of it in detail, even felt the cool breeze blowing over the field of coo grass. I felt it blowing in my face. It was all so peaceful I wanted to stay there for hours. And then it was all over. Once again I was standing over the bucket there inside my van, the lid still in my hands. I felt the heat of the South Texas summer day, the sun baking my back as I stood there. I felt disoriented and confused, a growing sense of panic rising within me. I set the lid back on the bucket and turned to sit down on the floor of the van. Something was very, very wrong with me. There was no way that was normal. It had been so real. I had never in my life experienced hallucinations or anything like what had just happened. I thought back to Monday when I had passed out in the van. I remembered the strange vision I had seen later of standing outside of the van looking at myself. It had been very much like the experience I just had. I had questioned whether that had been real or not. I had seen myself as I was someone else, someone who had opened the mouth of the person that looked like me inside my van, and had released some kind of liquid into the mouth of my sleeping twin. That had been the beginning of the strangeness that had invaded my life. Well, not quite the beginning. There had been the pale giant outside the pizza place I had been cleaning. As I thought of that giant now, the face came into focus in my mind and a name was attached to that face. Goula? No, that wasn’t quite right. It was Gouln. Somehow I knew the name of the giant. I knew I had just experienced a memory from him from the distant past. Gouln had done something to me, something that made me remember his memories. I saw it clearly now. Every time I had questioned the things that were happening to me, I had experienced a calming feeling. This wasn’t normal. This was something this Gouln was doing to me. But how? I stood up and pushed the lid down tight on the bucket this time. I put my other things back in the van and shut the door. The other account was forgotten. I had to figure this thing out, I had to go somewhere and think. I didn’t know where to go or what to do but I knew I needed to do something. I climbed into the van and closed the door. Things went black. Wackeen Wackeen had forced himself to be patient, very, very patient. His ship was in as low an orbit as he dared. Any lower and he might be detected by the native people of this planet. Although their technology was very primitive, they were still advanced enough to present a danger. Hours and hours he had searched for the distinct mind patterns of Olan with his mind. His Watcher also searched the surface of the planet. Only a little while ago there had been a brief moment when the Watcher had caught a hint of the thought patterns they were searching for but they disappeared and could not be found again. The bug couldn’t give up now. Too much was at stake. It had come all this way in pursuit of the prey, to leave now was to admit failure in the hunt. That would be a great dishonor to one such as he. It would be as if he had been bested in battle and lived to tell about it. One of the other minders, or even a group of them, might seize the opportunity to challenge his worthiness in the position he held. At best it would mean a demotion, at worse he would be torn into pieces and eaten alive. Better to just stay here and be stranded on this planet. As it pondered these things, the Watcher caught the sense of the Olan again. The Minder probed its mind and felt it also. This time it was much clearer. Like a scent on the wind, the Minder “sniffed” with its mind, focusing totally on the wisps of the thoughts, trying to find the direction it came from. This was by no means an accurate way to locate any creature, but it was all it had and it was something. The longer the thoughts continued the more of a chance it had to track down the thinker. This was done by moving the craft in one direction to see if the “signal” got stronger or weaker. It was just long enough for the Minder to get a general direction, then it stop suddenly. This was a puzzle to Wackeen. It had never experienced such a thing before. It was sure this was some new Olan trick of some kind. It seemed that whatever technology was being used, it had not been perfected. This was the second time it had been detected, and this time was longer than the first. If that pattern continued it was only a matter of time before the Dawlg would hunt down its prey. It allowed itself a optimistic click of its fighting claws. Janjafn Janjafn corrected course once again, keeping his distance while following the Dawlg craft’s erratic maneuvers. It was obviously searching for his companion. That was a good sign. It meant that Gouln was alive. The bugs couldn’t track a dead man. “Good little bug.” He thought at the craft as he watched. “Lead me to my friend and then I can deal with you properly.” He grinned slightly at the thought of dispatching the bugs. He was also looking forward to the kidding he would give his friend about the whole affair when he found him. Bob I was suddenly aware of the fact that I was driving. Something similar had happened to me before. I had been driving and had seemingly lost track of what was going on and then later realized I had no idea how I had gotten to where I was. This was slightly different. For several seconds I couldn’t think of anything. I could remember nothing. I looked around to get my bearings and it took several ticks of the clock before I figured out where I was. Ahead of me was one of my accounts. I pulled into the parking lot and turned off the car. I sat there awhile staring out my windshield, feeling like I was in a daze and not being able to piece together a constructive thought. I reached down to the small notebook I used to keep track of which accounts I needed to do. There on the list was the account I was at. Still feeling out of it, I got out of the van and began preparing my bucket. I pulled it out and set it on the pavement of the parking lot. I stared at it a few seconds unthinking. I looked back up and reached for my poles. I thought as I reached for it that I should actually put my utility belt on first but my thoughts had no effect on my body. My hand took hold of one of my extension poles and I brought it out of the van and stared at it. Then I started to float away again. I/Gouln looked at the pole, felt the weight of it in my/his hands. I/he thought, “Very light weight, too light to be a good weapon. Perhaps it was ok as a practice tool,” I/he stepped back away from the van and twirled it to one side, and then to the other as one would a fighting staff. “It’s really too light to do much damage in a fight.” I/he thought. It most certainly would get bent too easily. Still, I/he swung it overhead and then snapped it out to the side again. It was bringing back memories of staff practice in the City of the Wall. This area of the parking lot was empty and there was plenty of space. I/he began the kata I/he had learned so long ago. Corpus Christi Honda Dealership Sales staff Greg Jensen was the first one to notice the crazy man in the parking lot swinging the aluminum pole around. He stood looking out of that window a lot watching for people looking at the cars for sale there in the dealership he worked at. It looked like the guy knew what he was doing, some kind of martial arts moves, but why would he be doing them here? Jose Flores walked up to talk to Greg and stopped next to him looking out the window also. After a couple of seconds he uttered some expletives. “What the ….. hey, isn’t that the window cleaner?” Greg shrugged his shoulders, “I guess so, he looks kind of familiar.” Jose looked back at the show room to see if anyone else was around. The GM was walking towards the sales desk. “Hey Johnny, come look at this guy.” Johnny changed course and headed their way. As he got near he said, “What’s up guys….” He stopped in his tracks when he saw what they were looking at. “What the …?” He repeat some of the words Jose had used, adding a few more of his own. At another set of windows another group of people were gathering to watch the crazy man with the pole in the parking lot. Two of them were customers. One was a lady in her late forties who exclaimed, “Oh my gosh, what is he doing? Is he dangerous? Is someone going to call the police? The receptionist looked over at Johnny and asked him if she should call the police. Just at that moment, Johnny noticed some potential customers walking in the direction of the man. At first they seemed unaware of him, but then they saw him and stopped and stood watching for a few seconds. Their faces began to show signs of concern. Johnny ignored the receptionist and walked hastily to the door. He opened it and called out to the crazy man swinging the pole around. The man didn’t seem to notice. He just seemed to dance in a larger and larger area, around and around, swinging the pole, twirling it with one hand and then the other, then behind his back. Then he would thrust it forward, swing his body around and holding the pole in both hands, pretend to be hitting some unseen enemy. Johnny called to him again. He looked over at the people that had been looking at cars. They were backing up. They were afraid. He strode down the steps and walked briskly towards the man, calling out to him as he went. The man continued his dance, swinging the pole. He Johnny finally screamed at him. The man turned suddenly, swinging the pole around quickly stopping it just inches from his face. Bob In an instant I was no longer an observer. I was holding the end of my pole in the face of the manager of this car dealership. The man’s face was white with fright. In a panic, I pulled the pole back to my chest quickly, hugging it to me with both arms as if afraid it would somehow fly out on its own and bludgeon the man. His eyes were wide and he looked at me with a look that said, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? As I stood in terror unable to move or speak, his face changed to a bright red and his eyes narrowed in a look that said, I WILL KILL YOU NOW. I took the pole and held it behind my back, and started to back away. The receptionist came out of the door and yelled, “I called the police, they’re already on their way.” I backed up more and kept backing up. I started to try to explain. “I’m Mike, my dad is Bob, and I’m here to clean the windows.” I said in a rush. He stopped me before I could continue. “I don’t care who you are, you aren’t cleaning any windows here.” He said with a threatening tone. “You’re going to get off this property and never come back. You better hurry before the police get here and I decide to charge you with attempted murder.” I nearly started to protest that I hadn’t tried to murder him but he screamed, “GO!” and it made me jump. I nearly ran to the side of my van and threw the pole in. I splashed water all over the floor as I hurriedly set the bucket up and quickly put the lid on. I was in the driver’s seat, and had started the car when the manager turned to walk over to the people standing watching the whole thing. I drove off without looking back. Wackeen This time Wackeen had more time to home in on the Olan’s thoughts. It had only lasted several minutes but it was enough. The Minder was certain this time he was directly over the prey now. He brought the optics to bear on the site and quickly magnified until he could see figures of humans below. Before it could get things in focus properly the contact had ended. Wackeen focused it, and then magnified some more, and then once more. There were three figures there but none were Olan. A large object was moving away from them. It must be some kind of craft. Wackeen followed it as well as it could but it soon was lost in the mass of other vessels traveling along the paved path. The bug let out a growl of frustration, feeling the need to skewer something with its claws. The warrior drones backed away in fear. Wackeen looked back at the screen thinking to follow the path but there were so many other paths that led off of it. It decided to go along a little way and try to pick out that particular vessel if it could. If not it would stop and wait till the next time. As the bug had thought, this time had been longer. It speculated that if there had only been a few more seconds the prey would have been taken. The next time it was sure to have the Olan.
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