They huddled in the semi-darkness. The sandstorm was still howling outside. The thick mud walls of their temporary shelter shook every once in a while, accompanied by heavy thuds.

Saren flipped the unconscious woman onto her side with his foot.

“What do we do with that lot?” Galea asked.

He knelt to examine the children. Nihlus shuffled nervously on the spot. The sore topic has finally been broached.

“Leave them.” Saren dragged the boy by his ankles and put him beside his mother. “We leave for the capital as soon as the storm subsides.”

“I can get to Abis and back in two days. There has to be a rover around somewhere.”

“You can take ours –“

“No.” Saren glared at him. You’re up shit creek, Nihlus. “It’ll be too late.”

“He’s right.” She sighed. “You two should go ahead. I’ll manage.”

“We could use an extra gun.”

“Oh, so the top agent needs help.”

“There’s too much at stake,” Saren snarled.

She stretched her elegant neck, shaking sand from the creases of the weave. “Don’t give me that shit. I’m staying.”

Nihlus looked from one to the other and back again. “Seconded.”

The glare was pure venom. And I’m going to drown you in that damn creek.

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