YFnyrdh was sitting by a small open fire near a rude lean-to of scavenged timber, rendered waterproof, to a point, by a thatch of dry grass leaves. It had taken her four days to locate the crashed life-craft and now, several months later, its energy cells were all but exhausted, though the emergency food packs were holding out. She was supervising an improvised cooking pot of rehydrated, simmering bllw strynng soup. Clean accessible water was at a premium; there was none to spare for washing so she had a dishevelled air, her hair was long and matted, her mole-skin coveralls were thread bare, stained and mud spattered, and she sported an increasingly inconvenient unkempt beard. Hank was curled asleep in the long grass near the edge of what she now thought of as ‘the lawn’. Both were aware of the other’s presence, but Hank was too well fed and arthritic to bother with hunting and YFnyrdh was more concerned with the whereabouts of Digby. They had had a number of close encounters since she returned to her landing site, but thus far she had evaded recapture.
The sound, when they first heard it, was obviously some form of helicopter. They were, by now, used to the noise of the twin rotor Chinooks that regularly transported the planet’s military above this area, so gave it little attention. However, this time the source of the engine noise did not pass by and it got much louder. They both looked up when it became apparent something was descending.
The craft, an Atmospheric-Operations General Purpose Tender, had a roughly cone shaped fuselage, elongated fore and aft, which hung beneath a single multi-bladed rotor, and shone silver-chrome. The Special Forces insignia and motto was prominent in red and black along the side of the hull as it landed close by YFnyrdh’s camp. The rotor ceased revolving as the engine was cut, and retracted, the blades folding upwards and inwards somewhat after the manner of the cirri on a barnacle. A hatch cracked open, expelling a hiss of vapour round the seal, hinging at the bottom to form a ramp that thumped to the ground in a decisive sort of way. There was stillness, pregnant with expectation, while the cavernous hatchway gaped darkly. Then cries of “…hut, hut, hut…” echoed from within and a group of space-marines, dressed in pristine white uniforms and hard hats, emerged at a trot. The shore party, armed with hangers and laser carbines formed a perimeter whilst the officer, distinguished by a conspicuous display of gold braid, approached with her small but viciously practical automatic projectile hand weapon unholstered.
“Well, you took some finding.”