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hidden cache. The Anla'shok commonly left these at safe houses throughout the galaxy, and those who knew where to find them could easily retrieve them. As his fist closed around the lever, Vance suddenly froze. The position of the lever, the way it felt in his hand and the fact that he knew Keldulan had been discovered and murdered made Vance hesitate. Gingerly, he released the lever and bent to look beneath the boiler. A thin wire entwined the lever's base. Vance trailed it from under the boiler to a pipe at the back.

'Vance?' said Bakkatt.

'I think you should take a look at this,' he replied, backing away.

Bakkatt quickly examined the booby trap. No sooner had he knelt to glance beneath the boiler than he was back on his feet again, denn'bok in hand. 'We need to get out of here, now!' he barked, grabbing Volt and pulling him to his feet.

'Is it going to blow?' asked Vance, reaching for his own weapon.

'Worse than that-' Bakkatt was suddenly cut short as the roof of the safe house collapsed. Two spindly figures rappelled down on gossamer threads. Vance recognised them instantly, and a reflexive action brought the pistol into his hand. He was loosing shells before the Ky'Thain reached the ground. The automatic clip unleashed its pay-load, striking both of the intruders. The first seemed not to notice the stream of fire, as the pistol rounds bounced harmlessly off its carapace. The second reeled backward as it landed, one round striking its wedge-shaped head. Although the round did some damage, blood spraying from the wound, the creature dove straight into the fray to back up its comrade.

Bakkatt rushed forward to take on the first creature. A loud clashing sound erupted from his fighting pike as he struck against the organic spikes that protruded from the
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