Subsubsection: 16 April 2014 (into the Living Land, to the dig site) Up Subsection: The Destiny Map Subsubsection: 14 May 2014 (a running fight against shocktroopers and samurai) 

30 April 2014 (sneaking round the dig site, stealing the tiles)

They return to the truck, and describe the situation. As they’re contemplating what to do, Diamond and Thorfin both hear the sound of stealthy footsteps moving through the jungle. They and Stephen move toward the rear of the truck “to check the cargo”, while David waits in the cab. Stephen bends down “to look at the tyre”, then whips round as a shocktrooper attacks him; the shocktrooper’s taken aback by this, and manages to lose his grip on his ceremonial dagger.
Thorfin rounds on the shocktrooper sneaking up on him, and dodges the dagger attack. He swings his hammer, and breaks the shocktrooper’s leg; he goes down.
Diamond punches her shocktrooper, then kicks him; he doesn’t seem to be able to land effective blows on her. Eventually he goes down.
A fourth shocktrooper is sneaking round the cab; David sees his headdress briefly over the door sill, and waits with his pistol out.
Thorfin moves to follow the shocktrooper who’s sneaking round the front of the cab. It’s all below David’s eye level, but there’s the sound of dull impacts and then of running feet.
Stephen finishes his shocktrooper off with more stabs with his knife, then moves to intercept the wounded runner, finishing him off with a knife to the back.
At the end of it, there are two dead shocktroopers, one unconscious, and one very scared. When Thorfin patches him up and offers him food, he’s quite willing to talk about the dig, though he doesn’t know a lot about policy matters; the Nile Empire does not select its shocktroopers for initiative.
He knows that the dig’s looking for four tiles with strange foreign writing on them, and that they’re not huge; they can be carried in one hand. They’ve already found three of them, and Captain Achmedi is a great man (“with a real fighting spirit”), but Wu Han scares him.
The truck’s running distinctly ragged, and when David takes a look he sees that the filter, or rather the space where the filter ought to be, is clogged with pollen; it seems to have got all through the cooling system. It can be moved back a bit from the dig site, though.
The team waits until evening; Stephen disguises himself in an unneeded shocktrooper uniform, and Diamond follows him, relying on native stealth. He walks down the ramp as if he’s under orders, and moves to the lead truck while she flies down the cliff edge to the rear one. As well as rations and other supplies, he finds three small ammunition-style boxes, each of which proves to hold one tile; he removes them, wraps them in a tarpaulin, and closes the boxes, leaving the truck and passing them over to Diamond; she flies them back to the rest of the team, then returns.
As Stephen is leaving, he hears a commotion: an edeinos slave quite close to him is holding up a tile. But most of the attention of the camp is on the far side, where a human digger is holding up a tile of his own. Stephen moves up to the lizard, who (as sarcastically as a lizard can, which is substantially) addresses him as “great master” and hands over the tile (it has writing on it rather than a map segment). He moves to the lead truck, as if to stow the tile with the others, but conceals it in a ration crate.
Diamond can observe, and Stephen can hear, Wu Han with his guards moving towards the truck with their new find. Stephen opens the truck’s tail flap as the other shocktroopers secure their tile and get in; Wu Han and Captain Achmedi enter the cab.
They start up the ramp, but a high-pitched whining sound from behind heralds an attack: three small hover-sleds burst out of the jungle and drop to the floor of the dig site, each carrying a pair of men in samurai-styled armour. They open up with flechette guns; the shocktroopers return fire; and the slaves seize the moment to attack the shocktroopers. Captain Achmedi dismounts to lead the battle, and Diamond swoops in to take his place at the wheel, realising as she does so that she’s sitting next to her deadly enemy Wu Han. (“Do I know you? You seem familiar. Your will is my will: your only task is to obey me.”) Diamond pretends to have succumbed to his force of will (and indeed it’s a close thing), and starts driving up the slope.
As Achmedi shouts for his men to kill the intruders, Stephen readies his sub-machinegun, and sprays it across the shocktroopers in the back of the truck; they’re sufficiently startled by this, and their own guns are sufficiently inconveniently placed, that they don’t manage to get a shot off before they’re all dead or unconscious.
Thorfin and David, having moved forward to the edge of the dig, see Achmedi getting into the rear truck. Diamond spots them by the side of the road, waiting to leap aboard; Wu Han does too, shouting “Stormers! Run them down!” Diamond fakes just failing to do so, which in fact makes it easier for them to leap up and catch the side of the truck as it goes past.
They realise that they’ve left the first three tiles with their prisoner in their own truck.
 Subsubsection: 16 April 2014 (into the Living Land, to the dig site) Up Subsection: The Destiny Map Subsubsection: 14 May 2014 (a running fight against shocktroopers and samurai)