The broken and patchy road, snaking through the mountain range, seemed more determined to shake their vehicles apart with each rapidly passing mile. Both engines protested as their drivers attempted to encourage more speed from them: one, the haggard and sickly rattle of an aged beast of burden, fighting for each yard it travelled; the other, a throaty bellow of a well-cared-for and faithful companion, taking the uphill journey in its stride. Some way behind them, several higher-pitched growls filled the air, gaining ground with the steady determined pace of committed predators. Cobra jerked the wheel to the right again before pulling back to the left. One of the three pursuers, a dune buggy of some old pre-Starfall design, locked