The Aeolian Master - Book One - Revival
sprawling into the black sea of sapphires. He was dead so quick his body didn't even realize it. The brain
willed the flesh to rise, and he continued running down the path another twenty yards with little black snakes
hanging to his flesh. He suddenly came to a standstill, weaved to and fro a few times, and fell again into the
squirming and wriggling sea of blackness.
Sam continued to watch as Gaal made it safely out of the zone and into the safety station, then Sam looked at
Hal's dead body. It was already turning black and becoming bloated. At first he didn't say anything, but finally,
"At least it was quick," he said. He threw his half smoked cigar into the wriggling mass of snakes.
Because the wall was shaking so violently, they were unable to stand up. So he and Rennie had to scoot their
butts along the top until they came to the far side of the zone.
Ben was sitting in a chair wishing the Galaef hadn’t insisted he accompany him to that meeting with Hurd
and Thorne. Is there a moral to this story?—maybe,—don’t become too friendly with politicians in high places.
The other six runners were sitting in various locations staring into space. This time they weren't eating
snacks or drinking beverages or laughing nervously.
"Well, if it's all the same to you," said Rennie who finally couldn't stand the silence any longer, "I think this
whole thing is absurd. Just think about it for a moment. Here we are in the middle of a civilized city,—you
know: advanced technology, intelligent people, a fairly decent understanding of the Universe, hell we even have
access to hyperspace—can you imagine that, hyperspace? And yet with all this intelligence around us we're in
the middle of an absurd complex in our home city being killed by creatures imported from millions of light-
years away. And the absurd part of it is,—it's on purpose."
No one said anything.
"Don't you think that's absurd?" He looked at Sam. "Come on Sam, don't you think it's unrealistic that an
arena is built for spectators to watch other people being killed?"
Sam pulled at his bright, red mustache and squinched his eyebrows. “Beyond absurd,” he said.
"Absurd, yes,” said Ben, “but not unrealistic." History has taught us that there have been many rulers who
have perpetrated hideous forms of unjust and unfair punishment on their subjects. Consider for a moment the
history we have learned about the civilizations on Earth. Do you remember one such dynasty who fed the
Christians to some sort of beast? They watched for amusement as the beast tore limbs off his prey, a man or a
woman, and gnawed on their still live, quivering bodies. And there was another crazy dictator who put people
into fiery ovens or poisoned them in make-believe showers."
"That doesn't make it right," quipped Rennie.
"I didn't say it was right," retorted Ben. "All I'm saying is it's not so unusual. It seems the criminally insane
become rulers of people more often than we would like to think.
"Yeah," said Gaal. "there's no doubt Hurd's crazy."
Everyone became quiet again, so Ben stood up and studied the upcoming zone. It was quite a contrast to the
first two zones. There were trees, bushes, vines, unusual flowers, and grass. The foliage was so dense in some
areas it was impossible to see further than ten feet. A lot of life milled around in the greenery and off to the
right, he could see an animal, which looked like a wild dog, standing in some tall grass. I hate jungles, he
thought. And I’ve never even been in one.
Just then the soft, feminine voice told them they must leave, and the door slid open.
Dahms stepped out, gripped her sword, and started down the path. "Time to get mean," she said.
As Ben walked behind her, about ten feet. Sam sidled up to him and said the most inappropriate thing, “I
wonder what she would be like on a date. It’s kind of hard to imagine. She has a pretty face, a hard athletic
body, long legs, blond hair, and an interesting personality. But on the other hand she might be too demanding.
She always seems to take charge.”
Ben was trying to figure out why Sam was talking nonsense in the middle of a deadly environment. But
then, he considered the psychology involved when people are under severe external stress—it has an effect of
bonding relationships faster than normal.
Sam continued, “She has some kind of underlying leadership quality and everybody just seems to do
whatever she says. Still she might be. . . . What the hell am I talking about?" he said a little louder. "We