The Aeolian Master - Book One - Revival
in a calmer voice.
Ben recognized a tone of respect in Kenley’s voice, and he knew why. It was Samsung’s aura, which would
bring forth a modicum of fear and respect from any man or woman when talking to Samsung. His presence
gave you the feeling that if you weren’t polite to him, he could and would kill you in an instant.
Samsung stepped into the cell.
And now it was Ben’s turn. Kenley led him to the last cell on that level.
As Ben stepped through the doorway and into the cell, the barred door slid shut behind him—enclosing him
like an animal in a cage. Crap, thought Ben. A loud clunking noise reverberated throughout the room when the
magnetic coupling locks were activated and engaged, locking him into the small room and into a new, but not a
desirable way of life. Ben looked about him and noticed a set of metallic framed bunk beds to the right and a
set to the left. Both were attached to the sidewalls, and both had a man on the bottom bunk snoring loudly.
There was a small metallic toilet to the right against the far wall. He noticed the wall contained a barred
window, which looked out over the prison yard. What the hell have I gotten myself into? A most absurd turn of
From the top bunk on the right, a baldhead atop a face with dark, sunken eyes popped up and peered over the
edge of a thin, tattered mattress. "Lookie here," said the face, "a new one."
Ben ignored him and walked over to the window and looked out just in time for an unexpected scene.
Thorne, surrounded by three prison guards and four of the Galaef's elite bodyguard, was walking across the
prison yard. Come for his little meeting with the Galaef. Perhaps a mind melt is in the making.
Ben wondered how much longer the Galaef would be alive. For some reason Thorne needed Myra in order
to take control of the Galactic Federation, but he didn't know from which planet she came. He needed Taul to
tell him, and that probably meant he would be alive until Thorne found her.
"What's your name?" asked the face from the top bunk.
Ben remembered Thorne had said it would only be a few days, so he must be confident about finding Myra
rather quickly, and with the resources of the Galactic Federation at his command his optimism appeared to be
"So, an unfriendly sort, eh?"
"Not really," said Ben. He turned and saw a scrawny fellow-sitting upright in the top bunk. "I just have a lot
on my mind . . . my name's Ben, and what's yours?"
"Name's Hilo," said the face, and he rolled off the bunk, swinging his right foot to the bunk below, but
stepping lightly so as not to disturb the snoring man. From there he stepped to the floor. "Listen," he said,
"you're new here, so it's only right I fill you in on the program." The man spoke in a soft, but nasal voice.
"You know . . . how things work in this joint. If you're smart and you do things right, you can live for a long
time around here . . . especially now."
Ben thought it ironic that this man would consider the process of staying alive under horrible conditions a
'program.' At the university they had programs which included an itinerary of coursework leading to a degree,
or an outline of athletic courses leading to an event standing, or a sequence of events at a concert or a theater
performance, but there were no programs for staying alive as long as possible under insane circumstances. It
occurred to Ben that in some bizarre way it might be a program. It would certainly be a learning process;
especially if he survived it.
"What do you mean especially now?"
Without hesitation Hilo said, "Two and a half months ago they started giving us a day off once a week, and
then three weeks ago they started feeding us a cooked meal on our day off."
"Why did they do that?"
Hilo answered a question with a question. "How many new prisoners came with you today?"
"Four men and a woman."
"There's your answer," said Hilo. "Prisoners are dying too fast. Too many empty bunks, not enough men to
mine the crystals. The workforce used to be two hundred strong, but now we're down to just over one hundred.
I guess the rebels are getting smarter—not getting caught as much."
Ben noticed Hilo said ‘the rebels’ instead of ‘us rebels,’ but he figured it was just his way of talking. "Well
then, I guess that's lucky for us."
"Damn straight it is." Hilo took a cigarette and a lighter out of his prison-issue shirt pocket, stuck the
cigarette in his mouth and lit it up. He took a long drag and then blew out a cloud of dull blue smoke.