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The Aeolian Master - Book One - Revival


sticky fluid oozing from her knee. Damn, she thought. The pain was excruciating, not so much from her knee
as from her ankle. Get the hell up, she told herself as she lay gasping for breath on the tunnel floor. She wanted
to lie there and rest, but knew she couldn't. Get up! she yelled at herself.
Finally, she rose to one knee and staggered to her feet. She started to run. But for all her effort, a sharp pain
bit into her ankle, and she fell again to the ground. She was starting to feel panic—the patrollers were gaining.
She urged herself up again and this time she adjusted her running in order to keep most of the weight off her
injured ankle.
By the time she saw the opening into the workmen's tunnel most of the strain had been worked out of her
ankle. Her ability to run, however, was not a hundred percent.
She heard voices in the access tunnel behind her. They sounded frustrated and angry as they ran and yelled
back and forth.
Her injury had slowed her down enough that they had almost caught up. But they hadn't spotted her. She
stepped gingerly into the workman's tunnel. She turned right and started running toward the city entrance.
There was a slight limp in her gait, but she blocked the pain, stretched her stride, and fled into the darkness.
How much further? She remembered they had passed four access tunnels while traversing the main tunnel in
search of Everette. And before that there was a sliding door leading into a hallway which had been
reconditioned and put into operation by the underground. It was near the city entrance and ran parallel to the
access tunnels.
It’s at least a half-mile, she thought. It’s too far. I'll never make it. As she continued to run she started
thinking about the crystal pit. If she ended up there maybe her father could help her out, but if not, she would
be at the mercy of the elements. They would put her to work in the cold—mining crystals. Her clothing
wouldn’t be adequate, and the food wouldn’t be enough for the physical labor. She knew, and everybody in
Newusa knew, if you were sent to the crystal pit, it was a death sentence.
She looked ahead. If she could reach that sliding door . . .
Behind her the footfalls of the patrollers became audible as they exited the small tunnel and started off in hot
pursuit.
She could tell they were rapidly gaining, and she knew it was because they were in a larger tunnel. They
didn't have to stoop while running
She quickened her pace. If she ran faster she might fall again, but if she didn’t, they would surely catch her.
Her footfalls kicked up dust, putting dirt and fungi spores into the air. It was a path a blind man could
follow. In a distant corner of her mind she could still feel the pain from her ankle. By now she was gasping for
breath, and beginning to feel weak.
If she had stayed home as Sam had suggested, she wouldn’t be in this mess. She knew there were informants
working in the ranks of the revolutionaries. Why did she take this chance? Of course she wanted to help the
people, and of course she wanted the revolution to succeed, but she should have been more selective about the
work.
As she ran she continued to stare into the light of her handbeam illuminating the railroad ties and the rubble
lying on or between them. She couldn't fall again.
Last one, she thought with a glimmer of hope. She passed the access tunnel. The passage had to be close,
and if she could get there, she would be able to elude her enemy. She flashed her beam ahead. There it was,
twenty yards away.
It gave her hope as she realized there was a chance for escape. Keep it going, she urged herself. Keep the
legs pumping. I'm almost there.
But at that moment a flashing red bolt seared the top of her shoulder. Pain raced up her neck. Her pace
slowed. Her chest was heaving in desperation for air.
From behind she could hear the footfalls of her pursuers coming quickly. The men were closer than she had
realized. The entrance to the passage was only ten feet away. She dropped her handbeam, and with extreme
effort she strove for the doorway. Three strides, long and fast. Her heart was pounding. Her lungs were
rasping. Her knees began to buckle as she lunged into the passageway.
From the floor she reached up and hit the palm lock. The door slide shut before the man's outstretched
fingers.
She hit the lock button.
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