The Aeolian Master - Book One - Revival HTML version
water with the sharks.
Ahead, about ten meters he could see Gaal and another twenty meters Dahms and Sam were sharing air.
Ben started after them. He had swam no more than fifteen feet when one of Hurd's ancient Earth sharks
suddenly appeared making that same strange movement with its head. Ben pulled both swords simultaneously
from their sheaths and waited.
It was only a few feet from Ben when it slammed into something hard and unyielding. It swam a short
distance away, and attempted its attack from another angle, but the results were the same.
Ben sheathed his short sword and with his arm outstretched he swam toward the side until he felt a hard,
clear-plastic wall between him and the main body of the lake. It appeared they were in a long transparent tube,
which was acting as a barrier between them and the sharks. It would keep them safe, at least, from whatever
was outside the tube.
After another forty meters Dahms and Sam came to a halt. When Ben got closer he could see why—the tube
forked, which meant they had to decide which way to go. But, of course, left was the only choice.
Another shark slammed into the barrier.
Dahms started to her left, which was no surprise to Ben. They swam a hundred yards and came to another
fork. Again Dahms chose the left.
Ben had heard about Hurd’s pride about being left handed. He said that left-handed people were smarter.
And Ben was sure that in his egotistical mania he believed it. He just hoped Hurd hadn’t given into a moment
of reverse psychology.
After another two hundred yards Ben knew they were getting close to the other side of the lake, and none too
soon, Dahms and Sam had already run out of air and had discarded their tank. They were using air from the last
two tanks. It took a minute for Gaal to understand that he had to give up his mouthpiece for Sam to use. At
first he was reluctant, but obviously he knew it was necessary, and he finally gave it up.
They had gone another fifty meters when Ben saw something in the near distance. It was a solid wall
blocking the passageway.
So, thought Ben, Hurd changed the pattern after all. From the history, which he had studied in school, he
had found that a monarchy was as good or as bad as the dictator who ruled it. Hurd, having set himself up as a
dictator, could have done wonderful things for the city and for the people. With all the wealth accumulated
from the Zen I crystals he could have constructed another dome making the city larger and alleviating the
overcrowding. He could have built more schools and libraries (the smart politicians realize that a powerful
country is only as powerful as the people are intelligent). He could have built more roadways and expanded the
spaceport bringing in more trade. He could have developed better relations with the outsiders, thereby
enhancing trade with them. And most importantly he could have encouraged the growth of the middle class by
raising the wage base.
Instead Hurd had chosen the path which many dictators had followed throughout the history of the Galaxy.
Indeed, he had become a fool in greed—the greed of power and money.
Ben looked at the blockade. He knew that the other three were thinking that they had come to their end. He
took another drag off the mouthpiece and handed it to Dahms.
Ben was told that when Hurd was first coming into power, one of the council men spent time with him trying
to make him understand wisdom and benevolence; and especially the importance of intelligence. Keep the
populace educated and keep your city strong. For a while it seemed Hurd was learning, but then greed crept in,
and Hurd chose selfishness over the good of the people. What a fool he is, thought Ben.
He watched as Sam, obviously out of desperation and anger swam to the wall and started hacking it with his
sword. A big chunk of the material was loosed from the wall and fell slowly through the water landing gently
on the bottom of the tube. It took the four of them only a moment to realize they might be able to get through.
Ben, Dahms, and Gaal joined with Sam, and they started hacking the wall with their swords.
Soon they had broken a small hole through to the other side. That damned Hurd, thought Ben, he stayed true
The four of them kept hacking almost frantically as they realized time was running out. They never stopped
for a moment's rest and only quickly would they hand the mouthpieces back and forth for more air.
The hole seemed to be growing too slowly. With his short sword he started hacking faster, but the more he
hacked the more it seemed it was useless work. The greater the physical activity, the more the air he needed,
and now it was almost gone with the hole only being half the size they needed to get through.
Ben was thinking they had come to their end when a snout and part of the jaws of a shark protruded through