The Aeolian Master - Book One - Revival HTML version
"You want me?" Ben suddenly didn't like where this was going. "What do you mean, you want me?"
"Well?" asked Hurd looking at Thorne.
Thorne shrugged his shoulders. "He's yours," he said.
"What do you mean I'm his?" Ben lowered his voice to a growl. "I have nothing to do with the politics on
this planet or anywhere else in the galaxy. I’m not a politician and you have no right to treat me as one. I’m a
private citizen, and you must let me go."
"Can't do that," said Hurd.
"Look, be reasonable," said Ben with a subtle threat in his voice. "I'm not one of your rebels who's trying to
bring you down. I'm just an Archaehistorian doing research and writing a history about your planet."
"That’s exactly what I mean," said Hurd.
"Look, if you're upset about the history thing, I'll write whatever you want."
"The history's not important, anymore," said Hurd. "The fact is I just want to give you a choice."
Ben looked inquisitively at Hurd, even though he knew what was coming.
"The Run or the pit," he said with great pleasure.
Ben looked at Thorne. "I'm just a history teacher," he said. "I have nothing to do with politics." Ben was
becoming angry and frustrated. Suddenly these fools were in control of his fate, and he didn't like it.
"This time you got too close to the top," said Thorne, "and it broke off."
Ben didn't appreciate his witticism, which was nothing more than a boring cliché.
"Make your decision," yelled Hurd. "You have fifteen seconds, and then I'll make it for you."
"But . . ."
"Stop pleading. You sound like a coward." And then he added, "twelve seconds."
Ben looked at Thorne and then back to Hurd. He hadn't been pleading. He was trying to show them some
logic. But then logic is a foreign concept to these ignorant politicians, he thought. Anger started welling up in
his mind. “You think I’m a coward when I’m trying to talk logic and common sense. I’ll tell you what, if you
think I’m such a coward, why don’t we settle this like men—a duel, and you can name the choice of weapons.”
“I don’t have to fight you,” said Hurd. “I own you.”
“Then I guess we know who the real coward is. And you certainly don’t have the bravado of Teddy
Roosevelt.” Ben pointed at the picture.
Hurd’s face became flushed with a crimson red. “You have five seconds to make up your mind.”
“Okay,” said Ben, “the pit.”
Hurd shook his head back and forth. "That would have been a good choice, but you’re too late. Your five
seconds expired. So I’m going to choose for you, and I choose the run."
“That wasn’t five seconds,” said Ben with an angry voice.
“Too late,” repeated Hurd. He pushed a button on his desk and said, “Send in my guards. I have a new
runner for tomorrow’s run.”
The guards quickly entered the room, and as Ben was being escorted out he heard Hurd ask Thorne, "What
are you going to do with the Galaef?"
"I will be personally escorting him to the crystal mine," said Thorne, "I need to set up a safe environment for
him—isolation and no hard labor."
"But . . ."
"I need him, because I need Myra," said Thorne anticipating Hurd’s protest. "Myra is the holder of the key,
and she has fled, . . . probably to her home planet. The computer keeps giving me false information and that
means the Galaef is the only one who can tell me which of the two million planets is her birthplace."
Hurd started stroking his mustache quickly. "It's dangerous keeping him alive."
"Yes, it's dangerous, but it's only for a few days. If I have to I'll use the mind machine. But it needs to be
done in the secrecy of the pits where no one can observe what I'm doing," he paused. "After that . . . . “
The door slid shut before Ben could hear anymore.
The hall was long and wide with Vitalites set into the ceiling Illuminating and casting soft shadows from the