Lodestar Part II, Free Read

Just spent the whole weekend writing and thinking about the end of Srese Kerr's part of the story.

I realised I have to get her to where she'll be picked up by the traders, in part IV.  Meaning I have to have her do her farewell with her boyfriend, who isn't accompanying her on the next stage. I have to have her learn to use one of the survival suits and she has to have another run in with Youk. He leaves the caves at the same time.

Probably another two chapters after Chapter 14, What the Greeks Did, what I thought would be the last chapter in this section. Here a section of that chapter:


15: What the Greeks Did


Srese woke. In the dark. She was lying on her back. She rocked herself, and so also rocked the bed she was on. It felt like a medi-bed. She felt constricted about her middle but her hands were loose. Her arm, when she raised it to her nose, stank of sweat and capsicum.

She sneezed. And recalled the red cloud bulking through the corridor and her on the stretcher high above the minion’s heads. High above everyone’s heads.

She obviously gone to sleep on the stretcher but where was she now? Apart from being strapped on a medi-bed? Both upper arms stung. She felt them with her hands creeping up. Nothing to stop them. Both her arms had a hypodermic needle head inserted. Elastic bandages to keep them in place. One of them with a tube connected to where she couldn’t reach.

The ordinary air-con in the background.

A drip drip drip in the foreground. To her right.

She opened her eyes.

The lights were set on half-light. Grey. She was in one of the clinics, lying on one of the two stretcher beds. A plastic bag hung empty from the stand by the left side of her bed head. She pulled the tubing out from under the bandage. Pulled out both the needle heads. The bandages would take care of the bleeding.

That drip continued.

To her right.

She turned her head.

There was Ahni’s body, constrained like hers.

Ahni’s head looked wrong.

As the details coalesced, Srese retched.  “No! No! No!”  

Ahni’s skull bone glared white. Her scalp hung inside-out, weighed down by her hair hanging over the edge of the bed. Sodden with her blood dripping from the ends to the floor. A long wound furrowed up her arm, over her shoulder and into her neck.

But she bled. Didn’t that mean she was still alive? Srese fumbled the ties across her body loose. Fell from the bed as she put her legs out. Held onto the edge of her bed while she climbed to her feet. Why was she so weak? 

Forget that. Help Ahni.

Crossing between their beds, she fell again. Too weak. Find someone. 

She crawled to the doors, onto the sensori-mat. Every move she made she recalled more of what had obviously led to this. The Seapeople’s AI that wanted her blood. Therefore her weakness. Royland didn’t even sew up Ahni’s wounds. There had to be someone to help. How would she know who’d be safe?

The door slid aside. She crawled through the opening. No one in the corridor. She rested, to think. What if Royland or one of his assistants came back? Holding onto the door-jamb, she finally reached the keypad.

She reset the door code. Srese will help Ahni: 5, 4, 4, 4. The door slid back into its groove and the lock snicked.

Out here the lights blazed. Stark. No one around. Or did she notice that already? Not a sound. She slid along the walls, negotiating the doors. All of them open. Even the ones into the minion tunnels. Why? The corner of Simmonds and First Circle. Where would everyone be? Still no sound. She stumbled down Simmonds. Arno might still be in the CAVE, and Ahni’s friend, KiraMah.

The doors into the complex were shut.

She stood on the sensori mat.

They stayed shut.

Was it Gammy still in charge of the doors, or was it the implant? She couldn’t decide. Heard again the thick dripping, as if it wasn’t just in her mind. Ahni’s life. She punched in her new code.

The doors slid open and she allowed herself a little smile. Thank you, Gammy.

People in there, stupidly unaware of danger. Five of them counting Youk. And only he noticed her coming in, with a swing of his head. All he could do. He was tied hands and feet. And gagged. To shut his lies up in his mouth, she wouldn’t be surprised.

Arno rested, closed eyed. Ghulia helped Zoya nurse the baby. Shot of hormones anyone? KiraMah collected stuff left behind. 

“I need help with Ahni.”

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