Scene 21  1560 4D

Gunfire. Derizan shouted through it, “Follow her! Go! Go!” The family hurried out of the chamber and off after Terrenci. Derizan, coming last, glanced back down the corridor to the fighting and froze in astonishment.

The mysterious man who had sniffed at them when they arrived in Fornonck moved like swift and silent death. He faced three armed corp soldiers, and in seconds all three lay broken and smashed, dying on the dirt floor. A bullet passed his fast-moving head as he dodged; he turned, looked at Derizan, winked, and vanished around a bend.

“Come on!” Astina cried out. Derizan followed the others, descending a spiraling tunnel leading down and away from the fighting. They came to a chamber filled with excavation equipment where Terrenci stopped them.

“We have to seal ourselves off here,” she said, breathless. “We can’t go back. I saw a big force of soldiers. corpos. It looked as if they disguised as refugees to get in here. Our guards are probably dead.” She found some gel explosives and fuses. “I’ll get these deployed and ready to blow. You wait here.”

Selech called to her, “How will we get out?”

Terrenci called back, her arms embracing cakes of explosive, wires, detonators, and more, “Not back up. They’ve blocked our ways out to the town network – all probably occupied. Hang on!” She vanished back up the corridor. A few moments passed, and she returned, unreeling wire, gesturing. “Get over there – to the side, squat, cover ears, curl tight!”

As the family huddled on the floor, Inkurisar, his wife and her sister, and the unnamed fighter hurtled into the room to join them. Shouts rose from the corridor they had left. Terrenci, crowding next to them all, cried, “Now!” and a thunderous blast deafened everyone. The corridor they had left caved in, bringing down part of the chamber’s ceiling, and then a groaning tumble of rock on top of it all.

Derizan’s whole head rang. Dust filled the air. He coughed, and as the ringing subsided he heard the choking and coughs of the others. “We’ve got to get good air!” he called to Terrenci. He saw another opening opposite the collapsed corridor. “Where does that go?”

“That’s where we’re going,” she answered. “Follow me. Turtuz, you take the rear, just in case.” The mysterious man, his neck incisions now clearly showing the Argazindar symbol with a slash through it, waited as the family all moved past to the downsloping passage Terrenci was taking.

Derizan came last, just after Inkurisar, who seemed dazed. Turtuz said to them in a growl as they went by, “I’m here, and I’ll make sure no one will be chasing you. I’ll join you.”  

Terrenci had passed along some soft lights to carry, and the glow kept everyone together. The descent took many minutes, the passage twisting, turning, and undulating unpredictably. It was unfinished rock excavation, shored up here and there with wooden beams and joists. Water dripped and trickled, leaving muddy pools on the uneven, gravelly floor. The air was breathable, but as they descended it took on a miasma, a fetor, and soon a stench that Derizan found scarcely bearable. Mutterings from the others.

Shuffling as best he could behind Terrenci, Alumaras asked “Where are you taking us?”

“Away from the fighting,” she said, “and down to a possible way of escape.”

Derizan heard them, and worked his way up the line to join his father. “Did you say ‘possible’? Does that mean you don’t know?”

Terrenci said, “We just discovered this, and we don’t know much yet, but it should get us away. Ah, here we are.” She stopped, held up her glowlight. The passage ended in a small space where Derizan saw a slanted hatch door with five studs on it. “Here’s our exit. We can get out and follow it, but we haven’t had time to explore it. We don’t even know why this hatchdoor is here, buried so deep. We’re over a hundred meters below our own digs. I think we’ve found something very, very ancient.”

Daryuz interjected, “So we’re going to drop into some stinking, buried hole and hope we find our way back up to the surface in some safe place? This is a nightmare!”

Derizan put his hand on his brother-in-law’s arm. “Easy now. We’re still alive, thanks to these good folks. Let’s stick together and see what we need to do.” An uneasy pause, and he thought, Why are they putting in such effort for us, when they’ve probably faced all this before? And why are the corps putting in all this effort to catch us?

Turtuz came in without a sound, whispering to Terrenci and then stepping back.

She bowed her head. “Galanaisa was killed. These butchers came very hard after you.” She stared Derizan in the eyes, her face lined with stress and grief. “What could they possibly want so badly from a little bunch of reloc refugees?”

He bowed his head in turn. “I have no idea.” And as their glowlights shuffled their shadows on the chamber wall, Terrenci got them to work opening the hatch.


Next scene.

Last Updated Tuesday, June 25 2024 @ 10:05 am  15 Hits   
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