Hollow Corner – Excerpt

The next morning, Alya took the trash out. She moved a building timber aside to make room for her trash bin. She bent over behind another large bin and heard a scuffle and a whir. She peeked over the top of the large bin and saw Kadin. His back was to her, and she saw that he clutched a pin cushion spine in his hands. She grabbed the timber before she thought it through. Surprise was her one chance to help him. The sentinel clicked. She stepped toward the sentinel and swung with all her might as the eye turned a deadly green. The timber crashed down on the top of the carapace and broke the solar panels. The sentinel wobbled and turned its green eye on her. Kadin grabbed another timber, and smashed it hard on the top again. She swung again and smashed it into the wall and Kadin hit it immediately after her. It fell to the ground. They both bashed it several more times and its green eye flickered and searched for a target and then their hits split its round body open; all the light left the eye. The sentinel leaked violet fluid and Alya was sticky with sweat.

She looked at Kadin. He looked at her. “Are there others?” she asked.

“I out ran them, but others will come now that this one is dead.”

“Why did you take it?”

“It’s worth a lot of greks.”

“Oh for…” She was angry that her brightest student had put a price on his life. “Keep running!” He took off down the alley. She took off her apron and put the parts of the dead sentinel into it and wrapped it tightly. No sense in leaving evidence lying around.

She took too long, and lost her moment of isolation. Two sentinels appeared. She gripped the bundle tightly and ran. She whipped around the corner into her courtyard and kept going. A green beam hit the cobblestones where her feet had just been. She dodged right and ran down another alley and into the main street her inn fronted. Her heart raced and things around her seemed to slow down as she increased speed and almost ran into a pedestrian. He took one look at her and became alarmed and ducked into the nearest building. She dashed around a corner as another green beam of light hit the corner of the building and rained plaster on her. She ducked into an open doorway, spun around the corner and jumped out the window. The women in the kitchen screamed. She ran down another alley and took another sudden turn. She dashed through the village hiding around corners and dodging in and out of buildings. Her stamina ran out. The feeling of super-speed left her and she was breathing heavily. No green beams of light followed Alya. Her throat was raw, and she stopped to catch her breath, hiding behind a trash heap. No sentinels were visible. How long would they hunt her? They must be very angry and looking everywhere for her.

She wanted go home or at least get word to her mother. She must first determine where she was. She had run randomly, making turns as often as possible to stay hidden from the sentinels. She was not certain where she was or how many sentinels were searching for her. She was afraid to leave the alley and see where she was. At least here she was hidden. In the street any of them could spot her. She took a deep breath and walked toward the street. She carefully looked around the corner and saw the sweet shop. There was a sentinel out there casually scanning the sweet shop. Could she make it to the inn undetected? She walked on the opposite side of the street from it, using pedestrians as shields to hide behind.

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