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Reaver’s Prize: Chapter Ten

Khelos

“Is it morning?”

I put the tablet back into its hiding place while Hannah sat up, gazing around blurily.

She frowned. “I need coffee. And windows.  How do you know what time it is here?”

“The first chimes sounded a while ago, but I seldom pay attention,” I admitted.  “When Isar decides to watch me perform in the pit, Zelan or his minions appear.”

Her thoughts were still blurry, half-asleep.

“I wonder if even his mother loved him,” Hannah muttered as she finger combed her hair back. “I mean, I know he didn’t have one. But still.”

I stood, eyes fixed on her curves as she wriggled out from the blankets and stretched.

The fabric of her skirt had crumpled in the night, revealing soft smooth skin my fingers ached to touch.

Instead I held them firmly to my sides, and attempted to pull my attention back to other things.

Things that had nothing to do with the way she looked as she slept.

The delicate foot that kept escaping from the covers.

The small sounds of contentment as she burrowed into her makeshift bed.

The sweet smile that curved her lips, distracting me from the epic tales of Nakqui the Explorer and the lands he discovered while rejoining his clan.

Hannah stretched her neck to either side, rolling her shoulders, then walked out to look over the larger room.

“What are in all these boxes?”

Quickly I regathered my thoughts and moved to join her. “There are three more facilities like this one, stretching up at the coast. Isar talks of expanding to them all someday, but he will need far more bodies for the generator if he plans to hold new territory.”

Hannah swallowed hard.

“Coffee before bodies, okay?” she said weakly. “Besides,” she rapped sharply on the dark metal side of the closest box. “That doesn’t really tell me what’s in here.”

Her eyes widened and she stepped away quickly.

“Unless you’re telling me it’s more bodies. It’s not more bodies, is it?”

“No,” I assured her. “Merely supplies the Makers left behind in the other facilities. Isar has taken what he wants. What is left is useless, moved here to be forgotten.”

“It might be useless to him, but that doesn’t mean it’s useless to us. Let’s see what we have.”

An hour and six empty crates later we stared at the pile of random items before us.

“Do I need another session in the teaching chamber? Hannah asked. “I’m not sure what half of these things are.”

I picked up a heat baton, turned it over in my hand.

“The teaching chambers only provide the background for the Reavers. They were never meant to replace every day experience. Most younglings would spend years training with their clan’s Elders, learning their clan’s ways, the codes and history.”

She stooped down to touch a long soft roll of fabric, bright colors now faded and dim. “That’s why he killed those prisoners so quickly, isn’t it? So he could have a clean slate to work with?”

“And because he enjoys being cruel.”

She wrinkled her nose. “All the more reason for us to get out of here soon as possible.”

I bit back my answer.

We weren’t going anywhere.

She was.

But in the long hours while she had slept I had realized she was just as much a fighter as any opponent I had faced in the pit.

Hannah had made it plain there was no way I would be able to convince her to leave this place if it put Evras or myself at risk.

Therefore I would save my breath.

As far as Hannah was concerned, we would proceed with her plan for all of us to escape.

But in reality, only she would be making the journey to the mountains of the Sen’ki.

Just as soon as I figured out how.

“So homicidal, psychopathic, cruel asshole with delusions of grandeur.”

She looked up at the shadowy corners around us. “Seems like the kind of guy that might have cameras around to spy on people, make sure nothing was happening he didn’t like.”

I nodded. “It is possible, but I have never found any.”

“Maybe it depends what this room was originally for,” she said. “If the Makers who were stationed at this facility didn’t think there was anything important in it, they might not have bothered. But those guards found us pretty quickly yesterday.”

She eyed at the two largest containers, rectangles twice my height. “I wonder if we could make a little shelter.”

I frowned. “I’m certain we could if that’s what you would desire. But I am uncertain why.”

“It’s not exactly that I want to play house.” Her cheeks darkened and her breath caught for a moment. “I mean, oh hell…”

Hannah shook her head, regained her composure.

“But maybe, just in case he does have some sort of surveillance system in place, it might be for the best if we had a little privacy.”

Her hands flew to her face, covering her eyes. “I give up.”

“It is not a bad idea,” I agreed. And tried not to think about what privacy might allow.

“Beast! Where are you hiding now?”

I stiffened. 

Seldom did I fight in the pit two days in a row. While my injuries from the battle with the ceapaks were mostly healed, there was still a stiffness from the slashes on my side that lingered.

But if Isar were angered enough about Hannah’s presence, he would make someone pay.

I would rather it be me.

“Come on out!” Zelan’s shout made my hands itch to strike a blow, but it would do no good. 

Silence.

Compliance.

That was the only way to survive here, had become my rule.

 “And make sure to bring your pet!”

Maybe this time would be an exception.

“Come on,” Hannah said. “Let’s not make them explore this place too carefully. I don’t want to wonder what we’re doing.”

It rankled to come when called, but she was right. Antagonizing the guards seldom was worth the momentary enjoyment.

And now I had too much to lose.

Remember, be quiet. Don’t attract their attention.

Hannah rolled her eyes at me, then swept her hands over her strange clothing as if to remind me how different she was.

Nothing she could do would possibly let her escape notice.

Working our way back up to the front of the warehouse, we found Zelan and seven of his favorite minions circling the metal chamber Hannah had slept in, poking it with their spears.

“When will another come out?”

Hannah and I stopped, confused by the question.

“Does it need more material?” Zelan glared at Hannah. “This one isn’t very compliant. Maybe Lord Isar should put her back, try again.”

My blood ran cold.

These idiots thought her pod was a generator. That she could be killed and rebuilt, turned into someone new.

Someone who wasn’t Hannah.

“Keep away from her!” I growled

Rules be damned.

With a sharp gesture Zelan directed his goons towards Hannah.

I was on them at the first step, snatching the spear out of the hand of the guard in the lead, jerking it towards me so that he fell and stumbled.

Then with a twist at his shoulder, I flung him towards the other.

Two others came at me, only to be thrown hard into the metal sides of the containers, falling with a loud crunching noise.

Three left.

This would be easy. This would be fast.

A sharp jolt of panic ran through my mind and I whirled to see Zelan standing behind Hannah, the blade of his dagger at her throat.

“Tell him to stop,” he snarled at her.

Hannah closed her eyes tightly, biting her lower lip, but stayed silent.

Zelan drew the blade against her skin, leaving a fine line of bright red across her neck.

She shook, but said nothing.

I fell to my knees, hands behind my head.

“Stop. Do not harm her.”

Zelan’s lip curled. “You did this to her. I might have held the weapon, but you caused the wound.”

My heart slammed into my chest.

It was true.

Hannah’s eyes flew open, her gaze searching mine, her thoughts a jumble I could not read.

“We will take the female to Lord Isar. See what he thinks should be done.”

Hand wrapped tightly around Hanna’s upper arm he dragged her behind him.

“Make sure the Beast does not cause any more trouble while we are gone.”

The guards were happy to comply.

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