Today’s excerpt from Starless is an exciting one, in which a couple of the main characters stage an escape from the mysterious slave Compound, where blood sacrifices and experiments with mystical crystals and the building of strange machines and devices takes place. Enjoy!
The fireworks had stopped, long enough that her eyes were beginning to readjust to the darkness. She could see the figure for what it was, now – a hulking beast of broad shoulders and meaty arms, looming over her and rearing a fist to slam down on her.
No weapons necessary.
But then there was a blur from the sidelines, a second dark mass launching itself from a jutting pedestal of rubble and tackling her assailant with toppling force.
He went down, his grip pulling Biric down too. She was released as he crumpled, but there was nothing she could do to stop her fall. Her head slammed against a chunk of rubble, and for a moment she thought another firework was going off over the Compound. But this one was white, and starrier than the rest, and sent a lancing pain down her neck.
Dizzily, she blinked it away. Something warm trickled down her temple. She raised her fingers to the matted hair there, finding a knot slick with blood.
In a far-off sort of way, she knew she needed to snap out of it, needed to leave her injuries to be inspected later. But a momentary daze gripped her, and she pushed herself away from the ground as if in a dream.
Delicate hands were seizing her, trying to help her up. Only when Darra’s voice managed to filter into her senseless skull did she find her way back to reality, turning back to the dueling silhouettes that tussled across the slope.
The interceptor was smaller than the aggressor, but it was clear he was no novice. He cut and jabbed with viper prowess and used the rubble to manipulate advantageous angles, hammering away at the burly sentry until he was pushing him back. Then, with savage precision, he swept up a chunk of concrete from the slope and bashed it down across the other man’s skull.
This time, when the silhouette crumpled, he didn’t get back up.
Panting, Dasher turned back to Biric and Darra, concrete still gripped in his fist. Did he realize he was still holding it?
“Get out,” he commanded in a tone that brooked no contradiction.
It did not get past Biric that he did not have his mother with him. But she heard the urgency in his voice, and didn’t hesitate long enough to inquire about what he had found in the fortress.
She still didn’t remember where the exact location of the portal was, but she set her feet in the right direction, sweeping Darra up in her current as she went. And now that Dasher was with them, he honed in on their escape route himself, all but shoving them to their knees and stuffing them through the gap.
Biric dropped to the heap of debris below the crack, twisting her ankle and cutting her palm as she caught herself. She received Darra’s weight simultaneously, trying to cushion the other girl’s landing.
“Biric, what is this?” the red-head was gasping. But there was no time, not now. Biric hauled her off the heap and guided her into the chasm as Dasher herded them from behind.
Darra cried out as she stumbled over an obstacle, but Biric’s arm around her waist kept her from going down.
Three currents of rasping breath echoed down the chasm, giving life to the dark. Like phantoms, they scuttled down the passage.
Then a faint light was poking its feelers down in at them, and Dasher was surpassing them, hoisting himself out of the chasm and helping to pull them out.
By the slightly superior light of the dust-hindered moon, the three of them made off across the junkyard, sprinting toward the slope that stood between them and the open wilderness.
An unexpected, delayed series of fireworks went off then, the sky exploding with color as they scaled the incline and leaped off the other side.