Fleeing in terror wasn’t something Elyn Castel did. People usually ran from her, not the other way around. Besides, after she'd spent fifty years as the slave of a sadistic sociopath, there wasn't much anyone could do to inspire terror in her.
But Elyn ran now, and she ran hard.
She darted down the concourse in long bounds that made the humans gape, leaping over tables filled with diners, spinning around astonished space station security guards, ducking the angry claw swipe of a huge A’vi warrior.
Her sensors revealed Jarl “Blade” Bladin was still behind her, matching her stride for impossible stride. But when the ill-tempered A’vi tried for him, one swing of an armored fist sent the massive alien down with a crunch, and a startled, agonized “Chik!” The pursuing security guards had to stop to help the injured A’vi.
Never piss off a guy named Blade. Her own master could have told the A’vi that, had Blade left the vicious fuck alive.
Elyn had heard that Blade did a very thorough job on Kruz. She would have thanked him for that, if only he hadn’t targeted her next.
Just that instant, Elyn’s cyplant whispered, and she shot in the direction it indicated, a service corridor that snaked out to one of the station’s ten huge cargo holds. She could lose Blade there if she got lucky, or kill him if she had to. Or die if she failed.
Odd. A few months ago, Elyn would have viewed the prospect of dying as a relief. But Kruz still trapped her then, vicious blight that he was. Now, she had no interest in dying. She was curious about what life would be like as something other than a vampire’s slave.
Elyn might not deserve to live, but she wanted to give freedom a try.
As she ran for the service corridor, she was acutely aware of the distance between her and her target. Cold, star-flecked blackness lay beyond the towering transparent walls of the Kring Station concourse, along with the elegant white shapes of the great passenger liners and cargo vessels that orbited alongside the space station. Beyond the ships lay the vast blue arc of the planet Cameron, with its landmasses in a hundred shades of green and brown. A thoroughly beautiful view had she not been running for her life.
Elyn had always been fast. She reached the service corridor and plunged into it like a bucktor diving into its burrow. She knew that Blade was much bigger, since he’d been engineered for heavy combat, which made him slower and a fraction less agile. Still, no human and damned few aliens would have had a prayer against him. Elyn, however, was not human, and could run him into the ground. She'd already proven that. In the months he'd been pursuing her, Elyn had always outrun him.
Unfortunately, now there was nowhere to run to. Her ship didn’t board for hours yet, and she’d have to shuttle over to it. Blade would be on her long before then.
She had to either lose him or fight. Elyn really didn’t want to fight. He’d kill her. And he’d do it bloodily, as the newsies said he’d killed Kruz. If the reporters were right, if Blade really was powerful enough to slay such a monster, Elyn had no chance whatsoever.
So she listened to the ring of boots on the corridor behind her with dread in her heart. The nanotekker made no other noise, said nothing, barely seemed to breathe hard, while Elyn sucked air in desperate gulps. It was like being pursued by a hunting cat, with a beast’s utter focus and lethal determination. Blood and Steel 7
Reasoning with a man like that wasn’t possible. She could only get the hell away from him. If she could.
The corridor’s gray walls blurred past, and with each gazelle spring, her armored boots banged furiously on the deck in a drumroll of terror. Her heart kept time with the beat, pounding desperation in her ears.
At last the great double doors of the cargo hold loomed, locked against anyone who did not have the entry code. In seconds, Elyn’s cyplant electronically hacked the code, and the doors slipped soundless