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1. The others waited expectantly. Finally, Kyber gave a single slow nod. “We must accost whatever is out there. We do not know if that creature is aware of these tunnels. If we leave, and it does have knowledge of them, it might track us. If it is unaware of their existence, it may be able to sniff us out. Either way, we cannot take that risk.”
2. Kelen soon noticed the further Hoov led them down the tunnel, the slower everyone moved. It wasn’t because they were being cautious. It was because they were all past the point of exhaustion. With all they had been through these past few weeks, their stamina was shot. Old wounds hadn’t had the chance to heal before new ones were incurred. Worse, their senses were overloaded from constantly trying to keep themselves alert and attentive to their surroundings.
3. Falling forward was like taking a plunge into the unknown. Her heart leaped into her throat as she launched herself off the platform. She saw the trap door-like opening rise in front of her face, but instead of being swallowed in darkness, a pair of strong hands caught her mid-thigh and lowered her to the ground.
4. Kyber gently extracted himself from Kelen, lowering her to the floor. She’d finally succumbed to sleep, for which he was grateful. Her bleeding was playing havoc with her body, on top of everything else she’d endured. Although she was managing to keep herself together, in spite of the added stress of their current situation, he could sense she was close to breaking. And there was nothing he could say or do for her to make things more bearable, other than to keep reassuring her of his presence and support.
5. Kyber threw up his hands, talons fully extended, and let out a roar. The other Seneecians joined him, and the sound of their growls reverberated inside the enormous cavern. Their show of force was more than intimidating. For a second, her initial fear of Kyber’s race, her trepidation she thought she’d overcome, returned. Seeing and hearing their challenge sent chills through her body, and she shuddered. Kelen then realized all five Seneecians had formed a human barrier in front of her and her fellow crew members. She noticed Mellori and Jules holding their blasters with both hands, but kept them hidden behind the Seneecians. She glanced behind her where Dox and Sandow were holding back.
6. “Like you, I wish to be cleansed and brushed free of all this grit. This wound in my side, when I think it is starting to heal, it reopens and the anguish begins anew. Like you, there are foods I regret I will never enjoy again. I miss feeling whole and well and strong. Strong enough to protect you.” He kissed her temple. “I miss Seneecia as much as I believe you miss Earth. I miss watching the falling moons on my world, and the winds that smell of heesia mint and opal wood. Kelen, there are nights I have dreamed of taking you there.”