CHAPTER NAVIGATION BAR
TALES OF BUFFALO COMMONS
" EQUUS "
Dani screamed a wide path of obscenities as she struggled to break free from the tight grip these two thugs had on her while they dragged her down the hall, away from the rest.* * *
They were going to rape her, she knew it. They'd take their turns with her and then probably go back for each of the others. She twisted and thrust her foot out trying to gain purchase off each nearby column they passed.
On the fourth try it worked, she broke the grip of the larger one and then twisted hard the other way, hoping to get out of the other's hold.
When that failed, she flung herself back against him while flaring her legs in the air, hoping to both kick the other and keep him from regaining a hold on her. If they were going to violate her they were going to get bruised for it.
Then, through the cloud of panic, she saw the groin of the one clawing at her feet and with a stroke of amazing accuracy she thrust her foot into it.
He blanched and crumpled. She frowned in shock, she'd struck much harder than she'd thought she could, but the shock passed in a second as she remembered the other was still behind her and was gripping on her arms tightly.
Then she remembered something from a self-defence class she'd taken as a youth. She relaxed her arms, slumping backward for a second, which threw her captor off guard. Then, as she lunged forward, she brought her leg back, pulling her foot up as hard as she could, driving her heel up between the man's legs.
His grip burst open as the heel slammed into his groin and she was free.
Without a moment's hesitation Dani began to run. She burst past them and dashed farther down the hall trying to remember where the stairwell was that would lead up to the top line. If she could get to the woods fast enough she'd be free, she'd keep running until they'd given up chasing her.
And she knew she could do it too, she'd been jogging across the top line since they got here, trying to keep up her regime. She'd even taken to running up the east road and back each day just for the change of view.
Once had she gone off the path, it had taken her to a run-off stream, something that had occurred naturally over the last century, a cliff-side and meadow that opened up to the grand view below. Here she'd discovered a nice climb that she might need to use today, a way down and she hoped, maybe a few hiding spots.
But she wasn't thinking clearly at the moment and didn't remember that the nearest stairwell exit was right beside where she'd broken free; so instead of hitting the nearest exit she continued to run, down the hall, through one of the turbine rooms, trying to put as much distance as possible between her and her captives.
Dart Oldfield rolled on his back fighting off the wave of nausea he felt from the little bitch's kick to his groin. He wanted to barf but couldn't. He looked over at Toller Makeweeds who was unconscious. Damn, that woman kicked hard.
* * *
Kellam Middlechild heard the footsteps approaching him and wondered what was up. They weren't the right sound and the stride had an odd rhythmic pattern.
He sat up from the desk, walking away from the large manual that he'd been trying to decipher, and moved toward the central corridor to look down at who was approaching in such a hurry.
It was the Foreman he'd sent Dart and Toller to get. Only she wasn't being escorted, she was running blindly through her own facility.
What had she done to them?
Kellam stepped forward with his hands out waving to her, "Wait!" he yelled in English and then repeated it as she continued to approach him at her breakneck speed.
Dani skidded to a stop. She was still wild-eyed from her escape and wondered if she should kick this guy also. But unlike the others he spoke English, which threw her.
"What did you say?"
"Why are you running? What happened to the others?" He waves his hands as if conjuring the two guards from the dust in the air.
"You sent those gorillas?!"
Kellam stopped. He had no idea what a gorilla was. She must have noticed his confusion because her expression changed also.
"Why are you holding us?"
"We need your help."
Dani didn't expect this and her head pulled back as though she'd been lightly slapped. "Help?"
Kellam turned toward the desk where the manual was, "Before we can send you on your way we need to learn how to run this facility."
Now, that was a wrinkle she didn't expect. She followed this gentle man back to the desk. Sure enough, he had the Operations Manual out.
She looked at the page he was on; the instructions were a century out of date. She pointed at the book, "That won't work."
Kellam looked at her, thinking at first that she was trying to discourage him, but the look in her face didn't support that conclusion.
Dani saw his expression and recognized it, she shook her head as she continued, "It's archaic... very old. We've replaced most of those systems."
"Your people must tell us how to run this facility before you leave."
"We're not going anywhere, this is our dam."
Kellam wasn't agitated and spoke very plainly, "No, it isn't."
Dani stopped. This man was sincere; she could see that in his gentle eyes. "Then whose dam is it?"
"It is ours."
Kellam pulled the yellowed document from a pouch that he had placed on top of the desk. He offered it to her. "The United States of America gave it to us thirteen decades ago."
Dani looked at the document. It was an Executive Order from then President of the United States of America, Sergio Albert Shea, conceding this territory, and the dam on it, to Chief Irving Hansard and his descendants, in perpetuity, on the provision that they maintained its repair.
Dani looked around the facility. It certainly explained why the facility was in such a fine condition after more than a century of neglect.
She looked at Kellam just as the three tones of the bell strike above them rang out.
Kellam looked skyward despite the fact there wasn't a single window visible. "Intruders have come."
Dani's eyes went wide. Intruders meant Network forces. They had a problem.
* * *