Author’s Note: With the release of The Outsider on the horizon, I’m posting a new chapter each week here for my readers to enjoy. You can find Chapter 1 here.
Escaping the Society’s high-tech enclave the first time cost Skye both her mother and her innocence.
Going back required the betrayal of Brennan and everything Skye loved.
Now Skye is back on the outside. She’s on the run, isolated and hunted by new horrors that threaten the entire world.
The fate of humanity hinges on Skye finding Brennan, but doing so while being chased by the entire might of the enclave’s military may prove too costly, even for Skye.
Several hours later, I crossed over a decent-sized lake with a canopy that was thick enough to hide my fighter, assuming I could get it down in between the tree trunks. I considered holing up for a few days in an effort to make sure that the ants hadn’t been following me—that would have been the safest course—but in the end my desire to see Brennan and the others was just too strong. After years of relative isolation from my peers inside the enclave, a dangerous mission out into Brennan’s city where almost anyone who knew my real identity would have immediately tried to kill me, and a very uncomfortable, lonely excursion back to the enclave, that cold, hungry week in the mountains had finally pushed me to the edge of my limits. I wanted the comfort of other human company—preferably humans who would be excited to see me.
I slung the nose of my plane around and adjusted my course so that I was headed toward Brennan’s secret base rather than along the false course I’d been flying to try and disguise his location. I did so with my heart in my throat, but contrary to all of my fears the flight to Brennan’s base was uneventful. Time moved in strange hops, where things that should have taken no time at all seemed to drag on for hours, and other longer tasks seemed to stutter by almost too quickly to register. It was nerve-wracking, but I didn’t run out of cloud cover, and I only got pinged by radar once or twice per hour, which was a pretty good indication that Alexander’s people weren’t trailing me in an effort to find Brennan’s location.
As I crossed the last few miles to the cave we’d used as a base while launching our attack on Cutter’s territory, I was shaking from a combination of fear and hunger, and my flight computer was constantly warning me that we were almost out of fuel. I was half expecting to have both engines shut down and be forced to try to glide into whatever open space I could find, but ant aircraft were relatively robust, so I figured there was a decent chance that my fighter could avoid any kind of significant damage, and as long as I wasn’t seriously injured I would at least be able to walk the last mile or two to our base.
Fortunately, my luck seemed to have taken a turn for the better and my engines only started coughing once the entrance to the cave came into view. After all of the other, more complicated, flying I’d done since the last time I’d seen Brennan and the others, it was a simple matter to cut the power to my engines down to minimal levels and then come into the cave primarily on counter-grav. In spite of the way my skills had grown during the last few weeks, I was still plenty aware of just how much could go wrong when bringing an aircraft in with so little directional thrust.
The landing required so much of my attention that it wasn’t until after my plane was safe on the ground that I realized the cavern around me was empty.
In spite of all the odds against me, I’d managed to make it to Brennan’s base only to find out that he and the others had moved on without me.