Shadow Stalker: Escape Part 1 (Episode 11)
Finally, it’s time to put the escape plan into action. Auren is relieved when the security system goes down as Makari promised. On her way to Shai’s cell, she learns the Galvadi suspect she is a shadow stalker, and they are on their way to her cell to test her. When they find it empty, they’ll know she has escaped. Auren is running out of time.
Auren and Shai’s escape doesn’t go as expected, and they have to continually adjust their plans, but they refuse to give up. They are pushed to their limits and Auren’s untried talents are put to the test. If Auren fails, they will both be recaptured, a fate worse than death.
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I took a deep breath. This was it. My cell was dark and, as I couldn’t risk a light before leaving, I checked the corridor through the shadow world. It was clear. The Dansig Troops on patrol were heading away from me, down an adjacent corridor. As long as Makari had shut down the security system and unlocked the doors, I would be safe. I took a deep breath and tried the handle. The door slid open without protest; Makari had come through for us.
Leaving my cell, hopefully for the last time, I didn’t glance back. My focus was directly ahead as I crept down the wide corridor, keeping as far to the side as I could. The space was dimly lit by wall lights, spaced far enough apart that they created shadows. It meant I would be all but invisible to someone on the other end of the corridor as long as they didn’t get too close. As I neared the first intersection I spotted a security camera. Despite the likelihood it had been disarmed, I skirted around it as much as I could.
I paused at the next corner, my gaze on the row of lifts. If I took a lift, I would get to my destination faster. On the other hand, there was a risk of being caught if the lift was occupied. Stairs seemed like the safer option, given that I only had to travel down one flight. But I had no idea where the stairwell was located. I weighed the odds, contemplating Makari’s advice about using the shadow world. He had warned me of the dangers of traveling into the shadow world in proximity to my father and Shai’s rooms. The Galvadi had the ability to scan the area, enabling them to detect when a shadow stalker’s powers were being used. It had something to do with energy surges; a device that had captured a number of shadow stalkers in their attempt to rescue Zain, including Shai.
I chanced a quick scan, which revealed the stairs were located directly across from the lifts. Convenient. It was barely a hundred meters away. It meant the only thing I had to worry about was being intercepted at the lift or stairwell door. As I edged my way toward the stairs it appeared luck was on my side. The moment I entered the stairwell, however, I detected a threat; the clanking of hard soled shoes. A second later I heard voices travel toward me from the level below. Acting quickly, I ran up one flight, praying they didn’t keep climbing. I didn’t want to be forced further away from my destination.
The men answered my silent prayer by walking through the door I had just used, exiting the stairwell. It crossed my mind that I could have used the lift after all since nobody appeared to use it. My instincts told me the stairs saw the most traffic, so I risked another shift into the shadow world to watch and wait. Two more guides entered from the lower floor. I recognized one of them as the guard who had accompanied Makari when he caught me snooping around in the office. Their voices were muffled, but I could just make out their words.
“What makes you think she’s a shadow stalker?” the unfamiliar guide asked.
“It’s just a hunch, but either way it wouldn’t hurt to check.”
Their voices reverberated off the walls, filling me with a sense of dread. I could no longer decipher the echo of their conversation, but it didn’t matter. I’d heard enough. They were on their way to my cell. I was sure of it. It was clear that, had I not begun my escape tonight, the guides would have discovered I was a shadow stalker and fitted me with a recinder. I had come too close. The thought made me queasy, but I had no time to dwell on the startling fact. The moment the guides reached my empty cell, they would raise the alarm. Time was running out.
As soon as the stairwell was clear, I ran as fast as I could down the two flights of stairs. I paused only to check the corridor beyond the exit and, seeing it was clear, I slipped out. My chest tightened as I hurried past my father’s cell. A part of me wanted to go inside, even knowing what I would find. Ignoring the impulse I moved on toward Shai’s cell.
Inside, I was taken aback by Shai’s appearance. She was in bad shape. Her body was covered in bruises, evidence of her beatings since Makari had been called away.
I pushed away my doubts, my concern about her ability to escape and moved over to where she lay. “We don’t have much time.” I told her what I’d overheard in the stairwell.
An alarm sounded as if to validate my words, and we spoke at the same time.
“We have to go.”
Back at the door I checked the corridor, and then we were running. The intersection we were aiming for was directly ahead. All we had to do was go right, and travel down the next corridor to the end of the hall where, according to Makari’s directions, an emergency exit was situated. We slowed as we reached the turn, pausing long enough to peer around the bend. My heart sank when I spotted the Dansig Trooper guarding the exit.
I motioned for Shai to back up. “We can’t go that way after all.” My voice was pitched low so we wouldn’t be overheard.
Shai motioned to an empty cell on our left. We slipped inside, leaving the door cracked open in case the security came back online. It was safer than standing in the corridor as we considered an alternative route.
“I’ll have to try to contact Makari. He might know another way out. Can you watch the door?”
It took me a few precious seconds to realize Makari was blocking me again, so I went into the shadow world. It didn’t take long to find him, even without our connection. I understood immediately why he was ignoring me; he was with Drevin. Makari’s father was clearly annoyed about something, hopefully that something wasn’t me. I didn’t have the luxury of waiting to find out, regardless of my concern. Shai was waiting for me.
Slipping back into the room, I met Shai’s worried gaze. “We’re on our own.”
“Maybe I should go back to my room. You can still escape through the shadow world. It might be the safer option.”
“No.” It wasn’t an option I wanted to consider. Not unless we were left with no other choice. “I’ll think of something.”
My mind whirled as I scanned the small room. In the sliver of light coming from the corridor, I caught a glint along the back of the cell. Walking over to inspect the wall, I saw it was a vent, and it looked big enough to climb through. Briefly I wondered if every cell had one, hidden in plain sight. I pushed the distracting thought away, grateful for the opportunity it presented. If we could maneuver through the vent, we could avoid the corridors, and hopefully find another way out.
“Feel up to crawling?” I asked.