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27 Hours (The Nightside Saga)

Rumor pushed the sailboard to its absolute limits. The hover engine bled sparks from the holes raked down its side by claws. The glowing sail flickered as the remaining solar power drained fast. Too fast.

He wasn’t sure if he’d made a clean escape from the gargoyles, or if a few still chased him. He was maybe a little less than five kilometers from Epsilon.

Five kilometers might as well be five star systems.

Rumor looked over his shoulder at the burning city, trying to pick out shapes along the roadway. His movement and the dying engines were too much for the sailboard. The nose dipped, struck a rock, and flung him into the air.

Duck head.

Twist body.

Land on shoulder.


Pop up just fine like you meant it.

The last part of his father’s relentless training failed to execute.

Rumor landed on his back, air exploding from his lungs, and stared into the nebula-bright night sky. He pressed a hand to his ribs and rolled to his side before slowly climbing to his feet.

The wrecked rider smoldered a few feet away. The base had cracked in two, and one dented engine had detached a little way back down the road, where it lay like a gleaming breadcrumb. The sail membrane hung in ragged strips. Cold whipped through his hair, throwing curls in his face and raising goose bumps up both arms.

A roar in the distance sent fear crackling down his spine, and he spun, searching for pursuers. They’d be coming soon if they weren’t already hiding in the long shadows of the foothills running parallel to the road.

Every nerve in his body told him to run, but he stared at the glow of destruction of HUB2. Run, his mind screamed, but his eyes were glued to the devastation. His chest felt hollowed out, scraped bare, like he’d left his insides back home. Fire flickered on the horizon, blending with the brilliance of the nebula overhead until it felt like the entire sky was burning.

But the beauty and chaos overhead were nothing compared to the chaos on the ground. Nothing compared to the gargoyles, which crawled out of their hidden tunnels when night fell. Nothing compared to the thirty-seven-hour nights, during which Saharan residents hid away as best they could while gargoyles howled in the distance. Nothing compared to the waves of those same creatures who had taken everything from him tonight, leaving him bleeding and alone on a deserted highway.

He could sink to the ground here and wait for the monsters to get him. It wouldn’t matter. He’d be just another name on the HUB2 casualty list.

To deep space with that. Go. Get. Help.

27 Hours (The Nightside Saga)
by by Tristina Wright