Siege of Praetar (Tales of a Dying Star Book 1)

Siege of Praetar (Tales of a Dying Star Book 1) by David Kristoph Read Free Book Online

Book: Siege of Praetar (Tales of a Dying Star Book 1) by David Kristoph Read Free Book Online
Authors: David Kristoph
hit the ground. Her feet throbbed again but she didn’t care. Mira ran as if her own life depended on it, not just Ami’s.
    She didn’t know if the boys followed because she never slowed enough to check.
    She was sweaty and breathing fast when she reached the Station. This time the guards were too confused to leer as she ran past. She must have looked determined because the dancers in the hallway stepped out of her way too. She burst into the doctor’s office.
    The room was dark, the examination table empty.
    Oh stars, am I too late ? Confusion and panic and anger welled-up, until movement at the edge of the room caught her eye. She whirled; there was the doctor and the woman who was passed out, sitting on the edge of the bed. In the woman’s arms was Ami, giggling while the woman stuck her tongue out and made faces at her.
    “I gave her the medicine,” the doctor said. He was suddenly sheepish.
    “Star shit, Leo,” the woman said, “you were keen to do nothing until I made you treat her. Stubborn oaf.”
    Mira pulled Ami to her chest with one arm, squeezing until the girl squeaked. “Mom, you’re hurting me!” she said with a giggle as if nothing was wrong.
    The woman stood. The makeup around her eyes was bright pink, with three green slashes that trailed back toward her ears. “Such a precious girl, too. I told Leo I’d cover the cost and make you come work with me if you couldn’t pay. You’re a pretty one, with that yellow hair.” It seemed like half a joke, but she eyed Mira up and down until fixing her gaze on the box under Mira’s arm.
    “Oh I have the credits,” she said, placing the box on the table and opening it for them to see.
    The woman frowned, almost disappointed.
    The doctor went to the clean side of the room, opened a drawer, and returned with a packet of needles. “She needs a shot every night before she sleeps, to keep her airway open. It will help for a few weeks, maybe.”
    Mira frowned. “Only a few weeks? This won’t cure her?”
    “What she needs is fresh air.” He laughed, but neither woman joined him. “Look, her lungs are weak from breathing this crud. The shots will help strengthen them, but it won’t last forever.”
    Mira paid him and said farewell to the prostitute. When she pulled the box under one arm it was agonizingly light. “Make sure she eats more!” he called as she left the Station.
    She would need to take the longer route home to avoid the gang. By then it would almost be morning. Ami was cheerful and talkative in her arms, the fearful night already forgotten. Mira put on a brave face, but as soon as her daughter fell asleep she began to cry.

    Chapter 6

    The conveyor belt hummed as Mira worked. Her hands seemed to move of their own accord, without their usual trembling, and she found herself in a good rhythm that day. Perhaps the lack of sleep aided her, exhausting her enough that she hadn’t the energy to falter, counterintuitive as that may seem. Or maybe she was resigned to the fact that she would stand at that conveyor belt until she, or the red giant Saria, were dead. Whatever the reason, her hands fastened the electroid parts together deftly.
    The star may not even die before we do , she thought, glancing to the factory doors where a hint of sunlight shone through the cracks. She didn’t understand how it would happen, but the Emperor was leaving the system with urgency, so perhaps he knew something the rest of them didn’t.
    There was another way. A way that could give her daughters a life not covered in a thin yellow haze. It had fueled Mira’s hope every day. But that hope was gone now, or so far out of reach that it made no difference. It would be months before she could save up enough credits now. Ami’s medicine wouldn’t last that long. Mira hadn’t fallen so low as to cover her face in makeup and work at the Station, but her desperation grew greater every day.
    At least Ami was healthy, however

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