The Price of Independence - Day 23

<>

Deman groaned and opened his eyes. His head felt like he’d landed on it in a rock pile. As his surroundings slowly came into focus, he realized that that was essentially what had happened. He’d returned to the electrite deposit to try to … to … he shook his head to clear his memory and spent the next several minutes trying not to throw up.

The light was dim and fading; he’d been here for hours, since the early afternoon, and the sun was now rapidly setting. Once his stomach settled, he very slowly drew himself to his feet.

He was sprawled at the bottom of the small ridge. He’d been at the top, working on extracting a chunk of the electrite ore when … the memory stubbornly refused to come, but he felt it was obvious what happened. He must have fallen and quite literally landed on his head. The pain was both colossal and dull.

He patted himself down as carefully as he could. To his relief, nothing seemed to be broken, though he had a curious tingling, burning sensation over large patches of his body. Sunburn, he thought. He’d been unconscious in the sun too long. But I’m fully dressed. That doesn’t make sense. The pain chased the troubling thought away before he could dwell on it too long.

He turned and stumbled in the direction of the house, but a wave of intense dizziness overcame him and he had to hold himself against the ridge to keep from falling once more.

This is Altman’s fault, an irrational part of his brain screamed at him. If he’d dismissed those lunatic notions of defying the Conclave, I might never have come back here!