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A long way away

By The_phoenix All Rights Reserved ©

Adventure / Romance

Chapter 1

Soft winds passed the window where Elizabeth Victoria Dawson sat, reading a compelling story by an unknown writer. She read each line with care and absorbed the story as if it were happening right in front of her eyes. A fantastical world of mythical humans with long, beautiful, white wings and a being who kept his eye from above on a race of humans he called his children. Perhaps one day this writer would make a name for himself, but for now, Elizabeth was one of the few to have read his horrific and beautiful story.
She lay a piece of paper on the page she was reading and shut the book with a satisfying loud clap, letting the piece of paper stick out just an inch above the pages. A knock on the door could be heard and she thought for a moment that it could not have been a better timing."Elizabeth?" A voice rang throughout the recently packed up room, dust lay along edges where furniture had once taken its stance.
"Are you ready?" What could she say other than yes? There was nothing but the deep emptiness that a hollow room left. It's echo resounding as if to emphasise that this life was over, and it was time to move on. Fighter zeppelins had been deployed all over the European nations and the citizens of those nations were fleeing the war.
"Yes mother." She held her book tightly against her chest, since it was the one thing she had not packed up in a chest, and left the room without looking back. Only the echo of the door closing behind her followed her till it grew silent.
"A new adventure Elizabeth." Mother kept saying, while the servants loaded the travelling trunks into the carriage meant to bring them far from her home.

Elizabeth felt utter relief once she espied the land from the ship's deck that would bring finality to the seemingly endless journey. Travelling from England to Australia had taken two months out of her life and an end to it was welcome. The loud steam engine resounded over the ocean, bringing them closer and closer to the land that would now be her new home. for the time being anyway. She rushed inside and found her mother with a number of the other lady's on the ship at a poker table. They were betting money, not a lot, tens rather than hundreds but it was enough to make a poor man gag.
Mother, whose real name was Annette Olivia Dawson, had a rather concentrated look on her normally soft features. The type of concentration you wouldn't want to break for fear it might completely confuse the mind. She had her soft, golden locks tied into a tight bun, her sea blue eyes focused on the cards in front of her, her dress a spotless white, victorian age garment and fine with the odd contraption that were made out of gears. Her necklace for example was made out of fine gears, so were her earrings, as well as a purse tied to her waist by an ornamate belt. All in theme with the steampunk era.
Elizabeth was a spitting image except for the fact that instead of blue eyes, she had soft green eyes, the type that reminded you of a meadow.
"Mother" Elizabeth called out once Annette's turn had come and go. Annette didn't flinch, didn't even turn. She just sat, glancing over her cards and focusing on the row that had been laid out in the middle of the table.
"Yes Elizabeth?" She asked in a vacant voice that told her daughter that mother was definitely not paying attention. The response had been automatic, the type of automatism that comes from being a mother.
"Australia, I see it, we're almost there." Elizabeth was excited and hated it when mother didn't pay attention. Still, she tried to convey her news in the best way she knew how, yelling it out.
Annette, obviously startled, finally focused on her daughter and attempted to understand what she was talking about.
"Oh? Well then I'm sure the crew will be along shortly to tell us." She went back to her cards and put her daughter out of her mind, focusing on the game.
It took all she had not to shake mother to attention and instead turn around towards the cabins. She passed several staff members and guests on her way to her room, individuals whose faces were blurred together in a forgetable mass while her long strides took her closer to the end of the hall where she had taken up residence the past two months. It was a miracle she had not been driven insane considering the crampedness of the rooms, yet she managed to retain her sanity by reading and trading read books with some of the other passengers. She swept through the doorway and sat down upon her bed. Elizabeth closed her eyes and listened to the sound of the ocean, waves breaking against the ships hull while it's constant buzz of the engines disrupted, rather than added, to the sound.

She wondered for a brief moment if she was overdressed for Australia, never having been. Elizabeth stood and gave herself a look over in the mirror that stood beside the bed. It's ornate carvings clashing with the simplicity of the cabin but it made do by being purposeful. Elizabeth watched and found that if it was indeed too warm, she could simply take some layers off. Elizabeth wore black shorts which attached themselves to black knee high stockings by the use of of a small belt, attaching to the front and back of each stocking. Her boots would be too much for the hot weather and yet there were no other shoes she could choose from. A tight bronze and black  corset accentuated her widened hips, small waist, and ample bosom. The steam-punk motif could be found back into her belt, the purse attached to the belt, a top hat rimmed with a bronze layer with aviator goggles added, and her ear piercings. She had gears hanging from her lobes and a complicated design leading from the top of her ear down to the second hole in her earlobe. Then there was her necklace, a tight choker with old bronze keys dangling from an intricate design attached to the black leather of the choker. The entire look was finished off by an auburn, tight fitting coat that widened at the middle of her waist to fall just below where the shorts ended. She had her hair tied back with a simplistic pin.
Perhaps it was too much but it was what a lady of her standing and in this era was expected to wear. Nothing was comfortable or loose, it had to be tight.

Finally, a welcome end to a long journey. Those words were in Elizabeth's mind once they arrived in the furnished home. Her father was greeting them from the porch of their ranch house which seemed larger  than any residential structure she had ever lay her eyes on. It was worn but it was nothing that a little love couldn't fix.
"An Adventure Elizabeth." Her mother's words echoed once more through her mind.As Elizabeth observed the house through the eyes of any twenty year old, full of enthusiasm but fear of the unknown. The hedges around the property had overgrown over the years that the house had stood isolated from any human contact. The trimmings on the veranda had been corroded by the dusty winds and brick dust flew about the air. Still, this place had it's charm, Elizabeth thought.

She began to circle the property, attempting to understand the size and where their borders lay. She began to trail the border which lay quite a far distance from the house. Elizabeth enjoyed adventure though and wished to know what fascinations this land held. That is when she noticed a movement from behind a tree. Immediately Elizabeth went to investigate and noted a man sleeping in the shade of the blossoming Red Ash. He had a cowboy hat lowered over his eyes, short brown, hair poking barely from underneath the hat, stubble on his chin, a tanned and toned upper body and loose fitting beige trousers with some heavy steam-punk boots. The leather on them looked worn and the bronze gears were rusted.
He looked up, moving his fingers to the brim of his hat and lifting it up to see Elizabeth."You look a little young to be the property owner's wife so I'm assuming you're Elizabeth" he muttered.
She watched him with some interest, he looked no older than thirty, perhaps twenty-eight."Who are you?" She asked after a confirming nod.
"I take care of the property, name's Cassius". He stood himself up and found himself at least a head taller than Elizabeth.
Elizabeth watched his eyes, dark blue eyes that, as much as it is a cliché, seemed to stare into the very depths of her soul. Elizabeth, who had never felt the sting of love or even an inkling of attraction towards anyone didn't quite understand what to do with this feeling. Thus, she did the only thing she understood well enough.
"So, you're a glorified stable boy?" She saw the blow hurt him which made her feel slightly guilty, but not enough to say sorry.
"Ah yes, a glorified stable boy, little princess." He returned. She couldn't help but frown at the word 'little'.With that, Elizabeth walked away from the man, attempting to understand the sudden rush of feelings that were coming at her, slamming into her like a wall.
Cassius stood, watching her before laying back down in the shade of the over sized, solitary tree and closed his eyes, already forgetting the exchange had ever happened.

Elizabeth had avoided Cassius as much as she possibly could while living on the property. She had been looking for work in town somewhere but it was all too far away from home, and father kept her busy doing the book keeping of the property. Animals and vegetable sales, taxes, property, mother's shopping habits - they were all included.
She worked with Cassius by sending a boy back and forth with slips of paper describing costs, needs, wages.
One day, the boy had called in sick and Elizabeth needed information on how the animals were doing, if there were any ready for slaughter or sale. Her father needed the information that day since there was a farmers market the very next day.
Elizabeth made her way to the employee cabins and knocked on the door that belonged to Cassius. He had the bigger cabin since he ran a side business where he mended furniture for some of the people in town.
Once he opened the door, Elizabeth smiled politely at him but found it was not returned. The man had gotten the hint that the lady of the house wanted nothing to do with him so he saw no reason to be polite.

"Yes?" He asked in a way that seemed to rip right through Elizabeth's heart. Still, she kept a pleasant smile on her lips and merely said "I'm here for the report on the animals. The boy called in sick, his mother said he has a high fever so here I am."
Cassius stepped aside without a word but kept the frown on his normally handsome features. Elizabeth sat herself down in one of the chairs and waited on him.
Cassius didn't sit down but kept himself standing. He handed her the report and Elizabeth made the necessary adjustment on the sheet in her lap. The silence was eery and yet she could feel his eyes on her the entire time.
"Could you please stop staring at me?" Elizabeth asked him without even looking up, a bright red blush had crept onto her cheeks under his watchful gaze.
"I'm just trying to figure you out" He mentioned with a muse-like undertone. "See, I don't understand exactly what I did to repel you so".

Elizabeth looked up at him, not immediately towards his eyes but rather taking in his form. His trousers were a tighter fit this time, neat and folded in the middle of the legs. He wore a dark vest coat with a pocket watch chain dangling from one end and disappearing into his pocket. A tight fitted white shirt underneath that and finally his eyes. Those hypnotic eyes that just made her want to kiss him.
"It's nothing" She muttered and went back to work, copying down the notes, staying only in case she had any questions about the numbers he had given her.
"Don't lie to me" His voice took on a tone of authority. "Tell me." Since Elizabeth decided to remain quiet and continue writing, he reached for her right arm and grasped it, stopping her from writing. "How can I do my work when the person I am supposed to report to on a daily basis refuses to speak to me? Tell me, or I will hand you my resignation immediately."

Elizabeth looked up then, watching him, and without a warning, she pressed her lips against his. There was a measure of inexperience to the kiss, and yet her passion was clearly conveyed, but not returned.
She opened her eyes and took a step back, realizing then that he did not feel the same way about her.

"So that's it?" He asked indifferently, his eyes had a strange clouded effect to them as if masking any emotion he felt. "That was why you didn't want to speak to me?"
He took a step closer to her and took her chin between his forefinger and thumb. "Let me tell you something little princess. An adult would have set aside their feelings in the interest of business. They would have continued speaking to their employee. And that is what I am here, I am an employee. How could you possibly think that I have any interest and care so little about my work that I might throw it all away for the passions of my boss' daughter?"
With those words he not only released her chin but had stuck a blade into Elizabeth's chest, the pain she felt was unlike anything she had felt and she despised him and herself for it. She straightened herself up, looking him dead in the eye, and slapped him hard across his smug face. She picked up her papers and left before he had fully regained his composure.He rubbed his cheek, watching the door slam shut behind Elizabeth.

"I want him fired!" but no, that was the child in her speaking. He had a point and she knew it. He said it too harshly, it was just too mean but it had been the truth in the end. An adult would keep herself composed, contained, and go about business. She stood in front of her mirror, watching the lines of anger dissipate into a mask of calmness.
She took the notes she had taken down the stairs towards her father who sat in his study. She lay down her findings in front of him. He barely even looked up at her, a mere "thank you Elizabeth" passed his lips and with that, his entire concentration went back to his work. The only time she really saw him was during dinner or a staff meeting. It was a non issue, the man was overworked, had been most of his and all of Elizabeth's life.
"You're welcome father" She muttered and left the room, closing the door quietly behind herself so she didn't disturb him.

"What is with that woman" Cassius muttered, laying in bed, a cigarette poking from between his lips while the smoke tendrils drifted up towards the ceiling in a neat thin stream of smoke until dissipating after a chaotic end. The tobacco was of course obtained by trading with the natives of the continent they had dubbed America. His thoughts were fully on Elizabeth even though he kept trying to direct them elsewhere, the kiss, though clumsy, had surprised him. It had been hard to keep himself from responding. Cassius rubbed his cheek where she had hit him, a red print had remained throughout most of the day.
He placed his cigarette into the ashtray beside his bed and pressed it till its red embers died out.
He found himself opening the door of his cabin and staring at the big house, in particular, the room where he knew Elizabeth resided. She sat in the window, reading a book. It was something she often did, he knew.
For good measure, he lit another cigarette and watched her until the filter began to burn, leaving a stench even a smoker hated. He closed the door and went to sleep.

Months of adopting a strictly business, non emotional attitude was hard for Elizabeth, and little did she know that she had sparked Cassius' interests. They were polite to each other in their business meetings but beyond that they avoided each other. Each feeling contemptuous for the way they felt about the other. Finally, Cassius espied Elizabeth outside the ranch house, beside the tree she had once found him slumbering in the summer heat.
He came up behind her and carefully lay a hand on her shoulder. She turned, his gaze was soft, looking at her lips. She felt them tingling and licked her bottom lip, all those feelings from before instantly flooded back, the wall that stood in her way, that made it hard to breath.
"I'm sorry" he whispered and pressed his lips firmly against hers, pressing her against the tree with a hunger that caused both of them to become breathless. Yet the kiss continued, the passion closing in, rising to boiling point. Elizabeth wished she could resist like he had done so many months ago. She was not as strong as him.
"Why now?" She asked, out of breath, her eyes stood confused, pained, as if he had hurt her again.
"I.." Cassius began. He sighed and rubbed a hand over his short cropped hair. "I can't pretend anymore Elizabeth. The pretending is over. I want you, I wanted you the day you stood up for yourself that day in the cabin when you slapped me." His voice was but a whisper but it send shivers down her spine.
"But business.." She began.
"Fuck business." He closed the distance between them and attacked her lips again with that same hunger, a starving wolf looking for a prey and he had found that Elizabeth was more than willing to sustain him.
She pushed her hands against his shoulders and created a distance between them, breaking the kiss.
"You presume too much Cassius. Someone once told me that an adult sets aside their emotions." She watched him for a moment after saying what was on her mind before setting off towards the house. It was cold, but it had to be done. After careful consideration she had to admit to herself that she was of a higher social standing and, though he was skilled, intelligent and handsome, her family would never approve of the match in any case.

The war had arrived in Australia, armed zeppelins glided in, opening fire on the people for want of finding key officials that had fled Europe around the same time as Elizabeth had.Bombs lay whole cities flat, leaving some of the smaller towns for more intimate inspections. Cassius and the other men of the towns were deployed to build shelters around the area so that every family could easily find their way into them within a five minute mark.

Annette took her daughter aside one day and sat her down out on the porch. The wooden chairs creaked ominously.
"You know Elizabeth, in these hard times, we sometimes must accept truths that we can not face in peaceful times. In war, the people become most honest while others profit from people's pain. Evil men hiding behind righteousness and dictating how we must feel allows us to truly come to terms with the things we care about most.
"Elizabeth watched her mother, wondering what it was that she was trying to say. "Your father has become obsessed with his work whilst you've been with us, wanting to take care of you and of me. I wished to tell you that he loves you very much Elizabeth, we both do."

Elizabeth felt strangely awkward at the confession that her father might love her as a father does any child of his. She still didn't see the point of the conversation though so she kept herself quiet, letting her mother speak.
"I just wanted you to know that before I tell you this." She took a deep breath and watched her daughter, tears threatened to barge through and streak her cheeks but she managed to keep them contained and smile strongly towards her only child.
"You must pack, and you must leave Australia. We bought a one way boat ticket to the American outposts where you'll be able to find shelter. You must leave right away.
"Elizabeth let the news hit her, wash over her, envelop her and finally come to an understanding of what the words meant.
She stood herself up and took a single step back and shook her head "No, you need to come with me, you and father both" She said, insistent.
"You are in charge of the book keeping Elizabeth. We don't have the money for four tickets, we barely have enough for one. It's already booked. The boat leaves in two weeks. It'll take that much time to get to the harbour so I suggest you begin to pack now. I already sent a boy to order a carriage."
Elizabeth took a hold of her mother's hand and shook her head. "No, I won't leave you mother." Her tone was urging, panicked, she didn't want to leave yet another home but she most of all couldn't leave without her family.
"It's already done my sweet. Go. Your father and I will be fine. I'll telephone the trading post where you'll be arriving in four months time. Get packed. Enough arguing Elizabeth."
Elizabeth knew that there was nothing more to be said. Annette wanted her daughter save and so she had scraped every penny together and sold some of her most prized jewellery off to afford the ticket.

Elizabeth rushed towards her room, she had to pack lightly for the carriage to be able to swiftly make the trip. She packed minimal clothing, some memory tokens, two books and sanitary products. It all fit in a rug sack. Elizabeth took the rug sack in her arms and made her way down the stairs, leaving yet another room to her past and moving forward on an adventure.
"A new adventure Elizabeth" Her mothers words echoed through her mind once more.She found both her parents sitting in the living room, holding each other's hands. She approached quietly. "The carriage will be here soon." What else could she say? What did people say when you weren't certain when you might see them again?
"I know" her mother said with a shaky smile, her lips trembling as if she were struggling with the reality herself. Her father seemed completely detached from anything real, as if he were in his own world.
"I wish you could come with me." Elizabeth tried once more but she knew there was no point. In these hard times the fees for tickets had skyrocketed and there was not enough money.
"I know sweetheart." Her mother responded and stood herself up, letting go of her fathers hand and embracing Elizabeth in an urgent hug that knocked the breath out of both of them.

The sound of the approaching carriage resounded throughout the otherwise silent interior of the house. Elizabeth kissed her mother's cheek affectionately. "I love you mother." Annette smiled at her daughter and brushed a blond tendril behind her daughter's ear. "I love you too sweetheart."
Her father was still detached, absent. She attempted to tell him that she loved him but it had never passed her lips in her adult life. She swallowed and lay a hand on his shoulder instead. He would know that she loved him, she was sure of it. Elizabeth turned but before should could take a step, her hand was grasped by her father. She was turned around and given a hug by her father. It felt strange, but welcome. "I love you Elizabeth." She had never heard her father say those words. They brought tears to her eyes. "I love you too father" She muttered. They stood like that for a while, but too short a time. The approaching carriage had stopped and was waiting for her. She pressed his hand and departed the living room to go to the carriage, leaving her parents behind. Her parents took each others hand once more, not being able to face the fact that their daughter would be leaving them.

They rode along the winding road that led from the house towards the town. All Elizabeth could do was stare ahead.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a loud noise penetrated the silent interior of the carriage and it began to roll, banging Elizabeth around the seating's, doors and roof. Splinters and luggage flew every way. Silence and darkness overcame her.

It seemed as if she had been unconscious for longer than she was but only a few minutes later and Elizabeth woke up again. She climbed out of the carriage, her dress torn and her features powdered with dust and ash, ripped open by splinters. She stumbled out of the carriage and landed on the sand beside the overturned transport. Her head felt as if it were about to explode, everything looked blurred around her and this terrible white noise screeched through her ears. She turned towards her left, a big light catching her attention. The house, or what was left of it, was burning, bright red flames licked at the wood and brick structure where she knew her parents had been. She began to stagger towards it, wanting to run but her legs would not comply, her mind not ready to accept what was an obvious fact - the house had been bombed.
"Mother? father?" She tried to yell but her voice came out hoarse and barely audible.The image burned into her mind, her house almost entirely reduced to a flaming heap of ash, embers burning hot within the wooden frameworks."No!" She yelled, a long screeching howl of complete and utter despair echoing throughout the property she had once called home. She began to run towards the house, her legs suddenly regaining their strength when strong arms pressed her against a hardened body.She struggled to get out of it's tightened grasp and kept yelling for whatever it was that had caught her to let her go.
"Elizabeth!" She finally heard, a mute sound through the white noise. "Elizabeth stop, we have to go to the shelter!" She got turned around and shaken by non other than Cassius. Without another word, he picked her up and carried her towards the closest shelter that was intended for the Dawson household and it's employees.
Cassius opened the hatch and carried Elizabeth in, closing the hatch securely and guiding Elizabeth down the many steps, not yet allowing her to deal with her grief as they descended into safety.

Finally the last door closed behind them. There were two beds in this particular room but there were other rooms along the hallway that allowed for more persons, bunk-beds spread out for the employees while this room was specifically for Elizabeth and her parents. A curtain separated the two sides to allow for privacy.
Elizabeth numbly allowed herself to sit on the bed that was intended for her. Cassius left her for a moment before coming back with a bottle of water and a full glass. He pressed it up towards her hands and she took it, shakily bringing it up towards her lips while silent tears made their way down her cheeks. She was staring straight ahead towards the metal door opposite of her, the light dangling above her throwing odd shapes along the wall.
She put the glass aside on the nightstand and pressed herself against Cassius, burying her head into his chest and wrapping her arms tightly around him. He soothingly stroked her head and let her grief.

Over the next few days, employees of the house had come to the shelters and Cassius assigned them a room. They were in a bad shape when they arrived, the boy that had been send back and forth between Elizabeth and Cassius over the last few months came in with a high fever and a bad cut on his right arm. His mother was missing, the gardener had taken the boy in and was taking care of him with herbal remedies.
The cook's husband was lost in one of the other shelters, but with enemy combatants marching around on the ground, it was hard to get to him. The maid's once pretty features could never again be called beautiful with a scar that ran diagonally across her face.
All this chaos, loss and suffering, Elizabeth pushed herself to help the others, to do anything necessary to keep her mind off of her own loss. She cleaned and helped the cook in the kitchen, took care of the boy and read to him. Learned from the gardener which herbs did what exactly. All the while Cassius attempted to get contact with any survivors using a radio transmitter, careful to listen before attempting to speak in case they were on the same frequency as the enemy. When Cassius wasn't doing that, he was placing extra security measures and put protocols in place, organizing their little colony.

One night, Elizabeth lay in her bed after an exhausting day of hard work within their shelter and found herself thinking about the bomb that killed her parents, their faces just before she got into the carriage, and the fact that had she not left that very moment, she would've been dead herself. She found herself feeling guilty for being alive when her parents had passed away in the most violent way she could've imagined. Cassius was past the curtain, fast asleep. She knew he had remained with her all this time, in the same room, because he was afraid she would attempt to take her own life. Elizabeth was not so weak to give up just yet though. Still, their faces remained in her mind's eye. She sat herself up, lifted the blanket off of her, and went past the curtain to where Cassius was snoring away in a blissfully exhausted sleep. She lifted blanket carefully and slid beside him in the bed. The movement kicked in Cassius' reflexes and immediately a hand went up towards her hand, pinning her down. In a lighting fast movement, he was on top of her, staring at her. Elizabeth released a gasp from between her lips and once he realized who had pinned, he let her go and Elizabeth rubbed her wrist.
"What are you doing Elizabeth?" He asked with caution clouding the tone of his voice.
"I couldn't sleep. I keep seeing their faces. I just... wanted some comfort." She avoided his eyes, the intensity of his stare made her feel uncomfortable. After a long, uncomfortable pause, he lay down beside her and embraced her, stroking her hair as it seemed to calm her down anytime he did.Elizabeth slid her hands up over his bare torso, towards his neck, and placed a kiss against his lips. She kept her eyes open because she wanted to see his reaction, she would not be able to bare it if he rejected her now.
He tightened his embrace on her and deepened their kiss to a passionate and lingering embrace that seemed to last a lifetime and yet too short all the same.
"Thank you." She said once the kiss ended. "I couldn't have.." She started but Cassius lay a finger against her lips, raised her chin lightly and said "Shut up Elizabeth." Too many of their exchanges ruined by what either of them had to say.
She swallowed and watched his eyes until his lips stirred hers once more. Their embrace deepened to the point where Elizabeth's cry of pleasure towards the end had to be silenced by a series of long, lingering kisses before anyone else might hear their love-play.

Cassius stood up the next morning, careful not to wake Elizabeth.
Elizabeth stirred but other than that, no movement came from her. Her long, blond hair lay tasseled along her pillow and shoulders, covering what the blanket lacked. Her skin looked pale by the electric light but Cassius couldn't help but linger, taking in the sight of her, before he slid a loose shirt on his toned torso and hoisted his trousers up, tucking the shirt loosely in.
He strode on towards the radio room to try and see if help units had been send underway yet. Now that the shelter was organized, it seemed only logical to try and find outside sources that may need help considering their plentiful stores of food and water would be gone within the year.

Elizabeth woke to find Cassius gone but could hear murmurings of voices down the hall. She got herself dressed, putting on a sea blue corset, leather straps pinning it to her shoulder and belted with a leather belt, a small pouch hanging from it. She then slid a pair of tight brown trousers on and stuck her feet into heavy boots. She went down the hall, not bothering about hair or make up, and turned into the common room where several of the old house employees sat, cheering with each other. They all said their hello's and Elizabeth returned them, glancing towards the cook "what's for breakfast?"
The cook pushed a plate her way along the long wooden table and she took a place on the bench next to the gardener.
"How's it going Lizzy?" She asked Elizabeth.Elizabeth glanced up at Maggie's wrinkly features and smiled at the woman with the green thumb. "I'm fine Maggie, how's Eddie's arm doing?"
Maggie, short for Margaret, smiled but a worry lay behind her eyes."He is doing better, but he has a fever. Natural antibiotics won't do it, he needs something stronger."

Cassius came in just at the right moment. He stood in the doorway and mentioned "our troops are on the ground. They know the location of our shelters and they gave instructions to tunnel between them. They'll be dropping off supplies tonight at one of the trapdoors."
Excitement buzzed around the common room at that news. Being trapped in a small space with any number of people could drive people out of their wits.
Supplies were picked up from the drop point, the hatch was of course equipped with hidden telescope so that any enemy movement could be detected. Edward had the medicine he needed, Margaret breathed a little easier, and Patricia the cook had plenty of fresh produce once again.
The tunneling began. There were several of the land employees helping, men and women alike.
Before long, they saw light at the end of the tunnel and rifles pointed at their faces.
"Who are you?" Cassius heard.

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