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Deathstalker 05 - Deathstalker Destiny

Deathstalker 05 - Deathstalker Destiny

Titel: Deathstalker 05 - Deathstalker Destiny
Autoren: Simon R. Green
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Chapter 1
    Blood Debt
    It was still raining on Lachrymae Christi. The tears of God. Owen Deathstalker hadn't shed a single tear since the Blood Runners abducted Hazel d'Ark. To cry would be to give in to his fear and desperation, and he couldn't afford to be weak. He had to be strong, ready to seize any chance that might get him off this damned planet and onto Hazel's trail. He had to be strong, for her. So he put a lid on his despair, and clamped it down hard with never-ending work, and never once allowed himself to entertain the possibility that Hazel d'Ark might already be dead.
    It had been two weeks since Hazel was taken, and Owen had hardly slept since. He sat exhausted on the bare ground of the Mission compound, head hanging forward, sweat dripping off his face. He'd been working hard since first light, distracting himself with the simple everyday problems of rebuilding the devastated Mission, but he was only human, these days, and his body would only take so much punishment before forcing him to rest. And then he would sit, and brood, and squeeze his eyes shut against the visions his mind conjured up of what the Blood Runners might be doing to Hazel, until he couldn't stand it anymore, and would dive back into the distraction of work, whether he was ready
    or not.
    A leper approached him hesitantly, anonymous in the usual gray cloak and pulled-forward hood. He offered Owen a cup of wine, in a gray gloved hand that only shook a little. Owen accepted it with a nod, and the leper backed quickly away, bowing respectfully. The Mission's surviving lepers had seen Owen blow away an army of attacking Grendels, like leaves in a scorching breeze, all by the power of his mind. They had seen him stand against overwhelming forces, and refuse to retreat. He was their savior, and they were all very much in awe of him.
    They didn't know he was only human now. They didn't know he'd burned out all his Maze-given powers, to save them.
    "You've got to slow down, Owen," Oz murmured softly in his ear. The AI sounded distinctly worried. "You can't keep pushing yourself like this. You're killing yourself."
    "The work has to be done," said Owen, subvocalizing so those still working around him wouldn't hear. "The Hadenmen and the Grendels knocked the shit out of this place. Half the wall's down, most of the buildings are leaning on each other for support, and the roofs leaking in a hundred places. The lepers can't do it on their own. A lot of them belong in sickbeds anyway."
    "That's not why you're doing it," said Oz. "You're not fooling anyone, you know.
    All this hard work and toil, working till you drop; it's not for them, for the Mission. You're punishing yourself, for letting the Blood Runners take Hazel."
    "I wasn't there, when she needed me," said Owen, staring at the ground between his feet. "If I had been, maybe I could have done… something…"
    "You'd lost your powers. You were just a man. There was nothing you could have done."
    "Work is good," said Owen. "Simple problems, with simple solutions. It keeps me from thinking, from remembering. If I stop to think and remember, I'll go mad."
    "They've had her two weeks now. Fourteen days and nights, in the Obeah Systems, on the other side of the Empire, to torture and torment her as it pleases them.
    And I'm trapped here, with no powers, and not even a hope of a ship to get me offplanet so I can go after her. They could have done a lot, in fourteen days and nights."
    When the Blood Runners first took Hazel, Owen did go crazy, for a while. He wouldn't eat or sleep for days, stalking blindly round the ruined Mission as the terrorized lepers scattered to get out of his way. He screamed and ranted and called Hazel's name, making horrible threats and howling like an animal in pain.
    In the end, he grew weak enough that Sister Marion was able to wrestle him to the ground and hold him down, while Mother Beatrice injected him with industrial-strength sedatives. His dreams then were vague, horrible things, and when he woke up, they'd strapped him to a bed in the Mission infirmary.
    He'd worn out his voice with screaming and ranting, but he still cursed them all in a harsh, rasping voice, while Moon sat quietly at his side, giving what comfort he could. It was some time before Owen got control of himself again, exhausted physically and emotionally. But he never cried. Mother Beatrice came to see him often, and offered him the comfort of her God, but he wouldn't take it. There
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