6am - 7am: One Girl In All The World II
6am to 7am
Lillith pounded down the flickering passage, specks of mud and dancing flames left in her wake. She panted for breath, finally leaning against the rough rock wall as she allowed herself rest. At least she had worn sensible shoes for this, but the footprints would lead them right to her. How did the ground get so damp here anyway, if the Door was supposed to be sealed? These damn things never did add up.
Trying to mute her spluttering cough, she hunched over and rested her hands on her thighs. What to do now?
Lillith looked up. What thoughts she had managed to collect were now split apart by the great iron fear that clutched her chest.
The tunnel shook. The grit beneath her feet rolled across the mud. Something was coming; something large and something dangerous and most frighteningly of all, something that would surely press her back right into the arms of the men sent to stop her. Sensing two fronts closing in from either side, she skittered across the filthy floor and dove behind a boulder. These rocks littered the tunnels around the Underworld's cities. That was the price of having the passageways and public streets scooped out by the lowest bidder.
Bunched into a ball, Lillith clung to the quivering rock as the great thuds stepped closer. And closer. A crashing footfall overwhelmed her, then all went silent.
Lillith barely let in a breath, trembling, knowing with each pound of her heart that she was a moment closer to capture, or to death.
"I know you're there," a clear voice rang out.
Lillith jolted, knowing her golden hair flashed above the boulder's protective shadow. She cursed herself.
"The boulder wouldn't have made a difference," the voice went on. "It would just mean I may have to fire twice."
"You haven't fired at all yet," Lillith replied, fighting to keep her voice steady.
"I am awaiting orders," came the response, and its tone put Lillith in the mind of some sort of defiance, a petulance that suggested the order would be unwelcome.
The woman risked a peek over the boulder, and gaped in incredulity at what she saw. Looming over her was the boxy, shiny frame of some kind of machinery. A young woman in white stood engulfed in straps and wires, mechanisms that ran to the extremities of the machine. Her limbs, wreathed in coils of copper, were caged in the frame of metal rods. As she raised her hand, palm out towards Lillith, the frame with it, effortless despite its apparent weight. Her hand motion was matched by a complex array of metallic fingers which clicked into position.
"Do not move," the young woman said.
A pale blue glow crept across the chamber. Its cool light stroked over Lillith's skin, making her shiver. Embedded in the belly of the monstrosity that caged the young woman was a round crystal of some kind, around the girl's navel. Lillith felt her fingertips begin to prickle. The hair on the back of her hand began to rise in spikes. Her skin felt as if it were cooking.
"What is that... thing?" she breathed.
The girl remained silent. Below her belly the metal was no longer cage-like in structure, but fully covered her lower limbs, the machine's large legs adding at least a foot to the girl's height and leaving great circular paw prints in the dirt.
Time to act was running out, Lillith knew. The men would be on her in a moment, and this woman here seemed to be waiting on them. Going back was not an option, so she had to get past this thing if she wanted to make it back to the ECHO resistance. She made up her mind. With a quick step-up onto the boulder, Lillith launched herself at the head of the machine.