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From Chapter 13
Dahlia’s heart stopped. She leapt to her feet, hardly noticing the twigs scratching her skin. The backpack slid from her shoulders.
She fled. The long skirt flapped at her ankles, threatening to catch on the lines of low crops. She didn’t care. It was either run or be captured and sold to Anglia, into the clutches of the man who’d killed her papa…
“Dammit!” Farren’s yell snapped through her adrenaline. Dahlia shot a glance over her shoulder without slowing.
The airman had only just managed to extricate himself from the bush. He jogged along, cursing the leg brace with every step, stumbling after her.
A panel slid open in the airship’s gondola. Something leapt out, something huge and shadowy. The hulking shape dropped to the road, stirring dust and shaking pebbles. A pair of burning yellow eyes fixed on Dahlia.
It was a gargantuan mechanical man. Tall and hunched, covered in segmented armor plates that clicked as it started forward. It passed Farren in four massive strides.
Dahlia ran faster than she’d known she could. The mechanical thumped along behind her, heavy steps drawing closer. Panic gripped Dahlia. Her pulse pounded in her ears.
A pistol shot shattered the sound of the mechanical’s metal plates. Dahlia risked a look back, just in time to watch Farren empty his clip into the thing’s head. Four perfect shots.
It didn’t even flinch. The bullets that should have torn through its processing circuits simply splattered against the back of its metal skullplate.
Then it was upon Dahlia. She shrieked with fear as a steel hand wrapped around her waist. The thumb jabbed into the small of her back, and the tips of the fingers pressed against her bellybutton. Her feet left the ground.
Dahlia struggled, beating vainly at arms the size of tree trunks. The mechanical turned her so they were face to face.
“Stop that,” it ordered. The low voice rumbled up from deep within the creature. A slotted face grille shielded the place where its mouth should have been.
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