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died, he turned back toward Isabelle. Candlelight flickered beneath the door to her room, the room in which she lay dying, and he was struck with the reality of what he had done. He slapped his hands to his mouth to muffle a cry. How could he live with his decision? How could he live, knowing that he could have saved her, and had not?

He had to go back to her. He had to do something. He had to save her. Things could not end like this. He clenched his jaw, desperately calming himself. He must go in.

He willed himself into movement. He opened the door, went to the bed, drew back the netting.

Her eyes flew open. "Were you able to get through?" The last two words were a breathy exhalation. Her chest heaved with the effort of drawing air. Reluctantly, he used his sensors on her. Even in the short time he had been gone, the spike had reached C4.

He sat at her side. "We can't call out. We're stuck on this miserable rock until the others come looking for us." He drew the netting across the bed, cocooning them both inside. Perhaps it would keep out the burned smell from the hallway.

The urge to do something was overwhelming. "I'm going to walk to the next settlement. With any luck they won't have heard about the trouble here yet." The mines had grown extensive before they'd been closed down. In studying this place, he had learned that some tunnels led as far as the next dome. Perhaps there he could find help.

She argued with him, of course. She would die soon; they both knew that. The next settlement would take him hours to reach.

He clung desperately to his control, not wanting to break in front of her. He had refused her only chance. Yet he continued to protest, as if there were still some way to save her.

"I'm dying," she said. "The wound is too deep. It's
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