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By the time they reached the canyon lip the wind had begun to intensify. Aja actually was quiet as the sand was beginning to become an irritation to their faces and she was forced to close her mouth and shield her face from the stinging wind.

Morgan led them down into the rocks and by the time they reached the first traces of the old buildings, the storm was beginning to roll over them. Morgan took out a coil of rope and tied one end around Aja’s waist and then fed the other end around his own waist.

By the time they reached a structure that was mostly intact, visibility was virtually gone. The wind was howling down the canyon and Aja clung to Morgan’s back using him as a shield.

They entered the building and were instantly relieved from the assault of the wind and sand. Morgan struck a torch and they looked about them surveying the old building.

“How long will the storm last?” Aja said.

“Several hours, probably,” Morgan replied.

A quarter of an hour later they sat in a basement room made of concrete and Morgan hauled scraps of wood and metal to barricade the door.

“Why are you doing that? It’s not like the storm can reach us here.” Aja observed.

Morgan continued to work and merely said, “There’s more out here than just sandstorms.”

“Like what?”

Morgan stopped exasperated and looked at the girl. “You’re a real piece of work, you know? All the children I’ve escorted for all these years and you’re the first I’ve ever known to ask so many damn questions. I’m surprised no one didn’t kill you in the Skutter a long time ago.”

“Maybe that’s because I didn’t come from the Skutter,” she retorted.

Morgan arched his eyebrows in surprise and said, “Then where did you come from?”

“Oh, so now who’s the curious one?”

Morgan huffed in amusement and turned back to his work of barricading the door.

“Was that a smirk? Why, curiosity and humor; there might just be a real human in there after all,” she said chiding him.

Morgan finished his job and came over to sit by the light. “We can’t leave the torch burning in this enclosed space; we’ll have to just wait out the storm in the dark. I’ll make a deal with you, jabbermouth, I’ll answer your questions if you answer mine. Deal?”

“You gotta deal,” she said triumphantly smiling.

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