shafts, tunnels. Branchings, many little branchings; drains, ventilation,
communication. The cuttings within the mountain were deep, crossed a wide
area, and had proliferated like a living organic entity through the cycles.
I had slipped the pad from my belt. Now it mapped the excavations of the
mining company and as truly as I could hope to receive. I would not use
the pads available at the base of the entry shaft. They could be
calibrated incorrectly or maimed or programed to exclude and distort. Riders
had been killed that way.
Unshielded lights struck stark light into the tunnels at intervals. The rock was black here, some of it wet. Silence.
I moved feeling, sensing. It was something unriders did not understand and I had found to my own puzzlement that that occasionally infuriated them, made them aggressive and abusive towards riders; made them lie to riders; made them try to cheat riders. It was not jealousy, or only jealousy. It was also fear, and a deep, angry distrust.
Riders' talents were, of course, of a different kind than differences in height or even differences of intellect. They penetrated into less known and unmapped territories of consciousness and experience. They were potent. They were lasting and elusive.
I walked on slowly my senses focused, hyperactive, searching to their farthest reaches attempting to touch whatever they might; whatever was there.