Chapter 34

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As Izara's consciousness slowly stirred, she felt a disorienting haze clouding her thoughts. She blinked once then twice. Her mind felt empty and full all at once. Trying to think she frowned at the jumbled images replaying themselves in her head. Her memories were fragmented like pieces of a shattered mirror. With a low, frustrated groan, she tried to push through the fog, blinking against the harsh lights that illuminated the cramped space around her.

As her vision cleared, Izara pulled herself from the mess of thoughts to the present and looked around her. She couldn't move her arms and legs. Examining the domed glass that covered her from head to toe and the padded material she was leaning against, she realized with a sickening feeling that she was inside a cryo-chamber, its sleek glass surfaces gleaming dully in the artificial light. Squinting, she looked through the glass to the cavernous room beyond and she felt the sting of tears threaten her eyes. Rows upon rows of similar chambers lined the walls, stretching out before her like an endless graveyard of dreams. Each one held a figure, suspended in a state of frozen animation, their features slack with sleep.

Panic clawed at Izara's chest as she struggled to make sense of her surroundings. How had she ended up here? The last thing she remembered was the chaos of a battle, the echoing clang of metal against metal, and then... darkness.

No. That wasn't correct. She remembered green. Verdant green, lush, and humid, surrounding her with earthy smells and exotic sounds. She remembered the blue of the ocean and its constant ebb and flow of waves beating against the cliffs. And she remembered a pair of red eyes small and beady staring back at her with shock and pain as she pushed them away to safety.

Pain lanced through her heart. Bor. She tried to whisper the name but her throat felt dry.

With trembling fingers, she reached out to try and touch the glass ahead of her, but the restraints kept her firmly in place. She imagined the glass was cold, the chill of the cold surface seeping into her fingertips. Realization slowly washed over her and into her veins like a frigid tide. She had been captured by Black Mountain, somehow snatched from the safety of the island, and placed into this cryogenic hellscape alongside the other inmates. Closing her eyes, she could vaguely recall memories of people standing over her, their hands touching her this way and that way no doubt processing her.

Looking down, Izara made a low desperate sound at the familiar inmate jumpsuit covering her restrained body. The gravity of her situation settled over Izara like a suffocating blanket. She was trapped here.

Time stretched on in the icy stillness of her chamber, each moment feeling like an eternity as Izara wrestled not only with her restraints but with her growing fear. The distant hum of machinery surrounding her echoed faintly in her ear, a constant reminder of the countless other beings caught in the dream prison.

What would they do with her? Why was she awake? Would she have to spend the rest of her life like this slowly going insane? Or would she be secretly sold off like some of the inmates to a more horrendous fate in some far corner of an unknown galaxy?

Her muscles tightened with the thought and she yanked at the restraints again. She felt an extra millimeter of give this time. A kernel of hope blossomed within her just as lights began to flash outside her chamber. Izara froze. Did she cause that?

Doing her best to strain her head forward she watched as multiple emergency lights lit up around the huge room. Sound was muffled inside her cryo-chamber but Izara could still hear the growing chaos beyond the thick glass. She remembered the latcher attack. Redoubling her efforts on her restraints, her heart thudded in her chest as a bright light briefly lit up a portion of the giant holding bay. Was that an explosion? It was so far down into the dark abyss she didn't know. But what it did tell her, was that she was being stored in the higher levels.

Bastards! She thought angrily. Not only did Black Mountain come too late to save Bor but they had her imprisoned. After all that she had done for them. With anger fueling her, the right restraint broke off.

Izara let out an exhale of relief and grabbed the other.

An alarm within her chamber pod began to blare. Compressed air, thick and smoky began to fill the chamber. The tang of the air hit her nose and Izara immediately held her breath. It was gas. It must be an emergency feature, in case any of the inmates attempted to escape. Panic ricocheted in her chest as he lungs burned. Gripping the restraint she tore it loose from its mooring and used its metal end towards the glass. The impact caused hardly any damage. With panic seizing her, she hammered frantically against the thick glass.

The chamber pod shifted suddenly and Izara let out a surprise breath, taking a lung full of the gaseous air. It burned her throat and eyes. Coughing, she covered her mouth with one hand and continued to hammer away at one point on the glass. Outside her chamber, she could see hundreds of other stasis chambers whizzing by. Her pod was moving! It was being called down. Fear gripped her even as her eyes began to grow heavy and her cough turned deeper.

What was happening? What were they going to--

The pod lurched to a stop next to a catwalk. Izara coughed again, the force of it hurting her chest. Squinting through the glass she watched as five guards went running by with guns in their hands, their heavy boots clanking against the catwalk. She tried to see where they were going but she couldn't see them beyond her limited window. All she could see was the bright blue light that lit up the room in sporadic bursts, each flash punctuated by muffled screams echoing in the darkness.

Closing her eyes, Izara slumped back against the cushion. She could hardly breathe and when she could it hurt. She just needed to rest. She could figure something out once she woke back up...

Something screeched across her cryo-chamber jolting her awake. Exhausted she squinted at the blurry figure through the smoky chamber. Something big was standing outside her chamber trying to get in.

Great. Now whatever was attacking the base was going to try and eat her. With the last of her strength, Izara gripped the piece of metal in her hand and waited.

The top was ripped off the pod and the smoke billowed around the figure. A familiar pair of red eyes gleamed in the haze and Izara dropped the restraint piece in her hand.

With relief that could never be measured, she said the name of the only one that mattered. "Bor!"

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