27. The Right Rumor

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He dreamed of screams, of fire, of vacant eyes forever staring and rivers of blood endlessly flowing. Hands reached out, clawing at his legs, while voices pleaded: Choose me, please choose me.

First, he tried running. With his speed, he should have been able to out run anything. And for a while, it seemed to work. Each stride broke free of their grip. Hands tore away, unable to hold him. But then more reached out, from behind, from in front, from each side and all around; more and more snaked out and dug their fingers deep into his flesh. Each step became slower and slower until he strained against their hold.

There were too many to run from.

So he tried fighting. Grabbing and tearing and snarling and flailing; he fought wildly like a savage beast. But just as before, the more hands he tore from his flesh, the more came to replace them. He tired even faster, and soon stood immobile in a cocoon of hands.

With nothing left, he pleaded for them to leave him alone. No matter what he said, it had even less effect. Instead, they began to squeeze...

Light fell across his face, piercing through the multitude of hands. A horrible scream rippled through them before they suddenly vanished into thin air. Jett looked up. He blinked.

Then squinted, because the bright light shone directly on his face. He became aware of the hard kitchen floor beneath him, the rough cabinets against his back. The fire, the blood, the hands were gone.

"He's here," an man's unfamiliar voice called out. It had a drawling accent to it.

The light abruptly left his face, leaving Jett with blinding spots in his vision. It was dark, sometime during the night. Other lights flashed across the yard, just outside the door. The man in the doorway stepped back, allowing a second to step in. This one was tall and thin. His boots made soft sounds as he took a few steps into the small kitchen.

He too held a brilliant light in one of his hands, but he had the courtesy not to shine it right in Jett's face. Instead, he set it down on the table, before adjusting it from a harsh beam to a more gentle light that diffused through the entire room.

It allowed Jett to get a good look at the intruder. It was a Troit flyer in a pale yellow suit. A medic, then. But not just any medic, because that narrow face and pale hair and eerie, knowing gaze were all too familiar to Jett.

"Syk," he said tonelessly.

"Mm." Syk was observing him from a distance. That kind of creepy stare would make anyone's skin crawl, but Jett was past caring. Huddled in little cold box of emptiness, there was nothing that could reach him.

Except in his dreams.

Syk took a few steps closer, then crouched in front of him. His eyes focused on Jett's face, but Jett didn't even flinch. He just looked back dully. Syk gave a slow smile, white teeth flashing. Interest glimmered within his piercing gaze. "My, you are a mess, aren't you? Seems like the life of a traitor is full of difficulties."

Jett said nothing.

"We've probably got three or four hours," another flyer walked in. Jett glanced at him briefly, only taking note of the style and coloring of his suit. A Scout. The face was unfamiliar. Beyond those few details, Jett didn't bother to look any further.

What did it matter? Ra'Skevvor was gone. Troit was here. Either way, nothing changed. He averted his gaze from both flyers, instead gazing at the kitchen floor to his left. She wasn't there right now, but somehow he knew she wasn't far away.

"That's not very long," Syk murmured as the other flyer came closer. He rose, and both of them stood nearly shoulder to shoulder as they both looked down at the white flyer.

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