Chapter 2

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Home, at least the place we called home because it was all any of us knew anymore and it was were we slept, wasn't far from the arena. Walking on foot, because we were not allowed to use vehicles or the daziem, small circular discs that could be actived and instantly transport you to your destination, it only took about fifteen minutes before we were back in our shared quarters. I pushed the door shut behind us and when I turned around it was to face the wide grin on Analiese's face. She bounced on her toes several times, her eyes flaring with poorly concealed excitment. And finally, she let it out.

"Miekev," she said with a swooning sigh. Her tone turned to teasing as she continued, "I thought you weren't familiar with the Morri anymore than you were forced to be."

"I'm not," I snapped. "I have never seen that one before."

"That one?" She crinkled her long, straight, freckled nose in distaste.

I turned my attention away from her and suddenly found the task of hanging my cloak to be the most interesting thing in the world.

"He was a man."

If I had thought ignoring her was a good way to get her to let it go, I was wrong.

"They aren't things," she insisted. "They aren't so different from us, you know. And besides, that one was rather pleasant to look at."

I looked at her, unable to hide my disgust. Thanks to genetic manipulation and alteration that ensured only the best traits were passed on to the next generation, they were all exceedingly lovely to look at, but that was nothing to me. It was nothing to anyone who knew of them, truly knew what they were. I didn't know if she was purposefully blind to our reality or if growing up outside the city had provided her with an experience so completely different from my own that she looked at the same creatures I saw to be only an enemy as a friend.

"They're not attractive," I lied. They were beautiful. Long ago, I looked at them with the same wonder Analiese did now. I had seen only their beauty. To look at them from a distance, they didn't look at that different from us. They were generally taller, stronger looking. Their hair and eyes came in hues that never naturally occurred in humans. I was never sure if they naturally had the shades of hair or if that, too was a product of changing around their genetics. Up close though is where you could see the real differences between us and them. Their faces were too symmetrical, too flawless to be human. Their smooth skin had a quality to it that seemingly made it glow, like a small aura of light around them.

"You've never met him?" she pressed.

I faced Analiese giving her a harsh look before answering.

"Never."

"He was very... friendly."

I stepped toward her, deadly serious as I spoke. "The Morri are not a friendly race. They are the enemy. Not some of them, or even most of them, Ana. Every. Single. One. The quicker you grasp this, the better shot you'll have of surviving here."

Unimpressed, she sighed. When she spoke again, it was in the tone one might use with a child. She thought I was the one being naive.

"One day, Lena, you are going to have to let go of your hatred."

One of her hands found mine and clasped around it, squeezing gently.

"To say they are all the same is to imply that we are as well. Do some humans not act vile toward one another? Have humans never raped or beaten their own?"

Shaking my arm, I pulled away from her.

"Were we not just in the same stadium?" I shouted before quickly remembering myself and lowering my voice to a stern whisper. "Did you not see the hundreds of Morri cheering as a human was murdered?"

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