Chapter 16

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"Better," Tau said extending a hand to help me up. I accepted the help but grumbled anyway as he pulled me to my feet. What he meant by better was that I stayed on my feet a couple seconds longer that time. I still hadn't managed to stick him with my plastic knife. He'd been able to find and secure some time to train me for a couple hours three or four times a week.

Juleen thought I was getting closer to Eliró. I didn't think that could have been further from the truth. Ró had been avoiding me. That was how it felt anyway, he hardly looked at me and it was even more rare to speak. He would meet me some days to escort me back to his suite, though mostly I would just receive a barked order from veetrala to get to where I'd been summoned. When we walked together, he wasn't the conversationalist he had been.

It wasn't as if I never saw Ró, fairly regularly he sat in and watched Tau drop me to the floor over and over again until my back had bruised and every muscle was sore. Rarely did he comment though and he'd never stepped in to assist. Currently he observed from a chair in the corner of the room.

I was in an odd position. Because while I was meeting with Tau once every fews days and Juleen would call upon me usually once a week, I never had any real information. I was just a go between. When Ró would speak to me, it was to make sure I had enough information to provide Juleen to sate him. For so long it seemed that was the only way I could get him to speak with me, everything else—all other real communication was through Tau.

And despite him beating me up every time we met, I was growing to like him. He was more stoic, he didn't laugh as often or as freely as Ró did but he wasn't what I thought.

"Again," Tau said.

He laughed when I glared at him. Tau waited a moment until I had caught my breath and then with a quickness, he came at me. He came swinging an arm that I ducked. I had become skilled at ducking the first swing, which was necessary because it was a go to attack on humans who had misbehaved. It was a hard enough hit to get the point across without wasting time or energy a Morri might expend on another of their own. Coming from my ducked position I pulled the knife out from where I had it hidden and stuck my arm, twisting it up toward Tau's gut.

I wasn't quick enough. Tau caught my arm and in seconds I was flipped feet over head and landed on my back.

"Again," he said.

I stood and we began again. I tried to different approach; he'd taught me a variety of maneuvers in the last three weeks. This time I attempted to avoid the attack by jumping back, and when he was slightly thrown off center, I rushed forward. Tau hadn't swung hard enough to distract him for more than a split second, so he had turned back and caught me around the waist, lifting me and dropping me back to to the floor.

"Not quick enough," he coached as he pulled me back to my feet. "Again."

We did the same thing over and over, changing slightly but always with the same end. I let out a grunt that was half due to the wind being knocked from me and half from the sheer frustration. Tau's hand was again in front of my face; exhausted, frustrated, and feeling hopeless, I slapped his hand away.

"You can move faster than that, Lena," he lectured and again held out a hand. Feeling childish still, I pushed it away.

"No," Ró broke his silence. He had my full attention then. "She can't."

Tau met Ró's gaze head on. "You know that she can."

Eliró shook his head and spoke in their language as if I couldn't understand it. "She is moving quickly, but the human blood limits her."

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