Chapter Seven

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Their journey through the maze of the Yard's hodgepodge of structural attachments took a slight toll on the group's motivation. With one hallway nearly identical to the one just traveled, short lived debates over directions ensued only to be tempered by the absurdity of the hundreds of cyborgs and trash bots they passed without a single reaction.

"Ooh, I love the chrome on that one," Jessie exclaimed as they approached the first advanced cyborg they'd seen on their mission. She walked directly to it as she'd done with the others she'd been curious about.

"No, wait!" Sebastian yelled out.

Too late. The cyborg immediately grabbed hold of Jessie and restrained both of her arms with one of its hands. Bess charged after to help, but it easily overcame her strength, handily launching her against the nearest wall.

"Halt!" a loud, commanding voice boomed from a short distance in front of them. In a moment, a small army of chrome cyborgs came around the corner and filled the space across the hall to block the group's movement. Next, they parted down the middle to allow a tall, distinguished, uniformed man to make his way to the front. A group of similarly clothed individuals followed and grouped themselves to one side and slightly behind him.

"Sebastian!" he barked. "You've gone to a lot of trouble to succeed at this prank of yours. I command that you cease this instant!"

"Prank, father?" Sebastian barked back. "Yes, you're right. I find great humor in retrieving my fiancé from the detention center you smuggled her into."

"This. This is amazing," Jiada whispered loudly.

"Unbelievable!" the man yelled back. "It's about time you start taking responsibility for your actions. I have a mind to disown you after this stunt!"

"You staged her death after the matrimonial union testing revealed her bloodline."

"I sanctioned the engagement!"

"To give yourself plausible deniability! As Prime Minister, you can't let your hands be muddied in a scandal around your own son."

"Would you listen to yourself, Sebastian? You're here attempting to free a criminal being held in solitary confinement for rings' sake! Let her go. She'll be dangerous as soon as her memory returns!"

"Nonsense, father. You've gone too far. This is Lucy Clark, the love of my life, and apparently someone you think is a threat to your place in the Enceladean Court."

"The only things gone here are you and your mind, Sebastian. This girl is not who you think she is."

"Oh, you are such a pompous scam of a father if you think your own son is too much of an idiot to know the woman he'd planned to spend the rest of his life with."

"Ah...Ahem," Jiada cut in suddenly, realizing she had something to contribute. "I might have something interesting to have a look-see at," she offered, pulling out the folded newspaper from before.

"Whe...where did you get that?" the man identified as the Prime Minister stuttered, glaring at Jiada.

"Don't answer that, it doesn't matter," Sebastian ordered as he fully unfolded the paper. "Here," he walked it over to the other councilmembers standing next to his father. They each looked it over, inspecting the photo and visibly comparing it to Lucy's face.

"That can't be real," the Prime Minister argued. "Who sanctioned it to be written?"

"I did," a firm, authoritative female voice interrupted the argument.

The council and Prime Minister turned to identify the source of the sound behind them. A beautiful, distinguished woman dressed in decadent clothing rounded the corner of the hallway and made her way to within a few steps from the Prime Minister's side.

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