Chapter 18

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I twisted the little case in my hands, staring at it as I laid down in bed unable to sleep despite my exhaustion. There was so much technology that we didn't have access to, didn't even know about. Like an eyepiece that can transmit everything you see and hear to someone else. Opening the box, I squinted at the little disc shaped lens that was almost completely transparent. I couldn't see any way that it could actually do what Juleen claimed but that didn't mean it couldn't.

There was no way to tell them.

"Lena?" Analiese said, rubbing her eyes. "Have you slept at all?

"Huh?" I glanced at her, dragging my eyes away from little box that tormented me.

"Are you okay?" She asked. Analiese turned on the lamp near her bed and sat on the edge, staring at me in concern. Everything that Juleen told me, everything that I'd seen ran through my mind in vivid images and I shuttered.

"I think I have to die."

"What?" She shouted, alarmed. "Lena, have you lost your mind?"

There was no way to warn Ro or Tau and if I just avoided seeing them again, Juleen would know and he would make sure that what was done to that man was done to me. Maybe I had lost my mind, but I didn't see any way out. If I just risked it, he would hurt me and I would break. I would tell him everything. I knew I would.

"We have to go," Analiese said when I didn't respond. My expression must have said it all because she quickly explained, "It's dawn. But we aren't done with this conversation. You come back here tonight and I will help you. I promise."

Had I gone all night without sleep? The clock on the wall confirmed that I had.

Numbly, I nodded, but she couldn't help me. No one could.

Slipping the case under my bedding, I felt half alive getting dressed and reporting to our veetrala for morning assignments. Mia attempted to get my attention and I didn't miss the whispering conversation she and Analiese had one our way up, but I was too distracted to pay much mind to it.

It was a relief to be assigned to the bagrai. I wanted nothing more than to be as far away from the paestra and Juleen as possible, even if it meant being there. At least I could offer some bit of comfort to the prisoners there before all of this blew up in my face.

The walk to the bagrai was unremarkable and by the time I arrived, I barely remembered any of it. I didn't greet the human watching guard, but it crossed my mind for the first time that maybe he wasn't evil. Maybe he played a part, just like I did. Juleen had relied on my own will to survive and fear to force me into betraying the only Morri that had ever showed me real kindness. That I cared for. Not that he realized that. But, if he had relied on my care for someone else. If he'd threatened Mia... I wasn't sure what I would be capable of if my only family's survival was dependent on it.

Usually, I attempted to make conversation with the prisoners. Telling them stories about my father and the people I knew helped to distract them from their current state, at least I hoped it did. But it didn't come naturally for me then and I couldn't muster up the ability to force it. Not with so much on my mind and I was so tired.

"Why are you so sad today?" Aerias asked, he was the only one who ever initiated any conversation. Most of the time I was talking to myself, occasionally getting a few words or a story from one of the others. But when I hadn't bothered, neither had they. Aerias was different, maybe because of his age.

"I'm just tired." I forced a smile as I pulled the fresh bucket of water and mop into his cell. I mopped up the ground that was finally looking cleaner after doing so so many times since the first. I didn't say anything more to the child as I kept cleaning the place that had been his home for... I didn't even know how long. When I moved to clean the mop, I noticed he was staring at me, with a frown and I sighed. It didn't matter that things in my world were about to fall apart, this child hadn't even seen daylight since he'd been put here. He needed the conversation.

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