An earsplitting scream met by stony silence.
The red orb prison flickered with liquid light, as its inner space slowly filled with water in that dimly lit prison chamber room.
A small young man sat cross-legged on the floor, his back against the cold wall and his small eyes mere slits that gleamed up at her in the darkness.
"Petra, this is your last chance to tell me where The Artifact is."
The water was almost to the very top of the orb now. Petra flailed and gasped, running out of air, out of energy, out of control.
The scene made little Woozi's mouth flicker in a quiet smile as he watched the panic in her rise like the water around her.
Petra stopped screaming. Her voice was weak and desperate. "I don't have it! If I did, I would tell you where it is, I swear! I swear I would!"
A satisfying sense of victory settled in Woozi's gut. She's giving. I can feel it. But she's not broken just yet.
Woozi tapped at a small metal pad that lay on the floor next to where he sat. The water stopped rising around her desperate and wild eyes... and began to drain away from within her red fishbowl prison as quickly as it had risen.
"You don't have it. I believe that much at this point, Petra." Woozi got to his feet and walked right up to the glass where Petra had slumped down into the pit of in, clutching at her throat and choking out her breaths. Her small eyes were wild with panic.
Woozi bent over and tilted his head up, so as to look right into Petra's downcast, panicked face. She looked back at him like a feral animal, wild and hungry.
He smiled politely. "Petra I believe you don't have it. But I don't believe you're so ignorant about WHERE it is. So I have one final little trial for you. And one last chance for you to tell the truth."
Woozi reached into the pocket of his khaki shorts and pulled out a small vial with red liquid inside of it. He shook the liquid in Petra's direction like a treat in front of a dog.
"Just a little something Suga-nim and I cooked up that actually might kill you. It could just cause you terrible amounts of pain, too. Not quite sure yet, but you can be my test subject. What do you say? Sound like fun?"
Petra spat at the glass separating her and her little terror.
"I see you're eager to help. Good." Woozi walked towards the wall shoot that was used to shoot food pellets into Petra's prison to eat through a sophisticated shaft system. The small panel on the wall opened and he was about to set the vial inside it when Petra spoke and gave him pause.
"You can't kill a Satoor Ai, you fool."
Woozi wasn't smiling anymore. He placed the vial in the shoot and closed the hatch. "That's what the Satoor Ai ruling houses said before the Great Awakening... and they almost went extinct." His hand hovered over the panel. He hadn't sent the pellet just yet.
Petra groaned, "You shit brat, you don't get it. I can't tell you. I tell you and I'm not just dead. I'm worse than dead, worse than anything you could possibly do to me. So go ahead. Send it. Kill me. It's better than anything that waits for me if I'm stupid enough to talk."
Woozi crossed his arms. "From who? You're Petra, Satoor Ai with a hidden Gwangju Ai army at your command. Who could be more deadly than you?"
Petra started laughing. At first, it was low like a chuckle, and then it rose in a great wave into a crazy cackle and a scream of amusement. "You're right, brat. I have a Gwangju Ai army waiting for me out of this miserable this place. But Umber?" Petra leaned into the red glass, her lips almost sliding against the glass and her breaths rising in a warm fog where cold water had been shortly before.
But Petra paused. She could see that, for once, she'd struck a nerve with her tormenter.
Woozi's deadly eyes gave him away.
"You've clearly met him, then. So I don't need to explain." Petra barked one last dry laugh. "You poor little bitch, you want revenge for whatever Umber did to you, don't you?"
Woozi's hand reached out and hovered over the plate on the wall again. He was ready to hit send.
Petra went on, "Well you're a fool then. A brave fool, I'll give you that, if you've faced him once and want to throw in for round two after the fact. But courage doesn't shield someone from death. You'll never beat him and you know it."
Woozi's voice was soft for the first time as he addressed her. For he understood--she was trying to get him to lash out at her in mindless rage. She wants to die. "Tell me where it is, and I'll give you want you want, Petra. I'll give you death--then he'll never hurt you again. Death is better than living in his hell, isn't it?"
Petra started quietly at him for the longest time. When she finally did respond, it was without the typical sting in her tone. "You're sharp, you little shit. Sharper than any of my men used to be. Too bad. We could have made excellent allies."
"Tell me why you want The Artifact so damn bad all of a sudden and maybe I'll give you a little something."
Woozi didn't even hesitate. "Suga-nim and his people are on the trail of The Artifact now, too. And I want to find it before they do."
"And why is that?" Petra was enjoying this game.
Woozi shook his head. "That's all I have to say about it. I gave you a little, now you do the same."
Petra nodded slowly. "You're good, kid. I'll give you that."
"I don't want empty flattery. I want a lead."
She smiled dangerously at him. "Here's your lead. I had the Artifact when I went to the Ganche Games with the Noon Moolites. But when they kidnapped me away, I didn't have it anymore."
Woozi ran towards the glass and raised his fists, slamming them hard against the red barrier and screaming at the top of his lungs. Petra just smiled condescendingly back at him.
She gave a nod. "If you perfect your little death concoction and can be sure it works, then I might actually hand it over on a silver platter. But if not, then there's no deal. I'm not desperate enough to betray Umber without having a scapegoat from his revenge."
"You know I wasn't there. You know I have no connections from the Ganche Games."
She shrugged. "Perhaps you can come clean with your precious Suga-nim and work together? Anyway, that's not really my problem. I gave. Do with it what you want."
"GHHHA!" He slammed his fists hard against the glass again, making his hands pulse with numbness... then pain.
"And to light a fire under your ass even more about it," Petra was really enjoying having the upper hand for once against her tiny torturer, "if you take too long, you'll lose this golden opportunity. Because your precious Suga-nim has made his own deal with me and, honestly, his punchline is way more appealing than yours."
Woozi was staggered by this news. "What was the deal?"
Petra smiled so wide her teeth gleamed wickedly in that red tint. "That wouldn't be any of your business, now would it? Hurry up with your task, you little shit, or else I have nothing to give you."