Shard's Weakness

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"Showin' that they need a push. They know their brats are here but need to experience it," Hatchette says. "It ain't fully registerin' in their heads or they're that dissociated with reality."

"We need to make an example out of one of them," Raul says.

"Exactly," Hatchette says.

Everyone in the room nods except Shard.

All the members of the Grounders sit in an orderly room that Shard, Hatchette, and Raul watched the other members clean. It took the members around an hour to clean their mess and reorganize the room. They sit in a circle with Shard sitting behind the uprighted desk - Hatchette and Raul at his sides.

Every eye is on Shard. He shifts his jaw. His eyes focus on invisible thoughts. Hatchette and Raul are right. The others are right to agree with them. But for an example, he needs the right brat. He runs the faces of the Politician Committee through his head - all their reactions to the pictures, what was said, and the ones left out. A few brats come to mind that would be best to use. Shard nods.

"After lunch, I'll be back with our example," Shard says. "Meet back here in an hour. Raul, send out the message to the Committee, telling them when we'll be available to stream. They miss the window, they miss another day to get their babies back. Let them know that. Have Techie double-check the security of the stream before we go live."

"Who gets Techie?" one person asks.

"I will," Hatchette volunteers. "A little conversation and Techie will get what's goin' on."

Shard nods. "Let's move."

He leaves last and closes the door behind everyone. His chest tenses up. He had been hoping for a different outcome. Deals were supposed to happen today, but he is not surprised of the outcome. Sighing, he makes his way to the cafeteria area to pick up his and Octavia's rations for the day. She will eat faster today so, he'll have more time to figure who will better elicit the reaction the Grounders need to move negotiations forward.

Thoughts of the upcoming negotiation taunt his mind so, he turns his thoughts to the lunch he carries. Rapping his fingers on the covered tray, he remembers the old movies his dad would put on for the camp. They were filled with words, terms, expressions, and technology Shard did not understand at the time, but his dad and many others would mostly get - making Shard feel further left out. His father eventually understood this so, before movies would start, Dae-jun would pull Shard aside to explain all the terms and tech he remembered and knew from the film he would play that night, which helped Shard bond with his then new Chromy family. One of the sayings his dad taught him seems appropriate for the present situation. "Soup's on!" Shard hits a finger on the cloche to make it sound as much like a dinner bell as possible when he makes it to the cell.

An empty and a third-empty water bottle sit next to Octavia on the bunk. Shard gives a side eye to Tam who avoids meeting his eyes as Marque unlocks the door. She intentionally made Octavia wait as long as possible for the water. Tam waited too long to not be caught.

Octavia's wide, shining eyes stay on the plate. A smile forces its way to Shard's lips. Seeing Octavia's begging face and knowing this spoiled brat depends fully on him brings some enjoyment to him but not enough to rise a sincere smile. "Someone ready for lunch?"

As Shard slides the tray onto the table, Octavia scrambles into her chair.

He uncovers the tray. "Today's m-"

Octavia snatches a potato cake from the tray. Shard blinks in the direction of where the cake was and looks at Octavia. She takes several bites from the cake and eats it furiously.

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