Chapter 14

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Dall sat on a mattress laid out on the floor of a tiny room. There was very little space left around his simple bed. At least it was 'his' room. He also had two sets of simple clothes that he folded neatly and placed on the floor next to him. They gave them to him a few days ago as his own set started to look grimy. There was only so much the self-cleaning fabric could do without being refreshed.

It had been almost two weeks since they took him and left Themis behind. Mike assured him they didn't shoot Themis with anything lethal. Dall didn't know if he could believe what the man said, as much as he wanted to. Despite having spent only a few hours with Themis, Dall felt a connection with the man.

Since being captured, he'd flown three missions for his hosts. They were uncomplicated drop or pickup missions. Quick to get out and quick to come back. These outings provided him with a much-needed change of scenery and even a little excitement. The rest of the time, he mostly spent alone in this tiny room.

Still disconnected from any network and almost entirely isolated from other people, he had a lot of time to think. Think about the last few days, the exhilarating moments of flying a space vessel, of fooling the authorities and their complex security systems. It was a high that was only heightened by the low when he returned to his stark cell-room and the shroud of loneliness contained within. This dichotomy was truly messing with his head. At times, he would lie there lost in his thoughts and afterward find it impossible to tell whether seconds had passed or hours.

His thoughts wandered further, to his friends, from childhood, and Piloting school. He missed them. And then there was Fai. He missed her smile, her touch, the scent of her hair. He missed her. Dall had plenty of time to think about their undefined relationship. It was futile thinking about their future together as there was a very good chance he'd never see her or any of his friends ever again. He doubted very much these people would eventually let him go free.

Escape was always on his mind, but he had to be patient. An opportunity had to present itself. So far, none did. Even the times they moved him around was usually with some disorienting gear that prevented him from knowing where he was. In the port, they always knew the path and time to go when there was no one around. Shouting for help surely wouldn't do him any good. At most, it would earn him a beating and never being let out again.

His thoughts reached again to his mother, as they often did. The incomprehensible impossibility of her death confronting him. Dall had thought that by now, it would be easier for him to accept the fact that she was gone. Yet, even admitting it to himself was a struggle. His subconscious wasn't making it easier on him, mainly sending terrible dreams to harass the few sleeping hours he did manage to wrangle. He often woke with tears streaking his cheeks from crying that started in a dream.

At times, happier memories also surfaced up from among the dreary realizations of being captured and alone. A recent one was from when he was thirteen or perhaps fourteen years old -

...He and his mom were at the cinema for a special double-screening. The first part was a remastering of an Earth classic of Luc Besson's The Fifth Element. It was fun to watch how people imagined the future when for them it was history. The technology depicted seemed so quaint. Young Dall was enamored with the lead actress. The second part was a new film called Star Builders, made by a well-known director claiming direct lineage to Besson himself. The modern film's premise was of humanity fleeing Earth and settling on a barren world to discover signs of an ancient race attempting to save the universe from an all-consuming force. It was a good movie although Dall preferred the oldie better...

A different memory then surfaced. Of the message, his mother recorded before being murdered. Dall ran it in his head over and over again. Doing his best not to forget any detail. He lamented the fact that he couldn't re-watch the actual thing, or ever, could as the message had disappeared once he finished watching it.

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