She was alone, mostly. Tal hadn’t been within ten feet of her, and Rahn was no where to be seen. There was little they could do anyways. The council wasn’t happy with her going rogue, but more than that they were afraid. One of the vaunted Orothros Operatives had put their perfect world in danger. Treaties had been threatened, oaths had been broken, and armistices had been tested in pursuit of her revenge. She regretted none of it, Swann was a threat that had needed to be extinguished.
I did warn you, Lance chastised within her head.
She ignored him.
Outside she heard voices in conversation. She knew what was coming, and their words did little to quell her fears. Forced retirement. It was a way for the council to save face, while also punishing someone they no longer trusted to protect their interests. She didn’t join Orothros to protect council interests. She joined because she felt her talents were wasted helping her father with his “experiments”, because she saw a chance to make real change in the galaxy, and because she hoped it would lead her to the man who slaughtered Azariah. It’d done all those things, and at the end of it all she found herself in a windowless cell waiting for someone to take it all away.
I had to do it, she thought.
I know, Lance answered.
Do you hate me?
I am incapable of hating you anymore than I could hate myself for being in this situation.
Any minute now that door would open to take him away from her. She tried not to think about what would happen afterwards. The mere thought made her stomach churn.
Are you afraid?
He didn’t answer.
Yes. The calm synthesized voice that’d been there for her through it all broke her heart. A tightness seized her chest as she fought back the pain. She hadn’t broken during the hearing. She hadn’t broken when Tal had failed to meet her gaze. She didn’t break when Rahn was MIA to testify on her behalf. There was no way she’d break in any way that might give those over privileged politicians and their henchmen some satisfaction.
Light flooded the dim room. Her augmented eyes quickly adjusted to the change in lighting. Silhouetted against the light of the hall stood two council soldiers dressed in the regal garments of their home worlds.
Her mind raced with ways to initiate an escape. Some ended in her recapture, others had the potential to be effective but in the end; she’d be hunted without mercy, maybe even by those she called friends. Tal, she thought of the roguish warrior that’d had her back on several missions over the years. She pushed the memories away and focused on the soldiers before her. Two more entered the doorway, one stepped forward and slapped the cuffs on her before dragging her out of the room by the metallic link that bound her arms. Each forced step down the hall was painful. Her legs stiffly shuffled towards the operating room.
When they reached the end of the hall the doors slid open. It was then, upon seeing the spidery mechanical limbs that would cut into the back of her head and remove Lance for good that she resolved to fight back. She’d rather flee to the end of the universe as long as she kept her sole friend just a moment longer. Her muscles tensed in preparation, she already knew which guard she’d target first. She moved to action, but found herself continuing towards the operating chair. Her muscles flexed again, but failed to move in their desired direction.
LANCE! She screamed inside her head with ferocious intensity.
If you take violent action there is a 75% chance of injury, Lance clarified.
I can take it!
Maybe, but we have a rare opportunity that cannot be ignored.
She beat at the mental cage he’d placed her in. Tears ran freely down her cheeks as she sat in the chair with unnerving calm.
“Why?” she whimpered quietly.
A sharp pain struck her in the back of the neck, blackness crept in around the edges of her vision. She fought with all her strength, but between the drugs and Lance's compliance her resolve swiftly weakened.
You will never be alone again.