Alfran opens his eyes and finds himself in an unfamiliar room – cold, dark, sterile. His muscles ached, his throat felt like course sand and his head throbbed as he tries to make sense of the confusion. This place was not too dissimilar to his cell within the Slaughterdome, yet he felt… Safe.
He scanned his surroundings and found Keth, sleeping peacefully in the bed across from him, unaware of their situation. His Helsian tattoo had disappeared from his back, Alfran checked his XIN app and found that Helsian tattoos took on a form that the wearer visualized. Asleep his tattoo was a blank canvas. I didn’t know that they could do that? he thought to himself.
He turned away from Keth and his heart skipped a beat. In front of him was a suit of amour, locked behind an energy shield. There was no mistaking who had brought them here now, but where was here?
Alfran ventured away from their sleeping area, he saw a faint light down a narrow passageway and heard the sounds of bubbling water and a soft repetitive tap of keys being pressed. When he rounded the corner he found who he was looking for.
Sage stood up without turning around, as if she needed to, this place looked safer than the central XIN database, and she probably had enough tech hooked up to her that she probably knew when a cockroach farted twenty Klicks away.
She slowly turned around and walked over to stand within a few feet from Alfran.
“Ah, you’re awake. No ill effects from the poison?” she asked casually, as if speaking to an old friend.
“My muscles ache, my mouth is dry, and I have a headache that is almost as bad as when I first used my cybernetic eye! Other than that, no.”
“Good.” she nodded,”It is as I expected.”
Alfran looked around, “Where are we? If you don’t mind me asking?”
“Xaabos’s moon! But, how!?!”
“I was able to… convince a smuggler to help transport two dead bodies.”
“Us.” Alfran stated. Scanning the trace chemicals still in his system suggested that the poison used was one that mimicked death, slowing the heartbeat enough to escape detection from both physical and technological measures.
“It wasn’t easy, the Calm had passed by the time we’d gotten your bodies to the ship. We faced some pretty serious weather getting here, but we’re all in one piece.”
“Then why is Keth still unconscious?” Alfran asked, curious as to why he wasn’t up around the same time as him, Helsian’s had strong constitutions and Keth was a Storm-Eater.
“Your Helsian friend? He is taking a bit longer to heal, the dust he inhaled in the pits have interfered with his healing abilities. He should be up and about in about a weeks time.”
“So what now?”
Sage stepped away from Alfran and headed towards an isolated room, her sleeping quarters by the looks of things.
“Now, I must go and do a favour for our smuggler friend. You must remain here until I return, then we can figure out what to do with you from there.”
“Stay here?” Alfran didn’t like this idea one bit, “How can you expect us to trust you after everything you have done?”
Sage walked up to Alfran slowly and smiled, not wickedly, but there was no emotion behind that smile.
“You are just going to have to take a leap of faith.”
Alfran scanned the woman standing in front of him from head-to-toe. This was the same woman that had betrayed them, the same woman that had murdered his friend and stole her body so she could assassinate the princess and her friend, the same woman that had allowed Korv to escape during the chaos of her assassination attempt, the same woman that he wanted to rip apart with his bare hands. But she was also the one that had saved them.
“I don’t know if I can do that.” he said sullenly as a turned and walked away.
As the last trace of poison was cleansed from his system, a warning flashed up on his optics HUD, a foreign object was housed inside one of his storage drives. He remembered Sage giving him a cube in the pit, her Kill-switch. Why would it still be on him? Why had she not taken it back while he was unconscious?
Almost in response to his unspoken questions, he received a message through his optics HUD:
We must all take this leap of faith together. Hold on to that for me.