Warlands of Song

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Chapter Thirty-One: Saige

She held herself still by force of will while Eavan tinkered with her Teilu stone. A few animals made a slight buzz behind them, but each abrupt noise made her jerk to look toward the sound. Eavan would gently turn her head back around and resume her work. It was unclear what the woman was doing, but it didn’t matter. She was just happy to be away from the base.

Then there was a click from behind her ear, and a beep. Before she could process what was happening, Eavan’s arms were wrapped around her and the woman was crying into the short bit of hair she had.

Saige didn’t fight the embrace, but she also didn’t return it. Why had she ever enjoyed hugging? It was uncomfortable and stifling. She squirmed in Eavan’s grip, and the woman sighed, releasing her.

“I wish you knew how sorry I am,” she said. “I wish you could know exactly why. But we don’t have much time. I deactivated the recorders in our Teilu stones, but I’ll have to reactivate them soon. I just couldn’t let you go through this without knowing.”

She kept silent. It would do no good to question. The woman would tell her what she pleased, when she pleased, whether or not she asked.

“That you made it to the test you went through a week ago is only more proof of how much I failed you. I never wanted you to go through this pain.”

She could no longer resist rolling her eyes. Another person blaming themselves for her choices. Another person acting like it was the end of the world that her life was unfair and destined for failure. It was no one’s fault but her parents that her life was so hard. If they’d had the self-control to abstain from having sex and creating another life, she wouldn’t even exist to feel this pain. But no, all people thought was that they’d let her down. Like she had nothing to do with it.

Eavan caught her eye roll, but didn’t react to it. Instead, the woman reached out and touched her face.

“You look just like your mom.”

Her back snapped up straight. Eavan’s hand fell from her cheek. She opened her mouth, then closed it again. If she began to talk, the questions would overflow and never stop.

“Yes,” Eavan answered her unspoken question, “I knew your mom. Both of your parents. They actually appointed me as your godmother. If anything ever happened to them, I was to take care of you. And I failed.”

“Something happened to them?”

She couldn’t help the question. She needed to know, most of all, if they were alive.

“I don’t know where they are. I don’t know what happened to them. All I know is that they’re gone. They disappeared, and you were left with me. They could be in prison. They could have been executed. Or they might have gone into hiding. I don’t know. But I do know that they didn’t abandon you. They never would have done that. They loved you too much.

“I thought that you would be safe on earth,” Eavan continued. “I thought that no one would think to look for you there. You could live your life in peace. And you did, at first. But a secret only stays a secret for so long.”

“I don’t understand why you’re telling me this,” Saige said. “I don’t know you. I didn’t recognize you. You could’ve taught me without ever telling me about my past. Why are you determined that I know who you are and who you were to me?”

“Being truthful is what you do with family. Because you love them. It doesn’t matter if they don’t remember you. You still love them.”

“I don’t want to hear about love! I want someone to tell me no one will attack me any more. I want to be strong enough to protect myself and others if necessary. I want my life back! I don’t want to be anyone’s responsibility but my own. But this is my life. It’s not going to change.”

“It might.”

Saige just shook her head. No, it wouldn’t. She didn’t even want to wake up in the morning. The only reason she’d joined the military group was because she’d been promised the chance to make a difference. But that’s not what they wanted her for after all. She was now enslaved to a people who wouldn’t bat an eyelash if she was killed in action.

Why did she have to take this? She didn’t.

She leapt to her feet, startling Eavan.

“Turn my stone back on. I’m going back to base.”

“Saige...”

“No. This isn’t fair, and I don’t have to stand for it. I’ll burn the place to the ground before I let them take advantage of me like this.”

“There’s no need to do anything hasty-”

“They took my life from me without hesitation. Why shouldn’t I do something hasty?”

*_*_*_*_*

All eyes fell on her when she stalked into the compund. She could hear every single whisper.

“Did something happen?”

“It’s about to go down.”

“Someone needs to get Commander Mykel before she kills us all.”

“I’m going to get a guard.”

Someone stepped into her path. Her mood went from bad to worse.

“Move,” she said.

Fey moved directly into her way, again. She wore a smirk that only fueled Saige’s anger.

“Why in such a hu-”

“Get... out... of... my... way. Don’t make me say it again. Now is not the time.”

The woman’s smirk turned into a frown.

“You need to remember who your superiors are. In case you forgot, I’m one of them.”

“In case you forgot, you’re not supposed to be anywhere near me. So move.”

When the woman stood her ground, Saige’s rage burst through her inner emotional dam. She shoved Fey back a few steps. The woman stumbled, and Saige heard the tell-tale crackle just in time to drop herself low and aim her entire body at Fey’s middle. She heard Eavan’s quick command to stop, but ignored it in favor of launching herself full-force at Fey.

They both hit the ground, and Saige attacked with blow after blow for longer than she expected. She’d caught the woman by surprise. Then there was a blinding white light and a sizzle, and she found herself on her back and unable to defend herself against Fey’s retaliation. Though the numbness wore off after a few moments, the damage Fey inflicted outweighed her returning strength. She lashed out, weakly, and landed a drop of Matter on Fey’s neck. The woman kept attacking, but Saige shut her hand decisively.

Fey’s attacks stopped. Her hands went around her throat and her eyes bugged out of her head. Saige kicked her off and tightened the band of Matter. Then there was screaming and shouting from her fellow soldiers for her to stop.

But Fey deserved it. She’d been nothing but cruel to her since she’d shown up. From day one, to this fight. Why shouldn’t she look out for herself for once? No one else was going to. And she was screwed no matter what. She’d killed before. She was already a killer. Already dangerous. Already destined to never live a free life. If she killed someone for no reason, maybe they’d finally lock her up and throw away the key. Or kill her.

The idea strengthened her resolve.

Fey would pay for her cruelty.

A set of fingers curved around the side of her throat, and a warm body brushed against her left side.

“Saige... you need to stop.”

She tried to pull away, but Glen’s other hand wrapped around her waist, pinning her arm there. He spoke directly into her ear, hot breath soothing her, despite her best attempts to get away.

“I know you’re frustrated. Hurt and confused. But this isn’t going to help. Killing her will only bring about more problems.”

Fey’s skin began to turn gray, and Glen’s hands tightened.

“Come on. Don’t do this. Let her go so I can go get you cleaned up.”

This is the only thing that caught her attention. SHe looked down at herself. Silver blood stained her entire body. Her clothes were ripped and hanging all over. Strips of fabric decorated the floor. Upon looking around at the crowd gathered up and down the hallway, she saw varying expressions. Fear, anger, hatred. But one expression caught her attention and held it. Glen stared at her with such a layered look in his eyes, she felt like crying.

“Good girl,” he said.

She frowned, and turned her head. She’d released Fey without thinking about it, and the woman had collapsed. She lie gasping on the ground, surrounded by supporters.

“What’s going on?”

Everyone scattered to let Chief Luther through, and Saige jerked away from Glen, standing. He remained on the ground, and she frowned down at him. Then she noticed the crutches. He shouldn’t have even been kneeling beside her. While the other soldiers attempted to explain, all at once, she helped Glen to his feet and handed him his crutches. He smiled softly in thanks, but she looked away.

“Everyone shut up,” Chief Luther shouted. “I only want to hear from Glade and Jensen.”

He glared at them both. Fey still struggled to get up.

“What happened?”

Neither answered. She wasn’t going to answer to him anymore. She was done.

“I asked you a question. I expect an answer.”

She pressed her lips shut and stared at the man in outright defiance. Fey began to stutter her way through an explanation, but he was no longer listening.

“Is there something you want to say, Glade?”

“I quit.”

The two words sprinted out of her mouth. She’d been thinking them, over and over, but was still debating on whether or not she would say it. But now it was out. She sighed in relief.

“Giving up just like that?”

“Don’t patronize me. You know exactly what’s happening.”

“I’m going to clean her up,” Glen said. “We can talk about this later.”

“Do that. And I’ll be waiting.”

She opened her mouth, but Glen nudged her in front of him.

“Come on, let’s go.”

She walked in front of him, but when they passed Fey, the woman spoke up.

“You got your keeper to bail you out again. Trust me, he doesn’t want anything to do with you. But he has his career to worry about. You-”

“Jensen!”

She jumped. She’d never heard Glen yell like that before. But he stopped and turned toward the woman, who still sat on the floor.

“This is ridiculous. It’s gone on far too long, and you just used up your last chance. You’ll be at your new base by the week’s end. Pack your things.”

He didn’t spare her another glance after his declaration, but ushered her down the hallway again. She tried not to think about the utter despair she’d seen on Fey’s face. Whatever the history between she and Glen was, her actions didn’t come from a negative place. But it wasn’t her problem. She now had to figure out how she’d escape the prison she’d joined in pure naivety.

If she could get away from Glen...

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