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Chapter Twenty-Six: Natalia

I started backing up. Jesse's piercing green eyes watched me closely. "You know what? I think I just dreamed the lead." Jesse took a step toward me. "Don't come any closer."

Jesse froze. "What's wrong?"

I kept going backward. I needed to get away from him. "Nothing."

My back smacked into a wall of molecules. I ran forward quickly, only to find myself trapped in an invisible box like a mime from a silent movie. "Let me out of here!" I pounded my fists against the barrier.

Jesse walked over calmly. "Not until you tell me what's going on."

I pounded harder. "Help! Help me!" Lights went on in the buildings all around us.

Jesse tightened the molecules of my box until my screams were muffled before making them nonexistent. "Tell me what's wrong."

I crossed my arms. "No."

Jesse leaned in closer to the molecule box. His nose was practically smashed against it. "Please."

I started tearing down the walls he thought could keep me in, they were barely functional to begin with. "I don't think you have the upper hand here."

A crowd of people appeared around us. Many were wiping the sleep from their eyes with the back of their hands. Some had guns drawn, trying to decide where the threat was. A couple aimed their guns at Jesse and me just in case we were the threat.

"What's going on here?" asked Brittany as she pushed her way through the crowd.

I stepped over the remains of the invisible box. "I have it handled now."

Brittany pointed to Jesse and then me. "You're both coming with me," she growled.

Jesse and I followed Brittany toward her office, we were in major trouble. "False alarm everybody," she yelled. Everyone walked back to their bunks groaning.

Jesse was staring at me the whole walk over to Brittany's office, amazing me with the fact he didn't run into anything. I walked a tad slower than him in order to keep my eyes on him better. My mind never left his either. He wasn't going to do anything without me knowing about it first.

Brittany held open her office door. Jesse filed in and then me. "I want to know what the hell you two think you're doing this early in the morning."

Jesse eyed me. I'd gotten us into this mess. "She came to me saying she had a lead on her parents' location. I asked and she refused to tell me, claiming it was some kind of dream and not a lead."

Brittany sat down at her desk, massaging her temples. "Is this true?"

I stood over in the corner closest to the door. I needed to be ready for a quick exit if necessary. "Yes, however he left out how he trapped me in a box and stifled my cries for help."

Brittany looked over at Jesse. "She makes it sound worse than it was."

Brittany folded her hands and leaned on her desk. "I do not need the two of you causing a scene like that again, do you hear me?" We both nodded like children being scolded by their mother.

"Natalia, did you find information about your parents?" I shook my head; Jesse wasn't buying it. "Jesse, it was uncalled for to trap Natalia in a box. She's not our enemy." Jesse nodded. His mind wandered over to me.

I boxed up the memories Jesse was looking for and shoved them in the very back of my mind, while keeping the rest of my mind wide open for him to rummage through. I couldn't have him suspecting me of hiding anything.

"Is there anything else you two need me to deal with?" I shook my head along with Jesse, who was aggressively ransacking my mind at the moment. "Then get out and don't let me catch you two making a disturbance like that again." Jesse and I scurried out of her office, not wanting to be there any longer than needed.

I considered pulling Brittany off to the side and telling her what I really knew, but Jesse had been at this Rebel base much longer than me. If he was truly the spy I suspected him to be, he already made Brittany an unquestioning drone for him to manipulate. I was safer keeping what I knew to myself.

Mark was pacing outside of Brittany's office. I hadn't seen him much the past week. He was off having fun with his kind. It seemed to be a good distraction for him while his wife was being held prisoner by the TWA. "I haven't seen you for a while and now you're causing problems." He hugged me and I hugged him back. Jesse continued moving, leaving my mind unsatisfied.

I put on a happy face. "It was all a misunderstanding like always."

Mark nodded; he knew better. "Uh huh."

I took off toward the deserted section of the warehouse. "Don't worry about me. I'll be safe. Promise."

I manifested some food and water for Todd on a tray. My best move would be treating him kindly first. He could still have some information he didn't deem important during the first questioning. It's like the old generation said, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

If he didn't feel like sharing or didn't have any new information, beating him to a pulp and calling his parents was my next move. Either way, I was getting what I wanted today.

I entered the building with no sight of Jesse. I half expected him to figure out this would be my next stop. Clearly, I gave him too much credit. I locked the building down to prevent him from breaking up the interrogation; I was too close to fail now.

Todd's head was hanging above his chest as if he were asleep when I walked in. I released the ropes typing him to the chair. "I know you're awake."

Todd's head snapped up. "That obvious?"

I handed him the eggs, bacon, and glass of water I created just for him. "Of course." Todd didn't reach for the food. "It's not a trick." He took the plate.

Todd picked up a piece of bacon. "No fork?"

I smiled and created a fork out of thin air for him. "I have a question for you."

Todd stopped mid-bite. "I knew this wasn't a social visit."

I handed him the fork. "It's a single, harmless question." I projected the image of the man holding my parents into Todd's mind. "Do you know him?"

Todd resumed eating his breakfast. "May I have a piece of toast or is that pushing it?" I crossed my arms. "Please." A piece of toast appeared on his plate. "Of course I know who he is. Every TWA child knows him."

I tried to stay calm. Losing my cool could result in Todd shutting down. "Who is he?"

Todd bit into his piece of toast. "Could my eggs be sunny side up instead?" I transformed the eggs as requested. "Molecular Officer Gaines. He's a hot shot from the war. He took down human armies like it was nothing when he was 20." Todd paused. "Why do you want to know?"

I cleared my throat. He was getting a little too comfortable in this situation. "Where can I find him, Todd?"

Todd chuckled. "You want to go up against Molecular Officer Gaines? That'd be suicide."

I could feel my heart rate escalating along with my blood pressure. Todd was pushing me to my breaking point. "Just answer the question."

Todd cut into his egg. "Trust me, I'm doing you a favor by not telling you."

I flung Todd against the wall, pinning him by his throat. "You are trying my patience." Todd scraped at the molecules around his throat as if he could remove them. "Where can I find him?" I dropped Todd to the ground.

"I don't know." I sent a ball of molecules into his gut, knocking his breath away. Todd fell to the ground. "I really don't know," he panted. The molecules knocked him against the wall. "Stop!"

I slid the chair toward the wall to the right, eliminating it from my path to Todd. "I'll stop once you tell me where I can find Molecular Officer Gaines," I said coldly. I wasn't playing his game anymore, he was in mine now.

Todd clutched his stomach. "He works with my parents at Efland Containment Center."

I crouched down to his level. "Last question: does he have a son?"

Todd coughed. "He did. I don't know what happened to him, but he's not with his parents anymore."

I patted Todd on the cheek twice. "Thanks." I turned to walk out.

"I care about you, Natalia. I don't want to see you get hurt."

I paused at the door. I know he wanted to hear me say I cared about him too. There was a part of me that wanted to say it back. I'd come to care for Todd in the short time I knew him. He was a Telepath that didn't seem himself as superior to humans even though he put on a show at school. He was just a teenager trying to fit in like everyone else. It was refreshing to see this small thing in this messed up world.

I left the interrogation room without saying a word.

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