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Chapter Thirty-Six: Natalia

I opened my eyes for what felt like the first time. I'd always been connected to the world because I was a Molecular, but what I was experiencing now was on a whole new level. The world seemed to be at my beck and call. The molecules vibrated excitedly from the smallest touch from me. It was almost like they missed my presence.

I sat there for a second reveling in it all. My mind was rushing with new memories from my childhood but none of them seemed new to me. They felt rediscovered. They found their place within the false memories, overshadowing them but didn't destroy them. Every feeling I had for the TWA mixed together but the hatred was gone. What I hated about the TWA was now just an area requiring improvement.

I rolled onto my feet and walked over to the window with my shoulders rolled back and my head held high. There was no need to bow my head or slump my shoulders. I was royalty and I needed to start acting like it again.

My grandfather stood at the window, waiting for me to say something, anything to indicate what was going on in my head. He had no idea whether or not his small push was what I needed to return to him. I saw the fear in his eyes as he waited to see if my mission consumed the little girl he raised.

I smiled. My eyes were burning as I looked at his graying hair and weathered face. He changed so much in the five years I was gone. "Grandpa."

My grandfather didn't hesitate to tap the keypad next to the window. The door made a swooshing sound before opening up into the observation room. I leisurely walked out, indifferent about my necessary incarceration. I was just glad to be whole again.

My grandfather wrapped me in his large, warm embrace as soon as I was in his vicinity. I could see the tears in his greenish blue eyes. "I missed you, Talia."

I hugged him tightly, never wanting to let go. Ever. He was my only family and I was his. I felt guilty for leaving him alone for so long. "I missed you too," I whispered against his shoulder.

He tugged me away from him so he could see my face and bright, glowing emerald eyes. "You were undercover for so long. I wasn't sure you'd return to me."

I smiled. "I'll always come back to you."

My grandfather returned the smile. "How're you feeling?"

I cleared my throat. "Fine. Being back is a little surreal."

"Are the memories interacting poorly?"

I chuckled. "You worry too much."

My grandfather opened the door leading out to the hallway with a flick of his index finger. "Let's get medical to take a look at you."

I shook my head. "I'm fine. Really."

My grandfather grabbed a hold of my upper arm. "I'd feel better if they took a quick look at you." He led me out.

I yanked my arm out of his grasp. "If you insist on me being checked out, I want Molecular Officer Gaines to do it. I trust him more than that Storm Telepath Efland insists on keeping on their payroll."

My grandfather chuckled. “You never liked Storm Officer Daniels.”

I chuckled with him. "He let me believe that if I swallowed a watermelon seed, that it'd grow in my stomach. I was scared for a week."

My grandfather shook his head. "I remember you insisting I remove it before you exploded."

We walked down the hallway past medical. We took a left at the end and took the hallway all the way to Molecular Officer Gaines' corner office. It was sitting right next to mine. Of course, I had the better office and view.

If I remembered correctly, my window overlooked the courtyard allowing me to see all the visitors, employees, and prisoners walking through our gates. Beyond the walls, were rolling hills and trees, untouched by man. I created the landscape for that beautiful view. Before, it'd been flat and filled with neighborhoods and businesses. Plus, it was littered with various roads that lay bare after the construction of the prison. I didn't want that hideous view from my window. I wanted the natural landscape man destroyed, so I let the earth reclaim the land.

My grandfather opened Molecular Officer Gaines' door to find him sitting behind his desk, typing away on his computer. "Molecular Officer Gaines?" I spoke.

He looked up from his computer. His emerald eyes twinkled as they looked at me with loving and proud eyes. A smile danced upon his lips as his muscles pulled at the corner of his lips. He looked just the same as he did when I left five years ago.

Molecular Officer Gaines stood up from his desk and crossed the room in two steps. He wrapped me up in his muscular arms, holding me tightly to his chest. "I missed my little flower."

I giggled as I wrapped my arms around his stomach as I'd done since I was a child. However, this time my hands were able to make contact with each other behind his back. "I missed you too."

Molecular Officer Gaines separated us to include my grandfather in the conversation. He cleared his throat as if he'd been caught red handed. "Your Royal Highness, what can I do for you?"

My grandfather smiled. "We're here to ask you to check her mind. I want to make sure everything's fine."

I looked up at Molecular Officer Gaines through my eyelashes. "He thinks my false memories are messing with my real ones. I told him I'm fine, but he doesn't listen."

"I remember."

My grandfather was the one to clear his throat this time. "Please."

Molecular Officer Gaines pointed to the chair in front of his desk. "Have a seat.

I sat down on the wooden chair with nothing but a piece of fabric between me and the chair. I rested my arms on the arm rests as I relaxed as much as possible. My mind remained open for Molecular Officer Gaines to do his magic.

Fingertips rested on my temples; I flinched. "You're okay. You're safe."

I relaxed again. I was safe here, surrounded by people I knew and trusted. I wasn't her anymore. There was nothing to fear.

Molecular Officer Gaines pushed gently through my mental defenses; I thought I'd dismantled all of them. "I see you're still a little on edge."

I swallowed hard in an attempt to dissolve the lump in my throat. "You try being undercover for five years."

Molecular Officer Gaines weaved through my memories. He checked the relationship of the false memories with my true ones. "Your true memories are overpower the false ones. That's a good sign."

"Can we rid her of the false ones?" asked my grandfather.

Molecular Officer tugged on an early false memory, the one of my kindergarten run in with the TWA. Instantly, my mind went into defense mode and shoved him out forcefully.

Molecular Officer Gaines' fingers left my temple. "No. Not yet anyway. Her mind just endured something traumatic. It my need time to heal and sort through things first. In time, I believe we could eliminate them for good."

I stared down at my hands. I'd brought them into my lap while Molecular Officer Gaines was in my head. "Will you eliminate the memories I created while undercover?" I didn't dare look up at my grandfather or Molecular Officer Gaines.

"Do you want to keep those memories?"

I pressed my lips together. "I don't want to lose such a large chunk of my life, even if I wasn't myself."

A hand rested on my shoulder, squeezing gently as it stayed there. "Then you can keep them. Those are your true memories after all."

I blinked my eyes a few times to eliminate tears that pooled in the corners. "Thank you."

The hand left my shoulder. I'm assuming it'd been my grandfather's. "Now that I know you're okay, it's time we know what happened after we lost contact with you. We want to know everything possible before we raid the Rebel base."

I furrowed my brows. "How do you know their location?"

My grandfather pointed to the emerald necklace Storm Officer Ascher gave me before Todd took me to Anthony's party. "It has a tracker. We've been able to track your location the entire time we lost contact. It was a necessary precaution in case you were discovered."

I sighed. "Where do you want me to start?"

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