Kosmanarshi scrubbed the floor. It felt like that was all she'd done since being there. There must have been moments when she ate or sat by the fire to engage in intermittent talk with Rogan, even if animated conversation was too far a stretch; but no sooner as it was done there were plates to clean or bits of dead animal to clear up. She did not feel she had the right to complain. When the skin began to peel from her thumb where she had wrung dry the linen cloths (it was futile to hang them dripping wet as the freezing climate held them in a permanent state of cold dankness) and there was no-one to whom she could lament her pains, she began to see just what he had meant by the "two month" rule.There was little point in letting him know how much pain she was in. That would be the final resignation to defeat. He had been right. She was a weak city-bred who expected something for nothing. She was superficial and superfluous. Maybe it was true. She didn't have that much experience of the wild, but it seemed a shame to be reduced like that. Her, a survivor of luma piracy who'd travelled half-way across the world just to find ...him. She hadn't found him, she'd found Rogan, and Rogan insisted that anyone who vanished during a raid had more than likely been wiped. Just give up. Move on. But then Rogan measured happiness on a broader scale than she did. WERE YOU GASSED BY NAMELESS ARMED SOLDIERS TODAY? WERE YOU BOMBARDED IN A NUCLEAR RAID? HAVE YOU SUCCUMBED TO MINDWORM?
"If you answered 'no' to all of the above then the chances are you are some variant of happy and if not happy then at least mildly contented." He glanced up suddenly. "Where you headed?"
The dreaded question. She had to decide. "I'll keep my word. At the end of this month I will head to Lumatel HQ. "
"Well." Rogan scratched his neck and grinned, "you made it past the two-week mark so congrats, but that packet of biscuits is still mine."
"I was wrong you were right. Ha." She looked over hoping to soften him. His eyes remained unyielding. "I want to see what he's found out."
She had said too much. Perhaps.
Rogan looked incredulous. "You have a friend in Lumatel?" He laughed.
"Maybe..I don't know. He sort of saved me, well actually he was going to kill me but...But I woke up despite losing my chip, in the forensics lab. Afterwards Kragg told me that had happened only once before. That last person was a kid. They killed him anyway. Kragg had to poison him to keep his job. He told me it was the worst thing he'd ever had to do. He was in tears telling me this. He vowed never to do that again. He isn't on their side anymore. He knows they've gone too far." For some reason she trembled. "Murdering people just to protect their precious blueprint? They're money-grabbing opportunists, using the people they claim to protect to further their aims. Each day they gain more power and it won't get better, it will get worse. Someone has to do something."
Rogan stopped laughing and was silent.
"You remind me of him. You have all the answers except when it's on your doorstep. Then you have nothing to say. You haven't got a better idea, have you?"He took a step towards her.
"No Kosmanarshi I don't, but you can't just swan in there. It's a dangerous place and well secured against intruders. Besides, mere faith in this man who once helped you won't suffice. In your absence they will've lured him back into the fold on the premise of better pay and 'a revised approach to luma-testing.' But we both know that that's a lie, and nothing will change."
Now it was her turn to look downcast. "He said he w - would keep working there as a spy and l- let me know what he found out."
"Is that so?"The man facing her raised his eyebrows. "And where is he now?" She wanted to say more, but her throat tightened with the trace of an angry sob somewhere in the pit of her stomach. She knew he was right, and felt foolish.
"Fighting your cause or not, Kragg cannot leave the ranks of Lumatel without revealing his true identity, and a big fight on his hands. You won't see this man unless you go to him, true. Whether you should do that alone, I don't know."
"There is no-one who can help me."
"You aren't alone Kos. You're staring right at a Lumatel ex-employee."
"Don't toy with me."
"I'm not! I wonder if the entrance code is still the same?"