If I were to be honest, I didn’t know we could trust her. She was a slave, a slave to something I couldn’t even understand. However, her master’s goals were our goals. “She’s helped us from the very beginning.” I waited a beat. “And, she didn’t have to tell us who, or what she is. In fact, if I remember, her masters’ punished her for it.”
“I understand. But, Amaria doesn’t make decisions on her own. She’s at their beck and call, and if they changed their minds, she would have to obey.”
I knew there wasn’t any point to arguing. Privately, I acknowledged the fact Amaria often disobeyed the Soul Merchants. They punished her, brutally, but it didn’t seem to affect her decisions. “I trust her.”
He shook his head at me. “I already have enough problems with the Nobles. I don’t need to add the Soul Merchants to the list of obstacles.”
“The Nobles are doing what they feel they have to.” I used to be a Noble before my parent’s disowned me. “I don’t think what they do is right, but I can see it from their point of view.”
Harl clapped me the back, hard. “That’s why you are invaluable. You know how they think, and you know their tactics.”
“We are still losing the war. We need the technology. If the girl brings it…” A slight narrowing of my eyes as I expressed my seriousness. “We need to use it.”
He stepped back from me. He crossed his bulky arms again. “Don’t you worry if it has side effects? Or how dangerous it might be?”
“I don’t,” involuntarily, my head jerked away. I motioned around us. Shattered, remains of skyscrapers all around, littered with the remains of ships. Our base lacked proper lighting, we had stolen food, and the only place we had a computer was the lab. Which was a salvaged medical bay. “If we keep going as we are it will be over soon.”
“I hope she comes back with the tech then, Vallen.” Harl’s brown eyes seemed darker, and more worn down.
A week passed and everyone started to think Gulla would not return. Amaria hadn’t either. Unlike the rest of them I believed. A foolish hope, perhaps, but I trusted my niece already.
While I was pacing back and forth behind my troops shots ringing out from the rifles as they did range practice, I’d stopped to correct one of the new recruits. “The butt of the gun has to be pressed hard against your shoulder to stabilize it. You see how wild your shots are?”
A shout cut off the rest my words. Harl’s voice seemed to boom in the open yard. “Vallen!”
Terror pierced my heart. I was running toward him, gun in hand before I realized it. My feet pounded the melted metal as I rolled behind a shattered ship hull behind him. My gun braced on the top of a shattered beam.
He looked over to me with a laugh. “The girl’s returned. Sorry to have frightened you, Vallen.”
My troops barrelled behind him. I waved them off. “Go back to your posts.” I took a deep breath and bellowed. “No emergency, get back to drills.”
Gulla strolled up at ease, her sable eyes sparkling. A battered metal box clasped in her hands. “Hello, Harlin. Hello, Vallen. Brought you a present.”
A shadow detached itself from the wall and stepped beside her as stood before Harl. Amaria lips flicked upward. “Gulla, try to be polite.”
“How does it work?” The gruffness of Harl’s voice failed to hide his excitement.
Gulla squatted down and lifted the lid off the box. Four syringes rested on top of a metal box with several lights on top. “You inject yourself, and then use the machine to calibrate the changes. They were in the middle of making more usable as it stands you need a geneticist to set it up.”
“Is that all you have enough for four?” Harl glared down at her his eyes glowing with a rage.
Gulla peered up at him, lifting a brow. “That’s all I have made. The machine can give you specs on making more. You just have a lab to fabricate it.”
“We have a geneticist and a lab.” I broke the tense staring match before it escalated. Harl needed to stop talking to this girl as if she was some kind of moron. She’d been fighting the same brutal fight for survival we had.