When I wake up, I am in a luxurious bed which certainly isn't mine. I open my eyes to find I'm encased in a soft pink duvet. I groggily wonder why I'm so sore all over, but then the previous events come flooding back to me. I prop myself up on my elbows.
"Hey," Leila smiles. She's sitting on the edge of the bed with one of her books open on her lap.
"Hey," I reply. I rub my temples. "How long have I been asleep?"
"About ten hours. At one point they were really worried, thought the exhaustion had given you a heart attack."
I rub my chest self-consciously, having realised that I am wearing one of Leila's nightdresses.
"And Tirza," she continues, "I just want to thank you for saving my life."
I feel my cheeks getting hot at the undeserved praise. "What actually happened, Leila?"
"I don't know, I was unconscious most of the time. Apparently the kidnappers were known criminals, and they'd bought the vessel and teleportation stuff on the black market. Anyway, the officials say the ship's sensors got everything on camera, but they won't tell anyone what you did!" she exclaims indignantly. "Even Daddy doesn't know. Well, he says he doesn't."
"Leila, there's something I've been meaning to tell you for a while," I say quietly. Now seems to be a good time to tell Leila about the Voice.
Don't you dare, hisses the Voice. One word about me and I'll kill you so slowly and painfully you'll be begging for the sweet release of death.
I stop with my mouth open. I have no doubt about the sincerity of this threat, or about the Voice's ability to carry it out. So instead, I just say, "It's been great having you as a friend, Leila."
She smiles and grips my hand in hers. "And it's been a privilege to know you, Tirza. Now, I'd better go and tell Daddy you're awake." Leila stands up and goes to get her parents.
While she is gone, I take in my surroundings. I think I'm in some sort of spare bedroom. It's not too fancy like the rest of the apartment, but plain and simple. And it's comfortable, which is good enough for me.
"Did you really mean that?" I whisper, even though I already know what the answer will be.
Absolutely. Some of the scientists who work for the Government have already worked out that I exist, and I don't want that snot-nosed princess yelling about it.
"Don't talk about my friend like that," I say firmly.
I notice the singular.
"Well, she makes bloody nicer company than you do," I growl through gritted teeth. "Why'd you do it, anyway, save us? I thought you'd be glad to see me get experimented on."
The man said you had "biological quirks, particularly in the brain".
"So you were scared of being discovered?"
Of course I wasn't scared! It doesn't matter, anyway. The Governor knows about me.
"You don't think—"
The door to the bedroom swings open with a creak, and Leila enters with her parents in tow. I leap up out of the required respect, but Master just waves a hand in my direction, telling me to sit down. I obey, and can't help noticing how old he looks.
"Tirza," he begins, "I want to thank you for saving my daughter's life, even if you were the one who put it at risk in the first place."
Leila opens her mouth to argue, but a venomous glare from Mistress shuts her up.
"As I'm sure you're aware, the ship's sensors captured everything that happened. Due to our findings, I have concluded that it is no longer safe to have you working in the Citadel."
It takes me a few seconds to comprehend what he's saying. "Are you firing me?" My voice is quiet with disbelief.
"Not firing, no." Master looks me in the eye. "There is a secure scientific research facility a few lightyears away. You will be sent there, where efforts will be made to help you resolve your... issues. Believe it or not, you are not the only one who suffers like you do. Any questions?"
I close my eyes for a second, trying to control my warring emotions. "No, sir," I finally whisper.
He claps his hands together. "Good. You leave in three hours. Ironically enough, the ship transporting you will be the Tyru, so you will get to travel on it after all. Meet us in the shuttle bay when you're ready, but don't be more than an hour. Come, Leila."
Leila looks back at me before following her father. I catch a single tear tickling down her cheek before she turns away.
I sit in the secure holding bay of the Tyru, clutching Leila's last gift like a lifeline. She'd given it to me before I was led away by two armed guards, saying it would be good for me to have something to remind me of home. I did not have the heart to tell her that the Citadel would never be my home; all that is left of my real home and family is ash and cinders. I think I'll keep the book, though. It will give me something to do on the two week-long voyage ahead.
I've had no more input from the Voice. I think it's sulking—or scheming. Either way, I'm glad to have a bit of peace to ponder what lies ahead. So far, it does not look promising. I was escorted onto the Tyru by two guards who told me to keep the Voice under control. I told them to try having another being sharing their brain, see if they could control it. That shut them up, but I think they were just worried I was about to unleash the Voice on their asses. If I did, what would they do? Shoot me?
I open the book at exactly the same moment as the ship's engines start to hum like a hive of demented insects. I sigh at the thought of spending two weeks in this tiny, featureless cell which makes me feel like a criminal.
It is going to be a very long trip.
A/N It's finally over! At least, this part of the story is. You can expect at least two more sequels! :D I'd just like to say a massive thank you to anyone who has read or reviewed this story, particularly Minastauriel Dragonfriend, most dedicated reviewer ever xD See you all soon! :D