A/N: This is a sequel to my other story, "The Voice", but it can stand alone. If I forget to explain anything from the previous story, please let me know and I will fix it.


The bell for the end of Exercise Period rings out across the yard, but I pay no attention to it. All the other grey-clad inmates are trudging back into the facility, but I stay where I am, rooted to the spot on the lawn. It's the only spot of green for miles, apart from the row of spindly trees opposite me. Beyond the trees and grass is nothing but a barren desert, devoid of the forests, snow and mountains of home. The only thing separating the compound from the wilderness is a towering electrified fence. There is no hope of escape here.

I tear my mind away from the emptiness around me, because if I think about it too long I'll go mad. It has been two months since I left my home planet for this place—not voluntarily, of course—and the loneliness is already starting to get to me.

Are you ready to start playing? The Voice in my head is impatient. I wasn't really planning on playing my game today, but what else is there to do, apart from rotting away in my cell?

"They're coming," I murmur to myself. The guards have spotted the lone figure standing on the lawn, and five of them are rushing toward me, rifles at the ready. They never fire them, though. They just keep them as a deterrent that doesn't work. Perhaps having a gun makes them feel brave.

Go! The Voice yells. I can hear it counting the seconds at the back of my mind—1, 2, 3, 4, like a war-drum's call. My feet and heart pound in unison with the rhythm, and the fine grass whizzes away beneath me. 12, 13,14—and I'm there! My hands reach out for the metal wall of the power station, which has grown searing hot in the glaring desert sun. I don't care, though—a lifetime of climbing has made me agile, and my hands barely touch the walls as I use the window frame to boost myself up onto the flat roof. 20, 21, 22, 23—a few short bounds later and I'm crouching beneath one of the solar panels. They'll know I'm up here, but I might be able to beat my record evasion time. I probably could have found a better hiding place, but at least I'm in the shade here.

"35, 36, 37," I join the Voice in its counting under my breath. I can hear the slam of the guards' bodies as they haul themselves up onto the roof. It only takes three more seconds for them to find me and haul me to my feet by my jumpsuit. The Voice stops counting as soon as their hands touch me.

40 seconds—you beat your best time by two seconds. Not bad.

I giggle to myself, which earns me some funny looks from the guards. I suppose giggling is not the most common reaction when someone has a gun pressed against their skull. I grin up at the guard nearest to me, basking in my two-second victory. Of course, he doesn't know he just lost the game, so he just jabs me in the back with his rifle. This just sends me into further hysterics—I bet it's not even loaded!

I maintain my hysteria as they lead me along the too-familiar corridors. None of the other guards we pass pay any attention to me—I'm just Tirza, the mad girl. Being labelled "mad" in a mental institution is quite an achievement, I can tell you. I know something they don't, though. I'm not as mad as they think, but who feels threatened by a mad teenager? Like this, I am not a threat, just an inconvenience. However, the real me could kill all these guards if she wanted to. I'd need the Voice's help, of course, but I've done it before and I would gladly do it again.

The door to my cell slams behind me. I was apparently so lost in my thoughts, I didn't realise how far we'd walked. Now that I am alone in my metal box of a room, my laughter fades into the silence.

"How long was it, again?" I ask the Voice.

40 seconds. Two seconds more than your record.

I cross over to my bed and produce a broken jumpsuit button from under the thin pillow. My bed is the only furniture in here; there are no windows, no air vents, no hope of escape. That doesn't matter, though, because I can scratch an extra two seconds into the row of "best times" on the wall. It's not much, but it's an extra two seconds of freedom.


A/N: Yay, I'm back! I know it's been WAY too long and this chapter is a bit on the short side, but more are on the way! See ya! :D