Malak stood at the door and watched Alia and Honor run down the alley and disappear after turning the corner. He believed that he had just seen the culmination of prophesies he never truly believed in; that a girl-child made powerful by the enemy, once united with her missing half would destroy the construct of civilization as they know it and bring equality and temporary peace. This idea had been burned into his mind every since the day he’d begun his training for his post as guardian to care for the special children. Perhaps it was because he never wholly believed that he ultimately failed, losing his precious charge to greedy Scientists.
Malak had seen other children who possessed gifts of touch, and speed, and strength, who could reach minds or take control of them, but he had only ever known one other child who possessed the same internal blazing fire as Honor. That child had been his charge, and that child was gone. He’d felt it the moment she walked into The Hole, a pulsing wall of energy that was as much a repellent as a magnet. And, he’d been forced by necessity to make her go, just when he had almost hoped, just when he could believe.
A cold hard hand pressed into Malak’s shoulder and he was roughly swung around. Sentinel drones were not known for temperance. They weren’t human, and did not care. The drone pointed in the direction of the front of the diner. It bared its perfectly straight white teeth, a grimace, no doubt, meant to instill fear and get him moving quickly. Malak wasn’t afraid though, he’d been questioned too many times before. With the help of his resistance training, he might not even feel it should they decide to use pain as a motivator.
Apparently, he wasn’t walking quickly enough, because the drone placed an enormous hand in the center of his back and pushed. Malak stumbled and fell to the floor. Slivers from the glass he’d dropped earlier glittered in his palm amidst blossoms of fresh blood. “Good going,” he muttered to the drone, to himself. Cradling his injured hand, he tried to get up but slipped. He almost fell completely to the floor, but he was suddenly steadied by softer hands, if not just as strong as the drone’s.
“Allow me to help you.” The voice was smooth and bass. Malak was pulled to his feet and once steady, he found that he was looking into the steel gray eyes of Professor McKinley, Supreme Scientist. Those eyes were deep, and old.
Another time, Malak would have surely been afraid, but this moment alone pushed Malak into a new phase of his life. He could almost hear it, like the slamming of a door and the groan of another opening. If Professor McKinley was willing to leave his own office quarters to enter a filthy diner on the edge of town, then Malak had every reason to believe, every reason to rejoice. He smiled. “Supreme Scientist, what brings you to The Hole?”
McKinley motioned for one of the drones to bring two chairs. Once seated he said, “Perhaps you can tell me.”