The Hunted Chapter 20 snippet (new writing)
“You can come out now, Almir,” How the hell could someone else know her name? Jesus, by the time this was done, the entire galaxy would know who she was! “I’m a friend.”
From where Brindle and Kate lay, she could see the man clearly. He was middle aged, with red hair and a high cheekbone. A square chin gave his face the determined look of someone you didn’t trifle with. This man was a trained killer, there was no doubt about that, but who was he working for?
“I don’t trust him,” No ****, Thad, Kate thought to herself. “His arrival was too damned convenient.”
“I want to know how he followed us, Thad,” Kate felt the anger rising in her belly. This entire deal was getting out of hand, and it needed to come to a stop!
“Almir,” The man placed his pistol back into a shoulder holster. “I’m on your side, why don’t you come out?”
He’s certainly leaving himself open to being shot, Kate told herself. Why would someone who just took out a team of gunmen then place himself in a position where she could kill him? Could he be telling the truth about being a friend?
“Cover him, Thad,” Kate stood up, still camouflaged by her suit. “If he goes for his gun, kill him.”
“I think you’re making a mistake, Kate,”
“Just do what I say!” then she turned her attention to the man. “Who the hell are you?”
“Ah, Katherine Almir,” A broad smiled crossed the man’s face, surprising Kate. “It’s a pleasure to meet you. My name is Torin Alexander.”
“I think I’ll reserve an opinion,” She deactivated her suit and stood before the man. “Since I don’t know you.”
“But I know a lot about you,” the man said. “And I’m here with a proposition.”
“Seems everyone knows something about me,” Which is the understatement of the year, Kate thought with a snort. “And once again: everyone seems to have a proposal, so what makes yours so different?”
“My superiors would like to ask you to help them rid the universe of the Syndicate,”
“Doesn’t everyone?” Thad’s voice filled her head.
“That’s interesting,” Kate said, keeping her pistol trained on him. “But that seems to be everyone’s goal. Why should I help you when I doing a pretty good job by myself?”
“Because we can keep you safe while you pursue your goal,”
That comment elicited a deep round of laughter from Kate. Who the hell was he trying to kid? If Fleet Intelligence couldn’t keep her safe, how the hell did this man think they could? No, Kate thought, going after the thugs is the only way to keep them from killing me.
“Is something funny, Katherine?” Alexander raised his eyebrows.
“The idea that you could keep me safe is just rich,” It really was, Kate thought, especially after everything I’ve been through! “No one else can do it, so what makes you so sure?”
“Because we originally founded the Syndicate many centuries ago,”
They what? Kate wondered, her jaw dropping. Just who the hell did this man work for?
“You did what?” Kate said, eyebrows rising.
“We founded the Syndicate originally to protect out interests,” he explained. “However, several centuries ago we had a split and went in two different directions.”
“Ok,” Kate said. “You’ve got me curious: who is ‘we?’”
“That Church of course,” Alexander’s chest puffed out with pride. “The New Vatican.”
Jesus Christ, Kate thought, feeling her heart skip a beat. Those were the same people who sold her to Ferini and the Game Masters on Necko! Did the assholes have any idea to torture, pain and grief that resulted from their actions?
“The Church,” she practically spat the words out. “The same assholes that sold me into slavery on Necko.”
“That was a different Pope then we have now,” the man said. “The current Pope argued strenuously against the sale of orphans but was overruled.”
“Maybe he didn’t argue hard enough!” Kate shouted, raising her pistol up to aim at the man’s head.
He deserves to die, Kate raged inside her head, for everything I had to undergo. Maybe then, the voices will be silent and the guilt will fade!
“Kate!” Thad’s voice was loud in her head. “Stop it, damn it! Don’t make me shoot you!”
“Don’t you get it!” the tears started to run down her cheeks. “These people made me into the monster I am! If they hadn’t sold me from the orphanage none of this would be happening!”
“Maybe not,” Thad’s calm voice started to penetrate her pain. “But we’re here now, and killing him before learning what we need to know will be counterproductive.”
“He tried, Katherine,” Alexander said. “And he has lived with the guilt for the past fifteen years.”
“His guilt?” Kate spat. “How about all the people I’ve killed? Does he have that guilt too?”
“I don’t know,” Alexander shrugged. “Only one person knows and that is the Pope himself.”
Something snapped within Kate and she charged Alexander with a scream. The momentum of her body shoved Alexander backwards until his black slammed into a wall. Tears were running when Kate brought her pistol up to touch the Vatican man’s temple.
“God damn it,” she said. “You don’t have a ****ing clue what it was like! Everything that happened to me in the control of the Game Masters, do you? Do you?”
“Shooting me will not do yourself any good, Katherine,” The damn man was colder then ice, Kate thought.
“Maybe it will, maybe it won’t,” Kate sobbed, chest heaving as the tears rolled down her cheeks. “But I sure would feel better about it.”
“I doubt there is anything that will make you feel better about what happened,” Kate watched Alexander’s eyes fall towards his feet. “Because what you suffered was beyond reason.”
No ****, Sherlock, Kate thought. There was nothing about what happened to her that anyone could ever make reparations for. How did you make up for putting someone into what amounted to hell itself when they were only six years old?
“What the hell is he talking about, Kate?” Thad sounded alarmed in her head.
“Thad,” There was no use to try to hide the past from him any longer. While everyone knew she had been a gladiator slave, no one, save Jennifer, knew what had happened to her on Necko. “Kill your suit.”
“Are you sure?”
“Just do it,” Kate dropped the gun from Alexander’s head and allowed herself to slide down the wall to the floor. “No questions,”
The snort in Kate’s head told her what Thad thought about the order. However, he trusted enough to do what she said. For the first time, shame at not telling Thad the truth filled her head. How could he be trusted with her very life, but not with the details of what really happened?
Because I was too cowardly to admit it to anyone, Kate thought, wiping the tears from her face with the sleeve of her suit. It was too painful to face, much less to admit.
“Kate,” Thad looked at her suspiciously, his rifle pointed at her. “Why were you about to kill him?”
“I can explain somewhat. You’re what, Katherine,” Alexander said. “Twenty years old?”
“Fourteen years ago,” Alexander’s cheeks blushed from the shame of what happened in the past. “The Vatican was out of money and in danger of going bankrupt on several planets.”
“I remember that,” Thad said. “The scandals over Priests with young boys again.”
“Don’t remind me,” Alexander rolled his eyes.
“However, on some planets, money was so short that it was proposed that some orphans be sold secretly to Necko in exchange for a handsome amount of money.”
“You sold them into slavery?”
Kate found herself agreeing with Thad’s stunned, speechless expression. If she hadn’t lived it herself, the information would bet totally sickening. However, in this case it was damning. What made the Pope think she would help him?
“It wasn’t that simple, Thad,” Kate muttered, placing her head in her hands. “It was far, far worse.
“What I did there was brutal, horrible. You had to fight to the death, sometimes as part of a team, others alone, for people to bet money on. Once you won enough, you became a ‘Master Champion’ which entitled you to a life of luxury. Unfortunately, what you don’t know is that you also became the prime object, if your Master so chose, of his or her affections.”
“Are you saying…?” Alexander spoke before a shocked Brindle could.
“Yes,” Kate said. “I was raped by Ferini-too many times to count. And it was all the fault of the people this man represents…”
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