The Last Angel: The Hungry Stars, Chapter 28

Here we are with the next installment of The Hungry Stars. Echo, Grace and Allyria have discovered that reports of Lydia’s death are greatly exaggerated. The young Marine is currently being held below one of the largest cloning facilities on Nibiru. I’m sure there’s nothing to be concerned about on that front, nor the fact that she doesn’t seem all that enthusiastic or surprised to see her comrades break in to rescue her.

In this section, there was a little bit of inspiration from Babylon 5, with Sheridan’s treatment at the hands of the Clark-controlled EarthForce. Only here on Nibiru, their aims are a little different and they have to take a light touch. For a glimpse of what that has meant for Lydia, check out the snippet below and for the full story, take a look at the links above and enjoy!

~

The entire process took only a few seconds before Echo withdrew her hand, but Lydia was left pale and shaking. “Grace,” the android said. “Allyria. The restraints, please.”

“You’re sure?”

“I am.” Echo looked into the Marine’s eyes. “It’s her,” For now. “but we’ll have to get her back aboard ship for treatment.”

Thick leather straps snapped as they were unbuckled. As soon as her arms were free, Lydia threw them around the android. Echo held up a hand to keep Allyria and Grace back. “Echo,” Jameson whispered into her ear. “Your name is Echo, isn’t it?” She said it with such desperation that even the AI felt her synthetic heart break.

“Yes,” Echo promised, awkwardly putting her arms around Lydia. The embrace didn’t last long, but it seemed to help all the same.

Lydia leaned back. She scratched at the base of her skull where Echo had injected her, then looked at her unshackled arms. “This is real?” she asked, her voice scratchy and small, like a child’s. “This is real, this time?”

“It’s real,” Grace assured her, putting a hand on her comrade’s shoulder. Lydia flinched, but didn’t try and shrug it away. Grace swallowed, feeling the musculature underneath the hospital gown. Lydia wasn’t malnourished or sickly, but she’d lost weight. After her defection to Nemesis, she’d maintained a rigorous physical training regime, putting on a bit of muscle. Grace wasn’t muscle-bound by any stretch of the imagination, but right now, she was bigger than the girl in front of her. “We’re real.”

“That’s what you said the last time,” Lydia said, squeezing her eyes shut. She swallowed, fighting back tears. They’d tried to convince her she was alone. That she’d been abandoned or the people who’d come for her were dead or that her gaolers were her friends. Anything to get her to stop fighting, whether she joined them or just gave up. “And the time before that. I believed you. Fooled me twice…” she coughed., wiping her eyes. “Shame on me, huh? But they kept trying and each time it was… it was so real that I wondered… that maybe… but… but it never was… and they… they…”

“We’re here,” Grace promised, the kernel of shock hardening in her guts, turning into something sharp-edged. “I promise you, we’re really here.”

Lydia opened her eyes a crack. She stiffened, her breath catching in her throat as she looked past her rescuers. “I believe you.” Her voice was shaking. “Because you don’t know they don’t stay dead.”

~

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