Halon and the judge disappeared. I found a corner that was mostly out of sight and tucked myself into it. I buried my face in my arms and shut my eyes. I thought I had reached my limit after Talon’s betrayal, but somehow, things had gotten worse.
Somehow the worst part was knowing that they had kept a secret from me. Apparently a secret big enough that Halon thought they would torture Cotto for information. How could they even consider keeping something so important from me?
Halon had seemed so confident that he could barter for Cotto’s safety, but I hadn’t the heart to tell him that his attempts would probably fail. In the corrupt Baltienna court system, it was more likely that the judge would jot down everything Halon could tell him, and then not turn over Cotto as promised.
I wasn’t sure how long I wallowed in self pity. A disgustingly familiar voice called my name to rouse me from my depressing thoughts.
“Looks like Tiny got in on a spy ring.”
“Don’t ever call me Tiny again.” I snapped.
Motor acted as if I hadn’t spoken. “How’d you become part of something so illegal? Little miss goody two-shoes. But I guess you always were a gullible one, eh, Tiny?”
I wouldn’t let him goad me into action. I turned my head so I could see the wall instead of his gross face.
“Sounds like you’ve become quite the mechanic.” Motor continued. “Your spy friend was telling me all about you before we came here. Said they called you Tweety Bird.” I felt his clawed hand on top of my head.
“Don’t touch me, Motor.” My fingers clenched into fists.
“Guess you grew up to be pretty once someone cleaned off all of that grease. Probably could have sold you for a lot…” He mused. “Couldn’t I, Tweety Bird?”
Halon’s fist slammed into the side of Motor’s head. “You’re not allowed to call her Tweety.” He growled. Like the coward he was, Motor scrambled away from Halon.
Though it gave me some sense of satisfaction, I was still breaking. Halon sat down beside me. “Did you get Cotto back?”
He shook his head miserably. “I did what she wanted. I didn’t tell them anything.”
“Can anything else possibly go wrong?”
Halon put his arm around me in a half-hug. “I’m not going to tell you that it’s alright. I’m not Cotto. But things will work out, or we’ll make them. It’s a beautiful world out there, Marina, but it’s also repulsive.”
“It’s worse than that.” I sniffled. “It’s so much worse. Chase and Talon and now Cotto.”
“Show me your house.”
“Show me where you live.” Halon clarified. “It’s still here, isn’t it?”
“Why would you want to see it?”
“Is that a no?”
I found the strength to get to my feet. “I can show you.”
Somehow I managed to lead him there. Trying to cheer me up, but sounding far too much like Cotto, he commented on almost every aspect of the place.
“So how long have you lived here?”
“Is this you?” He motioned to a photo of me when I was little, holding a wrench up to the camera enthusiastically.
“Can we not talk?” I sighed tiredly. “It’s getting late, and I want to go to bed.”
“Sure.” Halon’s voice was soft.
I pointed to our guest bedroom. “You can sleep there, but you’ll probably have some company.” Before he could ask what company he’d be getting, my mother burst through the door.
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