Chapter 16: Show Your Hand

Inside Jule was reeling, unable to identify the source of her brazen confidence. She called out Gray Man - she'll see his true colors with nowhere to go.

He just stands there. Saying nothing. Saying everything. His eyes dance - move from rage to disgust to anger to... sorrow, grief and regret? They're distant not focused on Jule. His emotions have no attachment to her.

"What has happened?" She gasps out to him. To console him. To detract her attack.

"Draeden happened. Years before you were here. And will be after. BUT - not before we try."

Gray Man was speaking abruptly but not linearly. Stringing together profound anecdotes that Jule had never questioned or considered. "Good people thrown into hard labor. No different than livestock."

"Our town was left behind. For so long, they forgot us. Left us to die. To disappear. But we didn't. We survived - and lived as well as we could provide."

"Then she came. She gave us hope for a different future. We infiltrated into the other communities. Spoke to people. Rallied them."

"The Consortium killed her. They found her. They left her body alive of course. They took her power. Manipulated it. Twisted it. They killed who she had become. The change she sparked went out as fast as it started."

Questions, questions, questions. Jule couldn't begin to formulate them. When did this all happen? She? Who's she? Why would The Consortium leave her town to die? They went to other communities? How is that even possible under the constant monitoring of The Consortium?

"You have questions. Ask later."

Jule's wondering eyes narrowed at Gray Man. Then darted to Gabe. She imagined her face holding a similar expression of earnest awe, concern and exhaustion.

"Explaining will take time we don't have. Your Caretakers. You're worried about them? They're waiting for you."

Jule realizes that he knows what she's been thinking - leaving her to dwell. The familiar burn of tears threaten the corners of her eyes.

"Keep those to yourself. We're here. People will want to see you."

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