Shama’s back felt warm and prickly. As if every eye in the auditorium were trained on her. She felt invaded like she had in that TrainingStation simulator. Scrunched down into her seat, she peered out at the stage and reached for her locket.
In front of her, Tres, Kardo, Rain, Deza, Aatur… stared straight ahead.
She craned her neck to look at the row behind her. In the dim light, she found Huego, and several first years she didn’t know, with their attention glued to the stage. She scanned the whole auditorium and saw Yattle Hew and the other upper classmen. All had eager looks on their faces. No one was paying any attention to her. Any minute, Mungo was going to arrive in the past.
Shama hadn’t gotten caught up in the excitement. Instead, she felt sad and almost gloomy. She clutched her locket. She longed to sing her mother’ song out loud to see if that would help, but her throat was so dry that the few bars that she managed came out in a croak.
On the stage, the Dean waited on his stool. Even his WanderEye, wasn’t wandering. It was focused on the screen. Still, it was clear that to Shama that the Dean’s routine surveillance was responsible for her creepy feelings. General Mungo had called Shama an advanced student and a brave girl. Since Perbile couldn’t kick her out without running afoul of Mungo, maybe this surveillance stuff was designed to get her to leave on her own.
The pins poking into her skin grew into small knives. Her bones hummed with electricity as if her wiring had gone bad. She slipped down further in her seat and pulled her knees up to her chin.
Shivers rolled down her back in waves. She wanted to scream. It wasn’t fair. She hugged her knees tightly to her chest.
She wanted to hide, but there was no place to go to escape.
Collapsing into as small a ball as she could, she thoughtshouted, Stop. Whoever you are. Leave me alone.
The Zone in the Future
General Barb La 4 G asked me to trace Shama Ka 2 E to the TimeProbe, Xt’s thoughts broadcast over the public channel loud and clear. I’ve set us up to surveil this Native in the temporal period immediately before the Time Bomb.
Barb felt a familiar anger rise up in his throat. He always experienced this same choked feeling when he reflected on Bazel, that arrogant man and his cursed experiments that had unleashed the plague of Mad Hat onto the worlds.
As you can see for yourselves, Xt thought the girl is a witness to General Mungo’s fatal trip.
He paused to gather his concentration, and Barb felt everyone’s attention shift to the maps on the wall, and then as if catching his mood, to the tiny area of the map, still yellow and pulsing with life.
Breaking into the communal thoughtstream, Barb thought, We need to figure out how to communicate with this girl. Now.