Into the Dark: Seven

Co-authored by Ciarente and Silver Night


"Get up, cherie, quickly now," Papa said, taking Camille by the arm. "Cia, as we planned, remember?"

Cia nodded. "Yes, Papa," she said, the way she'd said to everything Papa told her since Camille had woken up down here in the tunnels with Papa and Cia had stopped being a pilot.

As Cia picked up the gun Papa had given her and went away down the tunnel, Papa started switching off the lights.

"Papa?" Camille asked. "What's going on?"

"The bad people are coming, cherie," Papa said. He left one light on, turning that one to shine down the tunnel. "It'll be fine. I won't let them get you." He grabbed Camille by the arm and pulled to her stand with him in the shadows behind the light.

The bad people.

Camille felt her heart give a little thump of excitement. He means Ami. Ami's here.

She promised she'd come. And now she's here.

Camille wanted to run down the tunnel towards where Ami must be, but Papa had her too tightly by the arm for her to pull away. She bit her lip and strained to hear, but there was no sound except the thump of her pulse and the sound of her and Papa breathing, and the river.

There was a hint of movement at the turn in the tunnel.

"You may as well come forward, Commander," Papa said. "I have quite a clear shot as it is. Did you think I didn't have the entrance alarmed?"

"Ami, he ca - " Can't really see you, Camille was going to say, but Papa let go of her arm and put his hand over her mouth before she could get the words out.

"Hey Cami," Ami called, just like they were on the Fortune's Smile and Ami was coming for dinner. "You ok, kiddo?"

Camille tried to say Yes but Papa's hand was too tight. She squirmed, trying to get free enough to bite his fingers, but he held her too hard.

"Given what day it is, Roth, I thought I didn't have time to **** around." Ami said. "Just give me Cia and Camille and we'll go."

"An interesting day for you to visit, Commander. Now, step forward, and throw down your guns," Papa said.

Cia's voice came from further down the tunnel, behind Ami. She must have gone down the tunnel that branches off to the left, Camille realised. It comes back around.

"You should do what he says, Ami," Cia said. "That's the best thing."

Camille wriggled enough to make Papa take his hand from her mouth and grab her by the back of her neck. "Cia, stop it!" she yelled. "It's Ami!"

"Be quiet, Camille," Cia and Papa said, almost in unison.

"Don't think that's really your sister, Cami," Ami said. "Think that's a fake your dad made to fit his delusions."

"A fake?" Camille asked. How can a person be a fake?

Papa's grip tightened on her arm, hard enough to hurt a lot. "That's enough, Commander."

"Sarakai," Ami said. "Just don't kill her."

There was a shot, and Cia yelped. She said something that Camille couldn't hear, and then there was another voice. Sarakai. That was the lady at Ami's birthday party, the one who Cia said worked for Ami.

Camille strained to hear what she was saying, but Ami was talking again. "This is a no win for you, Jorion. My people and the river are both on the way."

"I know the way out," Papa said. "Do you? Does Camille?"

"I made you sing like a bird last time we met, Jorion," Ami said. "I'm sure I could do it again. Just give me Camille and the real Cia and you can walk away."

"Last time we met?" Papa asked.

"When you visited Goinard, Jorion. I suppose you wouldn't remember. I don't take kindly to attempts to kill me Jorion. Even sloppy ones. I had hoped that the lesson would be enough to get you to back off, but..."

"Oh, that was you," Papa sid. "Elegant. If unoriginal."

"Caldari," Ami said. "That's us in two words, isn't it? Now give me the girls and walk. You're outnumbered."

Camille felt something cold against the side of her head. "Or alternatively," Papa said. "You turn around and leave and you won't be responsible for two of my daughters getting hurt."

"Papa?" Camille asked, squinting her eyes sideways to see what was pressed against her head. She could see Papa's hand, holding his gun, if she turned her eyes as much as she could. That's why it's cold. It's metal. It's his gun.

I want to go home. Right now.

"It's okay, Camille," Ami said, but it wasn't in the voice she used when things really were going to be okay.

Camille felt her heart beat faster. Ami, I'm a little bit scared.

Ami, I'm maybe a little bit more than a little bit scared.

But she couldn't say that. Because then Papa would know, too.

I don't want to be scared! I hate being scared!

She was mad at being scared and suddenly that helped her find her real mad. "Papa, stop it!" She wriggled, trying to make him lose his grip on her neck. "Stop it! I don't want to stay with you! I want to go with Ami!"

"Be quiet, Camille," Papa said tightly.

"I will not!"

Papa shook her a little. "You know who these people are. You told me -"

"They're my friends!" Camille shouted at him. "And Cia's friends! And you're too stupid to know I was lying to you! But I was! Let go of me!"

She shifted her weight onto one foot, just like the teacher at Fit To Fly had shown her, and kicked out sideways as hard as she could with the other, putting all her mad into it, putting hearing Cia crying and the way her stomach had felt lying to Papa about Ami and being alone in the dark and everything into one kick.

She felt the kick connect, felt Papa stagger a little and heard him grunt in pain.

Good! Camille thought.

Then stars exploded behind her eyes. She thought she heard Ami shout her name, and then the bright flash of light and Ami's voice and everything else faded into the dark.

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