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I stopped, pressed myself up against the wall and held my breath. They were talking quietly enough that I had to focus to hear them. Ideally, I would have liked to get closer but they may hear me in the echo chamber of the concrete hallway.
It was a strange conversation that the two humans seemed to dominate – strange that they were the most assertive of the three present. I barely heard Kahai speak in those opening moments, but when he did, the conversation took an even more intriguing turn.
‘Why do you keep changing your mind about the agreement? You have broken your word three times now, Collins.’
There was a momentary pause – I thought the conversation had come to an end then but Collins went on.
‘We never made you promises, Kahai. We merely said that pending the outcome of operations in the north, we could possibly begin returning at a set time. We never gave specific dates, we never made promises. It will happen in time, but that time is not now.’
‘No, that is not what you said!’ Kahai sounded desperate rather than angry.
‘If you renege now, you will lose everything. We’ll send them all back at once and you know what that means, Kahai.’
I heard footsteps retreat and a door slam.
‘Well, that didn’t go very well,’ said Collins.
The woman, whose name I did not know, merely sighed. Shoes scuffed against the floor but nobody else left.
‘I don’t think we’re being unreasonable; we made no promises,’ Collins went on.
‘Perhaps we should, you know, just one, just this once?’ she said. ‘We can only push them so far. He might stop co-operating.’
‘He knows what’ll happen if he does. Come one, let’s go.’
They left and I waited a few more minutes to make sure they had. This was getting incredibly strange; I had just witnessed the leader of our apparent conquerors plead with the people he was supposed to have enslaved to comply with an agreement. Collins was definitely the on in charge, hardly showing the proper power dynamic of a master-slave relationship.
The next meeting was three weeks away – my plan to kill Kahai had to be put on hold until I could find out what else was going on, because I was no longer convinced that this was as straightforward as I once believed.
I put my knife back in its usual hiding place. It’s made of a very hard stone, which is why the metal detectors never discovered it. I had intended to kill Kahai and then kill myself, but fate decided to give me a stay of execution.
I went about my business for the next few weeks, biding my time, trying to figure out how to approach finding out what the hell is going on. Life returned to normal, for 21 achingly slow days, nothing changed. Then, the day before the meeting, chance happened to deal me a positive hand. Everything started to drop into place on that day, turning my world upside down.
I saw one of our conquerors on the steps of the Council Buildings. It (sorry, I can’t tell the difference between their males and females) was kneeling before Councilman Collins, begging, pleading, sobbing. He was speaking calmly to the creature, encouraging that they stand up and return to the ship. This only hastened to upset the being even more.
Eventually, Councilman Collins moved away leaving the being sobbing on the ground. Making sure nobody was watching, I approached slowly and asked what was wrong. Looking up at me, the invader raised its hands skyward and asked me to help.
I took the being home, introducing him (he told me he was male – apparently the only difference is that the men are a slightly darker shade of blue and have scales up their backs. He also told me that Kahai was female). During that conversation, everything became clear and I realised precisely who the real enemies were in this fucked up world.