The Proposal (part 52)

He pressed the icon for the vid to play. The sound wasn’t great, but Ayn couldn’t deny it was her voice. And that looked like her, talking to Nev.

Ayn: Tell me how to help.

Nev: All we need is an image.

Ayn: Of my dad?

Nev: Can you do it?

Ayn: Of course.

The screen went blank, and Ayn’s mind flooded with questions. She had never had a conversation like that with Nev. Where had this vid come from? She felt wobbly—she wasn’t sure what was real anymore. She thought back to when she was six and had broken her arm when she’d fallen from a tree in their country home. Before he set her arm, the physician had given her a drug to put her to sleep. Before it took affect, Ayn remembers all the colors of the room morphing into strange, new shapes, and the doctor’s face becoming a horrible, distorted mask. She thought he was monster. What she felt now reminded Ayn of that time. This, whatever was happening, did not feel real. “What is that?” she asked. “Where did it come from?”

Instead of answering, her dad scrolled to another icon. Another vid played. An image of a Terrestrial with open sores on his face and arms, with a voice over saying: “Father Gheraeld’s Science Counsel are using Terrestrials as science projects. Isn’t this kind of behavior what we left behind on the home planet? Hold them responsible.” Here, an image of her dad replaced the Terrestrial on the screen. It was one of the images that had been in the stolen photo frame.
Ayn felt sick to her stomach and was shaking so badly that she had to sit. “Who’s doing this?”

“Do you have any idea what’s at stake here?” her dad said, ignoring her questions. He started pacing, gripping the phone and waving his arms. “Unless we find a way to harvest an even larger quantity of minerals, our entire way of life is in danger.”

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