Attia: I could stay.
Keiro: So you're scared then?
Scared? Of What?
Of seeing Outside.
Up on that huge screen the portal to the Outside looked so clean, with it's perfect white walls.
What do you care?
So shut up Kiero.
Cluadia looked down from that screen too. She was even beckoning to her. Claudia would probably never like her but she wanted Attia to follow, to be in the world with them.
But Finn needs all the help he can get.
Finn was there. He was the source of her old hurt because he had given her hope. Even now he radiated hope- on the other side of a screen, in a decimated world -but that was part of why he was Different. That was why she had believed that he had come from Outside. He was a guiding light she could follow.
She was supposed to follow but she couldn't move. Too frozen, still imprisoned, and too trapped by the old fear. It didn't matter that Incareron had opened the door. That fear had been her only friend when the prison was darkest. That fear is what kept her alive, always.
If you were in any way grateful!
For what? I was the one who got the glove. Who saved your life!
So shut up, Keiro.
Come out, Attia. Please.
Then the Sapienti robes caught her eye. The Sapient held out a hand. And she could feel from him the warmth of a father. The father that had fed, scorned, breathed and hunted for her or the father that had educated, protected, and pampered Claudia. It was still so confusing. And looking down at that hand emerging from green robes she saw the old sapient. Who had been the crazed father of their adventures.
I want for you to see the stars.
Those three Outside want this. They want her.
And like all children who must grow up she let go of her imaginary friend for a real one. And through the darkness. And through the twist of space.
And then a new hand was pulling her up. Up and out. Outside.
The hand that pulled her out of the darkness was Kiero. For a moment she refused to let go of that hand. Before the others could notice her panic he pulled his [not all human] hand away. Swallowing, she looked around the too clean room that was the porthole to the outside. The door to the hallway loomed before her.
She felt the room shift, realign itself to the world. Her hair on end, she froze only to be jabbed in the back by Kiero. I'm still here, you idiot. Keep moving.
She continued walking, jabbing her elbow into Kiero's side. Shut up, Kiero. I'm fine.
A passing kick to the back of her lower calf. Only because I helped you. Now, you owe me.
A stomp on his foot. As if! You still owe me your life.
In this silent but abusive way the pushed each other forward, through the crumbling mansion. As they reached the door to the outdoors Attia stopped once again. She made the pretense of just waiting for the others to trail out the door in front of her. Kiero was last inline but instead of walking out in front of her he stopped prod her in the ribs. Attia was thin from her life in Incarceron so a jab there annoyed her to no end. She tried to smack him on the back of his head but he caught her small fist in his right hand.
"What are you so scared of now?"
She reluctantly tugged on her arm, not strong enough to jerk her fist out of his. Kiero, are the stars real? I mean seriously? It's not just another illusion? She didn't dare say any of this out load.
Kiero just looked at her, studying. Then impatiently he crushed her fist with a tight squeeze and pulled her out of the dilapidated building, under the stars. Attia gasped. She opened up her fingers against Kiero's to say they are amazing.
Kiero entwined their fingers to say I told you so.
Attia glanced briefly at the others and stuffed the both of their hands into the closer of Kiero's jacket pockets. Whispering with her fingers she said, "shut up, Kiero,