I look out over the city, and I can see everything that’s wrong. All these people. Suddenly I feel responsible for all of them. “Have you ever had a secret?” I ask.
“I don’t know a single person who doesn’t have secrets,” he answers. His voice is so calm. There’s this low, deep timbre to it. There’s something about it that’s unique. I’ve never heard a voice that sounds like his.
“Well, have you ever had a secret that would affect billions of people?”
My stomach twists in knots just at the thought of it.
“I can’t say that I ever have had a secret of that scale,” he confesses. “Surely, you don’t actually mean billions.”
I huff one short laugh and nod my head. “Actually, I do. And the thing that sucks about it is that I could tell people, but it would create so much chaos, I might actually make things worse. I hate that. I hate it so much, because it makes me feel responsible.”
“One person can’t be held accountable for billions,” he says. His words are like a soft touch, like a hand on my back, rubbing for comfort and support.
“Sure they can,” I argue, even though I want to accept his words. I’m in a self-depreciating spiral right now, and I have no intent to get myself out of it at the moment. “Look at Cyrillius. He’s destroyed trillions of lives. And he doesn’t even feel guilty about it.”
Just saying his name makes my mouth taste bitter. As the heir and owner of Dominion, he makes all the calls that affect every single solar system. He could make the galaxy a better place. He could stop the centuries of greed and money. But he’s only taken things twenty steps further than his father and his grandfather before him.
“Seems like a little bit of a jump, comparing yourself to him,” he says quietly. “Just a few days ago you were complaining about your boring life, and now you’re hiding a secret that could affect everyone on your planet?”
“Pretty insane how quickly life can change,” I muse. Though, really, nothing has changed at all. Other than now I have to figure out how to get me and my dad, and Zayne, off-planet. “Know of anywhere good left in the galaxy?”
“Suddenly you’re also ready to move planet?” he asks. There’s a thoughtful probe to his tone.
I shrug, even though he can’t see it. “Know of any place?”
This is where I hate this part of our connection. I hear his voice. But that’s it. I can’t read his body language. I get impressions sometimes, but I don’t know if those are real, or my brain filling them in.
I want to read his face right now. I want to have something to fill these longer pauses, to decipher what he’s thinking.
But I have nothing but his voice, echoing in my brain.
“Do you really think there’s any such thing as a good place, anymore?” he finally asks.
I consider his question as I look out at Korpillion.
This is supposed to be a good place. But, as I look at it, I see the race for credits. I see advertisements flashing bright in my face. I see businessmen talking to prostitutes who are only interested in their connect-link accounts. I see jobs, so many of them, that no one takes pride in, they just do it because it allows them to survive.
I think of Reena, whose goal isn’t to save anyone but herself and her crew.
I even think of my dad, who has no joy in life. He just puts his head down and survives.
“I don’t know, anymore,” I say. I hate the confession, but I am honestly not sure.
“I’ve been to a lot of places, and all I’ve seen everywhere is the innate drive to survive,” he says into my head. “People will do whatever it takes to survive.”
“I wonder when we lost everything else,” I say. “The few books that were stored before all of that was lost talk about all these other things, these principals. Honor, glory, love. When did we become a galaxy full of survivors?”
He doesn’t answer, because really there isn’t an answer. These are just the deep thoughts spoken out loud between two strangers connected by a power neither of us understands.
“I wish I was there with you,” he surprises me with his honest words.
I straighten a little, and a smile creeps onto my face. “I wish you were here, too.” I pause, letting that confession fill me. “Do you think we could ever meet in real life?”
He takes a considering pause. “I think we have to be careful what we wish for, sometimes.”