Psion Alpha
guys,” Sammy finally told them, “we are the best soldiers the resistance has to
use. What do you think?”
all of us?” Kawai asked.
can’t make any promises to anyone,” he answered.
and Natalia pounded fists. Jeffie and Kawai beamed. For the rest of the meal,
the conversation turned to lighter topics. Following dinner, Jeffie and Natalia
went over to Sammy and Brickert’s house to hang out and play board games.
Jeffie insisted on playing a luck-based game so she, Natalia, or Brickert had a
fair chance to win. It still didn’t matter, Sammy won.
chatted throughout the evening, though Sammy steered any conversation about
leadership council business toward other topics. After the game Natalia started
to yawn, and announced she was leaving for bed.
walk you home,” Brickert said, putting an arm around his girlfriend’s waist.
smirked at them. “If by walk, you mean ‘make out with,’ and by home, you mean ‘in
the darkest corner of the tunnels you can find,’ then I’ll see you in an hour
or so.”
not what—”
bother,” Natalia said as she pulled a blushing Brickert out the door. “They’re
just jealous.” Jeffie waved goodbye, crossing her arms and pulling her jacket
tight around her as the cool air rose up from the entrance to the tunnels.
want to play again?” Sammy asked.
thanks. I think I just want to talk.”
shrugged. “Whatever.” She ran her fingers through Sammy’s hair, which was now
shorter than it had been in several months. “You look handsome.”
comment made Sammy’s chest burn. “Thanks. You do, too. In a non-manly way.” He
got up from the table and poured himself a glass of water. “Thirsty?”
what do you want to talk about?”
reached across the table and took his hand. “I know this isn’t what you want to
hear, but I need you to use the clout you have with the resistance leadership
to get me on your team.”
do you ‘need’ me to do that?”
frowned at his response. “It’s something I’ve put a lot of thought into the
last few weeks. Putting the reasons into words makes it sound weird and stupid.
How about I just say that it’s important to me?”
light tone in her voice sounded phony to Sammy, and he got the impression that
she had meticulously practiced this conversation several times. If so, he
didn’t know what to make of that. “A while ago, you said you were scared. You weren’t
sure you were ready for combat.”
am scared, Sammy. Everyone here is. It’s been a rough month for us.”
you?” she asked quietly. “I feel like you’re so battle-hardened and the rest of
us are trying to come to terms with stuff you’ve long since learned to accept.
Me and some of our friends—we lost people we care about for the first time.
It’s going to take time for us to get over those losses. Remember that, okay?”
But what does this have to do with the mission?”
I do think I’m ready for combat. Or maybe this won’t even be a combat mission.
Who knows, right?”
noted the slight flaring of Jeffie’s nostrils: a sign that she was lying. For
all his mental capabilities, he couldn’t fathom why she would lie or what the
point of all this was. “Are you sure you’re ready? I mean, saying you are ready
when you’re not … that can cost lives. And not just yours.”
had more training than you at Beta headquarters.” Her face flushed as her tone
of voice steadily rose. “And I was one of the top ranked Betas before you got
back. That counts for something, I think!”
settle down. Why are you getting upset?”
upset?” she practically yelled. “I’m not!”
knowing what to say, Sammy started putting away the board game. How could he
tell Jeffie that he had no intention of

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