Maite turned back to de Lancre. “I don’t understand why you haven’t collected that zatia yet. Why are you still here?”
“Simple, really,” said de Lancre. “I can do whatever I want in this bubble. I can live whatever life I want. I can get away with anything.” He looked over the railing at the people walking on the pathways far below. “See all of those people? You know what they remind me of? Ants. Scurrying to and fro, oblivious to the powers above them. I could squash any one of them at a moment’s notice. And, there isn’t anything to stop me.”
“I’m sure there have to be laws about killing random civilians even here,” replied Maite dryly.
“Oh, of course,” continued de Lacre. “But, there is no consequence. If I were to get into any kind of trouble, I can simply pop the bubble by collecting that piece of magic over there -” he gestured to the table and the sphere that floated above it “- and be back to my own time. I can literally get away with murder and no one would even know, once it is all erased.”
“You would know.”
“True, but it wouldn’t bother me. And, I have to admit, I have lived through many bubbles with that attitude. But, I’ve grown rather bored of it all. That’s why, here, I decided to take a different approach. I want to do things the ‘right’ way, I want to be a real part of the bubble and its people. And.” He paused, looking directly at Maite. “And, I want to get to know you.”
“What do you mean by that?” asked Maite, her sense of dread growing.
“We can do anything here,” said de Lancre. “I want you to be my partner. I want to share all of this with you.”
Maite shook her head. “Even if I were tempted, which I’m not, I won’t do that to Kepa.”
“He’ll never know. Once the bubble is popped, you go back to him. Consider it a fling.”
Maite shivered with disgust. “I would know.”
De Lancre sighed. “I expected you to say that. I admit, I hoped you wouldn’t, but while I’m disappointed, I’m not surprised.”
De Lancre snapped his fingers. Three spheres immediately swooped in. “They will lead you back to your room. You can ponder my offer further in there.”
Maite didn’t bother looking at de Lancre as she followed the spheres back to her room, which she fully realized was also her cell.
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