It was a full day later before Kepa saw Marina – Olatz – again. She must have arrived at the baserri complex sometime in the middle of the night since she was holding what seemed to be court in the middle of the great room the following morning when Kepa woke up. She sat at one table. She was surrounded by a number of white-robed followers, all patiently waiting for their turn to get her attention. Kepa shook his head. It reminded him of some strange religious ceremony.
There weren’t many clothing options in his room, but Kepa had opted for a dark tunic and white pants. He felt like something out of a Star Wars movie, but he also didn’t want to keep wearing the all-white uniform of everyone else in the baserri. He needed to stand out, to separate himself from these people, however good their intentions were.
Thus, he stood out when he approached Olatz. She called out to him as he got near. “Kepa!” she exclaimed. “Come, sit next to me. We have much to discuss.”
The rest of the acolytes looked at this strange newcomer. There was an audible groan as they all dispersed, knowing he would have Olatz’s complete attention. They all went back to their own tables as drones flew in carrying various breakfast items.
“When did you get here?” asked Kepa as he sat across from her.
“Last night,” replied Olatz. Kepa could see Marina’s face dancing on the edges of his vision, almost like a hologram that overlaid Olatz’s face.
“What do we do now, Marina?” asked Kepa, cutting to the heart of the matter.
Olatz/Marina sighed, the weight of a world seemingly on her shoulders. “I’m sorry for what happened, Kepa. I truly am. I should have done more to protect you both.”
“What is done is done,” replied Kepa, a bit more bluntly than maybe he intended. “The question is what happens next.”
“Right,” began Olatz before pausing. “Normally, prisoners taken in these raids are shuttled off to a secret prison on the outside of town. To be honest, we don’t know what happens there as none of our people who have gone there have ever come back. But…” she paused again, studying Kepa’s face for a moment before continuing. “How many of these… bubbles… have you and Maite visited so far?”
“Why?” asked Kepa. “What does it matter?”
“I’m just trying to get a sense of who you are out of all of the times we’ve crossed paths.”
“Oh. Well, this is our third.”
Marina gasped. “So young!” she exhaled. “Look,” she continued. “De Lancre has an… obsession… with Maite. He’s been trying for a long time to convert her to his side…”
“Inola ere ez! No way!” exclaimed Kepa, slamming his hand on the table, the sound echoing across the circular common room. Dozens of faces turned to look at them. Oblivious, Kepa went on. “No way Maite would ever join that bastard!”
Marina took Kepa’s hand. “And, in all of the bubbles I’ve visited, she hasn’t. But that hasn’t stopped him from trying. All I’m trying to say is that I suspect he’s taken her to his place.”
Kepa shook his head, tears welling in his eyes. “She wouldn’t. She wouldn’t even go with him.”
“I don’t think she had a choice. You know Maite better than anyone. You know she wouldn’t willingly go with him. But, I’m sure he didn’t ask her permission.”
Kepa glared at Marina, a new resolve settling in his grey eyes. “Where does the bastard live?”
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