(disclaimer- from the W.I.P excerpts are from works in progress and therefore not edited or proofed. Please expect errors)
“Yes? What shall I ask?” She looked him in the eye, held her thoughts under a sharp thumb and smiled for her boss. “What do you want to know?”
Dern’s eyes squinted into slits when he tried to shield himself. He shouldn’t have bothered. Corah saw his plan forming, a dark seed wrapped in intrigue and weighed from all directions against Gervis’ goals. How could he use this man, that was his real question. What could Gervis Dern do with a lookalike to the planetary governor’s mate. She read it, and she understood now exactly why this particular slave had been singled out, why he waited now on a chair in an empty room enduring what was supposed to be torture. She understood it better than Dern did, and she saw her chances in that understanding too, and angle she might play as well.
She hid that quickly, waited for a probe from Mawl or Santel, for any sign they’d caught her deceit and meant to turn her out, to trade her life for an ounce of favor from their master. Nothing. No fingers in her mind, no invasion. She breathed and focused on her hearing, on the next words from Gervis Dern. She felt him huddled around his idea, happy with it, but nervous too. When the question came, Corah was ready for it.
“Can I trust him?”
She needed time. If the man was here for murder, she needed to make sure it happened in the way that would serve her purpose too. If he was here for anything else, then she’d need time to sway him, to get him on the right side or else, to get rid of him before Dern could make him his. For now, she needed him alive, but not in Dern’s pocket as of yet.
“Corah! Can I trust the man or not?”
“Not.” She watched Dern, felt his impatience flutter dangerously close to disappointment, to a final decision to kill the man and be done with the whole thing. Not yet, Dern. Not until I’ve had a chance to use him too. “You can’t trust him yet, Gervis.”
“Ahh.” Dern smiled, a wormy twist of lips that made his face into a parody of itself. “Dear Corah. Of course. I’m too eager, too careless. Good. Yes. Not yet, but… eventually?”
“It is possible.”
“I knew it.” Gervis clapped his hands together and turned the wiggling smile on the viewing wall. The prisoner shifted on his perch, turned his head in a swivel that brought the eagle to mind again. “Not yet, of course.”
The lilac man found her, somehow, though no vision could pierce the one way wall. His eyes found Corah just the same. They pegged her down, accused her and named her all at once. Betrayer. She heard his thoughts in her own head, through shields that no one had ever breached. Heart.
She heard it in the blood pounding against her temples. Heart.