The gears of the lift clanked over. They marked the cyclical rhythm of light dropping from the top of the metal box to bathe my body in light before it hit my feet. I drew in a slow breath and straightened my shoulders. The air tasted dry, bitter, with a hint of something that burned against the back of my throat. It was familiar. I didn’t push at my memory. I didn’t want to. Hell, they weren’t my memories anyway.
Beside me, the senior manager of the project coughed.
I glanced at him. Linus Vrome, retained by my family to preserve their most prized asset…which wasn’t me. The moving band of white light dropped down over his sharp face. Sweat glistened on his forehead and a nervous tick jumped at his temple. He was nervous? He wasn’t the one who would have to walk out of the metal coffin when it finally stopped its long drop into the bedrock of the planet. He’d get to ride back up again.
“Are you aware of the full history of our connection to the Tashen-Dar?” His voice rang against the metallic walls, fighting with the clunks and clanks of the lift’s mechanisms. “Of how your progenitor captured the one known as Zaid?”
“No,” I lied.