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The Protege

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Chapter XI

How I had to start again


It felt like an eternity, such deep state of sleep and no rest, no dreams. The water was heavy, the darkness pulling her deeper, further to the nothing, and she felt it, an emptiness like never before. Fareeha gave up, she knew she couldn't reach the surface by herself, and it was only when hope reached her when a form -an angelic figure- dove next to her, swimming down and stretching an arm to reach her, taking her arm with her slender hand and pulling her up to the surface, the presence of light blinding her, and before she could undress herself of a water body, Fareeha opened her eyes only to see someone squeezing slightly her hand, meeting a blonde somewhat disheveled head affectionately holding her. There weren't words enough to describe the feeling of having her there, both in her dreams and real life.

Both the angel who, in her sleep, never stopped telling her stories from her past, from a gap of time five years ago, of the perfect life both could have. That's why Fareeha never hesitated to take her in her arms, to remind her that both Angela was hers and vice versa, for Fareeha was now beyond doing the impossible to make happy the woman who saved her quite a few times and actually brought her back from the death. What she definitely didn't expect was a man interrupting, standing still in the doorway looking astonished, baffled, even disgusted at seeing them both embracing and kissing each other affectionately, and in bed nonetheless. Her ex-boyfriend, her friend, a past fling and her current teammate staring at them wasn't an experience to forget.

"What is going on?' Angela flopped to the side almost startled, but there was a tinge of annoyance in her face when she got up and straightened her lab coat.

"It's good to know you listen to your superiors command."

"You are not my superior.”

"And yet I outrank you." A beat. "You should be glad that Fareeha is awake, yet you are judging me for my actions.”

"So you were harassing her."

"What?! How could you...!" Angela was fuming, the flush in her face was no longer of excitement but that of rage. "I could never hurt her and here you are claiming I do, the one who actually shot her twice!"

"I did it because she went crazy for whatever shit you gave her! It was for her own good!"

"You called her a liar! You doubted her when she needed you the most!" The yelling only increased, making Fareeha's headache increase in intensity. "And stop claiming that I'm drugging her! You don't know the truth and you are not entitled to say anything she doesn't want to!"

"And how can I believe her?! You are doing ruthless things to her! The moment you took her as your protégé she changed!"

"Stop both of you." Finally, Fareeha managed to speak, scolding both of them with her gaze, eyebrows furrowed, lips drawing a thin line. "And for the Gods, Tariq, stop blaming Angela for something she hasn't done." He seemed hurt, and who couldn't blame him.

"Are you seriously defending her over me? Your teammate?"


"What happened to the Fareeha who claimed to protect all those below? To never trust in anyone from Vishkar?"

"She's still here."

"I don't see it, I see you defending a doctor who doesn't care about you and-"

"I'm defending my girlfriend."

There was quite the awkward moment where no one dared to speak, even Fareeha seemed to weight such statement that fell so easily from her lips. Her girlfriend, a relationship, something she longed to have with her and due to many unconceivable events and countless events, neither could claim such a bond, only lovers. And perhaps it was late, but Fareeha loved her beyond reason, and there was no doubt that Angela did as well, the doctor pushing the boundaries of death to bring her back.

"...What?" Tariq finally spoke, and Angela's face showed endless love, walking back to her side and taking her hand, her fingers intertwined, acknowledging. "Tell me you mean it as she's your friend and nothing else..."

"I love her." Fareeha said easily, the grip on her hand tightening. "Since the day I met her five years ago, I’ve always loved Angela."

"She was your employer-"

"And I fell in love with her. Do you have a problem with us?"

Angela's accent was more prominent and rough. Fareeha, knowing how relatively calm Tariq has always been, never expected the following. He looked at Fareeha with absolute disgust, then at Angela with rage, and he shook his head in disapproval.

"I should’ve known... Since the moment I met you back here I should’ve known that you're a fucking dyke."

"Hey, stop-"

"Everything I did for you was worth nothing for both of us and you don't know what it's coming, Fareeha. I hope it was worth for you letting me fuck you to hide it from everyone else."

Before Fareeha could say something back to defend herself, Tariq left the place and closed the door with a thud, both women almost feeling as if the door was about to break. Fareeha closed her eyes and let herself fall on the bed with a grunt, almost pulling her catheter from her body. Angela sat next to her and sighed, leaving space to Fareeha to think, speak, and whatever it would take for her to ease her mind.

"Angela, I-"

"Sleeping with a man, Fareeha Amari?"

"Eh-" she swallowed hard. How could she explain it to her? She didn't notice, but quite the time passed that she didn't say anything, and Angela cleared her throat, lifting and eyebrow. "I... I can't explain... B-but it didn't felt good! I swear, I-" Another occurrence, and Angela burst in laughter.

"Calm down, it's okay. You were trying to recover part of who you are, and perhaps I could have done the same if I was in the same situation as yours."

"So... You're not angry?"

"I am upset, yes. But I also understand your position."

"...You do?"

It baffled Fareeha, but when Angela lurked back to the bed, straddling her hips with such a sway of her own and a provocative gaze, she knew she had something planned. Fareeha grunted almost in a moan when Angela moved her hips on top of her stomach, feeling the heat of her crotch making her hot immediately.

"Starting now, Amari, you are mine. Only mine." Just a tiny amount of blue could she see in her eyes, painting black her desire for her.

"Yes..." Fareeha breathed.

"Yes? Yes what?" Another movement of her hips, swaying, teasing.

"Yes, ma'am..."

"Good girl." Angela got off and straightened herself.

"You are cruel."

"And you called me your girlfriend without even asking me." She fixed her ponytail and looked Fareeha sideways, a smirk on her face.

"T-That was more than anything to make things clear to him and not to keep insisting on all this 'drugged' nonsense..."

“Really? Well, I was wishing for the day you'll actually ask me. And before you do, yes."


"Yes, I want to be your girlfriend. Yes, I still want us to live together in our apartment. Yes, I want us to have a life together back with the guys, with our jobs, with our family. But not now.” Angela turned around and looked at her intently.

“Not now…”

“Not until I get you out of this place, and I can't do that until you're fully healed.”

“So that's a promise.”

“One I'm willing to fulfill.” They both shared a smile, Fareeha nodding. A knock on the door startled both of them, Angela sighing and answering it.

“The idiot who shot her told me she's awake.” Mirembe asked Angela through the door ajar, the blonde looked back and Fareeha nodded once more.

“She is, come on in.” The doctor stepped aside, letting the older scientist get inside. Mirembe reached her side and sat on the chair Angela was sitting before.

“How are you feeling, girl?”

“Ill be fine, I guess.”

“Ready for the next mission?”

“Mirembe!” Angela said loudly and scared, but both Fareeha and Mirembe laughed.

“Relax, Ziegler. She's not going anywhere, less with a useless arm and leg.”

“Don't say that…”

“I'm okay, Angie.”

“I know, you will.” Mirembe quirked an eyebrow and looked at Fareeha. She understood her mistake immediately. “Mirembe, can you make her company for a while? I need to run some errands.”


“My thanks. I'll be back, Fareeha.” The girl nodded and smiled before she disappeared. It took her some time to take her eyes off the door.

“Ain't you two so close, hm? Sneaking around at midnight and thinking I don't notice when you give her those looks and so does she?”

“...Excuse me?”

“Oh my God, do you think I'm that stupid? I'm older but far from being blind! She took care of you for weeks, she never left your side except a few times just because I was forcing her to eat.”

“She… Has that tendency of neglecting her body.”

“You love her.” It was more an affirmation than anything.


“Perhaps doesn’t exist regarding that, you either love her or not. And your mother has told me you are more than fond to this girl, am I wrong then?” Fareeha chuckled and fell back in bed.

“So mom told you…”

Mirembe was always a very attentive person with her, an old friend of her mother in which they met in Helix just as Mirembe began to get the hang of the world of medicine, interested at the end in other areas that Fareeha barely understood, maybe Angela would be the only that would. For the moment, there was only to be trusted in her, the one that her mother sent discreetly to square her inside Vishkar.

“She’s tried hard to stay in contact with you. But you know.”

“I know…” She can’t. The moment Ana Amari steps inside Vishkar, even a sound or a mention of her name and everything would become even worse for Fareeha. “Someday I'll meet with her again.”

“Someday will be closer than you think. For the moment, how about you take some rest? I'm sure Dr. Ziegler will be more than eager to let you recover.”

“That seems ideal, I'm honestly so tired…”

“Then sleep.” Mirembe patted twice Fareeha's thigh softly. “She'll be back, she's watching over you.”

“She always does…”

Running, sprinting through the desert, carrying as much of their home as they could in a backpack and a few duffel bags. It felt like years of escaping from the grasp of Hakim, and perhaps it was, for her mother one night ran into their home, took a few bags hidden somewhere in their house and started packing.

Packing the best of the life they gathered in Egypt.

So one night, Ana Amari woke up her daughter, rummaging the drawers, packing as many photographs and awards, memories and recognitions, all of them hidden between stashes of clothes inside the bags, not minding that her daughter had barely any clothes to wear that night. Eighteen years old, and Fareeha -wearing proudly a fresh tattoo under her eye not dissimilar to that of her mother, a tattoo she earned- didn't know how much her life was about to change.

“Mom…?” Sleep was still in her voice and she tried to clear her sight, rubbing one eye as she leaned on her other arm. “What's going on?”

“Pack everything, Fareeha. We're leaving, now.”

“Leaving? Where?” Her tone switched to that of worry upon looking at her mother desperately stuffing the backpack with pieces of cloth. *What's going on?”

“Hakim and his men is what's happening. If we don't leave, they're going to kill us just like the rest. Half the family is dead, Fareeha, and I'm not willing to let us become part of such statistic.” Fareeha got on her feet, helping her mother by grabbing her own stuff.

“Where are we going?” Ana stopped, looking at her hands, and then proceeded to keep going.

“With your father. There's no other way or place where we can escape and be safe.” Fareeha now stopped grabbing her stuff, looking at the shirt she held in her hands. She knew her mother wasn't especially fond of her father even when she knew Fareeha adored him. So it had to be a more than serious situation for them to run and hide back in Canada.


Time was lost when they heard gunshots so near them followed by screams and cries, both mother and daughter looked at each other and knew exactly what to do. Taking their bags, they went to the window, and even when the ground was far from them, both climbed down with amazing speed and technique, reaching the sand beneath.

And they ran.

They ran from their home, from the sand, from their family, from the gunshots, from the blood, from their now past life. They ran from death once more and found an open window, one being opened by her mother while meeting a man in the army, the one who invited her to join Helix Security International, the one who she took as a younger brother, the one who was her best friend, the one named Jack Morrison.

Fareeha kept running, grabbing a hijab from her mother and wrapping the cloth around her head just like her mother to hide her identity, running under the stars and the constellations she adored to watch on nights such as that one. But not anymore. Her feet hurt under the weight of her own body and those of the backpacks she carried after an hour of walking, and she was about to surrender and give up escaping, until the horizon greeted her with a trail of train tracks.

She need no words to know what they were about to do.

Her mother’s friend, a tall man with blonde mane and an overall soothing aura waited for them at the station, lone and deserted except for him. He waved back at the two and Ana almost ran to him, prompting Fareeha to follow her, and she followed. Embraced in a tight hug, Ana gave him a pat in the shoulder and he smiled fondly, then looking past her mother and to the younger lady there, nodding and approaching her.

“It’s a pleasure to finally meet you. I’m Jack Morrison, your mother has always talked highly of you any time she has the oportunity.” He extended a hand for her to take.

“Oh, Jack… But it’s true.” They both shared a chuckle, Ana looking at her daughter. “I am proud of my daughter.” Fareeha simply smiled and returned the shake firmly with a hint of shyness.

“Fareeha Amari.”

“You look like a true doppelganger younger version of your mother.”

“Heh thank you, but she is way prettier than me. I look a lot like my father.” She shrugged, believing strongly her words. Ana Amari was a though, intimidating yet beautiful woman, both on the inside and the outside. Fareeha was constantly compared to her, and her mother always excelled, she could never reach her level. It didn’t matter, as long as she was a ten percent of what her mother was, she was more than happy with her life.

“She kinda looks like her father, it’s true. Still, she has that beautiful pout of her mother, doesn’t she?”

“Stop, mom…”

“Embarrassing your daughter is truly a full time job, isn’t it?” Jack commented, laughing and teasing Ana. “Your mother has also told me about your skills. We at Helix would really love to have your expertise, we kinda need experimented agents. What do you think?”

“Helix? As in Helix Security International?”

“The very same. I left the army to join HSI, right now I have some business in Busan, but if you want to take my offer, we can arrange something between us. Your mother has already accepted mine, it’s up to you to take ours.” For a moment Fareeha pondered on the idea of becoming an agent and actually being paid for her job, but even more, being recognized. The idea didn’t sound bad at all, perhaps it was time for a better change and to not waste the skills and knowledge she gathered over the years. Perhaps this time she could actually buy a motorcycle like the one she saw in Cairo and fell in love with it.

“Once we settle I’ll make my decision, but it doesn’t sound unappealing at all.”

Jack nodded and smiled, both Ana and Fareeha doing the same. Their shared moment died when a whistle in the far east roared, earning the attention of the three. The first train of the day, the sun barely painted the horizon with a pink and orange hue signaling the sunrise. Fareeha was more than tired and she couldn’t wait to take a good deserving nap once she settled in their seats. Ana sighed and looked at Jack, hugging him tightly once the train stopped at the station.

“We’ll see each other again, Ana. Stay safe.”

“You too stay out of trouble, Jack.”

“Fareeha, I’m sure we’ll meet again.”

“I’m sure we will.”

She nodded and smiled, following her mother inside the train and grabbing all her luggage, loading it in the nook above them and sitting back in her seat once the train started to move. Fareeha saw her mother sigh and prop her chin on her hand, looking outside the window and sighing. It was easy to see that she missed their home already, and making a new one wouldn’t be easy.

And thus, as a sign of affection, of remembrance and support, Fareeha sat next to her and put her head in her mother’s lap, bringing a smile to her as she began to comb her hair with her fingers, running her digits through black strands. It scared Fareeha to death, but as long as she was with her mother, nothing else mattered.

Two more weeks since she woke up from such a long sleep, and things seemed to get worse inside Vishkar.

People were running from side to side, from a place to another, dragging machines Fareeha had no idea of what they were for or the exact purpose of them. The place had an overall sense of frustration and despair, and for the first time in almost that month of her staying in that room, she wanted to remain inside and stuck to that bed once again.

However, Angela was by her side when she opened the door, and reassured her with a soft squeeze of her hand, looking at her with unparalleled love and showing her the way by taking her by the hand, up to the elevator and up to her office, the place where everything started once again inside of Vishkar, and the place where she met her for a second time.

“Things have changed a lot since… The incident.” Angela started, taking a seat in her own chair and inviting Fareeha to do the same in the one across the desk. “Nobody feels safe now. Your teammates, your friends in the underground, specially that little girl- Hana, she’s reported to be constantly frightened without your presence.”

“She gets anxious pretty easily.”

“That I could see, and Mirembe has been eager to make me note it.”

“So is that bad.” Angela hummed, rubbing the back of her head.

“I wouldn’t call it that bad, but it’s definitely getting worse. Things have never been exactly perfect, but when the rumors of your supposed death –which was true- spread like flames, the people in the underground wanted to rebel themselves, but your pink-haired strong friend eased them. We owe her a lot.”

“Zarya knows we can’t do a revolution just like that. Vishkar has the weapons, we depend solely on our strength, and even when Aleks is the strongest of the place she could never hurt anyone, she’s too pure. If only I could make everybody realize that mistake…” A hand was placed on top of hers, earning her attention immediately.

“Everything will be alright.” She smiled and nodded.

“I know.”

“After we discuss a few things, you are fully discharged and ready to go back down. First, I want to know how you are feeling.”


“Everything. Your mind, your body, your feelings…”

“I remember a lot now… As if what they did to me reset my brain or something but, I definitely remember so much now. It helped that you told me stories when I was sleeping.”

“Y-You heard that…?” It felt strange, but Fareeha did. Even when her eyes were closed, her body didn’t respond and her mind was somewhere tucked in a dark space of existence, she recognized Angela’s voice through the nothing, dancing across limbo and holding her hand.

“Yeah… Isn’t that weird?” Angela shook her head, a few droplets tricking down her cheek.

“Not at all. I know that happens and I hoped that would be the case with you, so I always kept talking to you and it also eased me, so… I’m so glad it worked on you.”

“Thank you, Angela.”


Angela got up before she could cry anymore and wept the tears threatening to escape once again. She got up and went to the medicine cabinet, taking a few boxes of medicine and putting them aside, reaching for a first aid kit on the back and taking it back into the desk, placing it between them. As she opened it, the doctor took a few papers from there, documents, and spread them wide on the desk, showing Fareeha what it was all about. Maps, coordinates, places marked and a trail in red.

“Once we get out of here, this is the route we take.” Angela said in one of the most serious tones Fareeha had ever heard her saying. “We’ll get over the plan a couple times. Take a good look since this is the only time we’ll get through it. Understood?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

It felt like an hour or so of them discussing about whether route to take; the easiest, the safest, the shortest, there was none that could circle the three of them. The places involved many, including Illios, Paris, London -places where Angela had certain contacts and liberties- even Cairo and Giza as much as Fareeha hated the idea to return. The methods as well involved traveling by car, train, plane, and staying in a hostel in the outskirts of the city, but Angela refused immediately to sleep somewhere as unsafe as the outdoors and preferred the comfortable way of a luxurious hotel. In the end, they reached an agreement both were particularly not hating it, as none seemed to be the best.

Once with the idea settled in their minds, Fareeha said her goodbye to the doctor and parted down to the basement, taking the elevator down to the last basement floor. She needed a shower urgently and anything related to her personal hygiene. The elevator rumbled slightly as usual as she went further down, and to the last floor it stopped. Fareeha made a beeline to her quarters and luckily they were empty, not a soul was on the halls which was strange.

Nonetheless, she took a few clothes from the drawers and went to the shower, turning the hot and cold lever to combine the water at the perfect temperature her body demanded as of now. It felt as if all the layers of stress on her body were washed down minute by minute, only remaining perhaps a couple of them that only a certain blonde was able to take away wholly. After what felt like hours of being under the warm stream of water, Fareeha changed to her usual uniform, feeling a touch of familiarity and repulsion when touching the shirt with her code engraved in white.

Her stomach growled after days of having pretty much nothing on her stomach, so heading to the cafeteria was a good option. And again, not a soul on her way and she knew why when she opened the doors: absolutely everyone was there, stuffed and surrounded by a somewhat scandalous table which was mixed with several languages that Fareeha did not understand, but only two excelled for her. No one seemed to notice her, until when she got closer and cleared her throat she could get everyone's attention.

“What are you gossiping around?” She said before being tackled by a small figure, one she used to feel wrapped around her frame by an insecure barely-adult Korean girl.

“Reeha! You’re alive!”

“Of course I’m alive. Do you really think it takes that little to kill me?”

“Last time we heard…” She stopped, looking down and releasing her. “We were scared, we didn’t know if you-”

“It’s okay, I’m here.”

It felt undeniably different, the whole place had an atmosphere of fear and anger mixed with something that Fareeha still couldn’t decipher. While she understood part of her anger, she knew well that whatever it was they had in mind wasn’t the right thing to do, and Zarya, sitting uncomfortably at the table, could not ask for help so desperately with her gaze. And thus, she approached her, sitting next to her as the people surrounding her scooted to give her a seat. It felt as she still had the leadership of the place.

“Now tell me what’s going on.” Saleh was the first to speak.

“Okay first of all… You can’t come back from the death and ask us what’s going on. Do you realize that you’re here alive when we thought you died for good?”

“The important thing is that I’m here. Now tell me, what in the world are you planning to do?” Everyone looked at each other, then at Fareeha. No one spoke, so Zarya did it for them.

“Since the mission that left you incapacitated for weeks, they all became irritable and fear for their lives, I do not blame them. They want to start a revolution, but I say it’s ridiculous, we can’t do that.”

“If we unite we can easily do it! We have the strength to defeat them and get out of here!”

“Saleh, she’s right.” Fareeha spoke, and everyone turned their heads towards her. She felt intimidated, but she had to stand her ground. “We don’t have the resources to escape. We don’t have weapons, we don’t have equipment, we don’t know where we are, and to escape from here is to lose ourselves in the desert and die. In addition, Vishkar has all the resources to stop us and kill us at will. Remember that we have this necklace that can stop us at any time.”

“Us? You are wearing no necklace, Fareeha.” She stopped and touched her neck. Bare, clean. It felt odd to feel it after years of having such an accessory at all hours. Angela, she must have been. “Where is it?”

“I don’t know… Maybe when I was unconscious she removed it to work better on me. I honestly taken back.”

“Or maybe your so called friend made you a favor.” A voice she didn’t want to hear. She closed her eyes only to open them and look at Tariq.

“I do not know where you want to go with this, but you better stop before you get hurt.”

“What? Did I say something that wasn’t true?”

“You are crossing a line, Tariq.”

“No, you crossed the line, Fareeha.” He pointed at her, only rising Fareeha’s anger, eventually standing up and facing him.

“You don’t know what you're getting into, so it's better for you to stop.”

What?” He switched to Arab, Fareeha knowing something serious was about to be said. “You don’t want everybody to know you’re sleeping with someone from Vishkar? Especially with a woman?! How fake do you have to be so the people that support you keep doing so?! So you keep staying in your glory and power!” Only a few were able to understand that, earning quite a glare.

You don’t get a say in this! Just because you betrayed me and fed me to the wolves do you think you’re entitled to earn my trust anytime you want?! You still think I will open my legs wide just for you because I’m still “madly in love with you”?! Fuck you!” She pushed him, making him recoil and being caught by Mahmud. “And don’t you dare! Don’t you dare to even point a finger at her because I chose her!”

You want to act like a man?! Fine! Fight like one!

It was unexpected, and the fist she felt making contact with her cheek made her fall to the floor with a thud, immediately getting up and returning the blow at him. Tariq got up as well, and threw another punch at the woman only to be avoided and granted another jab right in his other cheek, then a kick returned him to the ground and Fareeha took a momentum to straddle his hips and deliver a flurry of punches right in his face.

It felt savage, she knew it, and her hands started to heat due to the contact with the skin, and fortunately Zarya was there to stop her, lifting her from behind her arms with hers and holding her so tight that her feet hung, Fareeha growling and kicking to get free of the grip. Saleh and Mahmud helped him up, blood running from one side of his eyebrow and nose, and Fareeha wasn’t left behind, for the taste of metal filled her mouth.

“Fareeha, stop!”

“He started all of this!”

“I don’t care who started but who finishes it! You taught us that!”

Zarya was right, and Fareeha stopped wiggling in her arms. Once she settled down, she was released and stood up properly, wiping the blood running from her lip and down to her chin with the back of her hand. Fareeha turned around and looked at everybody, mixed reactions of fear, disappointment, even pride and admiration. She needed to speak and voice her thoughts, she needed to know she still had power down there and prove it to everybody.

“No one is doing a revolution! You’re putting all in danger and if one of you start to think of something stupid everyone will pay for it! We’re not ready! Do you want to go through the same shit I went?! Do you want to die as well?! None of you deserve to go through the hell that I’ve suffered! So you better stop with those ideas because it’s not time to do so! Understood?!”

The cafeteria was filled with an uncomfortable silence that Fareeha preferred to avoid when escaping from the place with a quick step, whipping the doors of the dining room and completely forgetting that her stomach was empty, maybe when the anger dissipated and the pain in her cheek and mouth could be relieved she could go for a snack. For the moment, what she most wanted to do was forget the incident and avoid the unpleasant comments of everyone.

She knew perfectly well that a few of them understood, a large part being her teammates, and she hoped that she would not make the awkward situation even bigger than she already did. Fareeha was constantly repeating the stupidity she had just committed, especially for failing Angela and showing that she was not mentally healthy. Such disappointment.

Her bed greeted her for the first time in weeks, and she missed the feeling of comfort and familiarity of something that was not related to a hospital or where she felt crippled, even though she knew perfectly well that this was not the case. However, her body demanded continuity, her mind constancy, her soul spirituality, there was something that emptied it, and Fareeha knew that the place had a lot to do with it. That was her bed, but it did not feel like her again. Upon closing her eyes and trying to rest and reset her brain, she fell into a dreamless sleep.

It felt like a blow to the stomach.

The sound of the alarm woke her abruptly. It was so loud that she felt her head would explode at any moment. Grateful that she was still fully dressed, Fareeha simply slid her shoes on and walked to the door, only to be tackled back in by a mob. She recognized faces, voices, even the sound of footsteps rushing desperately from one side of the hallway to the other. It was Saleh who stood in front of her and pulled her arm, making her run with him.

“What’s going on?!” She yelled, trying to get his attention through the loudness of the alarm.

“It seems like something exploded upstairs! I’m impressed that didn’t woke you up!”


“The labs! We need to get to the other side, there’s flames upstairs!”

“The labs…?” She frowned, still running, and her eyes opened wide. “…Angela!”

Fareeha stopped in her tracks and ran in the opposite direction, Saleh yelling at her and eventually ignoring her run, following his own path. Fareeha ran desperately and toward the elevator. She knew that there were stairs that could only be accessed with a Vishkar identification, but if she could find a way to climb, she would do so in order to reach the doctor.

The heat intensified the closer she got to the elevator, a heat she could easily endure but she knew Angela would not be close to putting up with that. The stairs were out of reach, unthinkable to get there, and the elevator was out of service. That was the only place where she could reach the upper levels. Opening the doors with both hands and thanking her for strength, she was able to enter the elevator and remove the emergency door above her, jumping and climbing towards the ceiling.

The tunnel was dark, except for one of the slots where light and fire were clearly visible, and she had to think fast before things got worse. “May the Gods protect me…” A quick prayer, and Fareeha took the rope and climbed as fast as possible three floors up. She needed to get there before something happened to Angela.