Inside Out Page 49

“I’ve very familiar with the security system, Trella. I don’t need Logan.” His voice huffed.

I tried to reason with him. “I’d rather we all be together when you try to open those files. You only have ten guesses. The way we figured out the password for Gateway was by all of us bouncing ideas off each other.”

“Fine. I’ll wait. With nothing else to do, I’ve become an expert in waiting.”

I ignored his snippy tone. “What about the uppers? Do you know who would be willing to help us?”

“I can give you the names of those who said they would support me. For security, I made sure no one knew who the others were. But one of them ratted me out, and once I was arrested and interrogated—” he shuddered with horror “—I couldn’t hold out. I gave her a few names, hoping one of them was indeed her spy. Karla was a power-hungry lieutenant then, but she arrested all the people I named and recycled them all.” A hitch caught his voice, and his eyes shone with grief. “At least I saved the others, and they wisely stopped looking for the files, keeping quiet.”

“Why didn’t they recycle you?”

“Karla suspected I knew more, but her superior officer was satisfied. I spent two centiweeks in the holding cells before the Travas released me. They claimed I was spared recycling for cooperating with them. I went back to my duties, but no one would talk to me or even look at me. The rumors had spread, and everyone feared I was a Trava spy.” He huffed. “Ironic.”

“When did all this happen?” I asked.

“About sixteen centiweeks ago. After I was released, I played the game, acting timid and obedient. Eventually, the Travas stopped monitoring me. I waited another three centiweeks before searching the network for the location of those hidden files. Guess I didn’t wait long enough.” He rubbed his back. “Karla hadn’t forgotten about me.”

I waited for the rest of his story.

“She suspected and had me interrogated again.” He closed his eyes and hugged his chest for a moment. “He broke my back, but I didn’t say a word about the disks I hid. After I recovered, Karla sent me down here as punishment, but also to wait and see what I would do or who I would contact.”

“The spy?”

“I guessed wrong. I doubt Karla would kill her own, so he or she is still spying for her.” Domotor pulled out a wipe board and wrote down five names. He handed the board to me.

I scanned the list. Most of them were women. One name jumped out at me.

Domotor watched me. “Call me old-fashioned. When I implicated my cohorts, I named mostly men.”

“Who did you implicate?”

“Do you really want to know?”

“Yes.” The word was a whisper.

Domotor gazed across the room, seeing into the past. “There were ten of us.” He huffed in sad amusement. “Ten—the magic Inside number. Before I knew about the Trava takeover, I always wondered why there were nine major families. I learned later that Inside’s original power structure had a voting system, which needed an odd number of voters.” He paused. “I had supporters from each of the eight remaining families. A few were mates.”

He returned his focus to me. “One of the couples was your parents.”

I didn’t care about my parents. To prove it, I imagined a thin coat of metal along my skin. So they tried to help Domotor. So what?

“After being tortured, I named your father, Nolan Garrard as an accomplice.”

His name clanged on my defenses even though I already knew he had been recycled.

When Domotor didn’t see any reaction he continued. “I also named Blas Sanchia and Shawn Lamont. Ramla Ashon was also recycled.”

The other names didn’t clang. “I thought the uppers all had two family names.”

“The children do. Once you find a mate, then you pick one family to be a part of. If you don’t find a mate, then you have the support of two families.”

With this new knowledge, I read the names on the board again. Jacob Ashon was listed. “Is Ramla Ashon…?”

“Riley’s mother.”

“And…Kiana Garrard?”

“Your mother.”

Her name stabbed through my metal defense. My parents had tried to change things, and my father had been recycled. But those events happened after I was born. No. I didn’t care. I forced my metal skin to grow thicker.

“Do you want to know about your—”

“No.” I read the list again. Kiana Garrard, Jacob Ashon, Hana Mineko, Takia Qadim and Breana Narelle. “Do you know which one of these uppers is the spy?”

“No. I thought it was Blas Sanchia.”

How would I isolate the spy? My limited knowledge of the uppers once again hindered me. I trusted Riley, but could I trust his father? Perhaps Riley would have a few ideas or Logan could track the uppers’ computer usage and see if one of them could access restricted Trava files.

“What about Gateway?” I asked.

“Find it underneath the foam. Dissolve the insulation and expose the door for now.”

It was hour fifty-two. Eight hours remained before my next shift. I calculated the time needed to sleep, eat and get to the outer wall. Not enough, searching for Gateway would have to wait until my next break. Although, I had time for one errand.

I left Domotor and climbed to level four. Reaching my hidden cabinet, I removed the comb. It was a beautiful gift and should be used and displayed. After counting the teeth, I pocketed it in my tool belt and headed down.

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