My brain was fuzzed. Apex and Visp had been taken away on stretchers, and Lorrie had gone to her room. I had no idea where Taimone was, but I planned to have a serious word with him.
We won, yes, but the only good thing that came out of that was our lives. Seriously, killing other kids who are just the same age as me made me feel ill. I know they were trying to kill us too, but that's because they didn't want to die either. For me, it was a lose-lose situation, whether anyone survived or not. It was the worst thing I had ever had to do in my life, and it sickened me to think that this was what I would have to do if I wanted to live.
Taimone was right, this place was dangerous, I should never have come. And that was another thing - Taimone. My own brother who I admired and looked up to turned out to be one of the bad guys. I didn't know what to do: go with the other guys because they were right, or support my brother because... well, he's my brother. That second option seemed pitiful, but when it came to my family, I would get very defensive. An option between the right thing, and what could be classed as betrayal.
And then my powers. During the match, I had helped Lorrie snap an opponents neck, and I hadn't even meant to do it. It hadn't been rehearsed, but I guessed everyone else had just accepted it as some sort of lucky impulse. It felt weird. I had no idea what I was doing until after I'd done it, and I wasn't even sure what I'd done. People seemed to think it was a kind of hypnotism, but I had this niggling feeling that it wasn't. I would stick to that feeling; I didn't want anyone I cared for getting hurt by something that I couldn't control.
The time control was a one-time thing. It had worked the necessary way in combat, although in the brief moment I had got alone in the training area, I discovered that I couldn't control this power to save my life. Ironic figure of speech, but there it is. It seemed as though if I wasn't in dire need, when I stopped time it literally stopped for everyone else except me. When I figured out how to restart it, nobody noticed that anything had happened, and they continued like time hadn't been stopped at all.
The only thing I could do properly was project thoughts into people's minds and, to be honest, I didn't think that was the most helpful.
Shaken by what I had just witnessed and caused, I managed to drop a whole tray of cups of tea on the short walk to the table. It spilled everywhere, scolding my leg as it splashed, and the cups shattered into what seemed like a million pieces.
"Are you all right?" Taimone was at the kitchen door. I wondered how long he had been standing there.
"Yes I'm fine," I responded hastily, dropping to the floor to clear up the mess I had made.
"No you're not," he said, spotting my practically unconcealed lie instantly.
I didn't reply while I wiped the floor and collected up the shards of porcelain onto the tray. Then I stood up, placed the tray next to the sink and moved my hair out of my face. "Yes I am."
He looked me squarely in the eye. "You have blood on your face," he noted, striking the nerve I had been trying to avoid.
"I know I've got blood on my face!" I exclaimed. "Of course I've got blood on my face! I just fucking killed loads of innocent people, and you're just casually pointing out that their lifeblood is smeared on my cheek!?"
"Like I said," there was a trace of amusement on Taimone's features, but other than that he responded to my outburst rather calmly. "You're not fine."
I gritted my teeth and picked up a cloth, wiping the stain from my face, at which point Lorrie walked in. She didn't say anything, but immediately noticed the tension and left quickly.
"No," I said quietly. "No, I'm not fine."
"Why would she be fine?" Visp asked, taking a biscuit fro the packet and stuffing it whole into his mouth. He had recovered quickly. "What?" He swallowed. "I'm starving, OK?"
Taimone walked over to me and wiped away a spot that I'd missed. "There. Nothing to remind you now."
Visp frowned as he watched this happen, then said, "As I was saying, why would she be fine?" he turned to me. "I'm sorry, but your brother is evil. And what's more, he has you wrapped around his little finger."
"He isn't evil," I mumbled, not sure how true that sentence was.
"Yes he is," Visp insisted.
"Listen to Arianne," Taimone nodded. "I know her, and she knows what she's talking about. She knows people, and she knows me. She's not stupid."
"Arianne, think about it," Visp urged. "He's on the bad side, he doesn't care. If you had died in that battle he wouldn't have given it a second thought."
"He... he would," I said. "He would have cared."
"Of course I would have cared!" Taimone exclaimed, stepping in front of me. It sounded truthful, and I was ready to believe it. "She's my little sister! How could you even suggest something like that?"
"Arianne, listen to me. If he cares about you so much, why would he have let you fight in the first place? Think about it, he's working with them. I'm pretty sure he could have got you out of it somehow."
"Ignore him, sis. He's just trying to turn you against me. Remember what I said about them not knowing?"
I nodded, and then shook my head. Why was I always stuck in the middle?
Visp looked at me. "I think you should go now. If I hurt your brother I don't want you to see it."
Then Lorrie walked in and took my arm, leading me out of the room before I could object. "I wouldn't take what he said literally," she told me. "He's just annoyed. None of us like this."
I opened my mouth to say something to her, but instead I burst into tears.