The next morning, Sarah woke up with a start, not realizing that she had slept so deeply for so long. She had only meant to take a nap of some sort. Who knew that she ended up sleeping through the night instead?
Sarah stretched and a long yawn escape her mouth. She was somewhat stiff from the awkward position she had slept in last night and Sarah clamber up from the bed, just realizing that she hadn’t slept this well in a while.
Sarah walked across the room and grabbed her cloak which she wrapped around herself with a shiver. It was kind of cold in here. She paced back and forth in the room to warm herself up before she gingerly pushed the door of her room open, peeking a head out and wondering if she was allowed to explore the place.
“It’s looks someone’s awake.”
Sarah looked up at the sound of the familiar voice and saw the salon women standing there with her arms slightly crossed like she always did.
“You’re here!” She said, not realizing that she had been a freelancer. “I didn’t know you were a freelancer.”
The salon women raised her eyebrows.
“Really? Did you really expect me to be a nice person from the slums?”
“I- I-” Sarah blushed, slightly ashamed of her naivety. She had just never thought of this possibility before, mostly though, it was probably because she had just always trusted the salon women. “I don’t know. I suppose I just always thought you were a nice person.”
The salon women chuckled.
“Well, since you’re here, would you like a tour around the place?”
Sarah nodded eagerly.
The salon women waved her over and Sarah trailed behind her as she explained the place.
The backup headquarters had a very peculiar setup.
The first floor was a regular square area that was obviously where everyone had stayed to drink when the place had still been a tavern. The room still reeked of alcohol and it was quite disgusting. There was a back room that seemed to be a combination of a storage room and a kitchen. There was a hidden set of stairs along the left wall that was almost invisible unless you went specially to look for it. The stairs led up to the second floor which was in the shape of a sideways T. As you walked down the hall, halfway through, there would be another one branching out to your right. This floor was almost like an inn, containing nothing but rows of well furnished rooms. In fact, the rooms were a little too well furnished.
Sarah’s room was on the far end of the T, if you avoided the branch-off hallway and made it down the end.
The salon women led her down the hall to the right and stopped at a slightly more furnished door which she pushed open.
“I can’t show you anything much. But if you’d like to see what the other rooms look like, here’s mine.” She smiled slightly and pushed the door open, leading into another room of all red. The room had a completely different feel to it - a different time period, a different location, but just as red and comfortable.
“The second floor is the housing area where almost everyone lives in. Some people live in other areas because, well obviously we don’t have the space to house everyone.”
Sarah nodded as the Salon women backed out of her room and closed the door.
“So where do the other people live then?” Sarah inquired, looked around.
“Most of them, like me, don’t work at the headquarters that often and have separate lives outside of being here. Others will just stay at a local inn of some sort or something like that.” The salon woman shrugged. “I’m not too sure about and specifics.”
The salon women proceeded to lead her downstairs.
“To be honest, there is really much to show, but here’s the regular workspace.” She laughed lightly and waved to the space that was now filled with coffee tables and old tables from the tavern. “This is where everyone works. Nothing big.”
She led Sarah to the back room, which was dim and musty, but quite private indeed.
“And last stop of the tour, we have the meeting room.”
Sarah looked around. This place was so terribly simple yet effective. If everything could be like this, life would just be so much easier.
“How do you guys do this?” Sarah asked in disbelief.
“Get so organized. Especially in such a short amount of time. This place is simple but it’s organized. It’s so much better than the complicated hierarchy of the domes or the chaotic mess of the slums.”
The salon women shrugged.
“It’s what makes us who we are I suppose.”
Sarah nodded. An explanation that was just as good at the place. They began heading back when Sarah saw Kayli walk down the stairs.
“Hello.” She said, not quite remembering if she had asked for her name or not.
“Good morning Sarah.” She said with a smile. “I don’t think I’ve introduced myself, but maybe you’ve heard of me from Kyle. I’m Kayli. Kayli Rose.”
“So you’re that girl who got stuck underneath a bunch of tables and chairs?”
Kayli laughed slightly.
“I suppose you could say that.” Her gave a Sarah a long glance before she continued. “You’re an early riser.”
Sarah’s cheeks flushed.
“N-not really. Just today really. Usually I don’t wake up this early.”
Kayli nodded. She opened her mouth to say something when the front door opened.
“Why didn’t someone lock the door?” Kayli shouted, looking around somewhat annoyed. Kyle was at the door and grinned slightly.
“Oh your door was locked alright. I just picked up because I didn’t feel like knocking.” He twirled a thin needle in between his fingers.
“Kyle...” Kayli growled. “Don’t test me.”
“I don’t remember you being so short tempered.”
“Well, I hope you remember now.”
Kyle only shook his head and stepped in, closing the door behind him. He played innocent sometimes, but he never played immature. To him, immaturity was stupidity and Kyle was not a stupid person.
“Have you decided yet?”
Kayli stilled looked to be in a sour mood.
“Don’t you think that asking now won’t help you?” She said with glaring stare.
“Well, if you’re not going to agree, I don’t want to wasting any more of anyone’s time.” He responded flatly.
“Then I don’t agree.”
“Alright.” There was no expression on Kyle’s face as he walked forward and grabbed Sarah by the hand. “Let’s go then.”
He turned and left, taking Sarah with him. Kayli looked bewildered for a moment as she watched them leave.
“Wait!” She shouted, running up to stop them.
“What?” Kyle gave her a flat stare. Kayli smiled guilty.
“I was just kidding. You know. How would I refuse?” She gestured them to come back and sit down.
Kyle rolled his eyes.
“You seemed to have a few seconds ago.”
“That wasn’t real! I was just, you know, angry.”
Kyle sighed and finally walked across the room with a great confused Sarah and sat down at the table again.
“So, you agree?”
Kayli nodded. She sat down across from them just like yesterday, except now the bustling room was empty because almost no one had woken up yet. The salon woman excused herself to make breakfast for everyone.
Kayli looked solemnly at them.
“But before I agree, I need to know some more facts. I can’t just walk into this mindlessly.”
“What would you like know?”
“First off, who’s the fake?”
Kyle wrinkled his nose.
“Why do you have to start off with such a hard to answer question?”
“What, do you not know who it is?”
“No, it’s just very complicated.”
“How can this be complicated?”
“Ask her.” Kyle gestured to Sarah was sat silently to the side. Kayli turned to look at Sarah.
Sarah pursed her lips in thought for a moment.
“I don’t know where to start.”
“Start where you want to. I can catch on to things pretty easily.”
“Well, to be straightforward, the fake was my roommate up in the domes.”
Kayli nodded. This response answered many questions that she had running through her mind. Like why did the queen show up now and how and why there was a fake. But the question of why a fake was raised was still unanswered.
“Do you know why she became queen?”
Sarah shook her head.
“She only said because she liked the dresses and stuff. Who knows what the person behind all this really wants.”
“Do you know who’s behind this?”
“Hannah mentioned something about someone named Richard.”
“Richard?” Sarah frowned, trying to think of any Richards that she knew. That only one that she could think of was a fat drunk that sat in front of a tavern she passed by a lot. “And Hannah is your friend?”
“Why haven’t you tried to convince her to leave? I’m sure all people from the domes have been taught how terrible it is down here. Convincing her to leave should be a really easy task.”
Sarah shook her head.
“I tried, but she’s grown attached to the palace. She thinks it’s really fun and that I was just jealous of all the stuff that she got and was only trying to get her away so I could get her stuff.”
“Now that’s an issue.”
“Pfft.” Kyle almost laughed out loud. “No doubt.”
Kayli gave him a glare.
“Don’t try me. I haven’t forgotten that fact that you went ahead and caught me a few weeks ago.”
“I thought you needed some help.”
“Yeah, well I was fine by myself until you came.”
“Well, remember you did call me a bastard, a son of a bitch along with other things. So we’re even.”
“You-” Kayli glared at him.
“I don’t understand what happened between us. You were so nice when I save you from those chairs.” He said with a frown.
“Nothing.” Kayli muttered. Kyle leaned back and closed his eyes.
Kyle’s eyes opened.
“Done asking questions or done with deal with this?”
“I’ve got no more questions.” She responded annoyed at the fact that Kyle even had to question her. “Ok?”
“Just making sure.”
She glared at him again, the anger flying up inside her. Kyle got up again.
“Well, if you have nothing more to say, I should be heading back then. Business calls.”
Kayli didn’t say anything. Kyle coughed awkwardly and left, giving Sarah a small wave before he disappeared into the dark streets.
Sarah watched as Kayli put her head down. She wanted to say something, but then she didn’t know what to say. She could only watch silently as Kayli sat there, thinking about something. Moments later, the was relieved by the salon woman’s call for breakfast. She excused herself silently and went to fill her grumbling stomach.