Warning - this might possibly be considered mature content. I don't know. Read with caution.
That's your warning.
Lai wakes up as if from the bottom of a very deep, very cold pool. But it's not cold, it's actually pleasantly warm, which she finds to be suspicious.
Her head is throbbing like hell, but there's not much she can do about that without access to a proper bed, strong painkillers and alchohol.
It's pitch dark.
She opens her eyes.
It's still dark.
She tries to speak, but her mouth is dry and anyway there's something cold and solid pressing her tongue down so she can barely swallow, let alone talk.
Someone must notice her efforts to move, as suddenly the darkness is lifted and replaced with a bright, blinding light. Lai flinches, screwing up her eyes, lifting up her hands to cover them.
And she discovers that she can't move her hands either.
Slowly, she cracks open an eyelid. The light is still bright, but not blindingly so.
"Good evening, Lai Suttle. What a pleasure to finally make your aqaintance."
A mans voice, light but commanding. Polite, but coldly so. Lai attempts to look around, but her attempts are futile – she's bound to some kind of pillar, and the man is standing just outside her field of vision.
Lai swears in her head.
"Now, I understand that you've been a bit inquisitive recently. Looking at things you ought not to be seeing. It's not good, Lai. Do you understand?"
Lai would have spat at the man then, had he not been out of sight and she not gagged.
"You see, we really can't have you running around telling people our secrets. It's bad publicity."
The guards were close by, next to a proper old fashioned coal burning fire that bathed the room in soft orange glow and provided the only light at all, save the harsh fluorescent lumo-projector, pointed right at her eyes so she could never quite see anything properly.
"So, you have a choice."
If she could get to the fire, maybe she'd be able to grab one of the metal pokers that had been left with the end in the fire. The tips would be red, perhaps even white hot. Then she could make her escape. She internally made a disapproving noise at how fairy tale like that idea sounded.
"Either you can...forgetabout this whole incident and return to your happy life, or you cannot. What would you like to do?"
Despite her lack of speech, Lai makes it very clear that she will not forget the conspiracy she's discovered. Not for any threat.
"I see. Oh well, I suppose I should have expected it of someone like you. You always were very difficult to fool."
He nods at one of the guards, who bends down and removes a poker from the fire.
"I'm afraid we'll have to tell people you're insane, so they don't accidently believe any of what you tell them. And of course, we'll have to make sure no one ever mistakes you for otherwise."
The guard holds up the poker, and Lai's eyes widen, suddenly realising what was happening.
From across the room, she can make out a single word, written backwards in glowing, white hot letters.
The man nods.