When I woke up, I had to shut my eyes and open them again to believe where I was.
On the forest floor, in Inferior America. As a hostage for the Verisat.
"Rise and shine, sleeping beauty!" Sher's voice rang into the air, followed promptly by a kick in my gut.
My face pulled into a grimace and I felt my snappishness flare up.
"Why am I even here? Just take me back and I won't say anything, I swear."
I was kicked again, harder this time.
"You're a snitch. I can see it in your face. Besides, we're not done with you yet."
She called for Celeste, and soon enough I was forced to my feet, but by Mercy.
"Walk." she said gruffly, forcing me to move forward.
Sher looked at her doubtfully but let it go, pointing instead to some invisible spot in the distance.
"Take him to the camp. We might as well get some labour out of him-"
"-Camp?!" I interjected, horrified, "You can't just expect me to work for you-!"
"Watch me!" Sher said again, "Besides, it's what your wonderful country did for me, you shit!"
For what it was worth she punched me, hard, in the face and I felt warm blood rushing instantly from my nose.
"Fuck!" I yelled, clutching at it and doing my best to stop the bleeding.
"For such a rich, educated prick you have an awfully low pain threshold." she chuckled, gesturing for Mercy to leave.
As soon as we had left Sher out of sight Mercy pushed my back hard against a tree and knocked the wind out of me.
Her left fist drove itself repeatedly into my ribcage, but I was too busy trying to breathe to defend myself.
"How does it feel?" she asked with her oddly calm voice, "Unwanted pain? Being at another person's mercy?"
The sound of footsteps stopped her attack and she let me drop, sighing when she saw that it was only Celeste.
"Let the one among you who is without sin to be the first to cast a stone." the wavy-haired woman said simply, walking on the path and waiting for the two of us to join her.
Mercy shot me a look that was comparable to a thousand daggers impaling me and forced me to walk again.