So now, Milos is convinced he's been set up by Warden and Hashi, and his only chance of getting out of this apparent trap alive is by going to the Amnion with his newly-discovered truth. Going through corridors and riding in lifts, Milos makes it to the airlock in an unmarked wall that will open into the Amnion sector of Billingate. He uses the keypad to enter his Amnion-provided id code, and waits for a response while he wonders why no one seems to be pursuing him.
Milos enters his id code on the keypad again, and hears an Amnion voice demand he state his name. After he does so, the voice tells him to enter the airlock, and that he is welcome among the Amnion. The airlock door rolls open, and Milos sees the half-human, half-alien-looking Marc Vestabule waiting for him, holding a breathing mask. Marc introduces himself to Milos, and advises Milos to put on the mask. Milos backs away, but Marc reminds him that the Bill has spying equipment in the corridor, and Milos decides to accept the mask. But when Marc moves back away from the airlock, further back into the Amnion habitation, Milos hesitates to step over the airlock threshold. Marc notices his fearful expression.
An inner door opens behind Marc, but no other Amnioni appear to be in the room beyond. Marc asks Milos to follow him to a secure chamber where he can make his requirements known. When they get to this chamber Milos sees a chair to sit in, and right after he sits in it, he adjusts his breathing mask to place a nic into his mouth and pulls out a lighter to set his nic ablaze. Marc warns Milos the air in his breathing mask is oxygen-rich enough that sparking his lighter could do him harm. Milos pockets his lighter and the nic, and reflects that the Amnion may value his well-being, after all.Vestabule"s human eye blinked as if he wanted to wink but had forgotten how. "Milos Taverner," he said carefully, "you are afraid. What frightens you? Have you not dealt honorably with the Amnion?"
Dealt honorably? When did any of you ever let me deal honorably?
He couldn't say things like that, however; not if he wanted to survive. Defensively he muttered, "I've always told you the truth." The mask muffled his voice. "It's not my fault some things I thought were true have turned out to be lies."
The Amnioni appeared to consider the implications of this assertion for a moment. Still blinking, he replied, "But now that you have learned the truth, you have come to offer it to the Amnion. Therefore you are welcome among us, as I have said. Please enter the airlock."
Nearly gagging on the pressure in his chest, Milos Taverner pushed himself past the door.
The lock closed behind him, cutting him off from his humanity. Now he had nothing left to hope for, except that the Amnion would value the things he'd come to tell them.
At once a complex light washed over him: sulfur, scanners, and decontaminates. As far as anyone knew, the Amnion were proof against human diseases and parasites. Nevertheless they didn't believe in taking chances.
He didn't either. On that basis he might still be able to negotiate with them.
[This chapter synopsis will continue into my next two posts in this thread.]