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“A mirror?” Marsh frowned.

“It’s a communication device!” I declared as he looked at me doubtfully. “It’s… um… how I get in touch with my people to schedule a drop.”

That was already the excuse I had been working on as I dealt more with this world. A communication device made sense. A mirror that could show an image and display you somewhere else. Such technology already existed in my world, but it wasn’t very popular. Why couldn’t such a thing exist in this world too? Especially, if it belonged to some super culture that managed to create clean food and water. I breathed easier as I saw Marsh nodding, seemingly willing to accept such an item existing.

“I will bring the mirror to you.” He declared.

“Do you think they are going to listen when they see me in this condition?” I asked. “Even if you dressed me and pulled me out of the cave, they’d be suspicious if my area suddenly changed. It has to be where they expect me to be. You need to take me to the mirror!”

He frowned. “You just need to call them. Then, I’ll talk to them. Once they know we have you…”

“Do you think these people are going to give out what they have for just one of their scouts?” I stated in disbelief, using the limits of my acting ability to sound as incredulous as possible.

“One of?” He raised an eyebrow.

“They sent dozens of us out to the wasteland,” I stated. “We’re disposable. I’m just the rep for Argos city. Once I’m compromised, they’ll just find someone else. They’re not going to risk what they had for a single person.”

“You could betray us.”

“I could betray you in this cage or there. However, I’m just the messenger. Without me, you won’t get anything!” I lifted the Perco on my wrist, indicating that it was locked to the mirror and wouldn’t work without me.

The truth was that the mirror didn’t have any Allco port that I could see, and I had no clue if it was an Allco product or something else. All I knew was that it was in that Allco office building and that when I touched it, I could travel to another mirror in my world. So far, I’m the only person that seemed to be able to. I wasn’t going to try to bring my family to this hellish world, and I couldn’t bring the slaves back to my world.

As I spoke, trying to keep the worry and panic out of my voice the best I could, Marsh scratched his chin thoughtfully. I needed a yes from him. If he took me back to the building, then I could touch the mirror and vanish. Then… then I didn’t know. They could immediately kill everyone here. Feather could be violated and Hunter and Husk could be dead. However, I could get a gun. I could come back armed. If I waited a few days, they wouldn’t be expecting my return and I could catch them by surprise. I could… I had to try, right?

At the very least, I’d be free. I’d no longer be a prisoner. I couldn’t do anything in this cell, so getting out and getting away was all I could manage right now.

“I’ll get this mirror.” He declared, turning away.

“No!” I cried out, reaching through the bars and just missing grabbing him.

One of the other men stepped forward and struck me with the butt of his rifle. The world went white as I stumbled back and hit the ground. I could hear the men chuckling as I tried to force my way to my feet.

“It’s… fragile,” I begged hoarsely.

Marsh stopped and turned his head back partway. “I’m not going to take you out of this cage and risk upsetting the chief. First, we’ll confirm the existence of this mirror and make sure you don’t have any traps for us. Then, I’ll bring it to you and we can confirm if it works. Once everything checks out, then we’ll see. However, if you’re lying to me, then everyone else pays.”

He turned away and kept walking. Like that, he had a chance in my face. However, as my heart started to settle, I realized I could still salvage this. There was no reason it had to be there. I could touch the mirror anywhere and return to my world. Would it work if I touched it through the cage? Part of me worried I’d end up taking the cage with me. Well, I didn’t take the room with me when I touched it, so that was probably a foolish worry. I still had to try.

If I vanished from this cage, though, wasn’t I letting them die? If I did it at the building, there would at least be a chance I could get back before they ordered their deaths. However, if I did it right in front of them, wouldn’t they immediately kill the others in a rage? My heart shook, but I steeled my heart.

These guys were raiders. They each had likely killed someone in their lives. Just because they took me in didn’t mean anything. They thought I would get them stuff and improve their lives. That was the only reason they helped me. Besides, it was Payne who was responsible for all of this. She was the one who betrayed them. If I looked after myself, what did that have to do with any of them?

I had to take the opportunity offered to me. It’s what anyone else would do. This was a brutal, hateful world. I had already experienced it firsthand. So, why did it leave such a bad taste in my mouth?

Marsh organized a group of men to leave with him, presumably to look for the mirror. A few men stayed behind to watch over Feather and the two beaten-up men. They were hogtied, so there was nothing they were going to do. Meanwhile, Feather was forced to stand their exposed. She did her best to hide her body, but she attracted many leers from men who passed. Of course, with the armed men around them, these guys wouldn’t do anything more than look. The problem came when the armed men started glancing at her too.

As Marsh’s absence grew longer, the raiders who stayed behind started growing more agitated. These were druggies and murderers, and they didn’t like being put on guard duty under the hot sun out in the middle of the courtyard. These men had grown used to the converts of the buildings and an attitude of doing whatever they wanted. Their eyes began to linger on Feather’s naked body more and more until some of them began to openly stare like wild dogs.

When an hour passed and Marsh still hadn’t returned. One of the men stood up.

“It was a trap. Marsh is dead.” He declared.

“It’s only been an hour.” One of the other men stated.

“An hour is longer than it should have been.”

My brow furrowed. He was right. An hour was far too long. It was only a ten-minute walk each way. At best, they would have returned within thirty minutes. The only thing I could think of that could have slowed them up would have been Jeri. I hoped Jeri didn’t get caught up in it. She was on the third floor and she hid safely every time she heard someone in the building, so she shouldn’t be in any danger. This was just like any other day for her. She didn’t even know the trouble that I was in right now.

“I say we just kill these guys.” One of the men chuckled. “Why are we even waiting out here? To intimidate some chickenshit?”

“This girl is not all bad.” Another said, reaching out and touching her hair and causing her to jerk away. “Maybe we can play with her to pass the time.”

“That’s not part of the deal.” Payne took a step forward. “No one touches anyone until they get back.”

“Who the fuck made this bitch have a say?”

“Don’t worry, this slut likes it.” The one who had touched Feather reached out and grabbed at her breasts.

“I said stop!” Payne reached out to block him.

He lifted his gun and fired. She didn’t even have time to react as her a hole exploded in her head.

“Nooo!” Raven screamed as he slammed into the bars.

Half of the men let out screams lifting their weapons. Suddenly, bullets started flying on both sides. I lowered my head as one hit my bar, trying to protect myself. When it was over, I looked back up to see three of the men dead. Hunter was bleeding from his arm and it wasn’t clear if Husk had been hit. Raven was still screaming.

“It’s time for fun!” The man who had shot Payne cried out, with one hand holding onto Feather’s arm.

“I’ll kill you!” Raven shouted, but the guy only laughed as he looked around, and finding a door into a nearby building, started yanking the naked Feather toward it.

As they reached the door, Feather gave us a single helpless look before the man dragged her out of sight to do who knew what with her. The other surviving men took a look at each other, and then followed behind, leaving the two men tied up on the ground and at least one of them to bleed out. As for all of the other raiders, they minded their own business, just like I had been planning to do. You only need to worry about yourself, right?

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