By the end of the day, Jasper had managed to shake Ciel off his trail. Despite her someone traitorous status, she still abided by the rules. By 19:00 hours, she had stopped pursuing him, and let him enter his dormitory alone. He walked through the common room, which was still bustling with tired laughter, and down the hall that divided itself into smaller bedrooms.
The blue walls of his bedroom were calming and the small collection of literature and medical references he had acquired over the years greeted him warmly. There were no letters from home stashed in a heap on his desk, photos of family and friends, or even décor to decorate the sparsely furnished room. It was simple. It was clean. It was his.
And that was all that mattered.
The door swung open, and Cassiel entered, the room instantly glowing ten times brighter and four times more likely to be flagged by the hall monitor. He looked bright, unlike the rest of the tired hall, and comfortably plopped down on the bed before Jasper could protest.
“Hey pal,” he greeted with a grin. “So, you want to tell me why Ciel has been trailing you since the tour? Anything I should be informed about?” Jasper paused to think of the right way to phrase the events that had transcribed, but nothing came to mind. He opened his mouth to speak, but Cassiel cut him off. “And don’t say that it wasn’t anything. Because I know it was, and if you don’t tell me, you know some way I will find out.”
“That’s true,” Jasper agreed. He took a deep breath. “I can’t tell you much. Ciel would have my neck if I did talk about it anyway.” Cassiel nodded. “The just of it is that Ciel may have wandered away from the tour, and I may have followed her and she may have helped an authority figure hide a traitor to the Military Alliance.”
Cassiel smirked. “If it wasn’t you saying those words, I would be sure you were lying.” He paused, pursing his lips in thought for a moment. “Follow me,” he finally said.
He whisked Jasper away, three doors down, to his room, which smelled pungently of paint and illegal aerosol body spray. Cassiel rummaged through the extensive paperwork on his desk, uncovering a black rolled up mat.
“Is that a personal computer?” Jasper hissed. His eyes widened as Cassiel unfurled the mat, revealing that it was such a thing.
“Shut the door, will you?” Cassiel said with a wave of his hand. Jasper did so and then rushed to Cassiel’s side to stare at the device.
“How did you sneak one onto Callisto? Those things are illegal Cass,” Jasper claimed. Cassiel simply shrugged. He wiped the papers off his desk with one hand and set the mat down on the white table, sliding it so that it rested against the wall.
“Jasper,” Cassiel said with a smile. “You should know me well enough by now to realize that I have my ways.” He sat down at the desk and powered on the mat with a single press.
“You could be removed from the Library,” Jasper said. He stood behind Cassiel, enthralled and yet anxious as the mat glowed. It’s holographic sensors sent an image onto the wall behind it, acting as a screen, and the match itself became a mouse and keyboard. “You know the Directors don’t like us researching recreationally. No current events. No messages home- I mean, they make us write paper letters, for Jupiter’s sake. They even regulate the media we consume. They don’t want us living through the present, knowing later we will have to document it as the past later.”
“Please.” Cassiel rolled his eyes. “The way I see it, I’m already three leaps past exile. I could succeed anywhere- even the Military Alliance. I have nothing to worry about.”
The screen lit up, and its signal immediately connected to the nearest source somewhere on Ganymede. The signal would be weak, but it would work.
“So, you wanna know what’s going on?” Cassiel looked up to Jasper with a grin. “Do a little research. Find out for yourself.”
Jasper hesitated. Director Milton, and even Ciel, had purposefully decided to tell him as little as possible. He wondered if perhaps it for his safety, perhaps if it was for the best.
But then again, he had to know. He wanted to know, and he hated all of the wondering. It reminded him of Melas, where he was from- all of this wondering. He hated it.
“Fine,” he reluctantly agreed.
He took Cassiel’s seat and opened the web browser. It opened slowly, reflecting on the wall in front of him. Cautiously, he typed Military Alliance, and without pausing to clearly assess the validity of his actions, he pushed the search option. It took less time than he thought –only about a minute- for the results to appear, but he didn’t have to search through them. The top result contained all the information he needed.
The Earthen Lark sisters part ways. The older, Dione Lark, was apprehended after assisting in the escape of her sister, Adira Lark. Military Alliance soldier, Arnold Hawkins, joins the sister as one of the most wanted traitors in the system. Lark and Hawkins are still off the Alliance’s extensive grid.
Below the beginning of the article, were three pictures. One was Dione Lark, all angles and bones with a mess of dark curly hair on her head. Another was the woman he healed, Adira Lark, with the same angles, but with fiercer eyes. The last was the newly branded traitor, the soldier with the neck wound, Arnold Hawkins, whose photo depicted him with playful grin and shining eyes, a very different sort from the man that laid dying in the ship.
“Are those the people you might have helped hide?” Cassiel mumbled.
“No,” Jasper replied. “Those are the people whose lives I saved.” He remained fixated on Adira, who looked just as old as he did, now that he could take a more focused look at her. “Why would the Military Alliance want them?”
Cassiel hummed. He reached over Jasper and scrolled down to view the rest of the article. “Who knows?” He pointed to a specific passage. “It says here that they are associated with the Dueling Guard, you know the human trafficking group, but their reason for arrest is classified. Seems a bit suspicious if you ask me.”
“It doesn’t matter if you think it’s suspicious,” Jasper replied quietly. “I essentially helped illegal terrorists.”
“Don’t worry about it. I’m sure they’ll move on before you know it. I’d stick up for you in court.”
“Yeah,” Cassiel laughed. “If the higher-ups find out, you’ll definitely be court marshaled. Jasper groaned, leaning back in his chair.
“Hey, I’m just teasing,” Cassiel said. He sighed. “If you could go back in time, would you change what you did?”
“No,” Jasper replied. “They were dying- Adira from emulsion. I couldn’t just leave them there.”
“Then you did the right thing,” Cassiel answered, patting Jasper on the back. “Nothing you can do about it now.”
“You’re right,” Jasper said halfheartedly. “I’m going to bed. It’s been a long day.”
“You got that right,” Cassiel yawned. Jasper walked towards the door. “And don’t tell anyone about my computer, otherwise – “
“You won’t stand up for me in court?” Jasper added with a tired smile.
“See you tomorrow, pal.”
Jasper remerged into the darkened hallway. It was quiet- even the lull of conversation from the common room was silent. Jasper ambled towards his room. He dug around in his robe pocket for his identification card, and then her rummaged through the other pocket. Eventually, he found it in his pant pocket.
“Hello again, Jasper.”
It was Milton, Jasper knew immediately. He turned to see the young, tired Director standing in the middle of the hallway. A draft in the room slowly trembled his blue robe, giving him an ominous ambiance.
“Good evening, sir,” Jasper replied. He unlocked the door to his room, and cracked the door open. He knew the Director wasn’t here for a pleasant greeting. There was something he wanted.
Milton slowly stepped up to Jasper, who remained still. “You need to come with me,” he said.
Jasper grew skeptical. “With all due respect sir,” he said, “I deserve a response more elevated than that.” Milton paused, with a brief smile.
“Not this time,” he replied. “Tell me, do remember the oath you took, the day you were inducted as a Librarian.”
“Then, you will remember the oath you took to hold yourself to a higher standard, to always search for truth and justice despite substantial evidence. By now, you must have figured out who she was. You might think of me as a traitor. What does the oath say about that?”
“ ‘No matter how evil the deed, there is always a perspective to justify it.’” Jasper recited.
“That said, how do you know the perspective you have is the correct one?” Milton declared. “Come with me, and I will help you understand the other side of this story.”
Jasper closed the door and looked to the Director. “Fine.”
“Then follow me.”