On Iron, Part 2

“Kuda!” Palen shouted. He slammed open the outer door to the cell. His words were nearly washed out by the echo of ceramic on stone. The Mizenish prisoner jolted upright in his bed. It only took a moment for his expression to return to the detached demeanor Palen found so obnoxious.

“How can I help you, Lieutenant?” Kuda said. He laid his hands in his lap and stared at the floor.

“Why in the six hells didn’t you tell me about the iron?” Palen asked. He paced back and forth in the cell’s antechamber. His voice never lowered, almost deafening even to himself in these tight confines.

“About what?” the prisoner asked. His expression was genuinely confused for a moment. “I don’t know of what you speak.”

“Still keeping up the amnesia crap? Even when it helps you?” Palen slammed his fist against the wall. “Damn it. Of course. Damn it.” His fist throbbed enough that he rubbed at it absently. “Of course you’re not lying. Corvair told me what’s happening at the border. You would have told me yourself if you remembered.”

“Your apology is accepted,” Kuda replied.

“I am not -” Palen broke off. He stared at the prisoner a few moments, bemused. “Fine, take it as you will. I want you to know I’m prepared to listen now. Whatever you can remember, tell me. I won’t let my prejudice stand in the way.” Leaning back on his heels, Palen crouched down to be at eye-level with Kuda. “After what I learned today, I don’t think I have any beliefs left to stand on, anyway.”

Kuda smiled and raised his eyes to meet his captor’s. “A wise beginning, Lieutenant. I will tell you what little I know.”