Zna shifted nervously as she waited for the hunter to arrive. She glanced at the com-link on her wrist. She didn’t want to here from the person on the other end of the com. She jumped when the device on her wrist buzzed.
“You know all about it. You arrange all my hunts,” Zna said with venom.
“Yes, I do. We are almost to the end of our relationship.”
“We don’t have a relationship. You have my daughter. I am trying to get her back. That does not create a relationship.”
“I have a lot of money riding on you this hunt.”
“When don’t you? Let me speak to my daughter.”
“Perhaps after you win.”
“No, now. Let me speak to her or I don’t run.”
The voice on the other end of the com-link chuckled. “You are not in a position to barter. If you don’t run, your daughter dies.”
“She may as well be dead already, since I never see her. If I don’t run you lose your money.”
“You have a point. I do not want to lose my money nor do I want to kill your daughter. She is too valuable to me, to you, to Dyad for that matter. I will concede, but with a condition.”
Zna sighed. “There is always a condition with you. What do you want this time?”
“I want a larger spread on the points. You have won each hunt but there has not been any odds on the outcome. I want you to win with a thirty tick advantage over the hunter.”
“Thirty ticks? I am out there running for my life and the life of my daughter. How do I know the hunter is not going to want to kill me? Six lionesses were killed instead of mated last cycle. I have to run as though it is my life. I am not willing to slow down. Not only do I not want to mate with a hunter, but I want my daughter back. But how in Leana’s name do I run a hunt and win with a thirty tick advantage?”
“The how is not my concern. If you want to talk to your daughter you have to agree to win with a thirty tick lead. If you only want to win, then you do not need to talk to your daughter. It is simple.”
Zna felt defeated, trapped. “Very well. You will have your thirty ticks. The hunter doesn’t have to survive, does he?”
The voice at the other end of the com-link laughed. “Not at all. Losing a hunter might even create more audience. But that is your call. Here is your daughter.”
“Mama?” A tiny voice timidly spoke over the communications device.
“I am here Bescjen. I wanted to hear your voice before I ran again,” Zna could feel the tears building behind her eyes and a lump of emotion grew in her throat.
“I am well Mama. I do as I am told and I behave myself. The Mister allowed me to have some sweets last night. He said that you ran very well and made him a lot of money. Mama, if I refuse sweets will you come home and stop running the hunts?”
Zna wanted to cry. She wanted to hold her baby in her arms and hear the soft purring deep in her child’s chest as they nestled together.
“Bescjen, the choice for me to stop running the hunt is up to the Mister. Although, if I win this hunt there will only be two more to run.”
“Then we will go home?” Bescjen asked.
“You had better get ready for the hunt. Bes has school work she must complete,” the voice of Mister interrupted. “And remember thirty ticks.”
“Yes,” Zna replied. “Thirty ticks and only two more hunts, then you free her.” Or else. Zna said in her thoughts.