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"I volunteered."

Then Gabby was glad for the darkness. Part of her was happy to have company, but another part suspected her involvement and the suspicion was written plainly on Gabby's face.

"Why?"

There was a long silence.

"I'm not, not answering because I'm trying to think of an answer. I'm not answering because I'm trying to get the courage to say what I feel."

Gabby waited a while before she said, "Okay." She hadn't been sure if Avony was waiting for an acknowledgement or just thinking again, but she started talking right after.

"I always hated that you made me choose. That you put our friendship to the test over Zaela."

"We've been over this before. I forgive you, Avony. Knowing what you knew about LifeGame, it's hard to fault you for trying to survive."

Gabby's eyes had adjusted enough she could see a faint outline of Avony sitting across from her. Avony's head shook lightly in denial of Gabby's words.

"I could have, Gabs. I could have accepted Zaela in the group. Look how you kept her advancing all those years, despite her deficiencies—"

"—they weren't deficiencies!" Gabby said more forcefully than she would have liked and then quieter. "It's just LifeGame hadn't found a place for her unique gifts."

"Sorry," said Avony. "You know what I mean. But my point is that I could have helped. It could have been all three of us together. We would have ruled Neversoft High."

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