She saw Trevan standing nervously on the deck of his ship. There was no sign of Gideon. She took her chance slipping her energy gun from her bag and holding it close to her side. She ran up the walkway, knowing Colin would be right behind her, and hoping Eleanor would follow his lead.
Trevan turned suddenly to her, a look of fear on his face which melted away and was quickly replaced by anger when he realized who it was. She raised her hands defensively, and saw Trevan’s eyes flicker to her gun. “I’m not here to hurt you Trevan. I’m here to talk you out of this fools errand you are on. Trevan looked at her and slid his knife from the holster at his hip. “How are you here?” He growled.
He looked around him nervously. “What tricks do you have up your sleeve?”
“Like I said, I’m not here to hurt you. I’m here to tell you you’re making a mistake helping Gideon. You do realize he’s only using you to do his dirty work, to get him where he needs to go.”
The stocky pirate glared at her, the scar bisecting his face bunching as he scowled at her.
“I’m not stupid, woman!”
Anise bristled, but then realized that he was scared of her. And at least he’d recognized that she was a woman. And she saw him for what he really was – just a coward. And a bully.
“Then you know what he’s like. You know he’s just going to get rid of you once you’ve outlived your usefulness.”
“I’m not a nice man myself, Miss, as you well know.”
The first time she had met him, as part of an undercover reporting operation, in an absinthe bar came back to her. At first he’d seemed friendly, and called her ‘love’, but then he’d kidnapped her and held her hostage. It was only when she happened to run into her favourite writer that she had managed to get away.
“But you’re obviously a naïve one. Gideon doesn’t seem like the type of person to all of a sudden become understanding.”
“I’m sure I won’t outlive my usefulness. I can do a lot with my secret. I can keep us both living like kings for as long as we want.”
“But once Gideon gets the rest of the secrets, he’ll get yours last. And once that happens…” Anise let the words hang heavy around them with their inevitability.
“You are so sure he’d just get rid of me once he has the other secrets?” Doubt had begun to creep into Trevan’s voice.
Eleanor jumped in. “I’ve never met the man, sir, but from what these two have told me, I’d rather take my chances with the Golems.”
Trevan spotted the tall shadow of
Gideon moving swiftly toward the ship. “Come on,” he said to Anise, Colin and
Eleanor. “We need to get off the ship. We need to get away from him.”
“So you believe me?”
Trevan thought back to all the times Gideon had even just looked at him. It turned his insides into jelly. These people were his way out. “There is nothing good in that man.”
“Can you help us get to the next secret carrier? It’s a man called Silas St. Claire. I don’t know where he is, but maybe you can help us get there.” She removed his photograph from her bag and Trevan took it.
“I can find him now that I know what he looks like. I just need to focus.”
“He’s a farmer, if that helps.”
Trevan nodded. They heard Gideon’s heavy boots above them, and him shouting Trevan’s name. He went the opposite way, heading to Trevan’s quarters. They took their opportunity and snuck down the gangplank, and began their way across the platform to where the elevators awaited.
“Trevan!” Gideon’s voice cut through the air sharp as an arrow.
“Grab hold of me, and hold on tight. Just think of this Silas as best you can.”
Anise grabbed on to Trevan’s belt, avoiding the knives and other weapons around it. She took Colin’s large hand in hers. Eleanor gripped Trevan’s belt on the opposite side, in between a pouch full of coins and a large pistol.
Trevan began muttering and waving his hands. The air began to crackle with electricity and sparks seemed to shimmer in the air like fireflies.
The air began to heat, and sweat began to trickle into Anise’s eyes. She wanted to wipe it away, but she was holding on to Trevan’s belt, leaving his hands free to weave their patterns in the air, that melded with the words that he whispered.
There was a flash and dark clouds rose up around them as if they were in the eye of a tornado. Her hair came loose from her pins and whipped around her face. Purple and white lightning flashed around them. And then above the roar of wind and crack of lightning Colin’s voice reached her in a scream. She could feel his fingers slipping out of her hand, her palm growing slick with sweat. “Hold on!” she yelled, she looked over at him, and horror was etched permanently on his face.
“I am! I’m trying!”
She tried to tighten her fingers around his, but the action just made it worse and seemed to squeeze his hand further out of hers.
She held on with just three fingers, resisting the urge to let go of Trevan’s belt. There was nothing else she could do.
“I’m sorry!” her words were torn from her mouth by the whine of wind and she wasn’t sure if Colin heard them.
Just as his hand fell from hers she whispered ‘thank you’.
And then he was gone, lost in the tumult of storm clouds.
She opened her mouth to cry, to scream and choked on a mouthful of dirt. She hadn’t even felt them arrive. She pushed herself up out of the dry dirt. Trevan was wiping dry grass and dust from his dark trousers. The white shirt he wore under his leather vest dotted with pockets remained miraculously spotless, except for the cuffs which were tinged with brown.
Anise pushed herself unsteadily to her feet. “Where is he? Where did Colin go?”
Trevan shook his head. Anise thought she read a spark of pity in his blue eyes, steely and cold as ice chips.
“I don’t know. He could be anywhere – any time, any place. There’s no telling. The time vortex is unpredictable. That’s the downside to time travel. Time is like a river that is overflowing, interrupted by large rocks and splits off into different areas. That’s why you have to be as precise as possible. So you don’t get lost, or end up somewhere you don’t want to be. I once ended up in the middle of the Homeland War back in the Empire. I almost got trampled by a Golem and then shot by an anti-Coalitionist!” he lifted his sleeve, exposing a healed puckered bullet wound on his upper arm. Above, she noticed words tattooed that wrapped around it.
She heard Eleanor gasp.
“Your secret,” Anise said, pointing to the words. “It goes down your arm?”
Trevan nodded, and removed his vest, and then pulled his shirt off over his head. Anise lowered her eyes, embarrassed. “Look,” Trevan commanded.
Anise raised her eyes and inhaled in a gasp. He had turned around, his back to her. It was covered in reams of words that went down both arms and covered his entire back. “It’s a complex secret. It took me a long time to learn.”
Underneath the dark inked words, Anise noticed his back was marked with scars – criss-crossing his skin like roads on a map. Trevan shrugged back into his shirt and put his vest back on, leaving it open.
The sun shone down harshly, drying out the ground and grass that was already dead and yellowed.