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Rose 3

Her poise did not falter, not even by an eyelash flutter did she betray the festering wound they had so callously poked. She held on to her dignity, a picture of attentive disinterest as they argued back and forth. Inside, the old wound that only ever scared over had that feeble protection undone. Would she ever escape that beginning she had had no say in? Would it be all she was in spite of her accomplishments?

She blinked when the need arose, reduced to an awareness of all the mechanics that went into her continued survival. Years of study came in hand as her body adopted the subtle language that had been drilled into her. That of a confident, composed young lady with nothing on her mind but what was about her. One who showed the right amount of interest even as she was bleeding inside.

Catching Kim’s concerned eye, she looked away, not wanting to acknowledge her hurt. Only to meet the knowing, incisive golden gaze of Merric’s father. Somehow the knowledge in his eyes was more painful, deeper. Veiling her eyes, she fought to hide whatever it was that betrayed her.

“So how are you going to get us back home,” she cut through to the heart of the arguments, drawing any attention away from her.

For all it lasted a couple of seconds, the pause that ensured said it all. That infinitesimal pause when a consummate politician’s mind raced to find the right answer to placate the masses. People who, for all their complaints, were ready to accept anything the least bit logical.

Rose, having been taught to catch that pause and know it’s meaning snorted before anyone could give them their candy coated answer. It was unladylike, but she had reached her limits.

“You have no idea how to send us back do you?” she glared at the woman responsible for their being there.

Lady Gwen fixed the folds of her dress, a move Rose knew was meant to draw a moment to gather her thoughts. Her hands had an almost imperceptible tremor. Uncertainty shadowed her pale features, though it never marked their smooth aspect.

She lifted her eyes to meet Rose’s, “The magic that brought you here has been in works for a score and five years. I cast the initial spell that many years ago. It is like a stone thrown into a pond, I had control of when and where to throw it, the resulting splash and ripples are beyond my control.”

“Okay, but you must know a way to get us back.” Rose argued.

Long fingers fluttered about her in a helpless gesture. “I believe you are bound here until the magic that brought you sees its end.”

“And what end is that?” the silk in her tone was meant to be a challenge and a threat, her audience were left in no doubt.

“You are to restore the balance of magic, undo the loss of it that has plagued our world these past centuries.” Lady Gwen stated.

This time Rose allowed herself to laugh, glad that the hysteria was no longer evident, though the sarcasm that laced it was no better. “Is that all?”

“And just how exactly are we supposed to do that?” Ana asked, her voice keeping its normal friendly tones.

Lady Gwen seemed to appreciate that, her posture lost some of its stiffness as she turned to Ana’s screen. Once again she smoothed over the skirts of her dress. “I do not know.” she admitted, her eyes holding to Ana’s. “However, the magic would not have brought you here had you not had the ability to do so.”

An ability that would be a result of the magic they were supposed to have. Rose didn’t trust the idea of magic, if it existed she shuddered to think of all the crimes it could be used to do, the nightmare trying to solve them would be. So much would be rendered obsolete and the criminal codes would have to be changed.

She met Kim’s eyes, that decisive gaze which saw to the truth regardless of how painful it was. Her friend never seemed to lose track, her logical mind seeing true even in the most difficult of times. Where emotion clouded her judgement, as it now did, Rose trusted her friend’s pragmatism.

There was no need to say anything. They had known each other far too long not to read each other. Rose felt her heart sink, fear coursing through her as the reality she had tried to deny reflected from her friend’s eyes.

Panic swiftly followed, the certainty that she couldn’t breath, even as she knew the air was abundant. Time slowed down to an almost nonexistent extent, all the while seeming to rush in on her.

There was nothing to hold on to, nothing to ground her except the familiar brown eyes. She held on like they were her lifeline, the only thing that made sense as her mind rebelled against the new reality.

Sound rushed in to her, an alarm, piercing her ears in that insistent pitch that demanded her attention. Sharp four notes that annoyingly repeated. Her mind sharpened even before it had consciously realized what was happening. The alarm was not a product of her overwhelmed mind.

Where Jaiya’s screen had been closed it now took center stage, flashing crimson, it bared the reason for its automatic appearance. Jaiya was dying.

“What is it doing?” Prince Daire asked, his tension filled voice a perfect blend of revulsion and curiosity.

Rose ignored him as biometric data replaced the red, showing Jaiya’s stats. Her brain waves were erratic, blood pressure and heartbeat high, while her oxygen levels were dangerously low. Wherever she was, their friend was suffocating to death.

This was something she could deal with, something normal. Her fingers were racing across the virtual keyboard before she knew it, accessing the complex network that linked their devices. She trusted Kim to do her part, her eidetic memory allowing them the sixty-four digit code that would access Jaiya’s nanotech. Ana would put in the code that validated their right to manipulate them.

Her mind blanked of all else, focused on the rescue protocols they had set up. A cloud of nano satellites would be released from Jaiya’s nano-bracelet, some to boost the signals to the other three. Others would pulse a homing beacon, whilst others mapped the area she was in and sent the data out. Last would be the matter convention that would allow Jaiya to go into cryogenic sleep.

Her heart pounding, Rose continued typing, aware of Kim and Ana doing the same. Her neuropathic override of Jaiya’s bracelet needed to be simultaneous with Kim’s input and her mind was divided between that and monitoring the biometric data.

She bit her lip as Jaiya’s blood pressure sky rocketed, the oxygen level in her blood stream approaching critical. Her own heart felt like lead, it’s erratic beat threatening to push it right out of her. She swallowed for what felt like the thousandth time, yet her throat remained dry. Once again the air felt insufficient.

Finally, after what felt like hours but could only be seconds the blaring alarm stopped. The screen became a pleasant deep sea blue and the biostats showed cryogenic readings within the normal range.

Closing her eyes she took a long steadying breath, relief washed through her and she knew if she had been standing she would have melted to the floor. That had been too close. Tears threatened to overwhelm her, clogging her throat. For all she had been through, the danger she faced so often to be irrelevant nearly, almost losing her friend had reduced her to a mess she’d never been.

Once again she heard them talking as if she was separated from them by space and time. Their voices an unintelligible mass that ran together. She had to pull herself together, had to find her confidence again. This was a bad time to space out.

Breath. She told herself.

She was not prone to panic. She sailed through the worst times as if they were a breeze.

Breath, she swallowed the useless tears, firming her spine without changing her posture. With a blink to wipe away all weakness, she lifted her eyes to glare at her now silent companions.

“Jaiya nearly died.” She stated, from the corner of her eye she saw Prince Daire start, as if somehow he recognized Jaiya’s name. She had no time to wonder about it though.

Pained sorrow rested on Lady Gwen’s classic features, “That was never my intent.”

“And the road to hell is covered with good intentions.” Her heart squeezed at something Jaiya would have said. Their friend loved the old sayings and we ever coming up with ones they had never heard of. “Its not what you meant to do that matters, what you did does. And right now, you nearly killed Jaiya.”

“Enough!” Merric’s father declared, the authority he wore about Him clear in his voice. “Lady D’Aner has already made her apologies for the inconvenience she has caused. You and your friends have managed to preserve the Lady Jaiya, what we need now is a way to find her, of which Lady D’Aner has a way to do.”

She bristled at that, just because things had turned out alright did not mean they could just let it go. What she hated though, was how right he was. They needed to find Jaiya before whoever had tried killing her found a way through her cryogenesis.

“He’s right Rose,” Kim interjected, a slight tremor infecting the calm in he voice. “Finding Jaiya should be our priority.” Which was Kim’s way of saying once Jaiya was with them, all bets were off.

“How were you planning to do that?” Ana asked.

Lady Gwen fluttered her hands about, her poise making the nervous gesture seem graceful instead of awkward. “Bonds of friendship, kinship, marriage and all have powers that enable one to pinpoint the location of the other with the help of certain spells.”

Trust their hocus pocus when it had nearly cost them Jaiya’s life? When pigs learned how to fly or maybe hell finally froze over.

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