Dimensions: the Quarter Piece

All Rights Reserved ©

Chapter 16: the Countdown

~ Day One ~

“I’m gonna make a run. You want anything?” Makoto asked, zipping up her jacket.

Zeke looked up from the Sherlock Holmes book that he had recently become obsessed with. “You mean besides a free ticket out of here? Maybe a flashlight.”

She nodded and flicked her wrist, a portal opening. “Flashlight. Got it.” She’d learned through days of bored messing around that it was easier to open portals if she concentrated through a physical signal.

A second later she was walking into her bedroom again, and there was a note on the bed: ‘Makoto—I noticed the things missing from here. If it is somehow you, please come let me know you’re alright. – Hiroshida.’

Makoto didn’t even touch the note. If her father really was Ronin, shouldn’t he be working with Hybrid? Shouldn’t he be in league with Hybrid, coming to visit her every once in a while?

Makoto turned away with a sigh and silently went to her desk, taking her flashlight and tucking it into her pocket. Then she went to her closet and pulled out the box that had all of her case research in it.

If she was going to be in a tower with nothing else to do, she could at least try to do her homework.

Makoto held the box in her sore arms and made a portal open before her.

Zeke was in exactly the same position she had left him in. She tossed him the flashlight, which he caught easily.

Sitting cross legged on her bed, Makoto flipped through the case notes. She had spoken to Bill Greenhook, who had pointed her to Maggie’s Veteran Hospital. She had had to go directly to Chicago, so she never got the chance to check it out.

And then after she got back, well—Zeke intercepted her on her way to the hospital.

He had indicated that either the hospital was the key or that the third coin was hidden in there, but either way she had to find an angle that she could research without actually being there in person.

It was risky popping out more than once a day. Since they had no way to tell time, and they didn’t know what time meals were served, it was difficult to schedule an undetected outing.

That meant she was left with searching the box until she found an early schematic of the hospital mixed in with Heilner’s things. It was enclosed in a letter that was first addressed to Heilner from Greenhook, and then to Angelika’s parents.

“You ever been to Maggie’s Veteran Hospital?” She asked distractedly, eyes roaming the pages.

“I visited someone there once, a long time ago.” Zeke responded. “Why?”

“I think there might be something there that has to do with my case.” She said, picking up a few more pages.

“Like what exactly?”

“Some old sailor named Greenhook said that the last two pieces of the Quarter Piece were hidden down there. I don’t know if that means two coins or a coin and the malachite belt thing.” She unfolded an old map. “And his intel was old. It may have changed since he knew about it.”

A few minutes later, she pushed the map away and picked up the hospital blueprint again. “These are at least seventy years old.”

Her eyes raked over the old paper searchingly until they ached. But just as she was about to put it down and look somewhere else, small writing in a corner caught her eye. She reached forward and rifled through the bottom of the box until she found a magnifying glass.

Holding the glass over the writing, Makoto made out another verse like the clues that she had followed previously.

Below the sick

Beyond the dead

There I lay

Upon my bed

Honor and respect are my crown

Valor is the strongest link in my chain

The weakest my crimson gown

My story written in bronze

I have lost them

I have failed.

Makoto realized she read it out loud when Zeke put his book down and frowned at her. “That’s depressing.”

She looked up sharply. “Does it make sense to you?”

He shrugged. “What do you think it means?”

She looked back down at the verses, concentrating to the best of her ability on deciphering the seemingly symbolic language. “It’s written on a schematic of MVH, which I assume means that ‘below the sick’ is referring to the operating levels of the hospital.”

Her eyes scoured the blueprint again. “Back when this was printed, one of MVH’s lower levels was a morgue. Might be what ‘beyond the dead’ is referring to.” She leaned back with a tired sigh, a headache piercing at her temples.

Zeke picked up his book again. “Rest, Makoto. Don’t try to answer difficult questions when you’re tired. You’ll find that your solutions don’t always make sense when you’re fully conscious.”

She nodded, moving her papers off of her bed. “Wake me up when dinner comes.”

~ Day Three ~

“Confidence is key. If you’re confident, then your battle’s already half won.” Zeke coached, praising her when she blocked three of his punches in a row and landed one of her own.

She took his advice to heart and lunged for his throat, but he ducked and swept her legs out from under her.

As she crashed to the floor, moaning and rubbing her elbow, he got back to his feet and grinned down at her. “Different type of confidence. Don’t cross the line between confident and stupid. Running headfirst into someone’s arms without calculating the cost is a sore mistake.

Panting heavily, she waved one arm in gesture for him to slow down and back up. “Wait—show me what I should have done.”

“What?”

“Show me how to successfully grab you by the throat.” She persisted, getting back on her feet and hopping around a little bit to shake the sore stiffness out of her neck and shoulders.

He shrugged. “There aren’t going to be many instances where you actually can grab your opponent’s throat, unless you’re really fast and you’ve caught him off guard.”

“Which means?”

“Which means you work your way up, disabling their defense.”

She blinked at him, clueless. “Huh?”

“Go for my throat.” He said.

She lunged again, but he jammed his boot heel into her hip sending her flying backwards, agonizing pain spiking through her. She cried out, tears pricking at her eyes.

He knelt next to her. “Your opponent is never going to let you take him down. You have to expect resistance every single time.”

She let him help her to her feet, but she doubled over, groaning. “Did you have to hit me so hard?”

“I didn’t.” He responded. “You okay?”

She straightened slowly, but her left leg was shaking. “I’m fine. My hip was injured previously by my brother.”

His expression darkened in concern, and he fell back a little. “I’m sorry. We can stop.”

“No.” She shook her head, drawing her arm across her face to keep the perspiration from dripping into her eyes. “No. Let’s go again.”

He shrugged. “Alright. Again.”

She bolted forward, arms outstretched. His leg lifted to kick her opposite hip so she did likewise, meaning to kick him in the knee and deflect his blow.

Instead, she accidentally pushed herself up rather than his leg down and her shoulder smacked into his throat.

Her balance was off and her heart leapt with fear as she found herself falling, so she flung her arm out to grab him and stop her fall. Her hand gripped his left shoulder as she dropped gracelessly behind him, panting.

But Makoto found herself standing behind Zeke, him on his knees with her arm around his throat.

“How...” He gasped, panting as he curled in on himself in pain. “Did you do that?”

She let go of him and limped around in front of him. “Sorry,” She apologized meekly. “It was an accident.”

He stared at her as he slowly stood. “That was an accident?”

She smirked at him. “I thought I was going to crack my skull open on the floor.”

He got all excited all of a sudden. “Your clumsiness may have just sped your training along.” He reached into her half of the room and grabbed a pen and a piece of paper off of her desk, and then dropped on his hands and knees to draw something.

Makoto watched him, completely lost. “Zeke, what are you doing?”

A few minutes of silence passed and then she was staring at a roughly sketched figure that was supposed to represent himself.

“Distract your opponent by aiming for the throat.” He drew a line from the ground toward the figure’s feet. “When he goes to stop you, plant one foot in his knee or upper thigh.” The next line joined the first one and went up to the figure’s knee.

“Then push off and launch yourself toward his right shoulder, holding your right arm out to hook around his neck.” He drew a diagonal line up to the figure’s right shoulder. “Once you’ve caught his neck, use him as an anchor and swing yourself around behind him and plant your feet on the floor, jerking his head down towards you.”

Zeke looked up at her eagerly. “Just like you did to me. Just make it on purpose.”

She nodded, dropping to one knee, finally understanding. “But what do I do once I’ve got them down?”

Zeke looked away for a long minute. “This isn’t going to happen—you won’t be in the fight to get out.” He said, handing her the paper and moving away from her.

“I might be if it doesn’t go as planned.” Makoto argued, getting up and following him.

He shook his head. “Don’t get mixed up in this world, Makoto. There’s no going back.”

She laughed at him. “I’m dead center in this world, Zeke. And what makes protecting myself such a bad thing?”

He dropped down on his mattress. “Out there in the real world, you can use that move to get your brother off of your case. Usually by the time you get him on his knees, he’ll leave you alone. That’s all you need.”

She shook her head. “Not my brother. The weaker someone makes him feel, the angrier he gets.”

Zeke’s expression looked like he’d just taken a punch to the gut. “How did you ever put up with that?”

She shrugged, not willing to let herself fall apart at the memory of the pain her brother had put her through. “What other choice did I have? I need your help, Zeke. I need you to teach me how to end a fight.”

He sighed and met her gaze firmly. “If you have time, you squeeze his neck between your upper arm and forearm, right in the crook of your elbow, until he blacks out.”

“And if I don’t have time?”

“If you don’t want him seriously hurt, you can use your other hand to hit him over the head with something.” He reached for the book she had lent him, quick to end the conversation.

“That’s not so bad,” She said lightly. “What were you so afraid of?”

“If you were going to be fighting with us, I’d send you out there with a knife and make you stab them in the kidney. But I’m not going to do that and you’ll never have to.” He gave her a forceful look. “Don’t get used to aiming to cause maximum damage, Makoto. It hardens you in a way that a girl should never be hardened.”

She nodded slowly. “I understand.”

He nodded and opened his book. “Good.”

~ Day Six ~

Below the sick

Beyond the dead

There I lay

Upon my bed

Honor and respect are my crown

Valor is the strongest link in my chain

The weakest my crimson gown

My story written in bronze

I have lost them

I have failed.

Makoto peered down at the verses for what must have been the fiftieth time. Old time figurative language was just horrible. She’d pretty much figured that below the sick meant under the hospital, beyond the dead meant somewhere in the morgue or under the morgue.

She wasn’t sure what the use of the word ‘beyond’ was supposed to mean.

Zeke had suggested that ‘there I lay upon my bed’ might mean that someone was dead and buried in the hospital, which Makoto was kind of unsure about because who buries people in hospitals?

Churches or cathedrals she understood, but why hospitals?

The only other thing she could think of was that there was literally supposed to be someone asleep in some room, but they would be really old by then and likely dead, which put them back at ‘dead person.’

So if she and Zeke were right, then they had deciphered enough to know that under the hospital, somewhere in relation to a morgue, there was a dead person buried.

She didn’t think that the person in question had died during the building of the hospital and they had cemented them in the walls like the Great Wall of China or something because of the verse ‘upon my bed’ which indicated that there was a coffin or some kind of permanent resting place.

Honor and respect.

If they were in the verses, they had to have some significance, didn’t they?

“Hey, Zeke, what do honor and respect mean to you?” Makoto asked.

Zeke glanced up, an eyebrow raised. “Should I feel offended?”

She rolled her shoulders and stretched her back. “Honor and respect are my crown; Valor is the strongest link in my chain. What does that mean to you?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know, but I don’t suggest thinking of it literally.”

Honor.

Respect.

Valor.

The verses were supposed to be the key to the locations of the two final pieces of the Quarter Piece.

The Quarter Piece was a reward mean to honor and give respect to the hero that Evonna had mentioned.

Honor and respect are my crown.

“The coins are just normal rock, right? Besides the glowing thing?” She questioned carefully, possibly onto something.

“Uh-huh,” Zeke confirmed distractedly.

“So they can be broken?”

“Yep.” He flipped the page. “Why? Did you sit on one?”

“No. I’m taking it literally.” She responded.

He dropped the book in his lap. “Makoto, you can’t take it literally. It makes it almost impossible to decipher if you have to guess which ones are metaphorical and which ones are literal.”

“No, I know, but consider this.” She got up to stretch her legs and heard her knees pop. They’d already trained that day, but evidently it hadn’t done much to loosen the tension in her joints.

“People used to be buried with their finest possessions, right? Jewelry, best clothes, favorite servant and pet?” She started, pacing the room tiredly.

“What do you mean used to?”

At the incredulous stare he got, Zeke corrected himself. “Apart from the servant and pet thing, I mean. But yeah—go on.”

“Wouldn’t it make sense if, in order to protect the pieces, this person in the coffin or whatever had one of them broken and set like jewels into some kind of crown?”

Zeke’s eyebrows slowly crawled up towards his hairline. “Plausible,” He admitted. “But what makes you think only one of them?”

She showed him the map that had the verses on it so that he could read it for himself. “‘Valor is the strongest link in my chain.’ Valor is another word that could be used to describe the Quarter Piece, like honor and respect. And in terms of a chain, if it’s like the crown, it could be a necklace. The strongest part of a necklace is usually the pendant, so...”

“So the fourth coin is tied around his neck.” Zeke studied the verses carefully. “You know...” He bit his lip and then glanced up at her. “As long as we’re talking about a dead person buried in a hospital, it wouldn’t be too crazy to think that ‘my story written in bronze’ is referring to a bronze plaque as a grave marker.”

Makoto flashed him an eager smile. “You’re brilliant.” She turned away and copied the verses on a different piece of paper, marking their probable translations down beside each verse.

Below the sick – Under hospital

Beyond the dead – Old morgue

There I lay - Dead

Upon my bed - Coffin

Honor and respect are my crown – 3rd coin broken in crown

Valor is the strongest link in my chain – 4th coin necklace

The weakest my crimson gown

My story written in bronze – Bronze grave marker

I have lost them

I have failed.

“You know, this is all just us guessing. I’ll have to get this to Chester and see if he can figure out if we’re right.”

“You gonna do that now?” Zeke asked, glancing up. “Mind getting some takeout while you’re in the real world? I’m craving Chinese.”

Makoto raised an eyebrow at him and sat back down on her bed. “You got money on you? And besides, I’m not going out right now. I want to try to have the whole thing somewhat worked out before I make him do the manual labor.

But the longer she stared at the words, the more they blurred and danced before her eyes.

She got up with a tired yawn and crossed the room, sitting next to the fire to warm herself. “It’s cold in here.”

“You’ll be glad of that in a few minutes after you’ve roasted your back.” He commented.

She reached her leg over and poked his ankle with her toe. “Tell me about your home.” She implored. “Maybe it’ll help me make sense of that stupid riddle thing.”

He put the book down beside him and folded his hands in his lap, a distant smile growing on his face. “In my opinion, it’s worlds better than this place.”

Makoto scoffed. “As long as the towers are willingly entered and lived in, I’m okay with letting you think that.”

He smirked good naturedly. “Depends on the tower.”

His expression became distant as his mind wandered across the expanse of space that separated him from his home. “It’s largely different and remarkably similar, all at the same time. Most of the animals are horse size or larger. The insects are like cats.”

Makoto’s face scrunched up in horror. “I’m missing the appeal.”

He laughed softly. “You get used to it.” After a moment he glanced at her. “People dress differently. Most people wear things that are almost entirely made of leather, brass, and clock pieces.”

At her confused look, he shrugged. “It’s the style. Wealthier people dress in useless garments that are worth but nothing in durability. Doesn’t matter for them, I suppose. Most of them don’t do anything.”

She smirked. “You make it sound like old-time Earth. Don’t you have technology? Big cities? Cars? Music? Zeke, do you have WiFi?”

“Our technology is vastly different but has the same purpose as yours. Your cell phones are thin bricks that are beyond me in terms of convenience. Back home we have a contraption that encircles your crown and projects the information before your eyes. We call them databases. And yes, they can access the hive.”

Makoto blinked at him, trying to catch up with all his new-age-y jargon. “Is it just me or is the addiction slightly worse in your world? And what hive?”

He shrugged. “Some people are browsing their databases for hours on end, but the consequences eventually catch up to them. The hive is the universal data storage. You see? A single unit housing information that millions of databases add to and take from? It’s the hive. We have the same languages as you, but we have different names.”

“Ah,” Makoto nodded carefully. “Do they have to charge?”

“Of course they have to charge. What else would they run on? Brainwaves?” He rubbed his hand over the Sherlock Holmes cover, bringing Makoto’s mind to another question.

“So, what with you technologically advanced world over there...are books extinct?”

He looked horrified. “Not at all. They are printed in enormous quantities. Our paper is more yellowed and our binding is leather and brass, but books are far too valued to be done away with, even for the sake of converting to completely projected libraries.

She felt immensely relieved. A world without physical books was no world at all.

“And in answer to your earlier deluge of questions—our big cities are as numerous as yours. We’re not savages. The architecture is different and the road markings aren’t the same, but it’s still a city. As for cars—”

“Do they fly?” She interrupted.

He frowned at her. “They’ve been talking about it, but flying cars are frivolous wastes of money when we have perfectly functioning transporters.” He shook himself, getting back on track. “Our cars aren’t much different than yours. The designs are mostly different, though we’ve had some influence from the manufacturers of your world. I don’t know what an electric car is other than it’s supposed to save the environment. Of course, we’ve been driving the gasoline models that you have for decades and it hasn’t done any damage, so we’ve elected to wait it out and see what happens.”

“What’s a transporter?”

“Other than a private sea or air vessel, a transporter is the most expensive mode of relocation that you can buy. It’s like a cylindrical tube. It’s a close fit, though there are two and three occupant options on other models. The inside of it conforms to your body and closes tightly around you so that you don’t tire your muscles out on a long journey, considering there are no seats. It doesn’t have a programmable driver like I’ve read that your people are trying to do. You’re in full control the whole time. It has no wheels—it levitates and can go up to one-hundred-seventy miles per hour. It also has a teleport capability for long distance, though it takes a full tank of gas for one trip. Still working on that.”

Makoto stared at him. “Awesome.”

He smiled softly. “I miss home.”

Makoto moved away from the fire as it did indeed begin to roast her back. She ended up sitting next to him, eyes wide with interest. “Tell me more.”

“Our plants are immensely more useful than yours. And our stones, too. They can heal and empower and touch the emotions in a way that you wouldn’t understand.”

Makoto blinked at him. “Yeah, they told us that, too. They’re no less than poison. Whatever you do, don’t smoke them.”

He gave her an odd look. “Smoke them?”

“Don’t roll dried plants up in a tiny sheet of paper, stick it in your mouth and light it on fire.” She responded.

“Oh,” He looked like he understood. “No, we have that, too. It’s not the same, though. What I’m talking about is real. It doesn’t intoxicate or inhibit, and as long as you use it routinely for medicinal purposes, the addiction levels are extremely low.”

“Hmm.” Still not convinced, she changed the subject. “Is everyone...human?”

He scoffed. “What kind of question is that? Of course not. There are elves and shifters and aquatics and aerials.” He glanced at her perplexed expression. “There are more, but you’ll probably not recognize them.”

“Run those last two by me again.” She requested, trying to figure out an entire world based on one man’s description.

“I’m pretty sure your world knows them as mermaids and fairies.”

“Ah.” More than a little weirded out, Makoto leaned back against the wall. “So you have teleportation. Time travel’s starting to get a little more common around here. How about you?”

“Oh, sure.” Zeke affirmed. “Teleportation, time travel, interdimensional travel, they’re all very common.”

“Then why don’t we know about it?” Makoto responded.

“You do. There has been discussion back and forth between our worlds for the past few months. We’re opening public travel between us. You can come over some time.” Zeke offered.

“Huh.” Makoto smirked. “And the world keeps spinning.”

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.