By the time we boarded the train, my sword felt a hundred pounds heavier. I laid it on the seat next to Jaya, whose breathing was still shallow. Riya tended to Jaya placing an ice-cold cloth over Jaya’s wrinkled forehead. As soon as Mark stumbled on the train, her attention shifted to his leg. She handed the cloth over to my mother who switched places with her. Mark’s crimson blood dripped on the floor like paint being dragged across a white canvas.
“Doctor Roy, I need you to hand me a bag and some extra towels,” Riya ordered without looking away from Mark’s leg. Before I could move, my father swiftly placed a black duffle bag and some clean clothes next to the patient. Sometimes I forgot there was more than one doctor in the family. Riya carefully peeled back his bloodied pants leg to reveal the deep crevasse in his pale skin. I stared at the scene before me dumbfounded.
“How did you guys get here?” I asked breathlessly.
“I told your family.” Grandfather said, while staring at his mud stained leather shoes.
“And I went to the farm after you got dragged away by the Monarch’s personal guard. I escorted Elizabeth and the baby here. Your friend, Cephas, said he would stay and hold back anyone who came looking for you.” Riya explained as she cleaned up Mark’s leg. I felt another wash of admiration for Cephas’s bravery. Riya’s under eyes were dark with exhaustion. My father saw this and gingerly took the supplies out of the medical bag.
“Riya, take Myra to the front of train and fill her in on the plan. I think Rajon is with there as well.” My father instructed. Riya got to her feet, took my bloody hand and guided me to the back of the passenger car.
I felt a strange cloud of emotion come over me at the anguished expression on Mark’s face as my father began to sow him back together. But when Mark met my eyes, he suppressed his pain for a moment to give me a strained smile, as if to say, “go it’s okay.” I tore my eyes away from him and pulled open the sliding door and stepped into the next compartment. There were a few Greys scattered about offering gold rimmed champagne glasses, to which I politely declined, even though there was nothing more than I desired than to chug the entire train dry of alcohol. Rajon was two cars ahead of me speaking with the conductor who was a Grey of about fifty years old with a scruffy salt and pepper beard. He eyed me like I would steal his train away from him. I couldn’t blame the man, I must have looked like a bandit with the blood and cuts covering my body. Before I could greet them, a blur of brown and black tackled me to the ground. The loud panting and stark breath that bombarded my senses lifted my spirits.
“Hey boy!” Tiger’s wet tongue left a slobbery trail of faithful love all over my face. “It’s good to see you.” I buried my face in his chocolate fur and breathed in his musty scent. He wined and pawed at me, sensing my distress. Get up Myra, now is not the time. With one last scratch behind the ear, I stood on my aching feet. Riya’s cherub face was tinged red with concern. She took off her white shawl and began to wipe away the grim and soot, reveling pink skin like rare meat.
“I don’t even know where to start.” Her small body forcibly pushed me down on a seat, so she could get a better angle at cleaning my face. Her shawl came away like a smothered water color painting. A mix of wine blood, muddy brown, and charcoal black spun together to create a depressing shade of soot. I winced as she touched the split in my head. I tried to pull away from Riya but she was stronger than me.
“We need to go now, while we have a head start.” I managed to squeak out through the burning sensation growing in my brain. That got Riya’s attention. The ferocity in her brown eyes was like an untamed tiger.
Without turning around, she commanded the attention of the whole car. “Conductor, start the train immediately.” With a swift bow, the older man fidgeted with a few knobs and the train started to vibrate. The whirling of the engine coming to life sounded like a bulldozer driving over a car. We lurched forward in our seats as the train chugged forward. Tiger lay over my feet as Riya tended to my wounds. I heard the car door slide open and saw two pair of shoes. One was a pair of torn camel skin ballet flats and the other were sturdy metal toe boots. I almost shot up from my seat like a bee had stung me in my butt. The weary but smiling faces of James and Elizabeth almost caused me to pass out from relief. I tried to get up to greet them, but Tiger lay like a pile of brinks over my feet. Elizabeth crushed me a hug that sucked the air out of my lungs.
Elizabeth frantically scanned my face. In her arms, baby Charlie gave me a toothy smile. “We are all happy you’re alive, Myra.” She held my dirt covered hands, paying no regard to the black grime that crawled its way under my nails.
James kneeled down in front of me and patted my knee in agreement. The swelling in his face had deflated, no doubt some medicine that Riya had given him to take away the excruciating pain he must have been in. I could practically see birds flying around in his eyes.
“James can you get me some more clean cloths and warm water please?” Riya was still nursing my many wounds. James nodded and jogged back to the first train car. Our compartment swayed gently like a giant was rocking us to sleep.
“Where are we going?” My throat was parched from all the smoke I had inhaled. Now that I wasn’t in a state of hyper awareness, I could feel the throbbing aches and sharp stabs in my body. I felt like someone had sewn me back together, but everything was in the wrong place.
“Sector five. Far away from this mess so that we can sort everything out. I figured a train is less conspicuous than a missing plane or registered vehicle. Besides, whenever Rajon and I travel for ambassadorial purposes, we take this train. No one will blink.” Riya sounded so confident in her plan, that I trusted her immediately. “A luxury train is the last place a wanted criminal of the United would go.” Elizabeth glanced up at me through her thick eyelashes.
“Call it how it is, I am a wanted fugitive, by my mother the Monarch and my estranged sister, Reena.” My voice felt heavy and flat. Riya stopped cleaning my wounds and Elizabeth’s eyes slowly turned to me. I had forgotten that not everyone knew what bomb had just been dropped on my life. “Surprise!” I raised my hands dramatically.
“Oh, stop it,” Riya pushed my hands down and shook off the initial shock of my news. “Your mother is right there in that first car and she was worried sick about you, because you are her daughter, Myra Roy. Don’t you let some twisted woman play mind games with you. You’re stronger than that.” I stared at the small but powerful woman in front of me. She had just given me a commandment and I intended to keep it close to my heart. Riya began to clean my neck, but the pressure sent me into a coughing fit so violent that it startled Tiger. My eyes watered as my lungs tried to leave my body.
Elizabeth stood up hastily, “I’ll go get you some water.” She left the car just as James came back with the supplies that Riya needed. He took Elizabeth’s spot and began to wipe the lukewarm towel over my arm, just as Riya was doing with my face.
“There,” Riya wiped away the last of the blood from my eyes and face. “Now we can see your whole face.” Misty traces of water gathered in my eyes, but I fought them back. But Riya having the vision of a hawk, noticed immediately. “What’s wrong, Myra?”
“Reena did this for me, when Evan Stewart was taken away from work.” I hesitantly cast a glance at James who had been the one to take Evan away. He continued to clean me with less vigor than before. “She cleaned my tears and took care of me like a real sister should.” A warm knot formed in my throat. Riya firmly held my hand. Her palms were smaller than mine, but her grip was solid stone.
“I may not be your sister by blood Myra, but I will take care of you as if you were.” Another knot surfaced in my throat, but not from sadness; it was a happiness and security threatening to spill over into tears. “And I promise, I won’t intentionally hurt you.” Before I could reply, Elizabeth came back into the car with a warm cup of tea in one hand and a sleeping baby Charlie in the other. I took the cup eagerly and sipped the warm lavender drink. My muscles relaxed in gratuity and my thundering head slowed in appreciation. Before I knew it the swaying of the train car and warmth of the tea lulled me to sleep.