It was happening again. Derek was lying in a pool of water. “How could you do this to me? I trusted you! I thought you were my friend!” he screamed, writhing in agony. “Please! Please!”
Suddenly Mozart standing over him, appearing as a battered hunk of flesh and blood. “You killed me,” he said, pointing an accusing finger. “You killed me as you will kill him.”
Zoey woke with a start. Her bed was slick with cold sweat. She could hear Derek muttering in his sleep like he always did. “Wet feet...” he mumbled. “City... with wet feet.”
She rolled over and tried to get back to sleep. But it was just like the dream on the fleet. Once she had it, she couldn't get back to sleep. After rolling around a few more times and not finding a comfortable position, she gave up. She slowly got to her feet and slipped through the doorway, careful not to make any noise.
It had been three days sense they came out of the Well Well. Although Joshua was unhappy they lost his canisters, he admitted that what they brought back was more then enough. Their wounds were easy to treat and were healing quickly, probably because they had both drunk Well Well water shortly after getting them. Father Clooney was taking much longer to recover. When given the water he had fallen into a coma, although the doctor said that the gunshot wound was healing on it's own.
Zoey slipped on the wool jacket that Chan had lent her. It wasn't that cold out, but the wind had a nasty habit of sweeping in and giving you a chill when you least expected it. Her boots slapped on the metal deck as she walked, creating a steady beat.
She didn't know where to walk. The ship operated on a skeleton crew at night, so there was no one to talk too or hang out with. She figured that she would just end up walking from one end of the ship to the other aimlessly until the sun came up. But then she saw someone's dark silhouette at the bow of the ship.
“Hey,” she called to them. “Can I join you?”
“Sure,” Joshua's voice said. “Why not?”
Zoey considered going back to her room. She didn't want to talk with Joshua. After they'd come up from the Well Well he'd been business as usual, acting like what they did was no big achievement. He'd remained locked in his room sense then. He'd seemed not to care about where the ship was going or managing the crew. He was a very bad leader in her opinion. But in the end she didn't want to risk waking Derek.
When she walked up he was holding a flask over the ocean waves. “You think I should throw it in?” he asked.
“Depends on what's in it,” Zoey said.
“Scotch,” Joshua replied. “Chan's got me on the path to sobriety again. Every year there comes a time as sure as the seasons where she tries to get me sobered up. Sometimes it works. For awhile at least. But I always start drinking again eventually.”
“Why? Can't you make yourself stop?”
Joshua shook his head. “Not really. My green eye, you may have noticed, is a bit to big for the socket. It creates this dull kinda pain that's always throbbing at the back of my skull. Drinking really doesn't help, but it makes me forget about it for awhile.”
“Captains in The People's Fleet don't drink,” Zoey remarked, hoping to annoy him.
Joshua laughed out loud. “Dam right they don't. They are dam respectable men who fight for what they believe in. Just because what they believe in is slavery and mass murder don't make them any less honorable.”
Zoey was insulted. “There's not slavery in the fleet!”
“Says the girl who had a chip grafted onto her spine to make her more susceptible to propaganda. Regardless of what they say about equality and sacrificing for the good of the many, they're really just a bunch of lying, cowardly bastards making up excuses for murder.”
“A little rich coming from you isn't it?” Zoey remarked. “I bet you've killed lots of people.”
“Hell yes I have. I've killed people in cold blood. I've shot defenseless men in the head and then looted their corpses. Hell I've eaten another person just to stay alive. In fact, there's only one real difference between me and them.”
“I don't make up excuses,” Joshua smiled at her. “What the hell,” he continued, throwing the flask into the water. “Might as well try to get sobered up. You never know when you-” He started quivering all over in sharp convulsions. His legs lost their power and he fell backwards on the deck, twitching and quivering.
“Whats happening?” Zoey shouted, shocked.
“Sometimes I... I loose control,” Joshua answered, gritting his teeth. His voice was breathy, like he couldn't get enough air. “It'll be over in a few minutes, don't worry.”
“I'll get help,” Zoey said.
“No!” Joshua suddenly sounded pleading. “I don't need help. This happens all the time. Don't bother waking anybody up. They need their sleep. It's not a bad one I can feel it slowing down already.”
Zoey couldn't think of anything to say. She watched Joshua writhe in front of her. He was completely and totally at her mercy. She started to wonder what would happen if she just pushed him in? Nobody would see it. He wouldn't possibly be able to swim. He would drown, and the world would be short one horrible man. It was an attractive idea.
She didn't have time to put it into action. Joshua suddenly stopped twitching. A long sigh of relief came from him. “It's over. I'm fine,” he said, grabbing the guard rail and hauling himself back up. “I'm fine, see? Fine. Nothing to worry about.”
“Right, well...” Zoey trailed off. “I guess I'll just go back to my room.” She wanted to leave before things got any more awkward.
“Wait, before you go...” Joshua started, still seeming a bit dazed. “I never got a chance to pay you for the Well Well water.”
Zoey was confused. “We got it to heal Clooney so you'd know where to drop us. It wasn't a job.”
“Yes, but you brought me more then Clooney will need, meaning I can sell half of whats left and help save the lives of my crewmen with the other half, meaning I can make a massive amount of money and not have to find replacements the next time I'm in a port. And that means you get a cut.” He reached into his pocket and fished out a small pile of coins. He handed them over to Zoey. “Now remember half of this belongs to Derek.”
“Money?” Zoey wondered. “Why are you giving me money?”
“Because I'm gonna make a killing on the Well Well water and I wouldn't have it without you. You did me a job, and that means you get paid. It's capitalism.”
Zoey laughed. “That's not capitalism. Capitalism is when a few individuals hoard wealth and power and use it to control the people.”
Joshua laughed out loud. “What kinda crap did they tell you on the fleet? Capitalism is the exchange of goods and services based on the free market. It may be amoral, but it ain't evil. The situation you described is dictatorship. Even if people call it something else, it's a dictatorship. So, take your benefits of capitalism already.”
Zoey was still confused. “But what should I spend it on?”
“We'll be stopping on Tagra island tomorrow. There's a big market there.”
“No I mean what do I spend it on? Food, supplies?”
“Well I don't care, it's your money.”
“But you gave it to me.”
Joshua looked annoyed. “Because you got me the Well Well water! That's your money! Yours! You can spend it on anything you want in the world! I don't care what you do with it! I'm going to bed, this is giving me a headache.” Without another word he stomped off to his quarters.
Zoey remained where she was as the magnitude of what had just happened hit her. She could buy clothes with that money. They could be whatever kind of clothes she wanted. She didn't have to do anything that Joshua, or anyone said with it. And suddenly, she was free.
Derek wasn't as excited when she told him about the money. Perhaps it was the fact she woke him up to tell him. He mumbled something about being rich if he was still on The Sphere and went back to sleep.
Zoey was so excited that she couldn't get back to sleep. She kept trying to imagine what she could do once they got to Tagra. But she couldn't. Although the thought of buying new things intrigued her, she couldn't imagine what kind of things there would be to buy. She ended up listing all the things that she'd seen being sold in the Gens market. There was the chocolate, the wooden bird thing that Joshua bought, beads, scented oils, tunics...
“Land ho!” The cry suddenly woke her. It woke Derek too. He flopped out of bed and put on his jacket and his belt, feeling more secure with a clean, functional gun around his waist. Zoey had no such comfort. She'd lost her dagger in the Well Well and Chan refused to give her another one.
They left their room and got onto the boats just in time to catch the sunrise. Most of the crew had assembled on the main deck, and Joshua was standing from the upper deck addressing them.
“...until sunset. I want everybody to be back on board by then. If not, we're leaving without you. Now for the newer members of the crew or the ones who've forgotten, Tagraens don't allow weapons of any kind within the market. You'll have to hand them over before you enter. Don't worry, nobody else in the market is allowed guns except the Tagraens guards, so you'll be fine unless you piss them off. If you do you're not a part of my crew anymore. And try not to get too drunk. Now lets go.”
The ship had pulled up on the sandy beach, almost grounding itself, and the crew lowered the long metal plank onto the shore. The crew ran down it as fast as they could, Zoey and Derek among them. Derek still didn't seem to be very interested, but Zoey was charged with energy.
Giba suddenly ran up behind them. Zoey held back a scream when she saw his revolting face. “Da Master Captain said Giba whas to look after yoo. Giba never spend any of his's monies, so he coulda look after yoo.”
“Right. Come on or we'll fall behind,” Zoey said. They followed the rest of the crew.
The island was full of trees. Most islands seemed to be. But these trees were different. Only few were green. Most were a wild variety of colors, ranging from bright yellows to deep blues. They seemed jagged, twisting out in all directions. When the sun's rays hit some trees the light would change color, creating a cascade of rainbows.
There was a well beaten path through the trees, heading toward the main attraction on the island. The only attraction on the island.
It must have been a town in the Far World, but now the ruined buildings had been fenced off and it had become the boundaries for a massive market, easily ten times bigger then the Gens market. Bells rattled, hot meals steamed, and merchants yelled the ten thousand reasons why you should buy their bracelets and not the identical ones from the man across the way.
Two men wearing bright bird masks and armed with battered rifles guarded the main gate. As the various members of the crew entered they dumped their weapons into several large crates. Whenever one would be filled then it would be rapidly replaced.
As Derek and Zoey approached Derek got antsy. “I don't like the idea of giving up my gun,” he said. “What if it's a trick to steal it?”
“Well the crew seems to trust them,” Zoey remarked. “And the crew of the Bright Side hardly ever trusts anyone.
“Giba go first if dat help,” Giba said, confidently striding ahead of them. The guards looked a bit worried as the humungous man approached. He slid his machine gun off his back and handed it over. However, none of the Tagraens could lift it, and it wouldn't fit in the box, so they ended up putting on a stretcher and carrying it to wherever the weapons were stored.
Derek reluctantly undid his belt and put it into a box. They did a pat down of Zoey, not believing that she didn't have a weapon, but finally satisfied, they let them in.