MacKenna Zielinski

Spare Me Over Another Year

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7/6/2020

Somewhere in Ireland

 

She stared at herself in the glass.  Most people when they looked into the glass did it for vanity reasons or to look into the store to see something.  She did it to remember...or try to.

 

She had been trying to put a name to the face she saw there looking back at her and couldn't.

 

She had to be someone.  She couldn't have just spawned forth days ago here...er was it days?  How did she even know that?  Ugh it was maddening and hurt her to even try puzzling things out.  Her head wanted to split open just from trying and her eyes immediately started to dart to and fro like a crack head looking for a score.  She looked the part to, her clothes were stolen from racks, sizes ignored.  She didn't look like she had bathed in days, possibly weeks.  She was thinner than she probably should have and her face was sunken and her eyes had bruising from a long time without sleep.

 

She thought her hair was brown.  It always seemed dirty though so it was hard to tell.  The eyes always caught her though.  They were a pretty dark green...though, sometimes if she struggled against the pain in her skull she thought she remembered green eyes but they weren't hers.  They were a different kind of green and sometimes they were hazel...

 

Ugh...that hurt...she was better off not remembering.

 

She saw a man in a suit walking briskly and felt her spine tighten.  She watched him in the glass, hands bunching into fists when he looked her direction.  His lip curled but he moved on with his nose up as if she was disgusting.

 

She wasn't safe here.  Something told her that.  She couldn't have stated how or why she knew that but she wasn't safe here.  They would hunt her down and she'd be taken away again.

 

Like...she had been?

 

Doing her best to ignore the splitting headache in her skull she turned away from the glass and moved along, pulling the hood of the sweatshirt she had on over her head against the slight cold of Ireland.  She hadn't started here, she had started somewhere else with more mountains.  She remembered fearing that her bare feet would turn blue before she found a town and stole some boots that had been left outside covered in mud.  They still didn't fit on her feet and she had no socks but it was better than nothing.

 

She needed to get out of here though.  She couldn't think of why but she needed to leave.  She needed...a boat?

 

She couldn't remember if she ever crossed the sea before but it sounded better than staying where she was.  Where she was made her afraid, and going across the sea made her want to sigh in relief.  So she would go across...

 

Uh...if she could find a boat.

 

She wandered the harbor, looking here and there.  The smell of gas and engines calming even if the smell of it mixed with the sea and salt was strange.  Laborers and dock workers ran about to their duties as she walked among them trying to think of how to convince someone to let her on the ship.  She wasn't going to be able to sneak on likely and couldn't stay hidden for so long a trip.

 

With little recourse she started asking, going from ship to ship to talk to people about perhaps working her way across.  She didn't like the sight she probably displayed but she had little choice in the matter.

 

The monsters were coming, and she needed to get out of here before they arrived or they would turn her into one of them.

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He sat in the captain’s chair, boot up on the rest and the other on the floor… comfortable in his relaxed slouch.  Elbow was nonchalantly on the armrest, every now and then pulling the long pipe from his teeth errantly.  He was watching the harbor from his slip, comings, goings, setting everything to memory.  Galway was dangerous, more so every day. He was a regular, shipping all sorts of fun things back and forth.  They knew his face. 

 

But he had to keep a staggered schedule.  A pattern only those that knew his dealings could follow.  Otherwise, he was just a regular looking to trade for whatever he could gather up enough of to make a trip.

 

Nobody had come this time, and it concerned him.  He couldn’t stay much longer.  Outworlders aside, the hooded eyes had been watching someone for the last half hour, working closer and closer to his boat.  Unsure exactly what her goal was.  Worse for wear, wandering as if she wanted something but not interacting with anyone enough to give him a clue of what she was searching for… ready to jump in after her if she found her way off the end of the dock.

 

The closer she got... she was asking for passage somewhere, or asking for him by name. Then again, she could just be asking for money.

 

It was a risk.

 

A ferry bound Outworlder out of sorts could jeopardize his entire operation.  Someone so damaged that they talked along the way… what did his father always tell him, the needs of many and all that.  It was something he didn’t find always applicable in this world.  His had been brutal, unforgiving.  Earth too, was just that, yet different.  People kept sticking fingers in light sockets to help each other even after they knew it hurt like hell.  It was something with humans that he’d never been able to quite understand, the self-sacrifice, and he’d come to respect it and even practice it on occasion.

 

This, he wasn’t sure, still… eyes flicked to the horizon and the setting sun.  He had to leave or he would miss his window.

 

Foot hit the floor and he tapped the pipe on the carved stone tray before resting it there and pulling on a long sleeved shirt.  He wasn’t immortal, and ropes left burns even to the most experienced.  Gloves on, he slid down the ladder to the deck and lowered the gangplank in the growing darkness.  His boat was starting to light up like a beacon, fiddling with his gloves until she came close, then held out a hand without a word to takes hers and welcome her aboard.

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All she was told was no and constantly there was looks of distrust.  Had she done something wrong?  That was a bad thing, it always hurt when she did something wrong.  Sometimes physical, sometimes mental, it always hurt and drove her to just before losing sanity.

 

No, no she was allowed to make mistakes.  She didn't have the cage and shackles anymore... er...did she?

 

She shook her head and rubbed at it, trying to relieve the pain there as she moved away from yet another refusal.  She was running out of people to ask.  What was she going to do if she found none?

 

As if in answer to her concern a gangplank hit the ground in front of her and made her jump and cower from the noise like someone was about to pummel her.  Instead she was left blinking up at a very tall man messing with his gloves.  She inched forward cautiously like an animal unused to helping hands until he extended a hand to her.

 

She started to reach but pulled back, still afraid.  "I don't have any money," she said, looking apologetic.  Her brain telling her no one did something for nothing anymore.  "I can work though," she added hoping that would help.

 

The faint smell of tobacco drifted across her nose.  At first she wrinkled it and snorted but it tugged faintly in her mind.  A faint memory of an old man with a pipe in his mouth and words rolling like the irish voices around her.  It had her seeming to stare through the sailor and leave her head tilted like she was hearing something that wasn't there, which was close to the truth.

 

"Mackie com'ere.  Grandpa's got something fun to show you."

 

He put something together...with plastic pipes?  They went out in the alley behind the house and it made a loud booming noise that made her cover her ears as she grinned from watching a potato fly down the street.  He'd laughed and then ran with her when the potato met a passing car.  The shriek of tires and metal crunching causing them to look at each other and bolt for the garage.  

 

The memory made her sad, and made her smile.  The sailor smelled like tobacco...

  

With little else to go on she took his hand and got the rest of the way on the ship.  It was better than staying here.  If there was some other price to be paid she would figure it out.

 

Besides, the hair on the back of her neck was wanting to stand up and that was not a good thing...ever.

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The jump was met with indifference.  He’d seen everything, all manner of conditions as they fought their way to his promise of passage.  Injured, emaciated, it was as if the whole world was against them and he couldn’t figure out why.  Why would it be anybody’s concern what world they were from?  They were here, they contributed to a world that had come apart, and were helping to rebuild  The same old prejudices it seemed… he was as guilty of that on his own world as any.  The difference was what they had done, not who they were.

 

Countenance was unmoving as she explained she had nothing.

 

“I don’t need a thing.”

 

Hand was insistent.

 

“I'm here to get you where you need to go.  I travel to New York, make two stops for fuel.  If you’d like to work while on the boat, that’s up to you., but I have food, extra clothes, everything you need.  From there, I make other ferry trips if you need to travel further.”

 

As soon as she was on, the gangplank was raised and locked into place.

 

“Head below deck, there’s food.  We need to hit open water as soon as possible.  The first hour is crucial to make sure nobody is following.”

 

He worked quickly on the moor lines, securing them before pulling himself up to the bridge to start the engine.

 

“Name’s Calder.  If you need anything, let me know.”

 

With that the engine fired up, and they were moving.  He didn't babysit his passengers... the last thing they needed on their travel to freedom was someone breathing down their neck.  Sun was setting, and they would soon be in the vastness of darkness in the middle of the ocean where very few dared to go.

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Desta's eyes narrowed at the little ship in the water as it started pulling away.  The target was getting away, even worse it was courtesy of some damn do-gooder.  Here she thought Ireland was suspicious of outsiders of all kinds, not just the veiled kind.

 

"We'll catch up with her in New York," Javier stated taking the missed chance philosophically as always.

 

Matts bounced on his feet like a kid in the proverbial candy store looking at Desta with a grin.  "I can snatch her.    Be to fast for anyone to catch me."

 

"With this many people around?  More likely you'll injure yourself or others."

 

"Enough," Desta stated in annoyance.  "Mattox be ready."  She started to focus her energies as Javier made a sound of protest.

 

"Desta you can't be serious.  She's-"

 

"She sticks out like a sore thumb in Europe.  If she reaches New York or God forbid gets down to Vanguard territory we're more likely to lose her amid the homeless populations.  Mattox should keep the lot busy and I will pull the boat back to the pier and keep it there.  Sailors still operate on times do they not?"

 

Javier looked like he wanted to argue but in the end he nodded.  Delta looked to the boy and Mattox gave a grin and a thumbs up as he got down in a runner's crouch.  Around them people looked curious but many cleared the way, not about to risk whatever weirdness was about to go down.

 

Some signal passed and Mattox took off at a run.  The sound of wind displacing from his movements causing loose paper and clothes to snap about.  Desta focused her energy and with motions of her hands parted gravity to increase Mattox's ability.  Finally the boy reached the end of the pier, level with the ship before he gave a whoop and jumped easily, clearing the rail and landing on the deck no worse for wear.

 

Delta immediately dropped that spell and worked on the next, it would take time to pull the ship to a stop but she had enough.  So long as she could see the ship she could hold it.

 

Mack had heard the strange whooshing noise and looked back at the pier.  Her face going bone white under the dirt and grime.  As the blond kid landed on the ship she shrunk away from him, small noises of distress in her throat that she did her best to swallow.  She didn't know the kid himself but she could guess who he was and what he was here for.  

 

"'ello chaps," he stated in a poor attempt as an irish accent while looking about, completely unconcerned about the ruckus he caused.  "No worries, no need to freak out I'm just gonna grab what I need and go, remain at your posts."  In a blink he was in front of Mack and grabbed one of her arms.

 

The grabbing of her arm had Mack making a louder noise of distress and pulling away.  Even as she pulled one arm away though he had a grip on her other one.  

 

"Now, now, you really don't want to start a fight do-"

 

Before he could finish his sentence Mack stomped hard on his foot before jerking her knee up to connect with his chin.  Mattox was forced to let her go a moment and she darted around trying to put something between her and the speedster.  Nothing presented itself immediately except Calder who she darted behind easily with a whimper hoping the big guy might keep the kid at bay.  Some part of her was angry to be doing it, she should be kicking the kid's tail but another part of Mack was already trying to give up, saying there was nothing she could do but surrender.  Giving into her fate meant it would hurt less when they dragged her away, fighting only made it hurt more.

 

The kid stood for a minute and wiped at the blood from biting his lip.  A glare leveled at Mack before he looked to Calder.  "She's got a bit of an attitude about things."

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It was an odd feeling, first peppering his skin and then pulling breath from his body.  He’d felt it before, someone was manipulating the mana pool.  He didn’t quite understand what exactly the mystical thing was that drove this world’s sorcery.  For his people, it was innate, a part of them like breathing.  Some were stronger than others as it was normal to be unique in one’s own right.  To have his ripped away… even years later he was still disoriented.  He tried to focus on the magnetic pull, with Outworlder hate he couldn’t just ask how it was done and how he could tap into it- so moments like this were coveted.  Of course, there was immediate danger; it was secondary at the moment.  If he could just… How could they tap it and he couldn’t, how could they have an incredible power and he left with something he could not control?

 

He didn’t miss the run, before feet had hit the deck he was sliding down the rails to the deck.

 

A speedster.  Words were ignored, eyes at a narrowed state, sliding back to the dock.  The edges of his vision were flickering so brightly.  He could see it!  Why couldn’t he tap into it?!

 

"Now, now, you really don't want to start a fight do-"

 

Blink followed the woman’s sudden assault on the invader, and he was now in the middle of the mess being manipulated from the dock that most definitely wasn’t a good thing.  Mana… glittering at the edges of his vision.  It was hot, drying.  It was hurting his eyes…

 

"She's got a bit of an attitude about things."

 

Eyes moved from the dock to the speedster, heels of his hands pressing his temples briefly before a snarl and flicker of muscle pushed his palms downward toward the deck.  Water thrummed around the boat, bouncing and peppering like an invisible hailstorm.  The crackling lights on the edges of his vision disappeared, and his boat shuddered, moving forward faster than the engines were set.  A tug of war, and he refused to lose.

 

The man wasn’t fast enough to walk on water, he’d needed help to get to the boat.

 

Unfortunate.

 

“Hold on to something,” he said quietly to Mack, eyes still on the man.

 

His speed, was blinding as well.  Trained.  Rehearsed a thousand times.  It was evident immediately he was a fighter, first instinct to kill, but it wouldn’t give the dock crew a reason to leave them alone.  Instead, a wind knocking kick struck the speedster square in the chest and flipped him off the starboard into the water.  He could have left it at that, but a surviving swimmer wasn’t an urgency and his boat and passenger would still be the focus of ire.  Rope wound around his forearm and a knife pulled, he dove in after and under, yanking the guy down into the dark water.  Not to the bottom like he wanted to, only deep enough that he couldn’t get his head above water, slamming the knife through a clutch of clothing to pin him underwater to the pier before the slack of the rope ran out.  Fist tightened to hold on as the rope snapped taught, pulling the boatman away from the drowning speedster into the darkness.  So fast.  He was dangerously fast in the water.

 

The cards were their’s now.  Chase after them, or save their drowning friend.  They’d better run.

 

It was straining, but his swimming helped, pulling himself back onto the boat that was still moving forward and practically launching himself  to the bridge; vaulting over the railing and cutting the wheel hard to port, pushing the shift lever forward.  There was an inlet within a half mile, the turn had to be sharp, dangerously close to the cement slab breakwall and they would disappear behind the rubble of the lighthouse.  Lights were snapped off to help as they went straight into the darkness and away from the twilight.

 

He was silent, water still running in rivulets down his neck and clothes.

 

They were going to have to hunker down and wait until trying to cross again to New York.  On one hand, he was annoyed, strangely excited on the other.  It was a challenge, it was a fight, and he was a fighter.  What had happened when the boat broke free from whatever was encapsulating it?  That, he had no idea- but a lot of hope. 

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She couldn't see or feel the mana being manipulated but she had good survival instincts and one didn't need fancy senses to know there was going to be a fight.  She felt guilty for bringing trouble but knew she would rather die then be dragged off by Speedy Gonzalez and his pals.

 

Something kept sparking in her head, like she'd been in this situation before.  Her skull felt like someone was taking a hammer to it and she gave a small pathetic whine as she pressed her palms to her temples in a vain attempt to stop the agony.  

 

The water that bounced around flashed and for a minute her mind told her it wasn't water but metal.  Someone throwing metal?  No they hadn't thrown it exactly, they did something...not unlike Calder with his hands.

 

She flinched as Calder told her to hang onto something, her mind trapped for the moment between reality and nightmare.  For a minute she remembered stone and fire bearing down to smite her out of existence.  Willpower was the only thing that kept her from curling into a ball and just letting the boat toss her.  Instead she purposely grabbed onto something that didn't seem to be moving and hugged it to try and keep herself in the present while she closed her eyes against demons in her head.

 

Mattox on the other hand didn't seem to notice the sudden rocking of the ship.  He figured it was Desta on pulling the ship back and paid it little mind beyond watching his footing some.  The what he assumed Captain of this tugboat here kept eying him angrily.

 

Mattox had to sigh at that.  Why couldn't people learn to just mind their own business these days?

 

Unfortunately the younger man's posturing cost him.  He was about to whip around the guy and grab the girl, his feet taking him forward two steps to do so except he ran right into the kick the Captain had launched.  He could feel bone strain to stay in one piece against the sudden force he accidentally helped along with his burst of forward momentum.  The speedster hit the deck and the rocking boat pitched him into the water with a yelp that was quickly drowned out from water.  He popped up quick enough, kicking legs were not much different from pumping ones in a run after all.  

 

Something however grabbed his leg and yanked him back down.  Matrox tried to kick but while he could kick quickly he wasn't the best with hitting the mark.  He found himself blinking in puzzlement as the Captain of the ship went shooting off.  Mattox could only glare before studying his situation for a moment.  He pulled on the knife but it was deep.  It left him angry to lose clothing (specially when the water was freezing) but he wasn't about to let some peon get the better of him.  He started kicking, his legs blurring for a moment before  clothe ripped and he pulled away to surface and take in much needed lungfuls of air.

 

Meanwhile, on the pier, Desta worked to maintain her focus on the ship and keep it still at least.  She was slowly losing ground but she was not about to give up just because it was a bit of a struggle.  "Get her in the water," she ground out through her teeth, managing to keep her focus barely.

 

Javier didn't question.  He got to the end of the pier so he could get a better look.  They were perhaps at the very range of his abilities but he could still see the woman hunched and clinging to the ship.

 

The mentalist took a breathe and closed his eyes before focusing hard on the brunette woman.  It was always easier to manipulate when they were closer but this was not beyond his abilities.  

 

In this case at least, getting into the woman's head was easy.  She had been so worked over that he could walk into her skull as easily as he did into his hotel room.  Then it was a matter of just whispering the right things into mind, the right preprogrammed commands.

 

It was like flipping a switch.  The woman's mind retreated and as she opened her eyes they were heavily dilated, as if she was on something.  She stood up and started shuffling towards the nearest edge of the boat.  One might have thought her sleep walking, or one of the undead were it not the occasional twitches that said otherwise.

 

Matrox looked up to see his companions and turned in the water with a smile that might have done a shark proud.  The peon had gotten the drop on him but that wasn't going to happen twice surely.  He started kicking his way back out towards the boat that was slow but surely trying to escape the harbor.

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He felt the groan on the boat.  Telekinetic?   Had to be one hell of a telekinetic to fight the weight of his boat AND the momentum…  something different then.  A speedster as well, and from the look of the woman suddenly making the beeline toward the edge of the boat, a mentalist, or his passenger might just be completely fucking crazy.  Was he the target? Doubtful based on everything up to this point.  She had trusted him to help whatever she needed help with; he would not betray that trust, especially if she was trying to get out of Ireland.  Uncharacteristic anger bubbled onto his features, this was his fight just as much as any.  Three against one, not fair.  Three against two now with him in the mix? He’d brought down armies before.   He’d tried to avoid being overly physical until this point, just brushing it off and riding into the sunset.  Obviously trying to get her in the water to try again?

 

Fine.

 

Throttle slammed in reverse, letting out cable before dropping the anchor and cutting the engine, a sharp jerk backward as the anchor set against the sea floor.  The boat wasn’t moving backward any more, still several hundred yards out from the dock, unless someone cut the cable.  Sliding down the rails instead of stepping on the stairs, strides across the deck were purposeful, rope in his hand and the intricate knot wound through his expert fingers and then looped around her waist and tied off on a cleat.  If oblivious zombie girl had the wits to shimmy out of it, he could still go after her, but the knot he’d tied on both ends was an expert one… the time it took someone to figure it out he’d have broken their neck.  The speedster stepped on his boat again, he would die.  He ducked under into the cabin and pulled a set of blades off the walls, returning upward and kicking off his shoes.

 

Step up on the back of the boat was swift, balancing on the edge of his toes with the grace of a diver as the boat still pitched from the force of the reverse.  Blades flicked out at both sides, their curved silver reminiscent of katanas, the blue etching along the hair and elegantly jagged muna hinting they weren’t anything of this world.  He balanced fluidly with the rock of the boat, waiting for the speedster, watching the two on the dock.  Goading.  Daring.  He ended up in the water with any of them, they were going to die.  Anyone set foot on the ship, they were going to die.  Fingers tightened on the hilts for them to make their choice, stepping forward and dropping like a knife into the water to disappear into the black.

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Desta would have smiled had she not been so focused on matters.  Finally the ship wasn't pulling forward so she could pull it back easily enough, if with a little work.  It was good that someone had come to their senses, that human running around as a proverbial blank slate with her skills would be disaster for someone.

 

However Desta saw the captain and the blades then.  She blinked at them in puzzlement before focusing and trying to sense them but they felt...wrong...

 

"Javier..."

 

"Little busy Desta..." he grumbled back.  Trying to have a thrall untie a knot was not an easy thing, they needed more functioning than he could give without losing control of them.

 

"Then stop," Desta snapped.  "The captain.  Something is odd and I want to know what, so read him."

 

Javier gave her a confused look but did as Desta told him...or tried to.

 

The problem that many readers ran into when it came to veil crossers was simple.  Even the most human of crossers simply thought differently than normal society so it made it difficult for a reader to understand what they were looking at, even from the most mundane and surface thoughts.

 

In this case, it was the fighting.  Javier could get snips of memories of other battles as the captain readied himself but he had no context for what little he saw.  They were wrong for how things worked in the world.

 

Javier's eyebrows rose and he looked at Desta with a frown.

 

"That's what I thought.  The swords are strange," she stated.  They weren't prepared to deal with a veil crosser of unknown power and ability.  "Keep tabs on her like we have been.  When she makes land fall again we will make it a point to be there.  Call Mattox back, we are done here."

 

Desta released her spell, crossing her arms and staring out after the ship as Javier mentally called Mattox back.  The speedster wasn't happy about it and glared after the captain and the brunette on the ship.  He was inclined to tell Javier to go screw and push forward anyway, that captain had gotten the better of him and he hated being embarrassed.

 

But Desta was not going to stand for that...and she was far more frightening than Mattox was willing to deal with.  So he spat a few curses after the boat and swam for the shore.

 

Meanwhile the brunette they had been hunting blinked in confusion at her state.  She didn't remember tying herself up...she couldn't remember what happened that led to her being tied up.  She only knew she did not like it and picked at the knot in a kind of feverish terror.  Half remembered dreams flicking through her and making her want to panic as she seemed to only get it tangled more.

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He hovered in the depth, waiting.  This was his playground, one he rarely got to play in anymore.  It was as if for a moment he’d been pulled back through to his own world, and he was a one-man army waiting for a fleet of ships to cross his threshold.  So much blood, violence, battle... with the power of a sea god to swallow anything that stood in his path.  He could feel the vibration of the speedster, hear the groan on the boat as the anchor held firm against magic.  They would rip the boat apart before that chain would break and the woman would end up in the water with him, which was really the safest place she could be, except for that pesky human breathing part- if she was human.

 

Then, silence.

 

He waited a moment, kicking once to glide to the surface.  He didn’t tread water, he didn’t need to, watching for a second before reaching up to the cleat and pulling smoothly from the water.  Bare feet again balanced on the stern like a diver, blades and his sides, pointing one bluish shining weapon at the crew on the dock and then driving it into the wood at his feet.  The other twirled once in his hand and he stepped off and back to the helm.

 

“You’re fine,” he quipped, rather darkly as he passed his passenger.  “When we’re safely away, I’ll untie you.”

 

His other blade sunk into the railing of the helm and he started the engine, pushing the throttle forward and pulling the slack on the anchor. If it didn’t release he would have to dive and unlatch it, pulling slightly past, it dislodged with a quiet jerk and he pulled it up, pushing the throttle forward to remove themselves from the harbor.  Sullen... reminded quietly from the lap of waves on the hull he no longer could control them like a sea god, and it didn't sit well with him.

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She heard what Calder said but the panic did not abate from the rope that tied her down.  She tried her best to breathe through the trouble though, reminding herself that freaking out was not going to help.

 

That was...what they wanted?

 

Wait who was they?  She screwed her eyes shut and tried to remember, mentally trying to chase the memory as it faded away.  She could somewhat recall being tied up before, and gagged.  Kicked and biting like a wild animal at captors and getting nowhere.  Someone laughing about her struggles as someone else commented how fruitless they were but she had struggled anyway.

 

She couldn't remember faces but she could remember being on something moving.  A plane?  A boat?  Dammit it hurt to try and grab a hold of things.  She couldn't seem to drag it forward where she might recall it.  All it did was fuel the agony in her skull until she was whimpering from the pain.

 

The panic was still there too, gnawing at her insides until she started struggling again.  The damn rope was to thick for her to be gnawing through it, hell a knife wasn't likely to even help.  She would have to figure out the knot but looking at it made her head hurt for entirely different reasons.

 

She could do this though.  It couldn't be much harder than figuring out the wiring to explosives.

 

That led to her pondering what she knew about explosives.  Apparently a lot as her brain just cruised through random trivia for a moment.  Where had she picked that up?  No she needed to focus.  Needed to get out of this mess of rope before she started screaming like a lunatic.

 

She sat breathing for a moment before she purposely curled into herself to reach the knot.  Her teeth sinking in and tugging bits this way and that while the boat got underway again.  She thought she might be making headway as she heard boots on the planks.

 

"I don't like being tied up," she said as if that somehow explained everything.  "I mean I REALLY don't like it."

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Mood was sour, the steady thump of water dripping from his clothes breaking his stern silence.  One eye was on the dark water ahead of them, the other was on the presences they were leaving behind them.  It seemed if not for the swords he’d set on display, they would not have left them alone. He didn’t think this was simply an Outworlder thing.  If it was, they would not have backed off.  This was a HER thing, and it was beyond his wheelhouse, at least for the moment.

 

Boat slowly moving forward away from danger, footsteps were quiet toward his charge.  He didn’t expect her to trust him at his word, so the struggling was expected.  Seemed everyone had secrets to tell and he needed to figure out exactly what he was getting into if it wasn’t Outworlder…

 

"I don't like being tied up, I mean I REALLY don't like it."

 

Blade was pulled from the wood, an austere expression watching her a moment.

 

“I don’t like being caught in the middle of something, or sabotaged when I’m trying to do the right thing.”

 

He was quiet.

 

“If I untie you are you going to take a header off the side of the ship again?”

 

Brow quirked and he disappeared to put away his fun toys, returning to lean on the rail and squeeze the water from his hair and re-plait it.  Arms crossed finally.  He really did feel like chucking her over the edge.

 

“Or do I just kick you off here?  Either way you better start talking…”

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She had the grace to flinch a bit as Calder commented back on what he didn't like.  Guilt was not something she liked feeling but she felt it anyway.  The trio was her mess, somehow...even if she didn't know how, and she dragged him into this.  She hadn't meant to no but she had.

 

She almost apologized but bit her tongue instead.  This wasn't her fault.  None of this was her fault!

 

Um...was it?

 

She blinked a couple times as Calder asked if she would take a header off the boat.  She didn't think she would.  For one thing they were far enough at sea that it would have made getting back to land difficult before she drowned.  Secondly, she really did not want to go back to Europe.  She felt safer going away from it.  She might not have understood why but instincts were all she had to run on, so she trusted them.

 

She kept working on the knot, trying to keep her shaking down and her mind focused.  Calder asking about if he should pitch her off and demand that she start talking was at first met with silence.  She debated trying to cook something up, something believable because the truth...what little there was anyway.  Well it was stranger than any fiction she might have cooked up.

 

However, Calder was a good guy.  He had risked his neck to keep her from being dragged off.  He was giving her passage without pay.  It seemed wrong to not tell him the truth...even if the truth was...um...

 

"There is nothing to tell," she said as she slumped for a moment.  She did not have the ability to hide her state; beaten and battered, exhausted to the point of surrender.  Frustration boiling like acid but nothing she could rail at or do to ease it.  "That's not an evasion or reluctance of me not wanting to tell I mean I honestly have nothing to tell.  I...I can't remember..."

 

Saying it out loud was like taking a fist to the gut.  Her eyes swam with tears and her teeth clenched in pain, a different kind from the physical she already suffered.  It was more than a loss of memory.  It was a loss of loved ones, friends, enemies, even of herself.  She had no idea who she was so how did she know what she stood for?  How did she even know she was doing the right things in fleeing from those people instead of going with them peacefully?

 

She didn't, and that was terrifying.  In a world already full of lost souls and displaced peoples, she was just another wanderer with even less of an idea who she was now.  She was little more than an animal sniffing for safety with the hunter at her back.

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He listened a moment, studying... the emotions that ran across her face, the words that seemed unsure and unclear as she tried to untie the knot.  It had occurred to him that there may be those he would ferry that were so beaten and battered they might not even understand what it was they needed, or even where they were going.

The thought was as painful as watching her struggle.  Sigh soft, his features followed suit, arms unfolding and working to untie the knot gently to leave her to her own devices.

"C'mon below, I have some food and warm dry clothes you can change into."

Eyes gave a last scan over the horizon and darkness that was starting to haze over the depths of water.  He knew it was only a matter of time before he started running into push back from his excursions.  Mostly so far, just overzealous bigots chasing after those that were different.

Now, it seemed more that just that- not that before was any more dangerous.  These seemed stronger.  Magus.  Dipping his toe into the smuggling of the persecuted had eventually tangled with something bigger.  What, he wasn't quite sure of yet.

He led the way below deck to pull some things out for her.

"Then you can tell me what you need, or get a good night's sleep if you prefer and we can talk about where you want to go."

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