GAVON CROWE - TIME FUGITIVE
The Mujand Diplomat
The Mujand Diplomat
The Supreme Macore Unity was holding its annual meeting on Ro-Craudo III and the dignitaries in the building stretched from door to stage, slowly filling every space in between. Sharp looking men and beautifully detailed women strolled in gracefully. Some were dressed in high fashion while others were garbed in their world’s traditional assembly robes.
This was the perfect opportunity for the Gooplites to show that they had come a long way as a society and that Ro-Craudo III was worthy of a vote in the Calmthoutus Council. They spared no expense for the multi-world gathering, which would last five days. This was Ro-Craudo’s chance to shine.
It was extremely unpopular to have such meetings on Ro-Craudo, due to the disturbing nature of their history but somehow the SMACU gave in to the Gooplites’ endless requests. Five years earlier, the council agreed to hold the 3017 meeting at the RC III Gatherplex, on Ro.
The Gooplites’ flair for extraordinary architecture was breathtaking. The gatherplex was a construct of glass and natural elements. There was a shower of light particles bouncing off every wall and column, which made everything appear alive and mood driven. A small orchestra moved through tepid pieces of music, which served as light background. Many sipped from tall glasses filled with fizzing fermentation. The mood was festive. A kaleidoscope of sounds and color touched every corner of the event hall. There was the familiar feeling of a spectacular dream within the hall. The SMACU Members were captivated by their surroundings. The Gooplites had outdone themselves.
O-Cea LiBerti led her large assembly, which sat center to all groups from all systems at the very front. There was never any doubt which system was the foremost in rank. It was Blissdane Naive. They were the galaxy power and held influence over every facet of cultural belief and common law. This of course made them a target and security for the assembly team was tight.
Clavi was staring at O-Cea. She twisted her lips. This woman was so beautiful. Gavon sure picks ‘em, she thought to herself. She tried to be as human as she could with her words. Even in her thoughts. She wanted to blend in as best she could.
Clavi’s eyes followed every move the Blissdane Naive dignitary made. She watched her move from dignitary to dignitary taking their hand and greeting them with the utmost respect and charm.
“O-Cea Liberti,” Clavi whispered. She smiled. This was the person who would help her get to Blissdane Naive to reunite with Gavon Crowe.
Clavi’s entire day was spent trying to connect with Crowe’s mind. She was not going to stop until she accomplished this task. With Metalites not programmed to recognize a time for futility, she would go all night searching for him. Whatever the results, she was not prepared to rejoin the Ro-Craudo III Government or sign herself over to another Gooplite. She’d yank her core out before she’d do that. But after hours of trying, she could not find Gavon Crowe. And she missed him terribly.
She spent her first night at Fango Park at the exact spot she and Crowe camped just a few days before. It was odd that she was alone outside. The night was peaceful. The atmosphere was gentle and the polar colors were extending over the city. She always enjoyed those lights. It was the only thing she enjoyed on Ro-Craudo III. That and the goop bubble rain.
The following morning she walked to the Ro III Gatherplex. Somewhere in her mind she remembered the big event happening on Ro and this was her chance to get to Blissdane Naive. She searched her internal system for the list of dignitaries that would attend the event and she found O-Cea LiBerti’s name. She was very glad that Dr. Brand brought up her name back on Earth. She wondered about that happenstance. Was it happy luck? Did she believe in luck? She then pondered the very human belief in fate. How did her existence come to this? She was on an adventure. Is this what an adventure felt like? Fear of the unknown? For as long as she could remember, adventure was the one thing she sought to experience. And where did that desire come from? Was it a dream? She wasn’t even sure she was designed to have such thoughts. Maybe Metalites were more than the Gooplites believed. Was she evolving? Clavi shook her head. She didn’t have the luxury of contemplation. She needed to concentrate on the task at hand.
With so many weak minds at the Gatherplex entrance, she easily slipped into the conference. She moved in and looked for the Mujand Delegation, which would be identified in some way. She thought about this person O-Cea LiBerti and wondered if she and Crowe were ever in love. Before she started thinking of Crowe again, her right eye blinked and she returned her attention back on Delegate LiBerti, whose group had settled in for the commencement speech.
Clavi paid little attention to the words being spoken by the orator. She instead focused her entire energy on O-Cea LiBerti and searched her mind for memories of Gavon Crowe. Her path was difficult. There were many conflicts within O-Cea’s mind. Clavi closed her eyes when she found the threat of war. She tried to sidestep these thoughts but they were strong. O-Cea was a woman with many worries on her mind. Clavi then decided she needed to use the red ball trick on O-Cea’s mind. This would be difficult with a mind so occupied and so troubled. She would need to use every point of energy to achieve success with the red ball trick.
Clavi weaved a string of confusion around O-Cea’s mind to try and penetrate her memories of Crowe. Suddenly, Clavi’s eyes shot open. O-Cea was standing directly in front of her.
“What are you doing here?” O-Cea asked.
Their eyes connected and neither one let loose of the other.
Clavi was unsure of how to respond. “ I am,” she started. “I am here to serve. Would you like a goblet of water? Or a spot of Tarrotch perhaps? The monkey dills are fabulous I’m told. Shall I capture a serving dish?”
“Why are you here?” O-Cea turned back to look at her group. They were attentively listening to the current presentation. O-Cea returned her gaze to Clavi. She whispered. “You should not be here.”
Clavi was having difficulty finding these questions logical. O-Cea spoke as if she knew who she was. She decided to smile at O-Cea. “I am a friend.”
O-Cea looked around. She was concerned that it would be noticed that she was out of place. “You should not invade my mind.”
“I am trying to find Gavon Crowe.” Clavi spoke excitedly.
O-Cea shook her head. “He is fine,” she said.
“No. I’ve misplaced him during our teleportation back to Ro. I cannot reach him through my mind and I do believe he is in danger.” Clavi spoke with concern.
O-Cea turned around. She saw her colleagues looking back at her. “Come with me,” she said. She clutched Clavi’s hand and led her out of the event.
Clavi was being led like a child by O-Cea. They moved down the expansive steps of the gatherplex. There were many people outside the event center but few knew who O-Cea was, but Clavi did feel some of her importance when she attempted to read her mind.
“You are an important person,” Clavi stated.
O-Cea continued pulling Clavi as far from the gatherplex as she could without being exposed. They stopped under an enormous tree. O-Cea saw that the tree excreted the Ro goop substance. She really did not like the Ro-Craudo III goop or the Gooplites for that matter. As a Mujand Diplomat, she had to keep those feelings to herself.
“Are you royalty?” Clavi asked.
“What?” O-Cea was more concerned about being out in a public area without security than what Clavi was thinking. Her father would fire someone if he found out she left the conference without security.
“We don’t have time for questions about me. You must leave.” O-Cea was using her mind strength to get Clavi to concentrate.
Clavi stood back. Her mouth fell open. “What?”
“My driver is right over there,” O-Cea said. She pointed to a large dark traverse. “He will take you to the Lithon Hotel."
“Why? Do you know me?” Clavi was confused.
“Your name is Clavi Toopree,” O-Cea said.
O-Cea stared straight into Clavi’s eyes. Clavi looked off into the distance. She could see the Lithon Hotel from where they stood.
“Do you understand?” O-Cea asked Clavi.
“I will ride with your driver to the Lithon Hotel and await your arrival. Unit 1222,” Clavi said.
“Here is my access card. Wait for me. Do not leave.” O-Cea handed the card to Clavi.
Clavi then turned and started to walk to O-Cea’s traverse. She stopped and turned back to O-Cea. “I fabricated my review of the monkey dills. They sound quite disagreeable.” She turned and continued walking to the traverse.
O-Cea watched after Clavi. She turned back and headed towards the gatherplex. She took a deep breath and softly cursed Gavon Crowe.
Clavi stood on the balcony of O-Cea’s room at the Lithon Hotel. From there she could see the RC III Gatherplex and all the lights festively illuminating the SMACU event. Darkness had consumed the city and a phosphorescent glow hovered above everything.
Although Clavi had no obligation to obey Delegate Liberti, for some reason, she did. Maybe it was in hopes of receiving help to reach Crowe. How that help would come she did not know. This was her only option. Crowe could be back on Arth or on Blissdane Naive. She couldn’t be sure and that was a feeling that vexed her. She’d never been this helpless and fearful. Again, she thought about adventure. She believed adventures should be more exciting and exhilarating and not nerve wracking. This was where she missed Crowe’s wisdom. But maybe, she thought, it was a lack of wisdom that enabled him to set out on adventure after adventure without considering the consequences of his choices. He took chances. Over and over.
Clavi smiled. She was reaping the consequences of the chance she took enlisting Crowe to take her with him. She decided she was on an adventure.
Clavi then froze. Why was she thinking these things? She found a memory about Gavon Crowe. He was safe. He was away on business. She shook her head. “Stop it!” She shouted.
She smiled. She then moved in from the balcony and entered the expansive room. She moved to a sitting area and decided she should take the time to rest.
The room was dark. She sat in a plush chair that was near a terminal. She reached down and pulled up her shirt. Her bellybutton was a junction for a charging line. She pressed it and out popped a plug. She pulled out the plug and the line was as long as she needed to reach the terminal. She plugged in. The line glowed. Three men in dark suits were looking at her. “I’m not numbered. I’m legal,” she said. She reached into her belly and pulled out her contract. Crowe was watching her from afar. Then he was next to her. His eyes were sad. “I miss you. Are you coming?” Crowe asked. He moved away. His hands in his pockets. Three cats were walking circles around her. One cat had three eyes. “Why?” She asked the cat. It jumped to her stomach and entered her through her belly. It electrocuted her.
Clavi awoke startled. She reached for her belly. It was normal. No hole, no cat and no plug. She was relieved. She looked up and stared at the window. The feeling of relief was new to her. What had she just experienced? Was that a dream? Was it her first dream? Or the first dream she remembered? What was happening to her? She was changing. She could feel it getting stronger.
Her eSpur must be malfunctioning, she thought. How else could these changes be explained? All Metalites were created with an eSpur. Should their emotions become unmanageable, the eSpur would kick in. There was no control over the eSpur. Its purpose was to keep emotions in check but that was not happening with her eSpur. She was becoming a wreck. Everything was setting her off and she was feeling fear, impatience, sadness, longing, at rates she’d never experienced before.
Clavi did an internal systems check on herself. She looked blankly forward for a few seconds. Then there came a soft Beep sound. “Diagnostics 100%,” she said. She smiled. She was in perfect working order.
Then her smile dissipated. She thought for a moment. Perhaps it wasn’t that her system was not functioning. Perhaps it was that her system was functioning. She frowned. What could that mean? She considered a possibility. Was she different than other Metalites? She snickered as best she could. What reason would there be for that scenario? She was the same, she thought. The same as all other Metalites on Ro.
On Ro. She was on Ro Craudo III. But she was on another planet not long ago. How did that happen?
Suddenly, Clavi felt uneasy. She turned her head in all directions very quickly. She was being watched. Not watched, she thought. Monitored.
“Identify yourself,” she announced to no one. But there was someone near. The room was quiet. There were over-sized shadows at every corner and she sensed a presence. The light slipped in through the door, which was slightly opened. Did she leave it open? She stared intensely thinking she saw something. She extended her senses to see and hear beyond usual levels.
Wait! There was movement. A shadow within a shadow. She moved back where she sat. “Who is that?” She shouted. Her system was racing. Her eyes were pulling in every grain of darkness her optics allowed. The pixels of light and darkness seemed to dance as she peered with maximum vision.
“Who’s there?” She whispered.
There came no answer of course. She smiled. It was her eSpur. It was playing tricks on her. How could there be anyone else in the room? This was the Lithon Hotel, which kept an amazing security engaged. That is why a diplomat like O-Cea was staying at this seven star hotel. Security.
It was odd that she was here in this hotel alone. She thought about O–Cea and suddenly and noisily the front door was breached. Clavi turned and saw O-Cea enter and hurry into the room.
Clavi stood and moved slightly back.
“Good. Still here,” O-cea said.
“I am. As instructed.” Clavi looked into O-Cea’s eyes. “You are worried? Am I secure?”
“What? Of course,” O-Cea said.
“I have been self-evaluating this evening and I have found that my eSpur is operational yet I am beginning to experience emotions at higher levels.” Clavi paused. She could see O-Cea wearing curiosity on her face. “Worry. I recognize worry. As I am having a spell of this disconcerting emotion at feverish levels.”
O-Cea chuckled. “A spell?”
“I have a conflict,” Clavi said.
“A conflict. What does that mean?” O-Cea didn’t understand Clavi’s technical nature.
“I have a memory of Crowe gone on business. Crowe has no business. Why?” Clavi thought more on the subject. Her head twitched slightly. She closed her eyes. Then they shot open. She turned a stern gaze onto O-Cea. “What are you? Wait…” Clavi was working things out. Then she stood erect. “You planted that thought.” She looked off. Her face looked frozen in time.
O-Cea sighed. “Crowe will be mad at me,” she said to the floor.
“Please explain.” Clavi said to O-Cea. “Why would you do this to me?”
O-Cea sighed. She took Clavi by her two hands and led her to the sitting area near the large window that overlooked the city.
Clavi looked down at their hands. “If you reveal this information, will you compromise a pledge?” Clavi looked into O-Cea’s eyes. She could see O-Cea’s conflict by the way she avoided eye contact.
“You were not to know this,” O-Cea finally said. She smiled softly at Clavi. “You arrived here at Ro-Craudo III with Gavon six days ago.”
“No, he was not in the tube with me when I teleported from Arth.” Clavi was certain of herself. “I arrived alone and spent the night…”
“You spent the night with me. Here.” O-Cea said.
Clavi moved away from O-Cea slightly. “I am unsure as to why you speak this untruth. I spent the night alone at Fango Park. The same park Crowe and I stayed at before teleporting to Arth. Those are the facts.”
O-Cea sighed deeply. She did not want to do what she was about to do but she thought it so very unfair to keep Clavi in the dark. She would tell her and deal with the consequences. She stood.
“On the day you and Gavon teleported from Earth, the two of you found me in the same manner you yourself found me at the gatherplex.”
Clavi frowned. “I don’t understand.”
“The two of you found me and we came to this hotel room…” O-Cea paused. She paced for a moment. “He thought you might get in his way.” She gauged Clavi’s reaction. She was very attentive. “You might allow your emotions to cloud your judgment. And cause problems.”
“He would not do this to me,” Clavi said.
O-Cea left the room. Clavi was surprised by this. “Hello?” Clavi said.
O-Cea returned with a vintage dress. It was, in fact, centuries old.
“This look familiar?” O-Cea asked Clavi.
Clavi touched the dress. There was a vague recollection. “Is this mine?”
“Yes. Gavon bought this for you.” O-Cea said. She set the dress down. “Look, I want you to understand that what I am telling you in no way means you are alone. I am with you and Gavon will return.”
“He is on business,” Clavi said.
O-Cea could see that she needed to speak with extra clarity. Clavi would understand technical. She moved closer to Clavi.
“I used a thrall-wave on you,” O-Cea said. “I placed you in a state of… hypnosis.”
O-Cea hated this description of her mind-altering ability, which she learned from her father, High Eternal Life Priest, Entony LiBerti. It was powerful and a sometimes dangerous mind altering ability. She used it sparingly. Gavon Crowe talked her into placing Clavi under her control. “She will resist,” O-Cea said to Crowe. “She won’t. She is very susceptible right now.“ Crowe talked her into applying a thrall-wave on Clavi.
“I know what hypnosis is and there is no conceivable way you would be able to do this to me,” Clavi said.
“I know of the powers you possess. I can over-ride them easily. My thrall-wave can make you believe anything I ask you to believe. I asked you to believe you arrived here on Ro alone and that Crowe was not with you when you arrived. But he was with you and with my help, he has moved on to Blissdane Naive.” O-Cea stood. “You have been here for the six days since you arrived. I planted the idea in your mind that you stayed at Fango Park. Gavon told me about your night there.”
Clavi stood back. She looked panicked. “Where is he?”
“Clavi, wait.” O-Cea attempted to calm her before she lost control. Crowe warned that this could happen.
“You have deceived me! Where is he?” Clavi started to move sporadically.
O-Cea tried to follow her. “Clavi, please sit and relax.”
“I have been deceived. He has left me. I am alone!!”
Clavi started to run towards the large glass window.
O-Cea tried to hold her but Clavi slipped out of her grasp and headed straight to the window and slammed face-first into the glass.
The darkness became a soft light, which grew brighter. Gavon Crowe’s face was the first thing she saw. He was smiling at her. She was lying on a bed, her head propped up on a pillow. Clavi smiled. “You’ve returned for me,” she said. She reached for and hugged Crowe’s neck tightly. She breathed him in. Then she pulled away forcefully. It was not Crowe. It was O-Cea.
O-Cea pulled back from Clavi.
“What is this?” Clavi asked. She was afraid again.
“Wait!” O-Cea said. “You were dreaming.” She tried to ease Clavi’s fear. She slowly sat back down on the bed. “No mind tricks,” she said. “You were just dreaming.”
Clavi looked at her surroundings. The hotel room was glowing a calm, soothing blue. “I don’t dream.” Clavi was embarrassed. She squirmed a little.
O-Cea smiled. “You do dream, Clavi. I’m not certain you’re supposed to. But I believe you were dreaming.”
Clavi sighed. She was not herself. “There is something very wrong with my system. I am out of control.”
“No, O-Cea said. “I think you are very normal.”
A short while later Clavi was dressed and O-Cea was having tea.
“What is the truth?” Clavi asked.
O-Cea could see the look of fear on Clavi’s face. How was this possible? She was a Metalite not a human. She set her cup down. She gave in. “Okay. The truth.” O-Cea reached for Clavi’s hand and guided her to sit. She could see that Clavi’s eyes were moist and it angered her. She didn’t want to be in this position but Crowe put her here. She would have to delay Clavi. Somehow she would have to distract her for a few days.
“Okay. We will go to Crowe together,” O-Cea said.
“Together?” Clavi was doubtful.
“Yes. Together.” O-Cea stood and moved away to another room. Clavi leaned forward to try and see where O-Cea was headed. She soon returned with a hand-held mirror and sat next to Clavi. She gave her the mirror. “We’ll have to repair this.”
Clavi raised the mirror towards her face. She could now see a piece of her face had a deep gash.
“From crashing into the window last night,” O-Cea clarified. “The glass is unbreakable. Your face is not.”
Clavi breathed deeply. She was upset. She looked at O-Cea. She placed her hand on her chest. “Why am I reacting this way?” She held the mirror to her face. “This is an easy fix at the clinic of Dr. Aulus.” She set the mirror down. “But I cannot go see him.”
“Why not? I can take you.” O-Cea smiled.
“Only Crowe can take me,” Clavi said. She stood and reached into her gown. She pulled out the contract. “You must own me in Crowe’s absence.”
“Own you? He was right.” O-cea stood. “I will do no such thing.”
“What is it with you humanoids?” Clavi spoke rhetorically. Before O-Cea could respond. “I know,” Clavi raised her hand. “You are not my master or my mommy. This is just an arrangement until we can return ownership to Crowe.”
O-Cea was still very uncomfortable about owning Clavi. She looked at the contract clutched into Clavi’s hand. Clavi smiled. The gash on her face made O-Cea feel extremely sad. Her insides trembled. She thought she might cry. She reached for the contract and went to look for a pen.
“Thank you,” Clavi said as O-Cea walked away. “I am house broken.”
“That’s not funny,” O-Cea said from another room.
O-Cea and Clavi rode in the traverse together. Clavi was staring at O-Cea, which made O-Cea very uncomfortable. O-Cea closed her eyes and breathed softly.
“Tell me about you and Crowe,” Clavi said. “Why are you helping me?”
O-Cea was surprised by the question. “There’s not much to tell,” she said. “I believe what he’s doing could upset a balance that has taken years to set. It’s on the verge of collapse.”
“I don’t understand,” Clavi said.
“I know.” O-Cea didn’t try to explain.
They were both silent for a brief moment.
“Did you meet on Arth or Blissdane Naive?” Clavi sat sideways looking straight at O-Cea’s eyes. “Do you love him?”
“What?” O-Cea shook her head.
“I mean, why wouldn’t you. He’s handsome. Daring. Smart. Very funny.” Clavi giggled. “And he has nice bones.”
O-Cea’s jaw dropped. “Nice bones?”
“Well, he fits his clothing nicely.” Clavi laughed. “I did engulf his entirety the night we stayed at Fango Park. His body temperature was very low so I had to intervene. It helped.”
O-Cea thought quietly to herself for a moment. Then she turned to Clavi. “It’s Earth. Not Arth. Not sure where the E went.” O-Cea held herself tightly. “I was on a mission. A very important mission.” She shrugged. “It’s a very long story and not a very relevant one.”
“I don’t mind,” Clavi said. She nodded and sat quietly. Her eyes remained on O-Cea. She could see the moisture developing in O-Cea’s eyes.
“It was nothing.” O-Cea’s voice trailed off.
Clavi touched O-Cea. “It was something,” she said.
O-Cea sighed. Her thoughts were far away. “We wanted to be together. My Father didn’t approve. Pretty simple. I was too important to go off with an adventurer.” She turned back to look out the window of the traverse. “I had to break his heart.” She turned to Clavi. “And mine.”
Clavi reached over and took O-Cea’s hand. O-Cea leaned her head back.
“Always something destroying the Mujand System,” O-Cea said with a bite of anger. “My happiness wasn’t important.”
Now Clavi was crying. They looked at each other’s tear filled faces.
“Why are you crying?” O-Cea asked.
“I don’t know. You’re the humanoid,” Clavi said. She giggled. “I can’t control anything at this time.”
They both laughed.
They didn’t see the large dozer slam the front of the traverse. The force and the sound from the impact made them swallow their air as their bodies flung forward and then back against the seat. The horrible vibration from the metal colliding screeched until their vehicle came to a scraping halt. The hiss and mist from the demolished engine rose and covered the traverse.
Clavi quickly turned to O-Cea. She was unconscious and looked hurt. Clavi sat up to look at the driver. He was hit face first by the heavy collision. His life had departed.
“Delegate O-Cea!” Clavi screamed. O-Cea did not respond.
Clavi tried to move to get a better position to help O-Cea. She stopped when she heard voices.
“Take ‘em. Both.”
Clavi looked through the shattered glass. It was the men in dark suits. They began to pry the crushed doors. They struggled. Though these men were having difficulty removing the doors, Clavi knew they would get in.
She sat still and closed her eyes. Her lips moved but no sound was emitted. Then she spoke softly. “Please help us,” she said.
The doors were forced open on O-Cea’s side. They started to retrieve her body.
Clavi reached for her. “Leave her alone,” she said. She scratched one of the men’s arms. He cursed.
O-Cea’s body was dragged out of the mangled traverse. Another man appeared. He had a black device in his hand. Clavi’s mouth fell open. He blasted an energy force that ensnared Clavi’s body. She glowed blue and then slumped forward and shouted, “Gold Dragonflies!”
The Mujand Republic was preparing to celebrate its independence. The country gained its freedom in 1176 MT, the same year it was officially established. Keeping with Mujand Time (MT) that would make the country 3840 years old. With current Chasm X Authority rules in place, MT was now 2017 and not 5017. Thus, by law, they would celebrate their 841st day of independence.
This time anomaly travesty did not sit well with many Mujandese: none more so than High Eternal Life Priest, Entony LiBerti. Although a government representative, his personal feelings were that the Mujand Republic was thousands of years old and that time anomalies were no excuse for incorrect birthdays. He sat in a large chair in his home office looking over two documents. He groaned, which sounded more like a growl.
His wife walked in with a tray of Mujeeling tea. The hot steam rose towards her nose. She sniffed the pleasant aroma. “Set that work down. Tea time,” she said with a chipper voice.
“Don’t talk about time to me,” LiBerti said.
“Oh, don’t start with that.” She set the tray upon a small table near where her husband sat. Her name was Gondala LiBerti and she was mother to O-Cea and wife to Entony. “I am joining you for tea, your highness.”
LiBerti looked up at his wife. “Don’t even joke,” he said.
She smiled. It pleased her to crawl under his skin now and then. “Well, all work and no jokes make Jack… a dull ass.”
“I’m only saying,” Gondala said.
“Stop saying,” LiBerti huffed.
Gondala smirked. She took a seat and reached for the pot to pour the tea. At that very moment the chime to the front door resonated.
“Good Unc,” LiBerti said. “Who in flames could that be?”
Gondala continued pouring the tea. “I imagine Gordimat will make an announcement soon enough.”
LiBerti grunted. “At his speed that won’t be anytime soon.” He laughed at himself.
Gondala shook her head. “Behave.”
There was a knock at the door and in came Gordimat, an elderly gentleman with long white hair. “Sir, you have… guests.” He was uncertain if calling them guests was the correct word to use.
“Guests?” LiBerti shrugged. “Someone I know?”
“I believe you do. They ask that you come greet them yourself, Sir.” Gordimat was trepid. He rubbed his hands together.
LiBerti could see that his man was a bit nervous. “Good Unc, man!” LiBerti pushed himself up from his comfortable seat. He was quite noisy.
“Entony!” Gondala chastised.
“Who calls at tea time anyway,” LiBerti huffed. He moved with large steps towards the door. He walked by Gordimat and grunted as he withdrew from the room.
At the foyer he stopped and turned to Gordimat. “This best not be jest,” he said. He moved to the door and opened it. His face went blank.
“Bloody Shog!” he cursed.
Gavon Crowe was looking out at the lights from the balcony of O-Cea’s hotel room. He was thinking of Venente again. There was no escaping it—he was in love. Or something similar to that, he thought. He laughed. Although he didn’t know her for very long he did miss her and he was ready to go back for her.
The balcony door opened and he turned to see O-Cea. “Tell me again why you want Clavi to wear a dress from the 10th century?” She moved next to him.
“How does she look?” He looked back to the city lights.
O-Cea nodded. “She’s gorgeous. Of course.”
“She is that,” he said.
O-Cea seemed distant. Crowe knew they needed to have the conversation they’d both avoided. They needed to talk about them. Why she abandoned him. He turned to her.
“Want to talk about it?”
She squirmed. “Not sure what difference it’ll make.”
“Well. Make me feel better knowing you feel bad.”
Crowe snickered. But he saw that she was not amused. The distress and sadness on her face was clearly visible. He knew she didn’t deserve his sarcasm.
"You did what you thought was best for your family and your world. It was a critical time for Blissdane Naive. I don’t blame you.” Crowe was giving her an easy out.
O-Cea ran her fingers through her hair. “I blame me. I should have stood up to my father. I don’t know.”
Crowe shrugged. “Maybe. But don’t forget, your father hates me.”
“He doesn’t hate you.” O-Cea spoke softly.
Crowe feigned a laugh. Then he did laugh.
O-Cea laughed as well. “Okay, he hates you. But remember it was you that knocked over a container of acerbic cream onto his favorite Taiga Roll shoes.”
“That I did.”
They both had a good laugh before they returned to a quieter mood. Crowe stepped back.
“Look, the less you know what it is I’m doing, the more I know it won’t involve you,” Crowe said.
“I’m already involved. Here I am,” she responded.
O-Cea looked into Crowe’s eyes. It made Crowe look away.
“Okay. You’re right.” He hesitated. “I need you to do something that I’m pretty sure you won’t be happy about,” Crowe took her hand.
“Oh, Unc. The charm,” she said.
This made Crowe chuckle. He shrugged. “It’s all I have left.”
O-Cea gave in to him. “What do you need?”
Now Crowe became animated. “A thrall-wave. I need you to take Clavi’s memories of us arriving here on Ro Craudo III and alter them.”
“What? Her memories?” O-Cea pulled her hand from his. “Out of the question!”
“Wait. It’s not what you think.”
“It’s always what I think!” O-Cea turned away from Crowe.
“O-Cea, it’s for her own good,” Crowe pleaded.
“I’m sure it is.”
Crowe sighed. “Okay. I’ll tell you.”
She turned back to him. “You’ll tell me. Everything?”
“Everything,” he answered.
He did tell her. Everything. About the deception with Judge Prador and the falsified law credentials. The ervescent gold and the Veechi heist. And more importantly, Venente. He told her about his feelings for her.
O-Cea took a moment to take it all in. She breathed into her lungs fully. She exhaled. “Unc, I hate Ro. The air smells of that goop. That horrid goop. I’ll need goop therapy when I get home.”
Crowe smiled but saw how she was avoiding what he’d just told her. But he knew she was taking it in slowly. And after some time she spoke.
“So you need to get back to her.”
“Venente.” Crowe clarified.
“Vay-nen-tay,” O-Cea sounded out. “That’s beautiful. Is she beautiful?”
“You can tell me that much,” O-Cea said. “Makes no difference now.”
Crowe nodded. “She’s beautiful.”
“More than me?” O-Cea asked.
“O-Cea, please,” Crowe pleaded.
“She has big teeth, right?”
“Stop,” Crowe said. “Look, if Clavi comes with me…” Crowe started.
“Does her father hate you?”
“I fear she will get emotional and put us in danger.”
“I bet she has red hair.” O-Cea smiled at Crowe.
His mouth fell open. “What?? You went through my memories?”
O-Cea shrugged. “Just making sure.”
“You shouldn’t do that,” Crowe said.
“But it’s okay to alter Clavi’s memories,” O-Cea said.
Crowe looked at her. He knew she was right but he also felt that he was right. Clavi was having issues with her emotions and having her along with him when he returned to Blissdane Naive could be dangerous. She was too unpredictable.
“On the surface it sounds wrong.” Crowe knew he had to be honest. “But I like Clavi and I wouldn’t hurt her. I want what’s best for her.”
“She will resist.”
“She won’t.” Crowe said. “She is very susceptible right now.” He sighed. “Look, she’s been highly volatile. Emotionally. Bringing her along might just get her hurt. It could be dangerous and it will be difficult keeping her and myself safe. I just need a little time to fix things. I will return close to this same time.”
O-Cea took some time to consider Crowe’s request. She’d never seen him in this way. He had changed.
“What story do I make up?” O-Cea asked Crowe.
Crowe closed his eyes. “Thank you O-Cea.” He took her into his arms. “This is best for her, you’ll see.”
“Yeah. So what do you want her to believe?” O-Cea moved away from Crowe.
“Okay,” Crowe took a little time to consider the options. “She arrived on Ro and I was not with her.” He paused. “She had to stay the night at that Fango Park she and I stayed at the night before we left for Earth.”
“You stayed at Fango Park?”
“Then, she found you through that amazing access of hers. You sent her here and… I don’t know what you should say at that point. Think of something. Tell her…”
“That I’ll help her find you,” O-Cea ended his thought. “But I will delay her.”
“Yes! Watch her. Keep her from trying to go to Blissdane Naive on her own because she will try.” Crowe didn’t want to say this last part but knew he needed to. “She can’t go without me anyway.” Crowe hesitated. “Because I own her.”
“You what?” O-Cea was shocked.
“It’s not what you think,” Crowe said. “It’s just an arrangement between us.”
“You owning her, is an arrangement?” O-Cea was still surprised.
“Yes. Look, it was either me or another Gooplite or worse, the Ro Government.”
O-Cea considered those options and decided Crowe had a point. “Okay. But it sure sounds mean and diabolical.”
“O-Cea, it is for her own good. She has been very emotional since we got together.” Crowe’s eyes stayed on O-Cea’s eyes. He tried so desperately to show sincerity.
“You dirty Shog. Don’t look at me that way,” O-Cea said.
“You’ll need to tell me that story again someday,” O-Cea said. “And I want to hear it from you. Not read it in the Mujand Investigator.”
“Listen. You must be careful with her. I just don’t know how she’ll react when she learns she’s back on Ro without me. Plus, whatever you do, don’t let her talk you into owning her.”
“What?” O-Cea was shocked.
“Yes. She will try to get you to own her.”
“What for?” She was repulsed at the thought.
“Look, it’s how they treat the Metalites here. It’s bad but it’s also for their own good.”
O-Cea was appalled. “These Ro Gooplites are just…”
“Hey… they really are trying to fix past mistakes.” Crowe couldn’t believe he was defending the Gooplites.
Crowe looked into the room. “Where is she?”
O-Cea now looked into the hotel room. “She was trying on the dress.”
They both went back into the hotel room.
“Clavi?” Crowe called out.
Suddenly she came out wearing her new, very old dress. It fit her perfectly and she looked the part of a woman from hundreds of years ago.
“Wow,” O-Cea exclaimed.
“Perfect,” Crowe said.
Clavi smiled. “My undergarments are inappropriate for this time period,” she stated.
Crowe looked at O-Cea. She looked back to him and shrugged.
“Are we going to a masquerade gala?” Clavi smiled.
O-Cea frowned at the irony of Clavi’s question. She turned to Crowe. “Something like that,” she said.
They hid in a grove of fallen trees and vines that were situated a good distance from the shore. There was nothing to do about the treasure. It was exposed.
They crouched down together as low as they possibly could, trying their best not to be seen. They peered over and through the broken trees. The tops of their heads could see that a large rowboat was employed and several men were coming ashore.
The men searched each other’s eyes. They had nothing in the form of a weapon.
“We might be able to surprise them from here,” MM said.
“I’m surprised. How cowardly we appear,” Venente said.
“My dear,” Judge Prador spoke softly. “Sometimes being offensive ensures a good defense.”
They all looked at the Judge.
“You should know Judge,” Muloff said. “Seemed to work for Crowe.”
“That’s a story… for another day, young man,” Prador said.
The rowboat was now pulling up onto the shore. The men jumped off the boat and onto the sand. Their voices could be heard but not understood.
“Unc. What will they do to me?” Venente lamented.
“Hush,” MM whispered.
Everyone kept low and out of sight. But Venente had to look. She popped her head up. Now she could see the men.
She shot up and was completely exposed.
“What are you doing?” Muloff snapped at her.
Suddenly Venente moved around the trees and started to run to the men. She screamed. It was Gavon Crowe.
The others stood when they heard Venente screaming Crowe’s name. They saw her reach Crowe and jump into his arms and clutch his neck.
“I’ll be a Shog’s sister,” Judge Prador said.
Venente was kissing Crowe all over his face and they both fell to the sand. Crowe’s men laughed. MM, Muloff and the Judge crawled out of their shelter and headed for Crowe and his rescue team.
“The mere logistics of such a feat is miraculous!” Judge Prador said to Crowe as they hugged.
Muloff was next. “I thought I’d have to find a new lawyer.”
They laughed. “You do,” Crowe said.
MM took Crowe’s hand. “Welcome back.”
Crowe acknowledged MM with a smile.
Later, when all the treasure was moved onto the rescue ship and the celebratory rescued castaways were preparing to gather for a meal in the captain’s quarters, MM took a chance to pull Crowe off to one side.
“A moment of your time, Crowe,” MM said.
Crowe nodded and followed MM to a dark secluded area.
“Much has happened here and I feel that I am a bit lost,” MM said.
“I understand.” Crowe could only shrug. “I owe an explanation.”
“Hey, you two!” Muloff appeared and disrupted their conversation. He’d already had too much to drink. “What is this, a miting of the meends?” He laughed himself silly.
“That’s right buddy,” MM said to the drunk Muloff.
“Hey, that is right. We are buddies.” Muloff gave MM a hug of sorts. “Don’t keep secrets. That’s all I ask.” Muloff smiled at MM and Crowe. “Thanks guys. I knew this was the heist for the ages.” He laughed and then walked towards the rest of the crew who were preparing to sit for dinner. “Are there silver spoons? I want to use a silver spoon!” There were a few laughs.
Crowe looked to MM. “Let’s talk tonight. Up top after all are asleep.”
MM nodded. “Okay. Tonight.”
They joined the celebration. The table was arranged with a feast for a king. They ate and drank, late into the evening.
Crewman Gawvabl stood watch for the night. The ocean was calm and the ship moved forward gently. As all nights were on the Tenebris Ocean, the sky was dark. Only the flames of several swaying lamps illuminated the ship. Gawvabl was smoking a pipe and the white puffs of smoke dissolved quickly into the air.
Crowe appeared. “Quiet night,” he said.
“Indeed,” Gawvabl answered. “All is quiet and steady as she goes, Captain.”
“Excellent.” Crowe slapped him on the back. “Take a spell, Gawvabl. Go get yourself a drink and a short break. I’ll keep watch.”
He did not hesitate. “Don’t mind if I do. Thank you.” Gawvabl started off.
“Gawvabl” Crowe called out.
Gawvabl stopped. “Sir.”
“The men are pleased with our agreement?” Crowe looked Gawvabl in the eye.
Crewman Gawvabl returned Crowe’s intensity. He moved forward. “Aye, Captain. You did your part. The treasure is a wee bit larger than we expected but the accord’s been struck and it’s as solid as a pirate’s peg leg.”
Crowe chuckled. “Off you go. Have a meal.”
"Yes, Sir!” Gawvabl moved quickly and within no time he was down below.
Crowe took in the night air. Closing his eyes he felt the purity in his lungs. That was something he couldn’t get at home, he thought. Home. He got lost for a moment trying to place everything in order. How far would he take this? How long could he evade them? Although he was the proverbial needle in the haystack, the haystack was getting smaller with his every move.
“I’ve seen that look before.”
Crowe turned. It was MM. Crowe nodded. “The curse of the wanderer.”
MM chuckled. “My friend, you are singing to the preacher.”
“I’m sure I am.” Crowe offered MM a cigarette.
MM took the cigarette. He eyed it. He looked at Crowe. “I think it’s time for a truth reckoning. Don’t you?”
Crowe lit his cigarette and in turn MM took the example and held his cigarette in his mouth for Crowe to light. He took a puff and again eyed the cigarette. He looked at Crowe. “A paper pipe?” MM said.
Crowe nodded. “Something like that.”
They smoked their paper pipes for a cool few moments as the night air passed through their hair. Crowe then turned to MM.
“How did you hook up with Muloff?” Crowe asked MM.
“You know, bit of this, bit of the other. All illegal, of course.” MM smiled.
"Of course. That’s where I came in,” Crowe said.
"Yes,” MM agreed. “Fortuitous for Muloff.”
"We’ll see,” Crowe answered. He then flicked his cigarette out to the water. He coughed. “I don’t really smoke.”
MM chuckled. He tossed his cigarette into the water. He coughed. “I was just being polite.”
The both had a good laugh. Then Crowe’s posture became serious.
"What is your name? Your real name.” Crowe folded in his arms.
MM shrugged. “I was wondering when that would come around.” He looked off to the dark water. Then looked back to Crowe. “I am Greer Veechi.”
Crowe fell back against the railing. “Well I didn’t expect that,” Crowe said. He shook his head. “Didn’t expect that at all.”
"Nor did I when this fell into my lap. I was jostled all my life about my name and then I learn that the Andaqesh Government found the treasure.”
"How did you find out?” Crowe asked.
"I didn’t know in the beginning. I was hired to help retrieve something found off the coast of West Junee. When I learned it was the Veechi Treasure, something got a hold of me. I had to take it.”
"So, you hooked up with a thief. Muloff.” Crowe breathed in deeply. “You know what this means.”
"Yes. Your device there,” he nodded towards Crowe’s pocket. “But it makes my head hurt thinking about it,” Veechi said.
"I completely understand that but somehow, inevitably, you take the treasure back to the past.” Crowe shook his head. The thought was mind numbing.
"Brother, it’s worse than that. I have a child with someone named Clavi Toopree.”
Crowe again, nearly fell over.
"Are you alright man?” Veechi reached for Crowe.
"You said, Clavi Toopree?” Crowe could hardly believe this news.
"This is part of the history. This Toopree woman and I have a child…”
"This is… so startling.” Crowe spoke ominously.
"Which part.” Veechi spoke rhetorically.
"It’s all too unreal. Too crazy. But…” Crowe thought for a moment. “It makes perfect sense. It does.” He looked sharply at Veechi. “Because it was my plan the whole time.”
Crowe could now see Gawvabl returning to his post. “Let’s continue this tomorrow.”
Veechi turned to see Crewman Gawvabl arriving. “Tomorrow,” he said.
Before they parted, Crowe leaned in to Veechi. “Tell no one your name.”
"Well. I may have told Venente but she didn’t believe me,” Veechi said.
"I will speak with her.” Then Crowe thought of Muloff. “Does Muloff know your name?”
"No. I told him my name was Aelias,” Veechi said.
"Appropriate. Okay. Until tomorrow,” Crowe said and walked off. He acknowledged Gawvabl.
Veechi stood in place for a bit, swaying with the ship. He was absorbing what he’d just learned. And he knew there was more to learn. He walked back to his sleeping quarters.
"I am sick of the ocean,” Venente said to Crowe. “I want to be on dry land on a dry bed with dry air to breathe.”
Crowe and Venente were preparing for sleep.
"Please tell me we’re going home.” Venente glided under the sheets next to Crowe. “I have so many things I need to buy.” She giggled.
Crowe was off in his own world feeling a little overwhelmed. There were just too many things to think about. He needed to return to Ro-Craudo III for Clavi but he also needed to return to Earth. Something was not right with Brand. And that part disturbed him most. Why did Brand show the band on his wrist? What in hell was he planning?
"Where shall we live?” Venente playfully asked. “You ever hear of Eklisivia? Lots of naked women there.” Venente could see that Crowe wasn’t really listening. She sat up. “Where are you? Has your brain turned to mush from using that thing?”
Crowe breathed in deeply. He looked at her. “There are things I must tell you.”
"Oh, Unc.” She sat back against the headboard. “Okay. Tell me.”
Crowe was not eager to tell her about Veechi. Nor Clavi and O-Cea for that matter. But he did have to go back to them to trim up loose ends. He would have to be honest with Venente. He hoped she wouldn’t overreact. She’d been through a lot in the last… well, Crowe couldn’t remember the time. He returned to her chronolink signal and got back no more than 8 hours after the shipwreck and time jump. Technically. As best as he could figure. It was getting hard to keep track of his time much less someone else’s time. He was sleeping in different times and on different worlds. Maybe Argent was right. He was using the DAB too much.
"Hello!” Venente ran her hand up and down in front of Crowe’s face. “You there?”
"Yes. Sorry.” Crowe shook his head. “Too many things to keep track of.” He sat up and faced Venente. “Okay...”
Venente sighed. She did a ‘come on’ with her fingers, signaling Crowe to come out with his yarn.
"It’s difficult to say how long I was gone or how…”
"About six hours,” Venente interrupted Crowe.
"Really?” This surprised Crowe.
"Give or take,” Venente answered.
Crowe nodded. “Okay. But that was six hours to you. For me I was gone for months.”
Venente was surprised. “Months?”
"Or more,” Crowe concluded.
"More? I don’t understand.” Venente was baffled. “Why so long?”
This is where Crowe hesitated. He wanted to be truthful but also did not want to confuse her. She would not understand why he teleported and time traveled all over the place.
"Just tell me,” Venente said. She was getting frustrated.
"Okay. The night on the Kaznot, when I sent us traveling through time, I didn’t really have the chance to fix on a time. The time band just sent us. I ended up on Ro-Craudo III. In my time.”
She closed her eyes shook her head. “Ro Kra-do? Where is that?”
“Another planet. Not my planet. That’s one of the things we can’t figure out.” Crowe realized too late that he said, ‘we’.
"We? Who is we?” Venente was trying desperately to understand.
"Dr. Argent Brand and me, is we.”
"And he is?”
"I call him Dab. He invented time travel. Well, not time travel. He invented the time band, which enables one to travel through time. And space. We call it the DAB, which manipulates space reality, which means that space is flexible and can be reshaped or changed. Altered from one reality to another… because everything that happened in one space is still there as light or time or space…” Crowe saw Venente’s raised eyebrow and knew he was off course. “Right. Not important.”
"Not in the slightest,” she said. Venente ran her fingers through her red hair.
"I wasn’t sure if the DAB was working properly or I would have come right back for you all. So, my plan was to return to Earth to meet with Dr. Brand so that he might fix it, if it were not operating correctly. But I would need to teleport…”
"To what?” Venente was so lost.
"Oh right. You don’t know about that.” Crowe readjusted to start over. “Long story short, I needed to go back to my planet to get the DAB repaired. But I couldn’t because I was unable to answer questions to be able to get back to Earth. That’s when I met Clavi.”
This got Venente’s attention.
Crowe spent a good amount of time explaining Clavi and trying desperately to help Venente understand the idea of an artificial person. In the end, Venente wasn’t sure what to believe.
"So, she is back in your time waiting for you to… what?” Venente was exhausted.
"To take her away from Ro-Craudo III,” Crowe answered. “You must understand that she…” Crowe stopped. He closed his eyes and put his hands to his forehead. He slowly slumped over.
"Gavon, what is it?” Venente reached to soothe him.
He blinked profusely trying to shake something from his head. A vision. He then looked at Venente.
"Oh, God. They’re in trouble!”
The following morning, Crowe and Venente entered the dinning area and found Veechi, Muloff and Judge Prador having breakfast.
Judge Prador lifted his cup. “Crowe, fabulous thing this Nerves Coffee. I understand it is derived from bat excrement.”
"Sorry Judge. Not now.” Crowe sat down. Venente stood behind him. “Gentlemen. I realize the whirlwind pace we’ve been on and that a respite is desirable but I require your assistance.”
Crowe continued and explained as much as he could without giving too many details. Crowe was deliberate in his ambiguity. The less he said, the better.
"These friends of yours, they exist in the future? And on another planet?” Judge Prador asked.
"I am uncertain how you know these things,” Muloff said. “What if they are fine?”
"They are not. I assure you,” Crowe said.
"By this mental connection you claim to have with the one…” the Judge was looking for a name.
"Clavi,” Crowe said. He was looking at Veechi. “Her name is Clavi Toopree.”
Veechi’s eyes became intense. His eyes met Crowe’s. Crowe silently pleaded with Veechi to keep things under wraps.
"And she communicated with you that they were in peril,” Prador said.
"Yes, but here’s the thing that is most alarming. O-Cea, who I left in charge of Clavi, has a more powerful mental ability. And she did not contact me.” Crowe said. He was beginning to feel a helpless anxiety over the entire matter.
"I understand,” Veechi said. “This non-communication with the other tells you they are indeed in trouble.”
"That’s exactly it,” Crowe’s excitement level was rising. “She would either have contradicted Clavi’s message or sent a distress message as well. I just have this feeling. Something is wrong.”
They all pondered for a moment. Muloff appeared solemn. Veechi had a good poker face going but Crowe knew his life, most of all, would be altered by the outcome.
"This is a bit hard to grasp,” Muloff said.
"It is. I give you that,” Crowe answered. “But it is real. And my friends are in trouble. I need your help.”
"But what kind of help, you are unsure,” Judge Prador said.
"Correct, Judge. I am completely unaware of their situation. It could be minor.” Crowe paused. “It could be really bad.”
Crowe held back some information. Did he feel bad about this? In part. He knew that the authorities were after him but he couldn’t share all of that with them just yet. Not even Venente. Not now. He had to get them to buy into his plan, which he had not come up with at the moment. But not having a plan was becoming his modus operandi.
Muloff stood. “Well, I’m in,” he said.
The Judge stood as well. “As am I.”
Crowe looked to Veechi who also stood.
"Aye. I must come,” Veechi said.
Crowe understood exactly what he meant. “Yes,” he said. He looked to the Judge. “I need you here Judge.”
"Me?” The Judge laughed.
"To command the crew,” Crowe said.
"I am neither sailor nor captain. I just hang people.” Judge Prador harrumphed.
"The crew has the knowledge. I just need you to be Judge Prador at his bench.” Crowe nodded to the Judge. “Keep things under control until we return.”
The judge considered this. He looked at Venente. She smiled. He then looked into Crowe’s eyes. “Of course. It’s my destiny.”
"Thank you.” Crowe stood. “We are on our way to the Mujand Republic. We altered our course this morning.”
All shared looks. Some nervous, some excited.
"I think I’ve swallowed dragoons,” Muloff joked.
"We will be traveling to the year, 3017 to see someone crucial to this matter.”
"3017??” Muloff’s voice squeaked.
Crowe nodded. “Yes. And that’s just the beginning.”
There was a silence. The creaking of the boat seemed so very loud.
"Look, I can’t explain everything. I will give you as many details as I can before we leave Blissdane Naive.” Crowe looked to everyone in hopes of a solid affirmation. It was very quiet. No one spoke.
"Yo Ho, ya yella Shogs!” Judge Prador brought everyone to laughter. It’s what they needed.
Their arrival to the Mujand Republic coast went smoothly. The port city of Raechi could just be seen through the heavy mist. Because of the nature of their cargo, they anchored offshore in the early morning. Crowe and his rescue team were boarding a small boat to row to the docks. They each had a belt strapped to their bodies, which were stuffed with ervescent gold. This would aid in their travels.
Judge Prador was seeing them off. He stood next to Crowe.
"I thought I saved you that day. You and your indigent act.” Prador patted Crowe on the back. “You saved me from boredom.”
Crowe placed his arm on Prador’s shoulder. “Just stay here for a few hours. My plan is to return as close as possible to this same time.” He smiled. “Unc willing, all will work out.”
They embraced and then Crowe stepped into the small boat.
Venente threw Prador a kiss. “We’ll return, love.” They nodded to each other.
Muloff and Veechi nodded their farewell to the Judge.
Soon the boat was moving away towards the Raechi docks. The Judge stood there a while until he could only see a gray smudge through the mist.
He turned back and the crew was standing there watching the event. Judge Prador looked at each one of them. He seemed unsure of the situation.
Crowe and his team reached the docks and climbed out of the boat. There was a young boy nearby.
“Here boy,” Crowe shouted.
The boy came forward. Crowe tossed him an ervescent gold coin. “There are nine more of these for you if you watch this boat and see that no one takes it.”
"Aye, sir,” the young boy squealed.
"We will return within the hour,” Crowe told the boy.
Crowe, Venente, Veechi and Muloff were walking through the misty streets of Raechi.
"Smells of kala goots,” she complained.
"The nature of a sea town,” Veechi said.
"Where are we headed?” Muloff asked Crowe.
“To a place that won’t change very much in two thousand years,” Crowe answered. And then he stopped. He looked up.
There in the town center was the Jandacan Church. It was enormous and majestic as the Andaqesh Government intended.
"Of course,” Venente said.
They walked in and saw no one inside. It was still early morning. Crowe turned to a door. It was a confessional.
"Everyone, in here.” Crowe opened the door. It was small inside but they all crammed into the dark space. The door was closed.
Inside Crowe produced the DAB. He looked at the others. Their faces were no more than inches apart. “You’ve done this already. But hold on.”
They each braced for the experience in their own way. Crowe then produced the DAB. He began a series of button pushing to set their voyage.
"Hang on.” Crowe then activated the DAB and the familiar light was emitted.
Liberti’s face was something Crowe recognized. It was a mixture of shock and rage with a dash of mayhem thrown in for the sake of clarity.
"What in flames are you doing here?” Liberti screamed to Crowe. “Gordimat, call the authorities!”
"Wait,” Venente said.
This surprised Liberti. He squinted his eyes at her.
"You’ll want to hear what we have to say.”
Venente’s plead caught Liberti’s attention. He stood there a moment looking at the four people outside his home. “Go on,” he said.
Crowe stepped forward. “Sir, I have reason to believe your daughter is in danger.”
"Nonsense,” Liberti huffed. “She would have contacted me.”
Crowe nodded. “Yes. If she were able to.”
Now Liberti was concerned. He softened his stance. “What are you saying?”
Crowe looked back to his compatriots. He’d have to reveal something he’d not mentioned to them. “Sir, I believe O-Cea and a friend of mine are in the hands of the Gold Dragonflies.”
Liberti knew the severity of that statement. The others did not.
"Who in halibut are the Gold Dragoons?” Muloff asked.
Everyone turned to Muloff. He got it wrong. As always.
To be continued...
MUJAND REPUBLIC TERRITORY OF WEST JUNEE THE KUNINGANNA TERRITORY NATION OF ANDAQESH PERISH ISLAND PONEET ISLANDS