A Crashing Joy: Entry 7 (Roughest Draft)
Hands wrap around my neck and I laugh a wild, Siren’s shriek. “Do you think I would tell you if you could stop me?!?” Still he squeezes, eyes a tumult of color and rage, and I feel my throat close. I shift and then I am a puddle, draining through the deck and flowing to the other side of the compartment. I reform, and Niran, agape, manages to hold himself back until I shift back into fully human—fully naked—form. I grab the top sheet off the bed and wind it around myself until it is almost as artfully folded as a sari.
“Honestly,” I say, brushing imaginary dust from my thighs, “can we please skip the theatrics?”
“You’re Solved,” he hisses and I nod.
“I am,” stating the obvious, “and I am not the only one who’s been told to sabotage your ship. Now,” I sit down and fold my arms over my chest, “if you’re quite finished having a tantrum, can we please get down to business.”
Niran tells me what he knows about the Scions, which isn’t much. They’re to be delivered to a remote island in the South Indian Ocean on a certain date and then Niran was told to red-line the engine all the way home.
“Why did you mention Kali, your Reclaimer?” I ask after he seems to exhaust his knowledge.
“I know she’s involved, somehow,”
“That’s really vague,” I put on my best pout, “isn’t there anything more concrete you can give me to take back to my Conclave?”
“You can’t take any of this back to the Mer!” Niran shouts and it echoes in the small space, “You’re Solved! Don’t tell me you don’t have the juice to do this?”
“I don’t know what ‘this’ is!” I shout back, feeling my limit approaching and needing to return to my quarters. I don’t know what this helpless, weakening, is…but I certainly don’t like it. “I am not the only Solved. I am Lesser Solved, any of the Greater Solved could stop me in a blink.” I pause, hand to my mouth, considering. “I could ask about the island, though, and it wouldn’t arouse suspicions because it’s where the ship is going, if you’re to please the Scions.”
“It’s not the Scions I have to please,” he grumbles and I arch an eyebrow, non-verbal for tell me more. “The Scions aren’t in charge, the Keepers are.”
“They suck at their job,” I murmur and elicit a genuine bark of laughter from Niran.
“Yes, if your interactions with Tor’scion are any indicator. They were extremely agitated when he went missing a second time; you’d do well to steer clear of him while they’re aboard.”
“Okay,” I murmur, “where are they berthed so I can ‘steer clear’ of them?”
“What are you thinking?” he growls and I smile, but say nothing. “They’re in the bunks off the hanger bay. They have no permission to go into the recreational part of the ship, as some of them are very young, and very powerful, and could do real harm to our human guests.”
“The humans need to go,” I say and he nods.
“In the morning it will be announced that there is a problem with the plumbing system and all guests will be disembarked,”
“It’s not a great excuse,” I sigh, “but it will do. No one wants a ride on the SS Sickness.” A thought comes to me, “What about your human crew?”
“I have to keep them; I have to have daylight workers. There’s no choice for it.”
“That will make finding the other saboteurs much more difficult,” I chew a nail, “Can you exclude them from internal operations? No,” I shake my head, “direct sunlight or no I know you don’t have enough vampires old enough to deal with the day.”
“Speaking of the day, it’s almost dawn,” Niran nods pointedly toward the door. “As much as I’ve enjoyed our new…relationship, Envoy, no vampire alive would allow a potentially hostile force in his presence when the sun sends him away.”
“All right,” I murmur, passing through the hatch and bidding him good night. I hear the click of the lock engaging and smile; his cabin is truly water-tight. Once a storage room, inhospitable for living, breathing crew, his quarters are perfect for a vampire paranoid about the world and the other creatures in it.
It wouldn’t stop me, I shush my mischievous side and return to my cabin, startling some late-night revelers carousing through the promenade. Tuxedo Catman and Whisker Princess find me en route—as they always do—and the three of us enjoy an extremely early morning stroll among the trees. The glass domes that enclose them have been opened at each third pane and a gentle breeze rolls off the land bringing the scent of city and other trees with it. The sun is just peering over the mountains as I pull the shade closed, but I leave the window open to let in the fresh-ish air before falling into a deep sleep.
“What is he like, my harbinger?” once again I am in an open meadow with a lovely, feral vampire woman and this time I am not afraid.
“Who are you talking about? Captain Niran?”
“No, the little Ship Meister is trying but his fate is not tied to yours,” she answers and I am caught by that gasoline-on-water swirling gaze. “I mean the one you call Ko; my fourth harbinger.”
“Ko doesn’t know what he is. How is it even possible, his existing side-by-side with a Vampire?”
“There are as many possibilities as imaginings, little one,” she says, once again assuming the patient-parent tone, “and in this life more chances than in any other. You’re lucky to have Solved it so soon, but until you open yourself to new possibilities you’re trapped by your own finite understanding.”
“Quit patronizing me,” I grumble and she smiles. “I know I’m stuck. I don’t know how to fix it. How about you tell me what I’m missing?”
“I would,” she says, “but there are too many possibilities. I can’t see all futures simultaneously, and even if I could it takes away from your experience to know the options. Your options are endless, your choices are finite.”
“You’re being obtuse,”
“One might say deliberately cryptic,” her rejoinder is delivered with endless love and I smile despite my efforts not to. “So how is my harbinger.”
“Confused. I don’t think either of them know what is going on. I know the Mer, Ko, doesn’t.”
“That’s to be expected; his state is transitory,” she holds up a hand as I open my mouth. “Little Solved, I can’t answer you. You have to figure out what Ko is to you on your own. To me he is my fourth harbinger, without you he is another sacrifice.” The world shimmers, “Shit,” she murmurs and before I can say a word she is a swirling dervish that explodes into a thousand butterflies that lazily flit to the flowers throughout the meadow.
“Wait, what?” I manage to ask before the DreamScape is gone and oblivion beckons.