She avoided thinking on the journey there, instead allowing the sound of Gars insults and rants to flow through her mind like a calming melody, keeping the fears at bay. Only now as they made their way through the dimly lit cave passage did Gar's song stop, replaced by an urgent caution that she did not feel. It was surprising to her that she felt no fear but then nothing at that moment felt quite real. It was like some surreal dream where everything was speed up, her movements and gestures jerky and tense as she hastened down the tunnel with nothing but the need to reach the others in mind.
A tourist map outside had shown a long straight tunnel which led to a cavernous room deep under ground and this was where the Sdrahcir indicated they were being held captive. This was where Gar said to take care, where he hoped to use the one gun and a hypospray as leverage, for that was all they had, and above all this was not where they wanted to be caught because they had run in blindly. Only Victoria did not take his suggestions into consideration as she began a high speed race towards the growing light at the end of the tunnel. Nor did she listen to Gar's pleading whispers to slow down and be quiet. Only when she reached the room did she stop, for it was then that her dream became a nightmare.
In the centre of the chamber a statue stood guarding over the tomb of the one whose image it likened. Its noble smile seemed almost proud to stand amongst the treasures that decorated the tombs walls and what a horde it was. The Lost painting of Lord Avalons famous tea parties. The gold plated Latinum bust of Countess Katrina. The last Earth Diamond. Marion's rewards from his later life challenges. It all sparkled and shined with the air of a shrine or an honoured memorial, even the mosiaque tiled floor gleamed from a recent polish.
Victoria was not taken in by such perfect preservation of her dear myth or the rarities of which he had been rumoured to have stolen. All she could take note of was the four bodies that lay on that polished floor, their arms folded, legs laid straight and parallel to Marion's tomb. Trix and Gene were lined morbidly to the left of Marion and his grinning statue while the Captain and Edward lay to the left. There faces were completely blank offering no indication as to whether they were alive or dead.
"No! No, no, no!" Victoria felt as though her chest was about to collapse in on her heart. Gar blurred around the room confirming the presence of life in each of them, but little more. His words did nothing to bring hope to her, though he tried his hardest. "We can get them out of here, get them back onto the ship and then we can get out of this hell. I can carry them while you hold the gun…"
Her legs weren't shaking but they felt weak barely able to carry her and when she finally reached the Captain, they collapsed and she finally broke. "John?!" It came out as whimpering sob that echoed through the tomb, but did nothing to wake the sleeping figures. Gar could only watch with pity as she drew in a sharp high pitched breath in a struggle to keep some control. "John please! Please Sash, please wake up! I need you to get me out of here. Don't leave me to do this. I need you to wake up." His serene face remained unsympathetic to her pleading and she felt envious of the unconscious bliss that left him so relaxed. It was not fair. His eyebrows should have been locked in a determined frown, his mouth angrily shouting commands and a wrathful, protective fire should have burned in those eyes as he fought to get her off this planet. Instead he slept, peacefully, not even a twitch behind the eyes to offer the possibility that he was with her in his dreams. He lay there whilst she fled for her life and suddenly she was angry and it felt good. This new feeling scared all fear and self-pity away, giving a hold, something to lift her from this crippling desperation. "John!" she all but shouted, leaning over him now and using the new found strength to grab him by the front of his jacket and lift so that his head lolled slightly back. "Wake up! Wake up now. You are not going to just sleep while they take me away to my death. Now get up. Get up!" Gar grabbed her by the shoulders when she began to shake the Captain but she shrugged him off and tried instead to wake him with a slap.
"Victoria stop." He placed a hand over hers and used the other to lift her face to his. She was fuming; her breath ragged and harsh, tears glistening down her cheeks. He spoke now slow and calm, his eyes holding her to his words. "This isn't going to help him or us. I don't know what any of this is but what I do know is that we have to get out of here and fast. Do you understand?"
It was strange hearing such words coming from Gar. It was not that they sounded especially commanding, for Gar was a follower not a leader, rather they were firm and far too serious to come from the mouth of a complainer and joker and they were far too tempting. It would be so very simple to slip hypnotised into his voice, to lose any meaning and follow him to safety, only when Gar succeeded to calm her from hysteria, he had also allowed a peace for her thoughts to realign and she realised how very wrong everything felt.
"What if," said Victoria between large calming breaths. "What if we can't heal them? What if… we are just leading them to their deaths?"
"And if we just wait here then we'll all be dead for sure." He stood now, not waiting for Victoria to agree. "I'm going to risk it and if I'm wrong then at least two of us will…" But what exactly the two of them would do should he be wrong, she did not find out because Gar was struggling to stand straight. He swayed unsteadily and in an attempt to avoid stepping on Edwards chest he overbalanced, but was saved from falling when Victoria grabbed his arm. "I'm alright," he said almost defensively, his determined smile failed to be comforting as she helped him to steady himself. "I'm alright. I just got up too fast. Being here aint helping either, I'm a bit clostrophobic and yeah I know that's an odd thing for someone who lives in a small ship in the middle of space but that's different." He was talking too fast, a casual almost joking tone to his voice and suddenly she realised that he was not lifting his weight from her and he had begun rubbing his eyes, his head tilted towards the ground.
"Gar, are you-"
"I'm fine," he cut her off in an overly pleasant voice. "I just need a minute."
Victoria opened her mouth to argue her worries but she was cut off once again with a new voice entirely. "He sick like them." Gar spun around and had he not felt so light head then he may have hit the newcomer, instead he shot a god meter to the right of the child's head. The movement toppled him backwards and once again Victoria saved him from falling. They both stared at the boy in astonishment. He was about seven or eight and he looked like a miniature guard with the official blue uniform he wore.
"You stupid child!" shouted Gar sounding for the first time truly angry. The boy jumped, he had been staring with excited awe at the weapon but now he looked to its owner with a frown. "Don't you know I could have blown your head off!" It appeared the child did not know for he ignored Gar's remark and a look of concentration came over him as though he was struggling to remember something. He stood straight, his head held high and his hands clasp nervously infront of him, then he began to speak. "Your friends have been poisoned. If you want save them- to save them then you must come with me to Kiera or go now and leave them die." With all said the boy looked please with himself, everyone would be happy with him, he had said it all and with only one mistake. For a moment there was silence and the boy began to shift uncomfortably in the entrance.
"Sash!" Gar snarled, waving his hand towards the boy and turning to look at Victoria. He was squinting and his eyes had clouded over with a fine white mist like the eyes of an aged dog. He was no longer smiling. "They send a child. What sort of people send a child?"
Victoria barely heard what he said, all she could do was stare at his eyes. They looked wrong, almost like a special effect. They were certainly not belonging to a man with nothing more than a bout of stress and claustrophobia and with realisation she found she could do nothing but morbidly laugh. "How does it feel now Gar?" She twisted herself from under his shoulder. Without her support Gar's knees began to buckle but Victoria grabbed around his chest and gently guided him to the floor. She all but whispered into his ear. "Do you still think I should run for the ship and risk you all dying mid flight."
Gar looked desperate now, his eyes darting blindly around in panic and mouth opening and closing in his failure to think of a reply. He breathed a deep, heavy, controlling breath and then smiled that cheeky, mishchivous but oh so harmless smile. "It's what I would do."
"And that dear Gar is why I was chosen. You would have run, the Captain would have fought, Gene was probably too old whilst Trix too young and as for Edward, well I wouldn't want to have to rely on him to give his life for me."
"That doesn't mean you have to," said Gar. Victoria was laying his head to the floor now and aligning his legs with the Captain and Edward. She may as well complete the picture the people of this planet had laid out for her. "You have a choice."
She smiled though he could not see it and getting to her feet, walked over to the boy, talking him by the hand. "And I choose not to become another Masters." Gar could not move to stop her, he could barely lift his head but all the way down the tunnel out, she could hear him crying out to her.
I promise that I shall finish this before the New Year as I am going to force His Imperial Highness to read it when he travels up to London to visit the family, but he says I have to have finished it first so it shall at last be ended. Huzzah.