"House hunting!" I cried as we took the lift up to the eightieth floor of the skyscrapers apartments.
"That's what I said, several hours and a few thousand miles ago." He replied, somewhat bemused by my outburst.
"But, I thought that you meant… I don't know, that you were going to do something really amazing incredible stupendous related to houses, like declare that the land the meteor fell on was in fact yours and build a house in it or something."
"Nope. My house is gone. I need a new one. I'm quite fortunate that back-up plan is, if not my middle name, my pseudonym."
Celia leaned down so she could see his face side-on. "Why's that?" "Well, of the things in my safe, the documentation was probably the most valuable. In hindsight, I should have installed a self destruct device, however in any other situation it would have been a greater loss. I never planned for an unexpected stellar intrusion."
The elevator dinged and the doors rolled open with a well oiled hiss.
It exited onto semi-circular white marble steps, which descended into the large and airy open room.
The Apartment seemed to have been shaped like a horizontal P with the kitchen, and entrance behind the curve, while stairs to the floor below and the main bed-rooms were in the 'leg' of the P.
The center of the curve of the main living area was furnished with a lounges set into a slight depression, so that when sitting, you'd gaze out at the ocean and horizon through the slanted windows of the curve without the intrusion of other buildings into the view.
"…. This… Is In-Cre-Dib-Le! Who designed it?" I asked, running over to where you could look almost directly down the side of the building through the windows.
"You like it?" He asked mildly, walking over to the table and rubbing the veneer with his thumb.
"Hells yeah! Look Sorrel!" Celia pointed to the right of the curve where a lush and verdant roof garden thrived, taking up the remaining space on the top of the building.
I ran over to that window and gazed at the pocket garden. The centerpiece was an amazing oak, which looked centuries old with its gnarly branches and massive, knotted trunk… while a bubbling brook ran peacefully on its pebbled bed, winding its way through and past the massive roots of the ancient oak.
"It was no mean feat to get that up here, let-alone doing so while keeping it both alive and healthy."
He'd walked up behind us, one arm grasping the elbow of the other behind his back as was his custom.
"You don't mean?" Celia turned to look at him in astonishment.
"You designed this place?" I chimed in after her.
"Yes. Do you like it? It's unfortunate, but I'm one of the few people who can afford something like this… and to be honest I'd rather buy it from myself than sell it to someone who'll hardly be here."
"So… We can live here?"
His face seemed to fall and an expression of what could have been… Well, it was fleeting, but I'm sure I saw, disappointment in him for a moment.
"Yes, well, I'm afraid that you are to return to your original school and your families. With the disaster, the trip has been cut short. Everything has been arranged."
It was like throwing a switch. Suddenly he was cold and impassive.
"So… will we ever see you again?"
"That all depends…." He walked over to the lounge and flopped down "Why are you here. You must ask yourself that. Then why do you want to stay…. If you can give me the right answer one year and three hundred and sixty four days from now, then you may stay with me for as long as you choose. No doors in this place will be closed for you. However…. Without the right answer, it would be better if you stayed away." He breathed deeply, while both of us were transfixed, like statues, waiting for his speech to continue on as his words hung in the empty air.
Even now, those words echo within me… and within Celia.
Over the last two years, we've discussed them countless times…. And reached a single conclusion.
Yet, during this time, although everything seems to be the same, I can't help but feel… Hollow. As though I'm the only one walking with my eyes really open.
I look at the way people talk and bicker, flirt and fight and I see nothing but repeating patterns, actions without rhyme nor reason.
I look at everything that way now. We both do.
It's not that we lack the energy, drive or will to go and live on in life- it's more that we've glimpsed something else, something better. Something to aspire to and strive towards, while everyone else mucks about in the dirt, following their genes and doing the same thing their fathers and mothers did before them.
They have no purpose, they just work so that they can eat and eat so they can work….
Nothing holds its attraction now. Why play games? They don't serve any purpose. Why buy things you don't need?
Why waste time?
I believe that because of Him, we've both begun to understand, that beyond the little and closed in worlds inside our heads, there is the rest of the world and it is more stunning and amazing than anything we could construct or concoct.
I believe we now learn for understanding, so one day, we might understand what drives someone like him, who's so far above and ahead of anyone else, to tolerate others and keep going.
This and his message from almost two years ago.
That evening, he'd asked us how we'd come to be with him and why we wanted to stay.
I understand why that was important to him now.
For someone rich beyond belief, someone so intelligent that just being near him causes epiphanies on the nature of life… who is your friend?
Quite easily he could have obtained beautiful women by the dozen, or people to compliment and agree with him at every turn… but they wouldn't have liked him as a person, but as a persona. A rich and powerful mogul. Not an intelligent, withdrawn and kind boy.
We were both introduced into his life quite involuntarily, there was no way we could have been influenced by his fortunes when we arrived.
His life seems to have had a single, common thread. He's been alone and succeeded, to the point that it must be the only way he knows how to do things.
I guess that he wanted us to think over why we liked being with him. Was it because he bought us nice things and the trappings of his wealth, or was it him? Would we still like him if he was practically penniless and lived on noodles?
For some, that may have been tough, especially since we'd only known him for a few days. Anyone else and I couldn't have called it. Heck, without all this time to think, I couldn't have called it- but now, with time to think and review the world around me from a new perspective, the answer is obvious.
The seven hundred and twenty nine days after the departure of Celia and Sorrel was marked by a quite drawn out mope.
Although my assets had almost completely recovered by this point, I had so precious little to keep my mind off the absence of that pair, that I resorted to babysitting the children of one of my tenants, several floors below me.
Both brother and sister are coming along reasonably well.
However, if I am to document the coaching techniques I've devised, I should mention that tensor calculus is best taught after the child has mastered their third language to the point that they can effectively speak without an accent at speed.
Ref Bloc #4029, Enhanced learning method, techniques and case study.
Traditional theory states that there are certain points in a given subjects chronological development that must be passed before certain concepts can be understood. A classic example being the ability to count and realize that simply moving a group of objects does not change how many objects can be counted.
However, I have disproven that. Using rewards and appeals to the baser nature of the child's psyche, I taught physical and mental discipline, prior to starting the actual learning process. Over the period of the tuition, I began to slowly decrease the amount of rewards until they studied of their own accord.
Unfortunately, I cannot vouch for the success of this technique with large numbers of children present as when subjects who have not been subjected to the same treatment come into contact with those that have, there is a chance that they will influence and break the delicate equilibrium that allows the child to soak up information without becoming bored or disliking the activity.
Hence I've subtly build up a reserve of confidence and behavior that should ensure the children are able to classify themselves as superior to others without acting in an unseemly manner.
To matters less, if not equally important, my revenge has been arranged and is scheduled to take place in less than thirty minutes.
All prominent world leaders have been gathered, by hook or by crook and sometimes both and are currently in attendance of the Maltese Meteor Memorial Meeting center's opening.
Publically to commemorate those who lost their lives. Privately it's because here is where they will announce how the meteor is to be divvied up.
And every single world leader is under the impression they'll be getting the lions share, under the table, in return for protecting the nation of Malta from the rest of the worlds ordinance.
Plus, the head's of many multinational corporations will be in attendance, publically making themselves known for the first time.
And as I have not been found out by any intelligence agency yet; partially because none of them particularly want to admit to any of the others what they don't know, in case they are the only ones that don't know.
Its taken a great deal of slight of hand and well over a billion dollars to keep practically every nations eyes from roving and firmly fixed within their own borders, but worth it for the trick I'm about to pull off.
I select my best suit and stroll along the deserted corridors of the newly built conference center.
With complete confidence, I walk right past the guard's standing either side of the backstage door.
Neither moved. Where bribery fails, sometimes tranquilization must take its place.
I push the doors open and walk out from the side-door, into the limelight as the announcer finished his spiel "Welcome the assembled heads of eight of the world largest businesses, as they appear in public for the first time."
Most of my competitors were in the crowd, mixed among the world leaders… and two quite familiar faces.
Thunderous applause began, but as I crossed the stage, the clapping dried up, until it was little more than a slight patter and then complete silence, bereft of whispers. The only sound, the echoing clack of my soles on the hard-wood stage.
I ascended to take the stand at the center-stage. It automatically lowered to match my height.
I coughed theatrically and threw out both my arms wide. "Ladies, and Gentlemen! Leaders of all walks, countries and corporations, there has been a deception perpetrated this night and indeed for the last several years. Namely, that the unknown head's of the businesses I own and represent, were none other than one and the same person, yours truly.
I stand before you, not merely because I wish to disclose my actual identity and occupation, but rather because I wished to make a point… and while I could quite easily speak at great length about the nature of this point, it will boil down to a simple 'I told you so.'
You see, this is very nearly two years to day, when a great deal of my valuables, technology, property and documentation were simply taken by the American government.
I'm sure that the vast majority of you know about the safe of which I speak. The one found in a destroyed apartment building.
I was and am particularly displeased at the way you not only took the technology within, but had incompetent fools attempt to replicate it without understanding the key principles behind its operation.
But enough of that. Many of you are here merely to see the face of the competition. Look well and remember it.
Many of you are here because you believe you are about to receive a wealth in super-conductors.
As I understand it, a great many nations benefited from what was in my safe… and not just those jewels which I recognize in the settings of the many Beautiful Belle's here tonight.
As you split my things quietly, I shall gather yours noisily."
Behind him a screen began to descend from the ceiling.
"Ships, yet to be properly commissioned, many generations beyond the cutting edge.
A material so fantastic and versatile that it is worth committing genocide to prevent others from obtaining it.
A fleet of the mightiest vessels in the world… and the greatest heist in the history of mankind."
The screen behind him was illuminated as a projector warmed and the lights dimmed.
"First, from Russia, I give you… The Nautilus Ultima!"
Pictures of a truly massive submarine began to snap up onto the screen, causing a stir.
"This is an entirely self contained submersible city. A real life adaptation of captain Nemo's ideal.
It required three and a half tons of superconductive material before it could be put into operation.
I guess that's why so few men were guarding it.
It is currently stationed thirty leagues away…. All communication channels are currently blocked by the way, so do not bother with your phones, radios or panic buttons."
The submarine disappeared, replaced by a most unusual vessel. It was sleek and unadorned, with three hulls supporting the central ovoid.
"Second, from France, I give you… the Shield Galleon! Blue Aegis.
Using revolutionary new technology, it can create a variety of barriers in mere seconds, allowing for the deflection of practically anything or anyone! With the Hydrostatic field active, no organic being can pass through unscathed. One and a half tons!"
The picture changed to show the top half of the central hull split, and a massive crane-like framework unfolded from within. The end of the framework opened like a fan to reveal a huge dish and in a flash the ship was obscured by a rippling blue field.
"Third, from England, the Treasury fortress that walks on the ocean floor, Sunk costs! Instead of containing the combined wealth of your island nation, it now contains the unused superconductive material within its vaults." He checked his watch theatrically
"I'm on a deadline, so I'll speed things up!
Forth, from China, the three ships of supply!
Fifth, from Japan, the research ship, the Antipodean Mean!
Sixth, from Canada, the skirmisher, the Atara!
Seventh, from Germany, the yet to be named air-craft carrier!
And last but not least, from America we have the Flagship, the Valetta and the destroyer, Convictions edge! Let's have a big hand for all the effort you put into these pet projects… however as of about three minutes ago, each is currently being manned and womaned by the population of Malta and mercenaries."
He grinned. Within that expression of glee was the assurance of man, or rather boy who knew not only that he held all the aces, but the entire deck, card table, dealer and casino.
"Now, some of you will rightly surmise that I have something to do with this. You'd be right. I freely admit to having everything to do with this little fiasco. However, if you actually attempt to lay finger on my person unjustly, I must point out that the fleet outside not only owes me a favor but could lay waste to most of your defense forces in a matter of hours.
Tanstaafl gentlemen! There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.
To all those who've been inconvenienced by my display, my sincerest apologies go out.
Now, there is still a great deal of superconductive material which I could not covertly remove from this island. This presents no problem as by tomorrow, Malta will be gone.
I know that each of you had or rather has, your largest piece of ordinance subtly aimed at this little island. I feel a demonstration of the capability of this, the First Maltese Fleet, will go down well and prevent you all from getting itchy trigger fingers.
I shall take this opportunity to remind you that I have, to use an appropriate but vulgar phrase, got each of you by the 'short and curly's' corporately. Before moving against me and the fleet, I suggest you check exactly how much of your nations income is derived from my network.
Unless you unseat me, which I can say with emphatic certainty is a near impossibility by force, moving against me will be entirely detrimental to your country. Figures forwarded to your offices by an acquaintance of mine show as such.
Oh… and by the way, I've taken the liberty of altering the news broadcast about this event.
You all decided to give that tech to an impartial side, namely Malta, for safekeeping and as an expression of goodwill. Be seeing you all, ladies and gentlemen, now if you don't mind I'll see myself out.
Fare thee well!"
His gaze shuttled across until he found two familiar faces hidden amongst the sea of shocked expressions. He found two most familiar ones amongst the throng and after a moment's pause, winked and walked away.
Down on the conference room floor, two girls who'd received special invites and VIP plane tickets shifted uncomfortably in the dresses that had arrived for them the previous week, along with a short message.
"Come and see." Celia had read when she received the dress. "Really. 'Come and see.' Could he have been any more indistinct?"
"Honestly, if I didn't know he was too young to be into that sort of stuff, I'd find it more than a little creepy that the dress he sent is not only fashionable, but in my size."
Cradling the phone between her neck and her shoulder-blade sorrel held the dress against her frame.
The box was unmarked, but it exuded wealth and opulence from every pore.
The message was clear; if you had to ask how much a dress like this cost, then you couldn't afford it.
"You're going right?" Sorrel asked, placing the dress carefully on the bed.
"Wouldn't miss it for the world." Celia had the phone in one hand while she stared into the heart of the emerald she held in the other.
She'd taken it along to the parent of one of her friends, a jeweler. She'd been unsurprised when she heard how ridiculously valuable it was. What bothered her, was when the jeweler handed it back to her and asked how she got it:
"A gift. From a friend… I think." she'd replied after a moment's thought.
The woman had smiled.
"I would say I wish I had friends like that… but… Do you know the meaning of the birthstones?"
I was skeptical to say the least. "Birthstones?"
"Yes, there are stones associated with each month, along with flowers and virtues. Topaz is November, for loyalty. Diamond, April, innocence. December, Turquoise, success… and emeralds, for May. They mean love." She smiled and turned away, tidying her workbench and pretending not to notice my open mouth. "The gifter might not have known. It's not exactly common knowledge- but a stone of that size and water is never given lightly. I might handle one of those a lifetime, if I'm lucky. You must be very important to him."
"I didn't say it was a him." I blurted out.
She eyed me "Am I wrong?"
My face reddened and I had to look away. After almost a minute I asked "Could you… would you.. make a setting? A necklace maybe, it doesn't quite feel right, carrying it around in my pocket."
I fingered the necklace. Even with the discount she'd given me, it had soaked up everything I had- and I couldn't even show it to anyone. Or explain why I had it if I did show it.
Well, at least until sorrel told me to pretend like she did and say it was costume jewelry. She'd taken a broach and swapped out the center stone for the emerald.
We didn't know what to say when we left to answer his call.
We didn't know if we'd be coming back.
We didn't know if we wanted to come back.
So we told the truth.
We made ourselves up, dressed up and both told our parents that we were going to attend something of a grand ball on a small island in the middle of the Mediterranean and we'd be away indefinitely.
They thought we were joking and apart from a few admiring comments about our dresses (I said that it was a gift from someone who didn't need it.) they just continued to watch television while I walked out and climbed into the chartered taxi that waited outside.
At the airport, our passes got us diverted from customs to a snazzy lounge with a dozen other high rolling types along with the emperor, the prime minister, the guy who does the war stuff in government and their spouses. I almost had a heart attack when the prime minister walked over to me and sat on the couch across from me. His wife glided down next to him.
"I don't think we've met."
Sorrel rubbed her chin thoughtfully, hands covered by flawless silken gloves.
"I'm sure I've seen you before, but I just can't… of course!" she tried to snap her fingers, failed and then addressed the elected leader again "You run a madhouse!" She held out her hand and asked "How's business?".
Everyone who could hear her laughed heartily.
The PM himself smiled broadly.
I poked Sorrel "Pardon me, but I think you'll find on closer inspection, that the person you're talking to is the prime minister. He in fact, runs the government."
She looked at me, an expression of mild worry passing over her face. "I know, that's what I said."
The laughter all around increased in volume.
Our elected head of state was chuckling along with them "Well, my job does feel a bit like that at times, but let me assure you, the members of both houses of government are all completely sane."
Sorrel's eyes widened "They ARE?" she said in a voice of breathless amazement.
The prime minister's wife leaned across and spoke in mock secrecy "I wouldn't trust him on that dear, he took the job after all… and as for me, I married him."
I was just… gobsmacked, mind blown. Horror struck.
The PM Leaned back and his fingers knitted over his stomach "Still, while you avoided my question very well, you haven't actually told us who you are." His head turned and he addressed me "You've been very quiet, would you mind telling me why you're attending the conference? I don't think I've seen either of you before, in the 'madhouse' as you call it, or anywhere else."
Like a grain of sand that becomes a pearl, around us, the two completely normal and unimpressive teens, the group of rich and powerful people reformed.
Sorrel smiled mysteriously "A secret makes a woman, woman. We've got time before our flight departs… How about a game."
She reached into the small bag that had come with her dress and pulled out her broach.
"The setting is rubbish, but the emerald at the center is genuine, a twin of the one worn by the belle next to me. It doesn't really suit this dress-" She smiled, leaving the pause open for everyone to gaze at the simply cut pastel pink dress that sat against her almost like it had been woven from rosewater rather than fabric. It didn't crease so much as ripple and while modestly cut, it was practically an invitation to thoughts and speculation about what was underneath.
Mine actually matched the simple golden setting for my emerald necklace…. Black, with a sort of stocking, a sleeve and glove that were actually part of the dress and covered your right arm completely. The material looked like sheer black fabric from a distance, but up close you could see that it was entirely made from layers of finely embroidered lace. The skirt wasn't quite floor length, but diagonally across the right leg to the left foot, a section of it was almost transparent, with only one layer of lback lace to cover it.
The left was left sleeveless and the entire dress was dusted with silver that got steadily more intense the closer you got to my feet or fingers.
Fashion aside, the assorted assembled powerful people really got into the spirit of the game.
Slowly, something dawned on me as sorrel grinned and shook her head at their many and varied guesses. The boy we knew, he was probably… no, he was certainly more powerful than all the people around us put together.
The attendant came in and announced the jet was ready.
Sorrel looked around and smiled "I suppose I should be a good sport and tell you. We're attending at the invitation of a dear friend of ours…. Although it's been one day short of two years since we've seen him."
Someone cleared their throat and with a puzzled expression, asked "Who is he?"
Sorrel, opened her mouth to speak and stopped, glancing over at me for help.
I folded my arms "If I know him and I do, he's the reason that this event is taking place. If I was to hazard a guess, have any of you ever actually met or seen the organizer?"
Noone spoke up.
"It's him." My mouth twisted into a smile "Don't worry, I get the feeling that tonight, he'll step out."
The prime ministers mouth closed slowly "You're speaking riddles, at least give us a hint to this mystery man."
"Oh no, not a man…. But I will give you a hint, if any of you remember the day of the impact. A safe was uncovered in the wreckage of an apartment building. If anyone would like to hazard a guess at the owner?" I left the words hanging in the air. Everyone sat, faces rapt, calculating.
I stood "While I'll say no more about the who, the why …. Well that's obvious… and at the same time it isn't. He wouldn't do this if you'd just taken his property, he could have taken it back by hook or by crook in days if he really wanted to. I think…. The reason he's doing this, is because of you." I looked at Sorrel and held out a hand to pull her up. "And me."
The flight was long. I sat in the front and lapsed into sleep to the lullaby of whispered conversation behind me.
When we arrived, our invitations were different to everyone else's. We were escorted to the table with the best view of the center stage, with a light meal already waiting. Around us, I could almost feel the looks we were getting.
This was a world where it paid to know not just your enemy and neighbor, but everyone who there might be the remote possibility of dealing with or competing with at some future date.
Then there we were, totally unknown, unexpected. A mystery.
I noticed a white slip of paper underneath the gold edged plate.
Pulling it out, I flipped it open and read:
If you know the answer, then don't leave with the rest. When the time comes, follow my lead.
Don't tell anyone who you are or why you're here unless you intend to accompany me, for I would not be able to protect you well if my soon-to-be enemies saw you as a weak-point.
"Now he tells me." I muttered. I lifted the envelope up and looked over at Sorrel. She had an identical letter.
The other key difference in our table was that unlike the others, we had candles. Sorrel nodded to me, and with some ceremony, we let the letters catch and put them on an empty side plate.
A great many of the people around us turned, eyes fixed on the notes as they crumbled in flames.
Sorrel stood and nodded to Celia. The rest of the room was silent, as if everyone wasn't sure what to do in the wake of the boy's speech.
Celia walked up onto the stage and was about to follow him out, when I laid a hand on her shoulder.
Instead of walking out the door, I stepped up to the podium.
"Good evening everyone… I may not be quite as prepared as the last speaker was, but I feel that at this point, it might be a good idea if I reassured you on certain points."
I motioned Celia to step up next to me.
"The person you just witnessed walking out of here, wanted nothing more than to be left alone once.
He's been hiding in the school system, having cut all ties with his parents."
I paused and Celia took it as her cue to speak. She managed it without stumbling or stuttering.
"Imagine being smart. Imagine being so intelligent that you can comprehend anything, that you could fly a jet perfectly the first time simply after having read the instructions. Able to take people from knowing nothing to being almost ten percent fluent in a new language in a single session. Nothing is difficult for you. But to deal with others, you practically need to slow to a crawl for anyone else to have a chance of understanding you.
That is who has just left this room. If you asked him really nicely, he'll probably cooperate and jump through a few hoops to placate you, but in the end… he'll do what he wants, whether you like it or not."
She stepped back.
I stepped forward once again "On a final note, if I were you, I'd calmly proceed off this island.
He'll do everything in his power to prevent casualties, but if he's working with other people then there may be human error… I say this because I expect that by twelve o'clock tonight, Malta may no longer exist. Although I haven't the foggiest about how he's going to pull that one off. Let's go." I turned and then paused.
An urge had gripped me. In front of the world's powerful and elite, I swiveled back to the stage and grabbed the podium with both hands. "That's all Folks!"
Celia grabbed my arm and dragged me off stage and through the doors.
"What the hell was that? We did all this serious speaking and serious other stuff to try and seriously help him out! That was serious situation! Seriously!" Celia was on the brink of panic, spluttering out her words with a white grip on my arm.
"I'm sorry!" I giggled "I couldn't help myself!"
There was a groan next to my foot.
We both looked down to see two men in security blue lying on the floor.
"Uh, you both need to get off this island."Celia nudged one with her toe. He blinked and looked up at her "What's happened?"
"I think someone might have knocked you unconscious, anyway, this island is going to be blown up. You have to get off it with everyone else."
We helped them up and pushed them through the double doors before walking on in search of the boy. It didn't take long, he was waiting at ease just around the first corner.
"I heard the speech. A most excellent exercise in improvisation and I appreciate the sentiment, however, you need not have troubled yourself to it. Come, we must leave this place at once, we will converse in an appropriately emotional manner about our reunion once we are safely in transit."
He lead the way down the corridor, walking quickly.
We exchanged glances and followed him, finally losing patience as he literally kicked open a door leading to the outside. He looked around briefly. "There. I need to call our transport." He stated bluntly, pulling what looked like a snub pistol with a wide barrel from inside his jacket.
He aimed it into the sky and fired, sending a red flare, trailing smoke high into the air.
"Our transport should be here momentarily. The demolition will not take place for a while yet, but I don't want to leave anything to chance." He looked over at us and his expression softened "Particularly now I actually have something to lose."
A deafening roar began to approach and we watched in wonderment as a curiously shaped plane thing zoomed up and landed straight down on the grass.
Darkness obscured the plane, but I could tell it was no ordinary one, despite knowing nothing about jets.
"Let's go, they'll open the rear hatch for us."
We hurried down and I didn't get more than a glimpse of the plane up close, he quickly bundled us inside the long and narrow cargo compartment.
The thing lifted off and he immediately took out a pair of satellite phones, texting with one hand and dialing numbers on the other.
"Operation status? Timers, detonators? Keep me posted." " To all captains of all planes, I hope your passengers are hurrying, tell them to move it or lose it, this place isn't going to be here much longer!"
"Yes, I'm being serious, I don't care, fill up with people and then choose a runway. Hell, it's why I built extra ones in the first place."
"No, do not fire on the island until I give the all clear, that is an order, relay it to all ships, everyone has already been instructed about exactly what they must do. Do not take the initiative!"
"Send me the frequency for the fireworks, once the rest of the show is confirmed as ready, bail. This is one show you want to miss."
He stopped his frenzy of activity moments before we landed.
The ramp went down and we stepped out onto a gigantic ship. I recognized bits of it from one of the photos. It was the flagship, the Valleta.
He came out and motioned for us to follow, running along towards the end of the ship facing Malta and pulling out yet another communicator from within his jacket.
"This is Number Six, please patch me through to everybody as per part C of the plan."
He arrived at the end with us skidding to a halt behind him, a little out of breath.
"Everybody, bear witness, the show of the Century Is about to begin. Those in the planes that have just taken off, feel free to have your planes circle and watch.
To the Good citizens of the former island of Malta, Today a new chapter in history is about to begin! While the island would have been destroyed to keep it's treasure from the hands of one country or another, you have become the custodians of its power… All who can, come to the deck and watch as the old chapter is closed."
He unclicked that radio and pulled out his phone while fishing around in his jackets inner pocket.
"Permission to fire in one minute, wait until medium safe distance exceeded by final aircraft."
He pulled out a handgrip with a single red button on it.
"Celia, Sorrel. Have you worked out the answer yet?" He didn't turn around.
We exchanged glances.
"We thought about it… and we like you. The other stuff is just…. Stuff. It doesn't matter.-"
"-It was by coincidence that we ran into you on the first day and we liked you then! It's not about your wealth, it's about you!"
He turned around and smiled at both of us, holding his arms out wide.
Two girls and a fourteen year old hugging on the fore deck of a futuristic battleship. He broke away after a long moment and said "Well, It wasn't quite what I was expecting to hear… but it'll do."
Light reflected off his face as behind us there was the flash and resounding boom of a deck-gun being fired.
A sphere of expanding light appeared on the surface of the island, he turned around and reached back, pulling his arms around us both. In his right hand his thumb hovered over the red button.
"Whatever you do, don't blink."
I lack time to complete as of this minute. Normal service will be resumed shortly