Chapter Three - Playing Hero
Orange light leaked through Lexia's loosely shut eyelids. It was morning. To her side there was a rattling of ropes and hooks. The sound was much less hollow than it had seemed in the blue blackness of last night. She guessed that Anton was manning the sails, but then the boat lurched to the side. They must have been turning around. Suddenly Lexia bolted upright, wondering why they were making a complete U-Turn, and more urgently, why her hands and feet were bound together.
"You're despicable!" She burst at Anton.
He smiled coolly at her. "I also wake up early." He wiped his hands on his breeches. "You're not very good at this hijacking thing are you?"
Lexia's lower lip curled. "Can't say I've done it before."
It grew silent save for a few hooks bouncing against each other and the wooden masts they were attached to. After a moment, the silence was crushed. "Are you taking me back home?" Anton pointedly ignored her. "You don't want to do that."
All of Anton's further movements halted. Now he looked cautious. After yesterday's events, he wasn't quite sure what this overbearing girl could do.
"Why?" His scrutinizing glare could have pierced through a mile-thick wall of solid rock.
"Because Lexia was your only lead and I knew her. I have important information that you need." Lexia swore she could hear him groan on the inside.
"Like what?" He said strenuously.
"First untie me."
As was to be expected, he was in no hurry to comply.
"No. I'll find someone else who knows her when I take you back home."
"And I'll tell everyone there that you kidnapped me. No one will want to give you so much as a smile, much less information, if they think you're a criminal."
Exasperation blazed in his smoky brown eyes. "You're impossible!"
"I wouldn't be so impossible if you just did what I asked! It's not like I'm telling you where you have to go and when you have to do it. All I want is to tag along and lend a hand. The sooner you realize that the better."
"I don't need an extra sword!" He exploded. "What I need is information!"
"Then you'll get it, but that means accepting the extra sword."
"Aargh!" He was stuck. There was literally no way to avoid keeping this annoying intruder with him on his travels. Anton stomped over to her like a child not wanting to accept the answer 'no'. His feet echoed against the hollow hull, and sawed through the ropes.
"Happy?" He asked furiously, though he could have cared less about how satisfied she was with herself.
"Quite." She was already to her feet, flexing her stiff muscles. "Your boat is a very uncomfortable place to spend the night. And you didn't so much as offer me a blanket."
She added as an afterthought. Lexia was deeply enjoying annoying this man.
He didn't seem to notice, simply saying, "So where's this information you claim to have."
Lexia shrugged. "I lied," she said carelessly.
Silence again, but this time it was an angry silence. Anton was so deeply vexed that words would not express his fury.
"You have to know something about Lexia." He was straining from the effort not to burst with rage.
Anton threw his hands into the air. "Do you know where she came from?"
Now he was just being nosy! Besides, there was no way Lexia was going to tell Anton the truth, not if he was looking to kill her. The past wasn't something she liked to talk about anyway. The truth was, she really didn't know, , because her parents were killed and that was the only thing Karu knew. Someone told him to raise her as a swordfighter, and said that he would be back for her later. He wouldn't say for sure how much later, nor would he say how the child had ended up with him to begin with. Of course Karu didn't mind; he loved to teach, and here was a child who would have the opportunity to know nothing but sword fighting from the very start. Lexia was supposed to be a prodigy. In a way, Karu neglected his own son in his attempts to build a gifted fencer. She deeply sympathized with Max, because Karu did teach her that move, she just didn't have the heart to tell him that his own father would teach Lexia things that he refused to teach his own son. Max probably knew that too, probably noticed a lot sooner than Lexia did. But none of this was information she was willing to reveal to a total stranger, whom had already taken the opportunity to bind her hands and legs once.
"No, I honestly don't know where she came from." And as Anton glowered and swore to himself that he would get the truth form her eventually, Lexia realized smugly that that was every bit the truth.
The sun left bright spots in Lexia's vision as she blinked. She was grateful when Anton finally turned the boat back around again, even though he did it with such jaggedness that it flung her to the side of the vessel.
"I'm not much of a boat person, but that can't be good for the rudder."
Lexia looked taken aback. "No I'm serious, that can't be helping the rudder. It makes this awful creaking sou-"
"Alana," he said with more force, "I'm not kidding, shut up."
On any other day, in any other moment, Lexia would have given him her two bits about how to properly respect a woman with a sword. 'shut up was not a phrase she responded kindly to. But something in his voice assured him it was urgent, and she was no longer a woman with a sword, so her two bits would have been highly irrelevant. Instead of arguing the matter, she shut up, much to Anton's surprise. Though that didn't stop her from wondering what was going on.
Everything wobbled beneath her as she made her way to the bow to see. There was nothing that really caught her eye, but Anton was still squinting worriedly into the distance.
"OOY… MUMBLE… OY…"
There it was. That must have been what Anton was hearing. It was barely more than a buzz in her ears, so why was he so worried?
"Hurgh!" Anton's sudden grunt startled her. He wasn't squinting anymore. Instead, his eyes were squeezed shut. He was in pain! There was no obvious source for the torment that caused Anton to clutch his sides. Was he sick or something?
"Drop," he wheezed, "drop.. the sail."
It was no time to question him, something was wrong.
"Hurry!" He whispered.
Lexia responded with much alacrity. She sprinted to the large mast where the sail was bundled tightly at the top. How did this work? There seemed to be hooks and ropes every where she looked and there wasn't a single one that she could trace back to the sail.
"This is where he tells her how to properly lower the sails, but since I don't know enough about boats as of yet, it will have to wait until I do."
I have to learn how to man a boat myself if he's going to keep doing this, Lexia thought to herself as she carefully followed Anton's instructions.
The sail was halfway down when something caught her eye. Anton had been scanning the waters near the bow of the boat, so focused on the danger from in front of them. Neither of them had seen anything, because the noise was coming from a small boat about a mile behind them!
"Now turn the boat around." He was still gripping his sides, his face a troubled scarlet color.
"Anton, I don't think that's a…"
"Alana not now!"
"No, there's someone behind us." 'Alana' rushed her words out before he could cut her off again.
"What?" Now he was both very worried and very pained. Then he went completely silent for a moment, deeply in thought. "Turn the boat…" Another grunt, "To the right… just a little," he added quickly.
Lexia had the vague notion that this course change had something to do with wind direction and speed. She looked behind her and realized with dread that the ship behind them was closing distance fast, and so, eager to comply, Lexia jerked the boat to the right. Almost immediately, the wind seemed to brush by. It also seemed to propel them forward much, much faster.
"Won't they know we've seen them? You know if I were them it would seem mighty suspicious if the boat I was chasing suddenly dropped their sails and ran." He didn't say anything, it hurt too much. Instead, his response was a nod.
"Oh, so it's one of those lesser of two evil situations? Run and you might die, don't and you definitely will die?"
"N-something like nthat." With each syllable more he pronounced, things seemed frighteningly worse. It didn't help that every time she turned around, their pursuers appeared closer. The nipping question of what was going on, kept demanding her attention. She ached to ask the question of Anton, but it seemed like it would require far more words to explain that the few Anton seemed able to offer in his present state. At that moment, she was left in the dark, so much darkness that she wasn't even sure why they were running, or from whom, or what.
Anton, simply kept giving her terse orders which she carried out quickly and succinctly, at least, to the best she could without her limited knowledge of sea craft becoming a hindrance, but every time she finished with his requests, he would groan.
"No, it's not working!" He kept repeating more to himself than to Lexia. Then he would give her different instructions, often ones that completely contradicted, if not undid, what she had been asked to do just moments before. Throughout the whole thing, he was grinding his teeth against a mysterious agony. His wishy-washiness was beginning to wear down on her patience, but when she tossed a weary glance behind her, the fact that she had larger dilemmas than Anton's back-and-forthing commands made itself manifest.
The ships were less than half a mile apart.
"Get the canon ready," he clipped.
"Hurgh!" It was almost a scream, and now he was gripping his leg to, his body convulsing in invisible pain. "Never mind, never mind, put it away!" His desperate cry slammed her body into adrenaline mode. Within seconds the pitiful canon was filed away beneath the hull. A worried gasp still escaped her lips.
The boat was probably only a quarter-mile away. Now it appeared massive, no longer a speck in the distance.
"Raise the warning flag."
"The what?" All this new boat vocabulary spiraled around her head, making it swim with these obnoxious commands in a near-foreign language. Was Anton ever going to learn that she didn't speak boat, and that she would have no idea what a warning flag would look like.
Soon the distance turned into less than an eighth-mile.
"That cloth right there by the base of the mast. Now hurry up and raise it!"
500 feet stood between them and disaster.
"Urk… No, take it down! Bad idea!"
"So what do you suppose we do then?" She asked with perhaps more venom than she had intended. The ensuing ship was moving fast and it couldn't have been distanced further than 400 feet from them. Lexia paced back and forth, trying to think, because obviously Anton wasn't in any condition to.
"Stop the boat." He suddenly moaned out.
"What!" That wasn't an answer that any sane person would have anticipated hearing.
"Just do it!"
Lexia shook her head angrily, and with obvious shock. "Are you nuts?" A reply wasn't necessary, Lexia was certain that she already knew the answer. A most definite yes would have been perfectly appropriate.
"Alana!" he barked out weakly.
"How?" She howled. "I've never even been on a boat in my life!"
"Just drop the anchor." He nipped back with an edge of exasperation.
Lexia stared in outrage at his bold request. "That thing is huge!" Though it was probably just an exaggeration, she was thoroughly convinced that the anchor was as big, if not bigger, than her.
"Drop the sails first, just hurry!"
Their tiny boat came to a lazy stop. Seconds later, the distance between the two vessels was bridged. Beside her, Lexia heard Anton's troubled gasps, then slower heavier breathing. When she looked, he was no longer seizing his side in agony. He had his hands braced on the deck and his head resting against the railing. Soft panting noises whispered through the air as he sucked in slow, heavy, relieved gulps of air, yet he still looked as if the un-identifiable, pain was still lingering in the form of a dull ache.
"What just happened? What's going on?" This time it was Lexia demanding the answers.
"Really bad luck," he answered with finality. Bitterly Lexia realized that those words would be the definitive answer to both her questions.
A loud, dull thump alerted the two of them, more so Lexia, as max was already expecting the tell-tale signs of someone boarding his boat. Still, Anton groaned. Lexia gasped. When they looked, they saw a man standing assertively on the edge of the stern. He was tall, and truly not bad looking. But his eyes… There was a pitiless gleam where humor should have been, and humor where there should have been pity.
"Why do you try to avoid me Anton? You'll end up throwing up the white flag anyway when all's said and done. And right now that is precisely what it seems to be." The voice was conversational, deep and soothing, but plagued with unspoken threats.
"We'll see whose flag is white in the long run." Teeth were clenched and eyebrows were drawing together. Both men were glaring, their eyes voicing their conflicting thoughts. Then the tall, oddly dressed man said something that greatly confused Lexia.
"Stop playing hero Anton. You're going to end up hurting more people than you think you're helping." The part Lexia didn't quite grasp, was how he thought he was playing hero. He was killing people just because he didn't like what they were! Apparently Anton thought he was aiding some great cause.
Remind me again why I was trying to help him escape. Instincts, her mind answered back guiltily. But she couldn't ignore the opportunity she saw arising.
"What exactly is there to be accomplished by wiping out the Becomers?" Both men stared at her as if she had suddenly materialized in a fog of purple smoke. They weren't expecting a new voice in the conversation.
It was Anton who finally spoke.
"The Becomers are prophesied to be the cause of a terrible war. Supposedly they'll emerge victorious and change the way the entire society works. But it's not just any war that's in question. It is a bloodbath, humans and Becomers being slaughtered mercilessly."
"Well what if the change in society is for the best?"
"Know one knows, but the Becomers are being hunted down because people believe that if there are no Becomers left, then there can't be a war."
The stranger spoke again. "And they're nearly all dead, yet you still try to further your loathsome cause." Lexia then realized why Anton thought he was doing something good by killing "dangerous Becomers". He was convinced that he was saving the world from some nutty psychics prophetic war. Maybe this new man could help her take care of one more self-righteous murderer. At first she had felt uneasy about him because of the cold fury that
This chapter is still under construction. If you are interested in following Lexia's story further, I will be ubdating more later. I have written Up to chapter 17 bbut I still need to type it. Please review or critique! It would be much appreciated!
Thank you for reading thus far and sorry to those I have left on a cliffhanger!