Chapter Twenty: Here We Are

The Tundra, Arctica

Mikael winced as he sailed down the stairs. For an old man, Jukku sure had a mean throw. He landed on the floor with a loud thump. He carefully stood. No way was he going to let this old man take him laying down. No way was he going to let this old man take him period.

Mikael stood up ready to fight. He had to get to Arctica. The plans he had heard Sevi making last night were not good. It seemed he had put all of his trust in Ajatar and was going after the one thing that could kill her with the intent to destroy it.

He had been so stupid to get himself captured-now of all times.

Jukku came down the stairs chewing something. He smiled as Mikael.

Mikael made his hands into fists. "Come on old man. Do you not have anything better to do than pick on teenagers?"

Jukku began to roll his sleeves up. "You and your friends are hardly teenagers." He punched Stiles. "You have meddled in the supernatural and now it is time to pay for that."

Mikael fell to the ground after the blow. For someone who was probably pushing ninety, the man could punch. Shouldn't this guy be in nursing home playing bingo? He looked up at Anneke and Boyd, who were looking at him with wide eyes. They seemed to be depending on him to stand up for Gerard.

Jukku kicked Mikael in the side.

Mikael grunted, but did not take his eyes off the two beta werewolves. He began to stand slowly, but Jukku knocked him down again.

"You just do not give you, do you?" Jukku hissed as he knelt down next to Stiles.

Mikael spat at him.

Jukku laughed and pulled his pills out of his pocket. "You know what?" He reached back and pulled Mikael's hair back. "Tonight is going to be an interesting showdown. The battle lines have been drawn and you, my dear boy, have seemed to have found yourself on the wrong side of those lines." He swallowed his pills with the other hand.

Mikael gritted his teeth. Not only did the old man have a mean punch. He also had a mean grip. "I have not found myself on the wrong side," he growled.

Jukku laughed into Mikael's ear. "And why do you think that?" There was mockery in his voice.

"Because of this!" Mikael drew back his right foot and kicked Jukku hard between the legs.

Jukku fell back and lost his grip.

Mikael took off running. He had to get to Arctica. He had to warn Mappu that Sevi was coming.

!

Tarja watched as the wolves came closer. They didn't seem to be in the hunting mood, but seemed stunned instead.

" How did you get here?" Vuokko asked.

"A tunnel," a female wolf spoke. Tarja had never seen her before.

"A tunnel?" Kendra echoed.

The lead wolf, Eelis was his name or so Tarja thought, nodded. "It just appeared in the house and sucked us all in."

Markus looked the other group over. "How did you get here?"

"We drove," Tarja said. Even though she was pretty sure that the wolves were not going to hurt them, she couldn't let herself lower her guard. There was just something about them that made her very nervous.

Eelis nodded. "How?"

"We got into a car and came here," Aleksander said.

"We found out where this place was and came," Tarja said, shooting Aleksander a dark look.

The ground beneath their feet began to rumble. Tarja looked over at Kendra with wide eyes, both of them thinking about the last time they had felt this sensation. They others looked wide eyes at each other as the ice began to split in two.

Tarja jumped back away from the crack, staring at it for a brief second before turning and running.

"Keep going!" Anneke screamed as Tarja stumbled, taking a few seconds to regain herself.

A loud and eerie sound seemed to be drifting toward them from the darkness of the ground; it started out as a muffled thundering sound combined with almost a sucking sound. It sounded almost like a vacuum cleaner was sucking the world up.

"It's a lake!" one of the wolves yelled. "It's actually a lake!"
Tarja turned around. Sure enough, there was a lake behind her. It wasn't the largest one that she had even seen, but it was still there. Its waters remained untouched by the snow and ice; it looked almost spring like in fact. She wagered that it she dared get close enough to it that there would be life in it.

From where she was standing, she did have a clear view of the smooth blue surface of the water. However, there was a little problem with the surface. One second it was smooth and the next it was not. There seemed to be some kind of a disturbance in the centre. Large bubbles were forming, sending waves gently crashing into the shore, sending just a little bit of snow and ice into the otherwise prefect waters. Suddenly, in the middle of the lake, a whirlpool or something like it formed, sucking the centre of the lake out-doing so with such a force that Tarja actually thought it was going to drain the water completely.

There was actually something coming out of the top...It seemed like a long pole that was completely soaked with water...It was coming right of out the middle of the whirlpool.

Frowning, Tarja watched as more emerged. First the, wait, was it a mast? Was there really a ship coming out of the centre of the lake?

"It's a boat!" Anneke exclaimed with wide eyes.

Raakel was also frowning. Great, Tarja had been really hoping that she would be able to explain what was going on. "I think it is," Raakel said, slowly, as if she was trying to find the woods to describe just what was going on.

Slowly, almost as if by magic, the ship came out of the water; its grand features shone off the snow, creating an illusion of wonder and majestic. It had a sense of doom to it. It didn't seem like it had been wrecked, but there was just this sense that all was not well and that death was coming their way. The potholes were nothing more than eyes watching them, daring them to come onto their ship. They stared at them, unblinking as if death itself had decided to pay them a visit. Finally, with a great wave, the rest of the ship slid out from underneath the water. Slowly, it began to glide toward the bank, before it stopped just a little bit away from the shore.

A few seconds later, there was the splash of an anchor hitting the shallow water and, then, the thud of a plank being lowered onto the ground. Tarja watched in wonder. How did that even happen? There was no one on that death ship.

The ship stood in front of them, waiting. It was as if it was calling out to them, begging them to climb aboard.

Kendra moved closer to Tarja. "What is going on?"

Tarja's face got really pale. "I really think it wants us to get on."

Kendra moved away. "Get on?"

Tarja nodded. "I think that's what it wants us to do."

Kendra shook her head. "It is completely mental if that's what it wants us to do."

Tarja shifted around in the snow, making a rut beneath her feet. She really didn't want to get onto the ghost ship either, but if it could take them to a way to defeat Ajatar, it was worth it. At least, that's what she thought in her mind. It made perfect sense.

The ship bobbed up and down in the water, making her want to throw up at the sight of its movement. There had be another way, but right now Tarja just didn't see one. She watched the others out of the corner of her eye. It was clear that they though the same thing. It was either do this or risk dying. Well, they were probably dead anyway, so what difference did it really make?
"Are you coming with me?" Tarja asked, willing her voice not to shake.

Kendra nodded. "I guess. I've come this far with you and I'm not about to turn back."

Tarja looked at the rest of the group. "What do we have to lose?"

Aleksander looked up at the ship. "Oh, what the hell? What's the worst possible thing that could happen? We die?"

Tarja smiled. "I like the way you think."

Slowly, she put on foot in front of the other, while trying not to let her fear get the best of her. That was funny thing about fear. Once you let it get into your head, it was all over.

One by one they slowly made their way onto the ship. As soon as they were on the ship, it started forward with a jerk. Tarja was actually kind of surprised because after that first jerk, the boot actually sailed pretty smoothly.

"We're going to the east," Sebastiaan whispered. He leaned against the banister, letting the cold air brush into his face.

Tarja looked at him. "Does going east mean anything?"

"East is said to the be the strongest direction."

Tarja just frowned. She had heard about that before, but didn't think was actually true. For some reason, she had always thought that north was the strongest direction.

They sailed into the dim light. The lake just remained the most clear blue. Clouds started to form above them, but not in a really threatening manner. They piled on top of each other to the point where it was next to impossible to tell them apart from one another. The low growl of the boat as it pushed its way through the water was the only sound that greeted them.

The gentle waves lapped at the sides, making it seem like to Tarja that they were in some kind of a dream. Whispers filled her ears-it was as if the lake was calling her home. If only everything could go as easy as it was now.

Tarja moved away from the edge, climbing up the small ladder to the deck. She hadn't realized how big this boat actually was. Prior to boarding, it had looked like nothing more than a tiny vessel that would not survive a long journey; now she wasn't so sure about that.

She looked up at the sky...It was actually starting to get a little bit darker. Now, that she noticed it, the air was a lot cooler and they were rocking a lot more. She looked out at the horizon only to see that lighting was streaking along the edge of the heavens. The thunder rumbled so slowly that it almost rocked her core. Down below her, Markus and Eelis had both stopped in mid-step, their eyes alert.

Tarja walked down to them. "This could get interesting."

Markus just nodded as he looked up at the heavens. "We can't turn back. I've got a feeling that this thing will not let us."

Tarja bit the inside of her mouth. "We'll just have to read it out." She shrived. "I don't like this." She scanned the horizon, hoping to see some kind of solid land. However, the further they sailed, the more she realized that their chances were slipping away.

Like it or not, they were going to ride the storm out on this boat, with no chance of escaping it.

"We probably should get below deck," Eelis said.

Tarja looked back at the storm. It was going to be a far different storm than any of them had ever seem. She followed Aleksander down the ladder that lead down under the boat, just as the snow started to fall.