Read Chapter 2 here if you haven’t already!
Quick note: Planes do not exist in this world. And yes, I am very likely to forget this fact and include a plane or something 🙂
Chapter 3: All Aboard the Ferry to Execution
“Just in time,” Vivi allowed herself to relax as she handed in their tickets and pulled them aboard the ferry.
“Actually,” Jean interjected, “We’re 29 seconds early.”
Cue the collective eye roll. This was a bit of a habit for people around her, Vivi noticed. “28, 27, 26-” Jean continued.
“We get it! Stop.” Vivi said as she scanned for good seats. She was looking for seats near the middle for Zack’s sake, they were the least prone to movement.
“Okay guys, this is my seat, Zack should sit there,” Vivi pointed to the seat in the aisle next to hers, the exact middle of the boat. “As I recall, Jean doesn’t do too well with boats either, huh, so you can sit next to Zack. And Peter can sit here.” She tapped the armrest of the seat next to her’s.
“Thanks, Viv.” Zack managed a weak smile. He was too busy freaking out over the long boat journey ahead.
Vivi nodded at him.
“Sounds good to me.” Peter took the seat by the window.
Vivi sat next to him and acquainted herself with the interiors of the boat on the off chance she’d have to put that knowledge to use. There were three columns of two seats each. Two by windows and one in the middle. The two aisles in between were closed by doors on both ends, which led to staircases to the deck of the ship.
Satisfied that she’d observed basic safety protocol, her mind drifted to other matters. Neither her nor Peter had said a word to each other so far, and it had already been nearly 5 minutes. The silence was getting awkward. Among their group, she’d never really spoken to him individually. She’d spent independent time with Jean, and with Zack. But she and Peter only ever hung out in groups.
She focused her mind with a shake of her head, this was not her priority. With a now cleared head, she wondered what weapon Zack would use. He technically wasn’t old enough for weapons, since he was not yet 18, but that was another story. None of them were, actually. She was the one who brought her friends along, so she had to ensure they lived to see the end of the battle. Zack would get a weapon, she’d see to that. They didn’t have the kind of power to be thinking about age.
Jean would be fine. She wasn’t very athletic, but her smarts made up for that. She had a good head on her shoulders, she’d survive. Her various gadgetry made up the difference.
And what about Peter? Close combat, perhaps. She’d have to ask exactly what he was skilled in. Not talking was becoming particularly troublesome.
“I’ll take an orange juice,” Peter said to the man who came with the cart full of drinks. He sent a smile Vivi’s way.
‘Oh come on, Vi, you’re supposed to be friends! Don’t act like a stranger!’ Vivi scolded herself for not speaking.
Peter accepted the small bottle of orange juice and poured half into his disposable cup. He offered Vivi the rest.
“Oh, thanks,” Vivi took the bottle in both hands. It was only then that the sheer irony of the situation struck them both, and they began snickering, which soon became full-blown laughter. And just like that, all the tension evaporated. Peter only just managed to swallow his orange juice.
“We should really hang out more, you know,” Peter said, holding up his cup in a mock toast.
“I hear that,” Vivi clinked (well, not quite, it didn’t make the glass sound) her bottle against the rim of the disposable cup.
They downed the juice and spent the rest of the boat ride chatting amiably about nothing in particular. It served as a good distraction for Vivi, who never could handle anxiety well.
Now, they probably wouldn’t be anywhere close to how good of friends she and Zack were, but it was a start. If they were going to be together on a journey like this one for the foreseeable future, petty troubles like this would have to be put on the back burner.
“Hey, Zack, we made it. You can put the bag down now.” Vivi said softly. Zack had been deathly pale for the most part of the ride and clutched a paper bag in his hands as his life depended on it.
“R-right,” He wobbled to his feet, and Jean steered him in the direction of the door.
“Poor guy,” Peter said as he watched Zack stumble through the door.
“Yeah, I feel bad for him. Anyway, let’s catch up with the others.” Vivi said as she picked up her backpack.
Outside, they found Zack sitting on a bench, and Jean tinkering with her ‘long-range-communicators’.
“Zack said he needs some time to sit before we go anywhere,” Jean said, not looking up from where she was prodding a screwdriver at a hole.
“Okay, then I’ll go find us the car rental.” Vivi said.
“Hold on, I’ll come with you. You’ll probably get lost on your own.” Jean said, reaching for her bag.
“Okay, I’m waiting.”
A minute or so later, Jean picked up her packed bag and held a folded up map in her other hand.
“I’ll wait with Zack,” Peter said, plonking himself down on the bench next to Zack, who only looked at him, before looking back at the ground. He was still pale, and he couldn’t manage much more than a blank stare.
This is me, Aarushi. Sorry to interrupt- but is it just me that loves the word plonk? I just adore it! Tell me your thoughts in the comments! And that’s all, sorry again, enjoy!
Vivi winced- she hated to leave him when he was in such a state. But, it had to be done- and besides, Peter was here.
“So, um, the office should be somewhere around here,” Vivi turned the map around a few times in her hand, looking at it from all angles.
Jean sighed, “Gimme,” she plucked the map out of Vivi’s hands, turning it so it was the right way up.
Vivi pouted. “I know how to read a map!” she protested.
“Suuure you do,” Jean rolled her eyes, fixing Vivi with an amused smirk.
“Right then, according to the map, the office should be this way.” Jean pointed down a street.
“Then what are we waiting for?” Vivi excitedly led the way.
Meanwhile, Peter was starting to regret his decision. Zack looked no less zombie-like, and Peter sat tapping his foot- in short, he was impossibly bored.
A few more minutes of mind-numbing boredom and having a staring contest with a pigeon, Zack lifted his head.
“Okay, I’m fine now!” he declared, looking awfully chipper for someone who couldn’t stand a second ago.
“What, that’s it?” Peter asked.
“Yep, wanna go look around?” Zack asked.
“We’ll get lost.” Peter said.
“Eh, we won’t go far. Besides, where’s your spirit of adventure?” Zack stood up and stretched.
“Okay, but we will stay within the are so we can see this place at all times.” Peter said.
Zack rolled his eyes, “Okay, dad. Now let’s go! I saw a carnival right around here-”
“This is the place,” Vivi pointed out the office, and quickly noticed the booth-window.
“Hello, we’re here to rent a four-seater jeep,” Jean said.
“Ah, yes- oh! I’m sorry, but you need an adult to give you permission,” the lady said. Her brown hair was up in a neat bun and her black glasses were perched on the bridge of her nose.
“I’m 18,” Jean said, flashing her driver’s license.
“Well, okay then, but make sure you don’t get lost on your own,” the lady giggled, and Vivi’s eye twitched in annoyance.
“When will you pick it up?” She continued.
“Is ten tomorrow a good time?” Jean asked.
“Yep! How long do you need it for, hun?”
“Two weeks,” Vivi answered.
“Okay sweetie! Two weeks. Make sure you wear your seatbelt!”
‘Don’t talk to us as if we’re children!’ Vivi screamed mentally. She hated being talked down to.
Vivi and Jean left the office. As soon as the lady was out of earshot, Vivi inhaled sharply, “What an annoying person,” she said.
They returned to the bench where they left Peter and Zack, only to find that both had disappeared. Jean sighed, wondering why she thought trusting Zack with Peter was ever a good idea.
“Tch, where are they?” Vivi wondered.
A loud cheer was heard from nearby, and Jean and Vivi turned, curious.
“Wanna check it out?” Jean suggested.
“Way ahead of you,” Vivi had already stayed walking. They followed the noise and ended up in a carnival. A lot of people were gathered around one booth.
” ‘Scuse us, sorry, coming through!” Vivi and Jean pushed their way to the front of the circle, and at the centre of it and were Zack and Peter. It was a shoot-the-cans game, and Zack was taking careful aim with his cork gun.
Two of the ten cans were knocked down. Two of the hardest three to hit, the ones at the very back.
Zack aimed for the last, and fired.
The can fell with a clang, the bullet hitting said can dead-centre.
Everyone cheered again, and the employee stared in wonder.
No one had hit all three of the hard cans in a long time. A long time. Not since the person who ran the stall before him had seen one.
Peter clapped, and Jean and Vivi watched in surprise.
“I had no idea you had such good aim,” Vivi remarked, and Zack turned- suddenly alerted of their presence.
“My dad ran one of these, and he was a good marksman,” Zack explained. “He taught me everything I know.” Zack grinned.
“Well, I think we’ve found your talent,” Jean smiled. Zack looked back at her with a grin. Of course, it was so obvious. He had no idea how he hadn’t noticed it before.
“You didn’t think to mention this sooner?!” Peter bonked Zack on the head, who chuckled sheepishly.
The four walked around the carnival for a while, and Jean updated her brother and Zack on everything that happened in their absence.
“Say, did you hear about that weirdo? My friend told me what happened,” Vivi listened absently to conversations happening around her.
“He’s going to be executed. They say he was using black magic,” the man continued.
Vivi rolled her eyes. Humans.
“That’s a stupid reason to execute someone,” the other man said.
“He set someone on fire!”
Now this caught Vivi’s attention.
“Apparently the poor chap touched this freak’s pendant and he was set ablaze.”
Vivi started to freak.
“He’s being executed next week. They only just managed to save the poor guy.”
“Sorry, what did you say? What exactly happened? Who was this person?” Vivi rushed in front of the two, who were very confused.
“Um, he said his name was Ra- something. It was all over the news for a while. Setting someone on fire is just cruel.” The first man said.
“Sorry, do we know you?” The other asked.
“Nope, but thanks!” Vivi raced back to her friends.
“We have an emergency!” She yelled to them.
“What happened?” Peter asked, raising an eyebrow.
Vivi struggled for breath for a second, and finally said, “Next week- next week-”
“Next week what?!” Jean asked.
“Deep breath, inhale, exhale, now speak,” Zack said gently.
“Next week- Raogra’s gonna be executed!”