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Amos walked in silence. The rain was becoming steadily more aggressive and he turned his collar up against the chill of the wind. The image of Nym walking away from him was haunting and he wrapped his hand around her automaton cog for comfort. He disliked the idea of her on these streets alone, but he also knew that she was fearless and brilliant. With everything they had been through together he had no reason to worry. Still, he remembered her smile and the softness of her eyes and he wished that he were at her side.
He found himself marveling at the reality of Nym. His entire life he had been content to be alone. People had largely disappointed him, or been disappointed in him, and being isolated was infinitely easier. He had allowed himself to submerge in a pirate culture that considered women bad luck at sea and a good time on land. He had traveled the five nations of Bellstead: Meiville, Starfell, Primordia, Orria and Crow Island without ever looking back on his life. He had come to love the feeling of the spray of the sea on his face, his reliance upon his own hands, and the freedom from the obligations and responsibility that came with relationships.
Loving someone simply wasn’t on Amos’ itinerary.
The strange storm that swept him back to Meiville had changed all of that. Nym had changed all of that. Suddenly he found himself understanding so much about his life and the events that shaped it, and though it was all strange and unfamiliar, it felt right. Amos wondered if all of these baffling events were just the playing out of a larger destiny. One that he was intimately apart of, in the way that a sailor is a part of both the ship and the sea.
A cold tear of rain slid from Amos’ hair down the neck of his overcoat and he shivered. There are simply some things that a man cannot know, he thought.
Turning the corner of the vacant street he was jolted from his reverie. The bridge across the bay was closed. Lines of tape and brightly colored signs of caution blocked his path. He considered for a moment that the Mayor should have been apprised of repairs and planned accordingly, but it was not inconceivable that in their haste Perryn had forgotten a single insignificant city project. Amos thought for a moment, knowing that there was another route to the Envoy through an old rail tunnel. It was abandoned, unlit and potentially flooded from the pounding storm. Then he thought about Nym waiting for him, and decided that the alternate route would be quicker than turning around, and changed his course.
Amos walked along the old rail line as quickly as possible in the driving rain. Thunder and lightning filled the sky above as the wind howled through the abandoned tunnel. It was a steep drop into the tunnel and placing his foot on the wet grass that grew between the ties, Amos slid down several feet on his right hip, mud seeping frigidly through his trousers. As he caught himself and started to push up, his eyes were stabbed by the sudden glow of headlights and the sound of an automotive motor growling in the downpour.
Amos stood quickly, his heart racing. He drew the pistol from his arm holster, but the mud and rain on his hands caused him to fumble and the gun fell to the ground, sliding downward and disappearing into grass, water and darkness. The car engine revved, it’s lights turning on Amos and beginning an amble along the old rail tracks. Amos’ leg pained him as his feet pounded and splashed against the saturated ground, his eyes searching for any path that might lead away from the tunnel. The driving rain and the steep incline would make a climb upward impossible, but to take the underpass would be to enter a trap. Amos had no choice, and he limped as quickly as possible toward the mouth of the passage.
Through the tunnel he could see and second set of lights approaching from the other direction, driving directly at him and the opposing car. Amos had no thoughts, no ideas, no prayers to any god, his feet only knew to run. Limping, reaching, and staggering he raced.
He was halfway through the passage when the two vehicles stopped, their headlights facing off through the blackness of the tunnel. Each car dispatched it’s men, pistols drawn. Without warning, a single shot fired through the tunnel and Amos hit the ground, covering his head. Men from each end advanced.
“A shot fired in this tunnel could kill any one of us,” a voice called, “Disengage. I won’t warn you again.” The voice was commanding, firm and completely cool. Amos recognized it as Ben Hammerton, the right hand man of Eli Carton.
“Ay, we ain’t leaving here without the boy. Magruder’s orders, so ye best disengage yourself or the next one goes through your head.” The opposing men cocked their weapons and advanced slowly.
Ben Hammerton signaled his men, each falling back to their car quickly. Ben raised his hand, gave a signal and dropped abruptly to the ground, covering against the assult. From Ben’s waiting car a gunman rose and fired off what felt like an endless rain of bullets. The submachine gun never faltering until it’s rounds lay scattered through the tunnel.
The bodies of the pirates fell upon the tracks like wet sand. The lights of their automobile dimmed and died, the windshield shattered. Glass and metal rained in chards around Amos, flying through the tunnel at amazing speed.
Amos’ heart felt as if it would beat it’s way into the ground through his chest. .
At last the world fell silent. Cautiously, Amos pulled back onto his knees, soaking wet and covered in mud. He ached from his fall, but he was alive.
Ben Hammerton knelt down next to Amos and wiped the rim of his hat.
“You’ve made some enemies, DeVile,” Ben said bluntly before putting his hat back onto his head, “but that Magruder lad is going to have to wait his turn. Mr. Carton would like a word with you.”
Ben offered Amos his hand, as cordial as if they were the best of old friends and not a hunted man and his predator. Amos pulled himself to his feet and accepting his situation, walked to the waiting car. Pain shot up his leg with each step, but he would not allow himself the additional indignity of assistance.
Ben Hammerton ensured that Amos was safely in the custody of his driver, removed his soiled top coat, folded it neatly and placed it upon the car seat with a certain annoyance. He closed Amos’ car door, raised his collar against the chill and walked away into the night.
Amos watched him disappear into the rail tunnel and toward the Envoy.