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Marcel rolled over onto his side, still coughing and gasping for air. He could hear Emily whimpering and though the sound broke his heart, it also assured him that they were both alive.
He grasped his throat and tried to recover his strength, aware that the ancient beast Kronos was thrashing in the nearby sea. Marcel was unsure if the ancient beast would be aware of the magic being used to contain a sliver of it’s power over the young woman, Emily, but he had no intention of giving it time to attack if it was.
Staggering to his feet, Marcel had a sudden vision of TriAnna, young and beautiful and smiling.
They were at the large Library on Lys and TriAnna was telling him stories of the Ancients and teaching him spells. He had been apprenticed to Lys’ most skilled craftsman and had been using his time to study everything available about their technology, in the afternoon, after his studies there were completed, TriAnna would join him. Admittedly, on this day he was more interested in watching the way the sunlight illuminated her green eyes than in learning more magic. His distraction was making her blush as she read and she was pretending to be cross about his inattention through a radiant smile.
The image faded and Marcel stumbled to his knees on the hard volcanic ground. His head lulled and he struggled to maintain consciousness though his pain and exhaustion.
There was something in his pocket and Marcel had put on a show for TriAnna, imitating the street magicians that he had seen as a child. He held the object in his hand and covered it with his handkerchief. Her eyes sparked with delight and she giggled at his silly, sing-song phrases of presumed magic. When he withdrew his handkerchief, he held a three sided prism which TriAnna eyed with curiosity. He shot her a knowing grin and lead her to the window where the silver light of the Lysin sun created a vibrant rainbow across the library floor. TriAnna’s eyes had grown in wonderment and Marcel made the prism his first gift to her. She had said that it was her most cherished possession.
Marcel held his head which was spinning as memories of his life on Lys flooded his mind. He attempted again to stand. Fumbling forward, towards Emily a few steps before sinking again to his knees. Tears flooded into his eyes, the effort of his task overwhelming him. In the distance he heard the animalistic howling of Kronos and the impact of its body upon the hot sea.
The images kept coming. They were beautiful and powerful and they called to him. On the ground before him lay Emily’s spear and he grabbed it and forced it into the ground, using it to take his weight so that he might stand. A blinding light suddenly cut through the perpetual darkness of the volcanic cave and Marcel realized that Emily’s ship had somehow become active. He had no idea if it was TriAnna’s magic or some other blessed event, but he had no time to investigate.
He finally reached the overcome girl, and he knelt next to her, “Emily,” he said softly, wiping the tears from her cheeks and pulling the strange bandages from her face.
“Emily, We need to go now.” Marcel said. Emily continued to rock and weep and Marcel considered carrying her. Though he knew that it would be impossible as he was too weak to carry his own weight. “Emily, I know you’re hurting and scared, but I am here and we have to go now. Kronos is coming.” Marcel said it softly and calmly, despite the panic rising in his heart.
“Please, Emily, can you stand? We need to get into the machine.” Emily rolled over and faced away from Marcel. Images of Lys still flashed through his head, which spun and ached.
“No. No. No. No.” Emily bellowed, “Go away, leave me to him.”
A sudden rage filled Marcel, giving him a jolt of strength. It wouldn’t be enough strength to carry the girl but he was certain that he could drag her. With his free hand he gripped the bandages that wrapped around her body, and started to pull.
“Leave you?” He snorted, “I just damn near got myself killed trying to save her and she says, leave me!” Marcel complained to no one as he sunk the spear into the ground and stepped himself forward, then turned and heaved the motionless body of the young woman. In this way, inch by inch, he dragged them both toward the machine.
“Of all the selfish, stupid…” Marcel was ranting now, the adrenaline of his anger driving him forward, “for the last…. how long… I’ve been chasing you? I left my home, Emily! My job. My friends. I abandoned TriAnna, Nimble…I’ve completely lost Trixie…” Tears of anger and exhaustion streamed down his face as he heaved Emily’s body along, through the scattered bits and pieces of her lost life.
“You! ” He announced, heaving her up the fist of the stairs that lead into the dimensional time machine of her design, “Don’t. Get. To. Refuse.”
Exhausted, he sat down upon the stairs, panting. His throat was on fire from the effort of drawing oxygen through his injured windpipe. The girl continued to sob, unwilling to help and unable to fight. If he had the strength, he would have been very tempted to kick her.
“This is wonderful,” Marcel cursed, “I’m going to get you into this bucket and then have no idea how to get us home. None. You hear me?” We are going to die on this rock like an inconvenient can of sardines. And I don’t eat sardines. I’m Vegan!”
Marcel lay his head back in exhaustion, both he and Emily half in the machine and half on the ground, when he heard a sound. It started low at first, then grew louder. Like the chiming of a little bell, the girl Emily was giggling at him.
His back was nearly broken, his throat was crushed, his hand was throbbing from the effort of pulling her along… and she was giggling. He put his fingers through his thick hair, and as his anger and frustration melted with the sound of the little girl he once loved returning to giggle at him. Suddenly aware of everything, he found himself laughing as well. Laughing and then coughing. The effect was excruciating, but also clarifying.
After a moment, Emily helped him to lean on her side and the two closed themselves inside the machine and away from the advancing beast Kronos. The interior was brightly lit, the control panel flashing with colored lights and spinning meters. To the right hand side of the panel was a small, cube like container which glowed and pulsed. Emily eased Marcel into a pilot’s chair and began to sit herself when the machine heaved and twisted, it’s buttons moving of their own accord.
Emily, flashed Marcel a terrified look. She had done nothing to engage the ignition, had not set a course, had no idea who or what was driving the dimensional time machine.
Marcel’s weary eyes searched for answers, confused and frightened until they fell upon the glowing cube. His amazement was immeasurable.
“Emily,” he gasped, “Where did you get this power source?”