Authors: Emily Thompson
The half-full airship plummeted like a stone. Everyone grabbed ropes, one another, anything in reach, and most of them started to scream. Twist closed his eyes and willed the air to thicken below them while the burner struggled to heat the torrent that rushed through it to the balloon. He felt their descent slow inch by inch, until the bottom of the basket splashed into the waves. To the obvious shock of everyone but Twist, it didn't slip below the water, but bounced. The burner finally gave out with a choking cough of smoke, but it had filled the balloon with just enough air to hold them a few feet above the rolling waves.
Twist looked around and found that no one had managed to fall out. Everyone was gasping and staring in bewilderment at their continued existence. Then they all started to laugh in heady relief—everyone but Jonas. He was lying beside Twist at one side of the basket, still as unresponsive as ever. Twist bent over him and took his face in his hands.
“Jonas, look at me,” he said softly, looking to his half-closed, lifeless eyes.
Whether it was Twist's doing, or some last part of Jonas's will that was still left in him, Jonas slowly seemed to look up at Twist. Twist felt the same gravity he had before, calling into the core of his being. Twist surrendered to the pull and felt a cool, electric energy tingle over his soul as it rushed out of him and into Jonas's dim eyes. Twist saw the light return to Jonas in agonizing slowness. He caught a flash of recognition in the other man's eyes, and then his own vision went swiftly black.
Twist found himself with some difficulty. He felt his body lying on something warm and soft, in still, cool air that was scented gently of salt and machine oil. He heard the subtle purr of an engine far away, but the place he was in was very quiet. Before he opened his eyes, he felt a hand in his—the skin warm, rough, and instantly familiar.
Twist opened blurry eyes to find himself on a low couch in a small room. The wall opposite the couch was filled with a round window that looked out onto a dim, blue world. Bright electric light emanated from around the window in a halo, but it dissipated quickly over the rocky, sand-strewn ground outside. The forest of unbelievably tall grass that drifted slowly by looked haunting and alien in the dark. A school of tiny silver fish flitted by in the electric light, confirming Twist's suspicions: he was in the submersible.
Jonas sat on the edge of the couch beside him, holding his hand as he gazed out the window. Twist saw a glimmer of soft purple in his eyes and smiled. Looking to the white mist in his mind showed him clearly that Jonas was completely back to normal. It was only a moment before he turned to look at Twist. When their eyes met, Twist only felt the ghost of the strange and powerful gravity he had sensed before. That was over.
“Welcome back,” Jonas said, his voice now the warm softness Twist only heard when they were alone.
“Where did I go?” Twist asked.
“Good question,” Jonas said, looking past his eyes at something else. He paused, as if searching for the words to say something difficult. “I remember it all,” he said eventually. “It's like I saw, heard, and felt everything. I feel like I was the one who did it all, but I couldn't control anything.” Twist followed his meaning easily. He expected to find anxiety in him as he spoke, but he couldn't find any trace of it.
“You took my memories?” he asked, smiling slightly. “That's rude.”
“You took my Sight.”
Twist's smile faded. Even now, he still couldn't find any uneasiness in Jonas. His words should have been heavy or fearful, but they simply weren't. Twist quickly found that he wasn't bothered by these thoughts either. Shouldn't he be?
“I didn't mean to,” Twist offered.
Jonas nodded. “It was the drug. When Loki gave it to you, I blacked out. From that point on, I've got all your memories until you collapsed on me, in the moonship.”
“That whole mess makes no sense whatsoever,” Twist said, frowning. His mind felt stiff and slow. It had been so easy to understand everything before.
“Agreed,” Jonas said, drawing his attention back. He was looking thoughtfully into space, his eyes shifting gently from blue to green. “I've been sitting here trying to feel scared for the last hour.”
Jonas smiled at him weakly. “I should be terrified of you. With or without chemical help, you took my Sight. Hell, you might have taken all of me. I shouldn't want to be anywhere near you. But...” He shook his head. “It's no good. It's like I just know that even though it’s weird as hell, there's nothing actually wrong. And I can't convince myself otherwise.”
“Maybe you shouldn't try to, then. We're fine now, right?”
“I suppose,” Jonas answered with a nod. “We're still looking for Myra, though,” he said, looking to the window again. “Arabel said she's fine. We just need to find her. She's got to be down here somewhere.”
Twist looked back to the dark waters outside as his thoughts shifted to Myra. He fought his own frantic concern as it threatened to drown him. “So, the Rooks found us, then?”
“Yep. Almost as soon as we hit the water. They blasted so many holes in Loki's ship that it crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. Some of the Cyphers managed to escape, but the rest were taken prisoner. Aden is laying claim to the ship.”
“And Loki?” Twist asked. A memory flashed to the surface of his thoughts. Twist could hardly believe what he had done to Loki. It was so cold, so callous, so cruel, that it seemed like something he could never do.
“Vanished,” Jonas said. “It looks like he might have a chance to get the rest of the Cyphers off our backs, after all.” He then smiled at Twist with a wicked light in his eyes. “Oh, Quay and your admirer disappeared, too.”
Twist shot him a dark, warning glare. “If you're talking about Vane...”
“You sure got his attention...”
“I haven't the faintest idea why,” Twist grumbled. “He's obviously quite disturbed. What happened to Storm and Kima?” he asked, desperate to change the subject.
“Aden picked up Storm and Moroni on his way here,” Jonas said. “Kima was beside herself when she saw him. There was crying and hugging, and all of it. I'm told poor Storm turned bright red with embarrassment. You're lucky you missed it.”
“Then now, we just need to find Myra,” Twist said. “I can't believe you threw her out the window.”
“She jumped!” Jonas said, looking wounded. “On her own, too.”
Twist gave a listless tone, looking to the sea.
“We're running out of places to look now,” Jonas said, turning back to the water too. “I'm sure we'll find her soon. She can't have gotten—” He froze, his eyes shifting to a darker purple suddenly. “Did you see that?” he asked quickly, as he got to his feet and moved closer to the glass.
Twist sat up, ignoring the mild rushing sensation in his head, and hurried closer to the window with Jonas. The ship seemed to turn slightly, creeping through the tall wracks. A few bright-yellow fish hurried out of the way. After a few quiet moments, the ship emerged into an underwater glade.
There was a craggy hill protruding from the seabed, surrounded by ancient fragments of timber that were crusted nearly beyond recognition with coral. There were also flecks of shining gold and silver lying in the sand and in crevices of the rock. Twist could see the ghost of a ship's bow in the dim, watery distance, but he paid it very little attention. Sitting on the top of the rocky little hill, her feet swinging over the side, was Myra, toying idly with a large gold coin. She winced when the ship's powerful lights hit her and raised an arm to shield her eyes. Then, her gleaming copper face washed over in an enormous smile.
“Ah ha!” Jonas said triumphantly. “Look at that. She's as right as rain.”
Twist could only smile in relief and wonder as Myra hopped off of the rock and hurried closer to them over the sandy seafloor. Her dress and long, maroon wire hair wafted around her like shimmering smoke, while her copper skin shone in the light. The salt water would corrode her workings eventually, but she had only been in the water for a few hours at most. She was obviously fine. The fall didn't seem to have hurt her in the least.
“Come on, let’s get to the moon pool,” Jonas said, leading Twist out of the room.
Twist followed him into a tight, brightly lit, metal hallway. They ran past long bunches of tubes and cables that clung to the wall, under stark electric lights in the low ceiling, and eventually climbed down a short set of metal stairs into an open chamber. There were people wandering about in the space, attending to the valves and gauges that peppered the walls, or talking together near doorways that led into different directions. On the open floor there were three large metal and glass machines, which looked very much like small submersible ships to Twist. In the center of the room was a large circle of brightly lit water and passing sand. At first, Twist though it was a contained pool. Then, he saw a small blue fish pass by and disappear.
“Is that the sea?” Twist asked Jonas, pointing to the gaping hole in the floor.
“No, it's custard,” Jonas said easily. Twist's mind stalled for a moment before he shot Jonas a glare.
“If there's a giant hole in the ship,” Twist said with measured restraint, “then why aren't we sinking?”
“Oh, it's just physics,” Jonas said with a dismissive wave as he came to stand at the edge of the hole. “You can ask someone to explain it later, if you want.”
As Twist stooped to peer further under the edge of the hole, more people hurried into the room. All of them were wearing a sort of dark-blue-and-silver uniform, and were all unknown to Twist until he spotted Aden in the crowd as well. Aden smiled at him, his bright gray eyes sparkling behind the silver spectacles. Twist noticed that his uniform bore a gold sash across the front, unlike all the rest.
“Hello Twist,” he said in his clear London accent. “I'm glad to see you up and about.”
“Thank you,” Twist said, slightly surprised at Aden's attention.
“You have wonderful timing as well,” Aden said, while the other men began to shout orders and move equipment around in the space. “We just found Myra,” he said proudly. “Your sister is a wonder,” he added to Jonas.
“That's one word for her,” Jonas muttered, still watching the water.
Twist glanced down as well, just as a flash of copper appeared at the edge of the light. Myra stopped below the open hole and looked up through it curiously. She caught sight of Twist and a brilliant smile bloomed on her face. She hopped happily on the sand and waved at him. Twist waved back, his own smile filling his face.
“Stand back, please,” one of the uniformed men said to him as he guided a simple-looking ladder made of chain down into the water.
Twist reluctantly moved back with Aden as the men lowered the ladder into the water on a long jib and crank. It was only a matter of moments before the chain began to rise again, carrying Myra up slowly. Her clothes and hair fell heavily on her the moment she was free of the water, while it dripped out through the fine seams in the metal plates of her skin. Jonas reached out to offer her a hand and help her to the edge of the hole, while Twist hurried closer. Myra practically jumped to Jonas in her glee, throwing both arms around his neck in a spray of heavy, salty drops.
“You found me!” she said, her voice ringing with joy. Jonas held her close and spun her around onto the metal floor, smiling nearly as brightly himself.
“Look at you, you're as indestructible as I am!” he declared proudly.
Myra giggled at him and turned to Twist. The beauty of her gleaming, blissful, copper face almost brought him to tears. She rushed to him and drenched his Sight in her joy. Her metal skin was cold and slick from the seawater, and her wet clothing soaked his instantly, but Twist held her close and never wanted to let go.
“I'm so glad you're all right,” she said, nuzzling her nose into the crook of his neck. “I was worried Loki might try to hurt you.”
The thought of Loki was sharp and vastly unpleasant against the current state of his mind. “He won't bother us anymore,” Twist said. Over Myra's shoulder, he saw Jonas's face mirror his own certainty. “We're all safe now.”
Myra pulled back enough to smile at him warmly. Then the metal of her face melted away into pale, soft, flesh. All sound in the world vanished. Everything and everyone in the room froze in a strange stillness. Twist realized that no one else could hear or see them in this private world. Myra's smile took on a different light: something subtle but enticing, that set his heart beating faster.
“Kiss me, darling.”
Twist smiled at such a decadent request, and happily complied.