Nelony and Yirfir huddled under the tarp of one of the life rafts still asleep as a shaft of light bore through a hole and warmed Yirfir's face. She awoke with a start making Nelony jump from her slumber.
"For the love of... you could have been a little less conspicuous waking up you know!" Nelony said sharply yet quietly.
"I'm sorry but I think we may have slept a bit too long. It's after eleven." Yirfir responded.
"At least the sun is shining." Nelony said as she moved to the back of the boat to find the opening they'd pried the night before.
"Mootooh! Shelmetath?" Nelony asked aloud to a seagull perched on the handrail of the ship a few feet away.
The bird looked her way and then cawed twice.
"Didn't your Mother tell you never to talk to strange birds?" Yirfir asked Nelony.
"Mootooh is no stranger. Not now at least. She says the coast is clear." Nelony responded as she slipped out of the boat and carefully onto the deck of the ship.
Once Nelony was steady and sure they'd not been sighted, she stretched her hand out to Yirfir who accepted it. Nelony pulled Yirfir safely onto the deck and they proceeded to another point near the bow of the ship. They had a clear line of sight to the cargo hold, the gantry crane and bridge from their point with the sun nearly directly overhead.
"Now what?" Nelony asked Yirfir.
"That's the question of the day for certain. They've got everyone except Sato in the cargo containers. We can't risk contacting him without blowing his cover. They've certainly got a guard detail down in the cargo hold though we don't know their numbers." Yirfir explained to Nelony.
"Well we obviously need to open a line of communication with them. I don't think that Shaela is sensitive enough but Mila might be an ESPer. We know for certain that she's highly empathic, as evidenced by her paintings of the prisoners here. One of us might be able to create a link with her..." Nelony suggested to Yirfir who seemed somewhat skeptical.
"No. Too risky though when and if we're out of this we need to set up some training drills with that in mind. No we need a way to get them a message. To let them know we're safe and that we're maintaining contact with the Sanctum." Yirfir told her.
"I could get a bird or a rodent to carry a message. They're quite smart you know. A bird would be much better as they navigate by an internal magnetically sensitive organ. They'd be quite agile within the ship." Nelony once again suggested a solution.
"Sure that sounds good. But not Mootooh. A gull is much too big. We need one of the smaller variety." Yirfir replied.
Nelony turned to Mootooh who was still perched on a hand hold.
"Mootooh! Kakawratra sooky soo!" Nelony spoke to the gull.
It let forth a single caw and took to the air circling the ship. When it had spotted what it was looking for it dove and landed out of their sight.
"Let's hope we see Mootooh again?" Yirfir said looking again a little skeptical.
"Oh she'll be back. They're quite reliable. Most of the time." Nelony said of the gull.
A few minutes later a much smaller bird landed on the same hand hold. The bird was one of the larks that had nested aboard the ship having seen much of the ocean already. It tweeted happily for Nelony.
"Alright Meekwi, let's see if you can do this for us. Meekwi tet su bu si ki ku li bu ku ka ta ka!" Nelony said fluently for the little lark.
It chirped happily in response hopping a few times on the hand rail.
"Now we just need a message." Nelony said looking to Yirfir.
"Exactly what I've been doing." Yirfir handed Nelony a shelled peanut.
"Good thinking. They'll never suspect this if poor Meekwi gets caught. Let's hope he doesn't and that he doesn't get hungry and eat it." Nelony said examining the peanut.
"Here's one to give him as a treat just so as he doesn't." Yirfir responded pulling another peanut from her jacket.
The bird ate the peanut right from her hand leaving no traces of the nut. Nelony carefully fastened the peanut shell to the bird's leg.
"Meekwi. Bu di doo!" Nelony asked of the little lark.
It took to the air and down towards one of the ventilation ducts flying between the bars of the grate. It flew the length of the duct down into the cargo hold landing only twice to orient itself. A moment later if emerged from the duct work and flew close to the ceiling of cargo hold out of the sight of the armed guards.
Mila, Barris and Shaela had emerged from Mila's secret wall along with the other prisoners. Within they'd been fed a feast of the likes few of them had eaten in real life. There was a wading pool bath house and their dorms with canopied beds for all. They'd emerged well fed and rested ready for what the day might throw at them. The captives had gained an immense respect for Mila, Barris and Shaela now completely aware that they were there to help.
"Well honey, it looks like that went over without a hitch. I haven't eaten that good since you painted that still life feast. I still think that was better." Barris said rubbing her sides gently.
"That's because you're mistaking the feast for the dessert..." she said running her finger under his chin.
"You're the only two that I know who could make kidnapping and incarceration into a five star holiday experience. Would you two rub it out so that we may get on with the business of busting these traffickers!" Shaela said to them impatiently.
"We've only got half of the picture so far..." Mila started.
"She's right. There's still too much that we don't know that is needed for us to act upon. It has to stand up in courts. Not Sanctum courts but in the judicial system of the world courts." Barris said reminding Shaela whose impatience had arisen with their small confines.
"Yirfir and Jasmer are supposed to be on that angle." Shaela shot back.
"They're in the other container. Likely where Nelony is. Once we get word about the other shipment or the missing freighter, we're going to act. Until then we sit tight and try not to raise suspicions." Mila reminded Shaela.
"We have another problem that I waited to tell you. I wanted to talk about it with Nelony or Yirfir." Shaela said to Mila.
"Oh so suddenly I'm not good enough for you Shaela? You can trust them but you can't trust me? Well go ahead. What were you going to say." Mila said to Shaela impatiently.
"I'm beginning to suspect that two of the passengers aboard are spies for the Power Lords. There's something strange that I detected in two passengers. Something I've never seen in all my life at the Sanctum or any of the other planes of existence. It's in their auras. Its something... unnatural..." Shaela advised Mila.
"What do you mean unnatural?" Mila asked with a look of concern.
"I mean they've got the auras of top notch wielders of weave. They're attuned to it much the same way the Power Lords might be. I suspect they possess skills that we should be wary of. I'd certainly question their motives for being here. Perhaps they're working for the traffickers just to make sure there's no plans for escape." Shaela explained to Mila.
"I'll keep that in consideration when we encounter them, until then they're captives just as are we." Mila finished.
Just as she did a small bird flew in through an opening in the cargo container and perched on Mila's shoulder. She jumped and shrieked when she saw it making the bird flutter back into the air before it landed again on her same shoulder. She jumped and shrieked again when she felt something on her other shoulder which turned out to be Barris' hand.
"Surprise! I have to say that bird has impeccable timing." Barris responded whispering in her ear.
"You buggar! I'll have your bird for that!" Mila smirked at him then turning to the little bird on her shoulder.
"So what have you for me?" she said examining the bird's leg where a shelled peanut had been fastened.
"Honey, that's my peanut delivery. Thirty minutes or its free." Barris exclaimed with a smile on his face.
"I wonder how your bird will feel removed from its nest!" Mila replied to Barris with a dire look on her face.
"Don't worry honey. I completely understand the metaphor. No more out of me." Barris responded.
"Who said anything about a metaphor..." she said.
"Right..." Barris said uneasily.
"So what do I do with the peanut?" Mila asked aloud.
"Maybe the message is encoded on its shell?" Shaela suggested.
"Let me see... A lot of grooves and lines. Little squares... nope." Mila said pursing her lips.
"Maybe you have to eat the peanut?" Barris suggested.
The bird started chirping happily.
"So do I have to eat both for the message?" Mila asked aloud feeling a bit silly looking to the bird.
The bird chirped sounding a bit agitated with the suggestion.
"Maybe if Charles M. Schultz were here he could act as interpreter? A talking bird. A peanut. Come on? Can't you summon him somehow?" Barris offered only drawing a smirk and a loving pinch of his buttocks from Mila.
"I think that we can safely say that the bird definitely disagrees with us eating both peanuts. So we only eat one. What do we do with the other?" Mila asked.
"Maybe we feed it to the bird?" Shaela suggested.
The bird sat silently for a moment looking around as if considering the possibility. A moment later it began chirping angrily and agitated once again.
"Alright, so we don't feed the bird the other peanut. What do we do then?" Mila asked for suggestions.
One of the captives who'd been listening stepped forward and spoke.
"Years ago we used to communicate using birds. Send messages back and forth. Maybe the bird wants you to send the other peanut back as proof you got the message? Maybe its another message for someone else?" the captive suggested.
"Sir, you are brilliant and a gentleman at that. Mila, may I suggest that this man receives roast pheasant for his meal tonight..." Barris started, making the bird agitated again once again.
"Er.... How about halibut?" Barris suggested calming the bird down once again.
"Thank you so much for your suggestion Sir. I hope that this situation is not too stressful for you and your loved ones. We're doing what we can and the tables will be turned on our captors. Soon." Mila offered the captive.
"Thank you for being here to save us and more importantly to have heard us in the first place." the man lowered his head respectfully and returned to his family.
Mila then took one peanut leaving the other in the shell. She then took the shell and fastened it to the leg of the bird. When the bird had the other peanut attached to its leg it took off. It hovered over them for a moment before pooping on Barris' head. It then continued flying out of hole it had entered then flew directly over to the other cargo container while Barris ranted about the little bird.
"Well? Eat the peanut." Barris suggested to Mila still brushing the bird droppings from his head with a kerchief.
"I'm not going to eat the peanut." Mila returned.
"After all of that and you're not going to eat the peanut?" Shaela said to Mila.
"It's not the right time to eat the peanut." Mila said to her friends.
"If not now, then when?" Shaela asked.
"We'll know when. When I do, I want you to hold my hands. Each of you." Mila asked them.
"...you mean for moral support. Eating the peanut I mean. Yes such times can be engaging. Frightening even... I'm with you all the way and I'll see you through eating this peanut..." Barris said to her clinically.
"No you silly buffoon! Just trust me." Mila told him planting a tender kiss on his cheek.
Jasmer sat in the container beside his friend Pasu when a bird flew in the hole of the cargo container and landed upon his shoulder.
"I take it this is a sign...?" Pasu asked Jasmer pointing at the bird.
"Yes, its a sign that my friend Nelony talked this little bird into sending us a message." Jasmer said holding his finger in front of him for the bird to perch upon.
The bird jumped from Jasmer's shoulder onto his finger and began chirping.
"Well my little friend, what do you have here?" Jasmer asked the bird examining its leg.
Upon spying the peanut he immediately knew what he must do.
"My friend Pasu. I am going to be communicating with my friends. Watch over me while I do and should anything happen, rouse me from my sleep." Jasmer advised Pasu.
"I will do as you ask." Pasu responded.
Jasmer took the peanut in his hand and upon it touching his palm, it began to glow lightly.
In the other cargo container Mila handed the peanut to Barris.
"Both of you take my hands. When I've got your hands, Barris you put the peanut in my mouth. Not in my nose. Not in my eye. In my mouth. Got it?" Mila asked.
The peanut suddenly began to glow. Mila grabbed their hands and Barris fed Mila the peanut at the same time that Jasmer ate his.
They felt a tug within their abdomen and they were drawn from the cargo hold and back to the familiar ground of the Sanctum.
Jeong Soon stood beside Lady Soon and Athandra in the gathering hall. Jasmer spotted Yirfir and ran over to her.
"Are you alright?" Jasmer asked Yirfir.
"I'm fine. Nelony and I are together. We're somewhere at the bow of the ship. We've been keeping a vigil. The rest of the Sanctum needs to hear this too." Yirfir said aloud.
"Go ahead we're listening." Jeong Soon said as Jexelen, Lannay, Thara, Xenshi and Xushu joined the assembly.
"They've got the prisoners locked up in cargo containers. Looks like they're cattle cars. There's only two of them filled so this isn't the main shipment. Its just a satellite office. There's other containers and we're thinking its probably stolen goods, contraband or counterfeit of some kind to fortify their trafficking business." Yirfir advised the assembly.
"What would make you think that this is not the main load?" Lady Soon asked her.
"We spotted another ship on a direct intercept course for the one we're on. It appears to be a much larger one. A tanker possibly." Yirfir advised them.
"I can confirm Yirfir's testimony as I've also heard communications related to a rendezvous at the midway point. Reinforcements as well. They seem to have their own private army." Sato said confirming Yirfir's story.
"I hate to add to the confusion but I fear there may be two operatives on board acting in the interests of the Power Lords or even possibly the traffickers themselves." Shaela told the assembly.
"Shaela, given your record of disregard for procedure and recklessness during operations, how is it that we are supposed to accept that your observations are credible?" Jexelen asked Shaela.
"I second that question." Thara added.
"I've seen a lot of auras during my time as a Night Wytch. I've even seen the aura of Lorr himself and as such I have experience that is valuable beyond measure to this assembly. I am telling you that there are two on board that are experienced practitioners of the weave. Their auras are unnatural and unusually high in concentrations of the kind of energies that make the weave possible. I've never seen anything like it before. We need to be very careful of them." Shaela advised the assembly.
"Shaela, you are to be on guard for this danger and because you seem to be aware of it more so than anyone else, you are responsible for keeping the operation protected from it. There will be no casualties of any kind tolerated on this operation and the use of force will be limited to the liberation point one hundred kilometers from the western seaboard of Canada and the United States from where their authorities will take over the operation and we will disappear never having been there. Do all of you understand?" Jeong Soon asked them.
"I need backup in my cargo container. Preferably healers and possibly an elementalist." Jasmer addressed the assembly.
"It would be unusual to conduct and insertion in the middle of an operation. Have you got a workable cover plan?" Lady Soon asked.
"I've a contact and friend in the container. He'd be willing to have any insertions added to his roster as family or loved ones. He's a Japanese national who'd been abducted earlier in Asia while traveling. He's befriended Sato as well. I trust him. The two Shaela is talking about are in my cargo container. If we get a healer or ESPer in, somebody that can check them out, we can make an accurate threat assessment." Jasmer suggested.
"In that case We'll send Feylashar, Xenshi and Xushu. They should be able to blend in and advise you on the matter of the two possible threats aboard your container. That will be all. Finish up your personal communications and we'll close this portal in ten minutes." Jeong Soon told the assembly.
"So we can suspect that something is coming up at this rendezvous point. I suggest that we plan for a liberation if the containers are relocated. During the relocation we'll have the best chance for success. Nelony and Yirfir can run distraction for us while we deal with the local guard detachment. Feylashar can spend the next ten hours healing those in my cargo container and getting them ready for any physical activity. Xenshi and Xushu can keep an eye on the threat. Mila, Shaela and Barris can prepare the other container and deploy themselves when the time comes. Sound fair?" Jasmer asked.
"It does sound fair except for one thing. Do you want to deal with us here or there?" an unfamiliar voice asked them.
They turned to see a woman with two enormous butterfly wings blocking the entryway to the gathering hall.
Shaela immediately attempted to summon her Shadow cat protector only to be knocked to the floor by something that moved far too fast for her to see.
"Not so fast shadow girl. You're not the only one who can play with light and shadows..." Monique blurred past Shaela spinning her and sending her to the floor.
"Alert! The Sanctum is under attack and has been breached! Lockdown the Librum Universalis Codex!" Jeong Soon said getting to his feet.
"We have ten minutes to dispatch them before the portal takes us back. We've got to act fast!" Jasmer yelled as he charged the lady with the butterfly wings.
She took to the air flying at them as fast as her aetherial wings would take her as Monique skirmished the rest within their lines.
To be continued...
200 Sherbourne Street Apt 701
Canada M5A 3Z5
Author: Brian Joseph Johns Introduction Since writing Where Art Thou Barris? I'd wanted to bring Bella back in another story. To follow...
This story is a very short story idea I had when I'd decided that there needed to be a short involving Sato, Barris and Feylashar. I lik...
Author: Brian Joseph Johns Introduction Since writing Where Art Thou Barris? I'd wanted to bring Bella back in another story. To follow...
Hi again. It's been a while since I've posted a new update and I've delayed any further additions to What Different Eyes See unt...