Of Poseidon 02: Of Triton (24 page)

BOOK: Of Poseidon 02: Of Triton
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And since Rayna doesn’t have her Gift completely under control yet, we’re taking a risk by showing up on someone’s radar. But this is the best option we’ve got. We all agreed that she wouldn’t go all out, that she would put just enough force to flood the island. We’re not going for a catastrophic event here. We’re looking to give Jagen and Musa a small advantage. If we can raise the water level enough, they can swim out faster than the humans can catch them.

If they’re still here, that is.

“Ready when you are,” Galen tells his sister.

At this, Rayna opens her big fat mouth and screams. The result is instantaneous and huge. It looks like a wall of sound rushing away from them toward the shallow water. Galen swims faster, clutching his sister in his arms. Together, with the combination of speed and sound, they make their way around the island, producing baby-sized waves at first. When they gain momentum, the waves get bigger, travel faster, and pull some of the shallow water into the deep. I wasn’t there to see Triton destroy Tartessos all those years ago. These waves cannot possibly be as big as Triton’s were. I can only imagine what it would be like to stand on shore and see literal waves of destruction speeding toward you.

It would be incredible. And excessively scary.

Once the waves get into a rhythm, smacking against shore and raising the sea level, it’s time for my Gift to come into play. I circle the island, making a larger ring than Galen and Rayna had made, to stay outside their range of destruction. Thankfully, the waters surrounding Kanton are a seafood buffet waiting to happen. I can definitely see why commercial fishermen would risk their licenses or arrest to get in on this. I find dolphins, whales, sharks, eels, and gigantic tuna. As I pass, I gather the larger fish to my forces. The smaller ones I send out to recruit more help, including some dolphins, since they are best at communicating with one another, and can bring friends in quickly.

“Come with me,” I tell them, just like I did when I gathered my army on the way to the Boundary. “Stay close to shore and watch for humans,” I keep repeating. “When the land becomes water, help the humans stay at the surface.”

Gradually, the deep becomes the shallow and the shallow the deep, as the waves pummel the island. Galen and Rayna keep passing by me in a blur. Soon enough, there is no shore. There is no island. And I begin to see human legs strike the water.

“Go, go, go!” I tell my fish friends. “Guide them to the colorful things floating at the surface.”

At first there are not many. It occurs to me that we could be on the wrong side of the island. I instruct the Trackers to split up, and gauge the need on the opposite side. We find the most humans on the north side, a bit more inland than I’d thought. The Trackers and I supplement the efforts of the dolphins and sharks.

I realize belatedly that sending sharks to the aid of humans is a stupid idea. When one of the men tries to kick a tiger shark in the eye—and how could I blame him?—I tell the sharks to retreat. They’ve done all they can do, and I won’t let them be abused for their efforts.

After a few more minutes, I see a small, chubby pair of legs struggling nearby. The owner of the legs can’t be older than a toddler. I scoop him up and keep him at the surface. He’s adorable really, with rounded cheeks and a snotty nose and brown eyes with lashes that would make a supermodel jealous. Close to us, a woman who I assume is his mother is crying frantically and calling out to the empty waves around her. I swim him over to her and deliver the little guy into her arms. “He swallowed a good part of the ocean, but otherwise he’ll be fine,” I tell her, knowing that she doesn’t understand.

She clutches him to her and trembles. I swim two life jackets over to her and help her strap them on to her and the baby boy. She nods, and despite the language barrier, I can tell that she’s thanking me. Which makes me feel like zoo dirt, since I helped put her and her child in this predicament. If she knew that, she would probably be trying to choke the life from me. And I would probably let her.

Rachel and I didn’t anticipate any children here. We were under the impression it was strictly a government facility. After all, an island isolated from the rest of the world isn’t a safe place to bring your family, right? But what if we underestimated the population? What if there are more children? If any of them die, or even get injured, I’m going to hate myself.
I should have thought this through better
. Panic begins to settle in.

I dive under and try not to think about it, try to convince myself we’re still doing the right thing. I pull Kana aside. “How are we doing? Any sign of Jagen or Musa? Are all the humans okay?”

That’s when I realize that there aren’t just Trackers around us. There are other Syrena, too. A dozen, at least. I watch in awe as they swim to the surface, find themselves a human, and keep them afloat. For every human, there is at least two watchful Syrena here to help. And there are no more pairs of stubby toddler legs.

My conscience feels rinsed with relief. I cover my mouth to stifle the overwhelming urge to bawl my eyes out.

Kana clasps my shoulder, smiling kindly. “It is not in our nature to harm humans,” she explains. “We are respectful of all life, no matter to whom the life belongs. You have proven to us that you feel the same. We will help you, Emma the Half-Breed.”

The number of Syrena swells beyond one hundred. We all surround the island, which is now about ten feet under water, taking turns holding humans up. Most of the humans can swim, but some of the men have on heavy boots and we have to fight with them to remove them. But a lost boot is a good trade for a saved life; some of the men see our logic, others don’t.

When I’m starting to feel overconfident about our position, I take a sudden kick to the back. Which is completely my fault; I wasn’t watching where I was going and got within swimming distance of a human pair of legs. It’s much easier to keep your bearings when you can sense others around you. Humans don’t have that luxury.

Accident or not, it feels like I’ve been stabbed all over again. I cry out, and swim to the surface. Kana joins me. “You’re hurt?” she says.

Gritting my teeth, I nod. “It’s where Jagen speared me in the back.” I’m teetering on the verge of tears and I feel like such a wuss. Who am I to be crying when all these people just got displaced from their homes? No one. That’s who.

I wave Kana away. “Go. Help the humans. I’ll be fine.” And I will be. The pain subsides and I get back to work—more carefully this time. My movements are more delicate and precise now. I’m not unaware that the tape on my bandage has come loose, that blood has started seeping out of my freshly torn wound. I’m hoping the sharks I sent away care more about my instructions than they do about the stimulating scent lingering around me.

It sucks to be a klutz on land
and
a klutz in the water.

For all our hard work, there is still no sign of Jagen or Musa. Galen glides to my side. “We think they’re locked inside one of the buildings. Trackers can sense them, but we can’t see them. I’m going in to get them.”

“I’m coming, too.”

“No, you’re not. Jagen already tried to kill you once. I won’t be giving him a second opportunity. Besides, we need you out here to control the marine life.” Galen eyes the thin cloud of blood hovering around me like some creepy aura. Really, the blood itself is hardly visible. But I’m hyperaware of it because the water carries a faint metallic taste. I wonder how much stronger it is to Galen’s full Syrena senses. I can tell he’s reliving the moment I got stabbed.

He needs to snap out of it.

“I’ve already sent most of the fish away, what with the help of all the Syrena volunteers. The fish aren’t much of a factor to our mission anymore.” But I can tell by his clenched jaw and the hard look in his eyes that he’s not going to budge. I am staying behind. “Take others with you, then,” I say. “Jagen isn’t your best friend, either.”

“No, but I am,” Toraf says, swimming up to us. “What are we doing?” Mom and Grom follow close behind him. I guess this is a family affair after all.

Galen shifts his glare from me to Toraf. “We’re going inside the building to find Jagen and Musa. Do you sense them?”

Toraf nods. “I know exactly where they are. Follow me.”

Galen presses a quick kiss to my forehead then swims after Toraf. Mom slips behind me. “Your bandage is gone. Looks like your wound might have reopened a bit.”

I try to shrug casually, but wince at the shooting pain. Mom releases a sigh full of have-it-your-way. I ignore it and the tenderness in my back and the tension building in my shoulders as I watch Galen and Toraf and three other Trackers approach the submerged island.

For a government facility, the dwellings here are little more than white shacks with blinds. Which means they’ll probably have to rebuild everything. I make a mental note to have Rachel send them some relief supplies when this is over.

Rachel. Ohmysweetgoodness, where is Rachel?

22

TORAF CIRCLES
the building, alert, wary, and something else Galen can’t quite place. “They’re both still in there,” Toraf says. By now, even Galen can sense the pulses of Jagen and Musa. Which means they’re still alive.
So why haven’t they come out yet?

Woden, a Poseidon Tracker, slips up next to Galen. “It’s been very quiet in there since the flooding started.”

Toraf nods. “They can sense us as well as we can sense them. They know we’re here.” He turns to Galen. “What do you think?”

Galen scratches the back of his neck. “It’s a trap.”

Toraf rolls his eyes. “Oh, you think so?” He shakes his head. “I’m asking if you think Musa is in on it.”

Galen is not very familiar with Musa. He’s only talked to her a handful of times, and that was when he was very young. Still, out of all the Archives who seemed to support Jagen and his monumental act of treason, Musa’s face does not come to mind. “Would she be?”

Toraf shrugs. Woden scowls. “With much respect, Highness, Musa is an Archive. She will not forsake her vows to remain neutral.”

It takes all of Galen’s willpower to bite his tongue. Woden is still naive enough to believe that all the Archives are of a pure and unbiased mind. That they do not get tangled up in emotions such as greed, ambition, and envy.
Did Woden attend the same tribunal I did?

Toraf slaps Woden on the back. “Then you don’t mind going first?”

The Poseidon Tracker visibly swallows. “Oh. Of course not. I’m happy to—”

“Oh, let’s get on with this,” Galen says, snatching the spear from Woden’s unsuspecting grasp. This seems to embarrass the young Tracker. Galen doesn’t have time for embarrassment.

“Yes, let’s,” Toraf says. “Before the humans get those disgusting wrinkles on their skin.” He nudges Woden. “It’s probably the most horrific thing I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen lots of things.”

It’s the first time Galen realizes that Woden’s nervous demeanor and over-respectful attitude is not out of reverence for his own Royal status, but out of reverence for Toraf. It seems Toraf has a fan. And why wouldn’t he? He’s the best Tracker in the history of both territories. Any Tracker should feel humbled in his presence.

Galen is not any Tracker. He grunts. “Shut up, idiot. Get behind me.”

Toraf speeds ahead. “No, you get behind me, minnow.”

Despite their grand words, they creep to the door together. Toraf presses his ear against the crackled white paint. He signals to Galen that each pulse is on opposite sides of the building. If Musa really is in on a trap, this would be a good strategy. To come at them from both sides.

They wait several more seconds, listening for any small sound, any echo of movement inside. Toraf shakes his head.

Galen nods to Woden. The young Tracker rears back and throws his weight behind his shoulder as he rams into the door. It gives immediately.

Galen’s instinct is that Jagen made it too easy to enter. Not locking the door is practically an invitation. Sure, it’s unlikely Jagen would even have experience with using a human lock. But given the circumstances—that Jagen’s rescue is more of a capture and by now he probably knows it—Galen is sure he would have at least blocked the entrance. He isn’t foolish enough to flee; he obviously accepts that Galen would catch him within seconds. But that he’s desperate enough to stay, to take his chances with whoever comes through the door … Not good.

“Get down!” Galen yells. But Woden is already down.

So the harpoon meant for Woden hits Toraf instead. It catches his side and tears through it, almost turning him around in place. Jagen has planned well; he has obviously scavenged for as many weapons as he could find. The old harpoon gun is replaced by another one—and it’s aimed to strike Galen through the heart. The close range guarantees instant death.

That is, if Jagen had time to release it. Galen slams into him, the harpoon shooting with a
pft
into the thatch roof. Together, they crash into the back wall of the building as one mass. The wood creaks, flimsy against the blunt force. All around them the frame of the building moans, threatening to collapse on them. It has already taken a battering from the waves Galen and Rayna made. It won’t last much longer.

But Galen doesn’t care.

Jagen almost succeeds in wresting control of the harpoon, but Galen gives it a vicious twist and presses the rod to the traitor’s throat. If Jagen were human, it would cut off his air.

And Jagen’s age is already telling. Galen is able to hold the harpoon rod against him with one hand. With the other, he reaches for the human utility belt strapped around Jagen’s waist. Jagen squirms away, but Galen is able to grab the knife from its Velcro holster.

Jagen’s eyes go wide as oysters. “You wouldn’t. The law—”

“The law?” Galen snarls. “Now you want to hide behind the law? You must be joking.” Out of the corner of his eye, Galen catches a glimpse of a human man tied to a chair behind the desk. Long dead. Guilt picks at his conscience like scavengers on a carcass. Did the waves kill him? Or did Jagen? But he won’t—can’t—give Jagen the luxury of a second glance. The human is already dead. There is nothing he can do about it now. Except …

BOOK: Of Poseidon 02: Of Triton
10.11Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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