Violetta Cantagalli

by Luca

Chapter 4

Touma walked through, exactly as he had been instructed, his hand resting on the piece of paper pinned to his chest. He didn't want to lose that, it was important, he would need to do exactly what the note told him, even if he remembered nothing.

Lowerstoff followed Touma. He too had a note pinned to him, a message to remind him just like Touma and the others.

In the large room was an equally large electronic display. Touma looked at it and then at his companions. Everyone was there with one exception, Zachary. His absence caused confusion in Touma's mind, already fogged and dazed, finding himself standing at a table in a large empty room, empty except for them, and the Admiral.

Quickly he ripped the note from his chest and read the message.

A heavy steel door swung backwards striking the wall with a loud clunk. Touma turned, startled to see Zachary lurch through the doorway like a drunkard. Behind him bright red lights blinked, but he was focused entirely on Zachary. He watched the scene unfold like a slow motion film. Zachary withdrew a pistol from his shoulder holster and pointed it at Hamilton.

A large red light on a side wall came on at the same time alarms sounded, seemingly from everywhere. The light turned sending a gyrating beam of red across the room like the signal from a lighthouse.

"Action stations! Actions stations! All hands, this IS NOT A DRILL!"

No one moved. They all stood there facing Zachary.

"Prepare to launch!"

The message burst through the intercom.

"Don't!" Lowerstoff shouted. "It's not how we thought it was."

"Missiles launched!"

Burning aircraft carrier

Even on the lower deck somewhere in the bowels of the ship they felt the vibrations and heard the distinctive sound of rocket engines.

"Torpedoes, incoming!" The message burst through the loudspeakers.

The ship lurched violently. Touma held onto the edge of the table.

"Don't, Zach!" Lowerstoff repeated, and Zachary lowered his arm.

Hamilton turned back to the display behind him, ignoring Zachary for the moment.

"Multiple launches," he announced.

The others also turned to watch the red dots on the large display. All except Lowerstoff, who crossed the room towards Zachary. Whatever was said next Touma didnt hear it, he was watching Lowerstoff and Zachary who were now together their arms wrapped around each other. He read the message on the note he had in his hand: kill LOWERSTOFF. Touma pulled his own semi-automatic pistol from its holster, raised his arm and took aim. A massive jolt and explosion knocked everybody to the floor. Then ship lurched again, slightly less violently in the opposite direction.

"Torpedoes!" The intercom blasted a new warning.

Touma looked across the room. This was definitely the right thing to do, he told himself. Raising his arm he once again took aim. The funny thing was, nobody even noticed. Nobody except Zachary, who was staring directly at him and Touma could read in his eyes what he wanted to say. He let his finger slip from the trigger and lowered his arm.

The wires were removed from his body and finally unencumbered he stepped back into the brightly lit room. The room full of mad scientists , the room lost in the middle of a dessert. Touma turned to look at Zachary, who smiled back at him.

Zachary sat in a chair, in the brightly lit room, in the middle of the desert, but that wasn't what he saw. They were the last people to enter the gallery, but they were not alone. They were being pursued, his mother was knocked to the floor and he was running around the dome, his father was leading the way pulling him by the hand. They had to escape, it was urgent, but he didn't want to follow his father and leave his mother behind, lying unconscious on the stone floor. He was crying as he was dragged away. Then his hand slipped from his father's grasp and he turned, a look of horror on his face.

His father was now some way ahead. The man pursuing them was very close to Zachary. He held something dark and metallic in his hand, a gun.

"Zachary!" His father screamed. "Jump!"

Zachary climbed over the metal balustrade and jumped. He didn't remember hitting the floor which was nearly a hundred feet below. If he had, he would surely have been very seriously injured or died. What he did remember was a feeling of floating. Floating in the air like you might swim in water.

He woke up! Sat up in bed and blinked. He breathed in the stale odour of the tiny room. Vague sounds from the street outside crept into his head. Zachary knew exactly where he was, the Foyer Des Jeunes Travailleurs De La Cité Des Fleurs, Paris, 1975. The door opened, Lowerstoff stood in the doorway and behind him was Touma. He recognised them, he remembered everybody, the trip to Morocco, Emile, Michel, everybody. He had blamed his father, erased him from his memory, but now he'd forgiven him. There was only one thing wrong with all of this. The pieces of the puzzle didn't quite fit together, but that's another story!

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