I clutch the deck railing, out of breath from running the entire length of the ship. My vision is fuzzy and I feel like I might be sick at any moment. "They know we're on the ship. Roland. He...how did he track us?"
Elliot, who is sitting on the floor, leaning up against a mast reading a pulp novel. He barely looks up from his book to speak to me. "Are you going to be sick? If you're going to be sick, make sure it's over the edge."
"Did you hear me!?" I say, vexed. I rip the novel from Elliot's hands and throw it overboard. I dare to peek over the edge, and the sight of the book spiraling out of view beneath the clouds makes my vision blur again. I hate air travel. "Our lives are a little more important than that stupid book!"
"Relax," Elliot says, clearly amused by my anger. He stands up and checks his pocket watch. "It's all part of the plan."
"I'm sorry, what?"
The passengers begin to scatter and a woman screams somewhere out of sight. They are getting closer. A moment later a large man comes into view, his eyes narrow in on Elliot and me and he reaches for his pistol. Elliot pulls my arm and pulls me toward the steps leading down into the hull of the ship. We sprint through a dining area, leaving a sea of angry, confused passengers and crewmen in our wake.
"Elliot, wait --"
"No time, we have to hurry!"
So now he was in a hurry. It was hard to believe that it was mere minutes ago that he was lounging on the deck, completely apathetic. A string of gunshots sound somewhere above us. Panic begins to creep through my veins and it took more and more effort to force my limbs to carry me forward. Elliot doesn't seem frightened, though, as he weaves us in and out of a maze of identical hallways. I am grateful when we finally reach a door that brings us onto the lower level decks.
A sudden rumble resonates through the ship and it under my feet, knocking me over. I swallow another wave of nausea and try to stand among the growing number of passengers rushing out of the cabins. Someone helps me to my feet.
"Thank you, " I say as I brush off my clothes and try to find Elliot. He is nowhere to be seen; he must have kept going without me, the bastard.
"It's my pleasure," responds a gravelly voice. I know the voice all too well. I no longer needed worry Roland's seven-foot henchman anymore. The man himself stands in front of me, a thick sinewy hand clutching my arm hard enough to leave a bruise. "I don't think we've been formerly introduced. I've always wanted to meet Bran's little pet." He releases my arm, both of us knowing I wouldn't run.
"Actually,” I say, trying to scan the deck for Elliot without making it obvious, "we've already met. Um, a few years ago." The ship sways again as it begins an abrupt turn. I stagger backward and clutch the handle of a cabin door for stability. Come on Elliot, where are you? "You were celebrating --"
There's a thud behind us and Roland spins around just as a huge cloud of smoke erupts around us. I seize the opportunity and open the cabin door and as Roland turns back to face me, pulling his gun, I slam the door with all the force I can muster and feel the wood collide with the mobster. Roland drops to the floor and I can do nothing but stare down at him, incredulous.
"You are so dead," Elliot's voice trails through the smoke a few seconds before he appears. "Come on, before you delay the plans anymore."
We race out of the smoke to the very stern of the ship, where Elliot finally stops.
"You keep saying that, but I know the plans."
"Well, I guess Bran doesn't tell you everything, does he?" Elliot says smugly. He motions for me to come to the edge of the ship and then climbs up onto the railing and grins down at me. I look over the edge as a shadow appears below the ship and through the clouds I can make out a second airship rising below us, it's bow just becoming visible straight below. To my horror Elliot jumps, falling into the mist.
"Oh...no. No no no. There's no way in hell I'm --"
"Over here!" I turn to see Roland and his henchmen closing in. He raises his gun, aiming through the smoke.
Shaking, I climb the railing myself. There's the crack of gunfire and white-hot pain spreads through my shoulder as I jump.