Read Eternity Crux Online

Authors: Jamie Canosa

Eternity Crux

Eternity Crux

by

Jamie Canosa

 

 

Chosen first line:

"Time is Not a Line, but a Dimension" ~Margaret Atwood
,
 
Cat's Eye

 

T
ime is not a line, but a royal pain in the butt.

“When are we
now,
Auralia?”

“I don’t know.” And I really couldn’t care less. That last jump had left me winded. “Does it really matter? They’re still coming after us.”

“Duck!”

A flash of blue light hit the wall directly behind me, whirling into an unfathomable vortex. They were coming.

“How did they find us so fast?” This was getting out of control. They’d been nipping at our heels for close to three months—or three decades—depending on how you looked at it.

“Doesn’t matter. We have to keep moving.” Sayer reached for his eternity crux—an hourglass pendant embedded in an eternity knot hanging around his neck. It held the power to bend the space-time continuum. Sounds impressive, but considering how common they are where we came from . . . not so much.

It’s not like they go around handing them out to just anybody, but every member of the Legion had one, and considering that’s who we were running from, they weren’t all that useful. They could follow us anywhere—any when?—we went. And they had been. Ever since we went rogue. Not our finest hour.

“No.” I snagged his wrist before he could send us hurtling through space and time again. “No more jumping. Not yet. Please?”

“Auralia, we can’t stay here.”

“I know that. We do have feet, Say. Did you forget how to use them?” The aqua blue faded to navy as the vortex deepened. We didn’t have time to debate the finer points of evasion. “Run!”

We hightailed it across the deserted street, past several darkened store fronts, and ducked into a litter strewn alley. The whooshing sound from the portal reached a crescendo before blipping into oblivion with a soft
pop
. They were here.

Warm breath coated the back of my neck. “Stay down.”

As though I were planning to stroll out onto Main Street and greet the new arrivals.

Deep, menacing laughter of the highly creeptastic variety floated through the silent night.

“You think you can hide? From
us
? You think we will not hunt traitors down to the ends of the Earth? To the ends of infinity? There is nowhere
to
hide. You will be ours. And you will be punished for your crimes.” Galen—the league’s top hunter—didn’t need to shout to be heard. His voice had this quality, this pitch that could be heard no matter how loudly he spoke. And when he spoke, people listened.

“Shh.” I hadn’t even realized my body was trembling until Sayer’s arm wrapped around my middle, anchoring my back against his chest.

The steady thump of his heart against my spine went a long way toward steadying me, but it was the solid body that encased it that I blamed for this entire predicament. If he hadn’t been so freaking good looking, I never would have listened to him. This was entirely my stupid hormones’ fault.

Out on the street, the rhythmic slap of a half dozen pairs of boots falling into formation diminished in the opposite direction. They were hunting us, but for the moment we were safe. All of the tension and adrenaline I’d been existing on drained out of me and I slumped back against Sayer.

“It’s alright, Aura. It’s gonna be okay. I promise. You don’t have to be afraid.”

“I’m not afraid. I’m exhausted.” The truth laid somewhere in the middle of those two statements.

“I know. Me, too.” He sighed and helped me to my feet. I went grudgingly. “We can’t keep going like this. If we don’t find somewhere to rest soon, we’ll get sloppy.”

Sloppy was definitely one thing Galen never was and thus we couldn’t afford to be, either. The man was a machine. As far as I could tell, he never slept, ate, or went to the flippin’ bathroom. He was assigned a target, and he hunted that target until he caught it. Nothing else. Impressive if you were his employer. Not so much if you were his prey.

 

><><><><

 

For a jumper, cold hard cash is the way to go. Imperial coins had only been used as currency for the past five years or so, and those irritating expiration dates on credit cards kept you on a pretty short leash. Unfortunately, greenbacks aren’t exactly a replenishable supply when you’re constantly on the move. The best room we could afford was at a place called Hello Inn, but the O had burnt out. At least it didn’t encourage high expectations because they would have fallen sadly short.

Patches of carpet were so worn that the floor showed through in spots. There was something
growing
in the sink, and I’d probably have nightmares about some of the things that had likely taken place on that bed. But my spinning head didn’t care about any of that. It saw a way off my dragging feet and took it.

I collapsed onto the springy mattress without a second thought. The lightheaded, floaty feeling that’d been plaguing me for a couple days was reaching epic proportions. It felt like my entire body was floating in space and might come apart, drifting in different directions with the slightest force.

“Aura? Are you alright?”

A warm hand settled on my back and I groaned.
Don’t touch me. I might break.
“I’m fine.”

Curling my spine, I dislodged Sayer’s touch and pulled my knees into my chest in an attempt to hold myself together.

“No, you’re not. Auralia, what’s the matter?”

“Nothing. I’m tired.” That’s all it was. A brutal case of exhaustion. I’d get some sleep and be just fine.

“It’s more than that. There’s something wrong with you. You’re . . . vibrating.”

Vibrating?
That probably wasn’t a good sign.

“Talk to me, Aura.”

I wanted to tell him he was overreacting, but I didn’t possess the mental fortitude to butt heads if he decided he wanted to spar. My stomach flipped and shuddered, demanding I make a mad dash to the closest bathroom. The rest of me laughed at that notion and I rolled sloppily off the mattress, instead.

“Where are you going?”

If I opened my mouth to answer him, I’d have puked right there on the rug, so there wasn’t much I could do about him trailing me into the bathroom and witnessing my fantastic upchucking spectacle.

“Can a girl get some privacy?” I ran the back of my hand across my mouth and felt my stomach heave.
Not again
. “Get out of here, Sayer.”

“Not going to happen.” For my partner going on three years, he had a serious listening problem.

Positioning himself on the edge of the stained tub, he gathered my hair from my face and held it trapped at the nape of my neck. I would have argued, but my mouth was busy vomiting up my spleen. It felt like my organs were crumbling inside of me and being expelled into the pea green toilet. Not exactly the blaze of glory I imagined I’d go out in, but my throat was certainly on fire.

I may have dozed off after a while, or maybe spaced out. My head was beginning to feel as light and floaty as my insides. Certainly, there was nothing left in there. I was a hollow vessel.

Hands so warm they burnt my flesh rolled me over.
When did I end up on the bathroom floor?
And a cool, damp cloth dabbed at my face.

“You’re cold as ice.”

I flinched away from the scorching hand on my forehead.

“Come on. We need to get you to bed. Can you stand?”

Of course I could stand. What did he think I was? Lifting my head made the whole room spin, and my arm flopped beside me like a fish out of water as I tried to push up to sitting. Hmm . . . maybe, not so much.

“Say—” My voice cracked on the raw pain speaking caused.

“Shh. It’s okay. I’ve got you. Hang on, Aura, I’ve got you.”

I lost my bearings as the solid support of the floor was removed from my back. If it hadn’t been for the two strong arms holding me tight, I may have evaporated into thin air. It didn’t matter if that was possible or not. It’s how I felt. And it was not a good feeling. It was terrifying.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” A thin, scratchy blanket was pulled over me and tucked in all the way up to my chin. “Aura, open your eyes. Look at me.”

I hadn’t even realized they were shut, but getting them to open was nearly impossible. Sandpaper scored my corneas as I peeled back my eyelids, revealing a blurry room and one very up-close-and-personal face. Man, was he handsome. Hunter green eyes shone with worry, hidden only partially from view by his unruly brown hair. The whole time I’d known him, he’d kept it short and orderly in accordance with Legion standards, like everyone else in their employ, but since we’d been on the lam, he hadn’t exactly had time for regular trims. I liked it. I thought the wild look suited him.

“Hey. There you are.” His lush pink lips tipped up at the corners, but the stress lines creasing his tanned forehead didn’t disappear.

The only part of my body not wrapped up like some kind of burrito was my hand. Firmly encased in Sayer’s, it felt like it was submerged in an open flame, but I didn’t pull away. If not his warmth, I needed his strength, his support. I had no idea what was the matter with me, but I wasn’t naïve enough not to realize how serious it was.

“I—I—”Breathing was more of a challenge than if I’d just run a five mile sprint. Simple speech emptied my fragile lungs faster than I could fill them. Or maybe I didn’t have lungs anymore. Maybe they’d been flushed along with the rest of me. That might explain it.

“Shh. Don’t try to talk. It’s alright. You’re gonna be okay, Aura. Just hang on. I’m going to get you help.”

I wanted to ask who the hell he thought would help us, but I couldn’t. My eyes were already sliding shut again and I welcome the reprieve of oblivion.

 

><><><><

 

“Come take a look at this, Aura.”

“At . . . what?” I was in the middle of trying to fasten my hair and knot my boot with my teeth at the same time. Not the world’s most impressive display of coordination, but I was running late and the Legion didn’t take well to stragglers.

Sayer, of course, was no help at all, sifting through the file of papers in his hands.

“You know we’re going to be late for work.”

“Just a minute.” He held out the file as I spit the lace from my mouth.

“What is it?” The pages looked like work orders . . . of the classified variety, all put forth by the Legion. “Why do you have these?”

“I’ve been collecting them for a while.”

“Why?” They weren’t our orders, that much I knew from the brief scan I gave them. Why would he care about someone else’s orders?

“For evidence.”

“Evidence of what?”

“Did you read any of it?”

Now was so
not
the time for this. “We’re late! Can’t I read it after our shift?”

“No. This is important or I wouldn’t be involving you in it.” His genuine distress stopped me in my tracks. Screw the Legion, my partner obviously needed me.

“Alright.” I settled down on an abandoned crate on the sidewalk and flipped open to the first page.

I could hear the evening meeting being called to order in the center square, but I tuned out as orders were issued and the day shift debriefed. I’d been trained to follow the Legion’s commands my whole life, so it wasn’t easy to focus on what I was reading and ignore the voice at the back of my head screaming that I wasn’t doing what I was
supposed
to be doing. But I did it. For Sayer.

He squatted beside me, carefully watching my face as I processed what was in front of me. It was a kill order. They were rare, but not unheard of. Crime wasn’t the problem for us as it had been for past societies, and so punishment was not as prevalent. We had the Legion to thank for that. But there was something off about this order.

I flipped the page. Another kill order. And another. Several imprisonment orders . . . “What is all of this?”

“Proof that the Legion is abusing their power.”

“I—” Turning another page, I studied yet another kill order. “I don’t understand.”

“All of those orders were issued in the past six months. Look at the crimes listed. Murder on every single kill order.”

“That makes sense. It’s the only execution worthy crime.”

“No it doesn’t. Think, Aura. How many murders have you heard about in the past . . . year? Five years? Ten years? Suddenly there’s a half-dozen in as many months? Don’t you think someone might have noticed that? They might have mentioned it to us? We’re security officers. If there was a rash of murders happening, don’t you think we’d be the first to know? And look at who the orders were issued to.”

Flipping back to the front, I turned page after page. Galen’s name was listed on every last one. “He’s sure been busy. But what are you saying? That the Legion is having innocent people killed?”

“I did the research, just in case. Auralia . . . The victims listed in these files don’t exist. All of these crimes are fabricated. And look at the death certificates.” Sayer flipped to the end of the file.

Car accident, heart attack, overdose. Not one listed as a sanctioned execution.

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