No one was responding, no matter how loud the Captain shouted. She had the distinct sense that bad things were happening, and she had one working leg and a foggy useless mind and a face full of dust, and she was angrily scooting her way up the side of a fallen stone on her ass.
A clap sounded from above her, and she nearly slid back down as she whipped around to look, mouth full of curses for the Bosun who had just left her there – but it wasn’t the Bosun.
“Well what the fuck are you trying to pull now?”
The Stowaway barely flinched, just tossed down a rope.
“You think I’m gonna trust you to get me out of here safely?”
They shrugged, and started pulling the rope back up nonchalantly.
“Fuck, fine, hold the hell on.”
They must have tied it off somewhere, because they let the Captain put her full weight into it as she clambered up.
From the top of the pile of fallen stone, she took one look at the Navigatrix, striding stubbornly forward inside that blue beam, and knew what she had to do.
“Get down there, and find me a crutch.” They tilted their head. “I can get myself down, you shit. A good crutch, not that emergency one, and fast.”
And when she slid finally down to solid ground, bruised and very, very angry, they were waiting for her with not the emergency crutch, but the Navigatrix’s 54″ precision plasma gun.
The Captain had to admit, it was sturdy. “She’s going to kill me for this.” And then she booked it.
She was wheezing when she got to the water’s edge, and the Bosun stepped up and offered her arm.
“She’s got a goddamned deathwish, Captain.”
“Yeah, I’m gonna kill her for this.”
“Gotta get her out of it first.”
The Captain and the Bosun went silent as the Navigatrix reached their antagonist and stepped into his spherical aura.
The Captain whispered “is that our Orb?”
“No, he brought his own.”
And then the Navigatrix shoved her hands into the uncanny Orb too, and then suddenly all this unholy noise started to pour into the world.
The static and the howling and the searing sparks flying off the edge of the blue sphere made the water ripple strangely – and then that blue glow started to throb, green and yellow shooting through it, then orange and red and purple, a spectrum of colours that seemed to each pull different things into being.
The Navigatrix was stretched into an unnatural pose, arms quivering and face staring into the Orb.
They could barely hear her over the noise, shouting at her adversary;
“I can do this all day!”
– then the static growled in the air and the colours ran faster in the glow – and she seemed to put her back into it, hair standing on end, and she yelled
“Do your worst! I know my way through time!”
and then the horrible wizard seemed to twist the Orb, bringing her to her knees, and she was just yelling animal noises of rage at him.
The Captain didn’t think. She just shifted her weight back onto her makeshift crutch and stepped onto the path the rainbow glow was carving through the water. Things were changing rapidly within that glow – cobblestones appeared and disappeared, sand grew around her feet and receded.
She felt like she was phasing in and out of existence, but she focused on her Navigatrix’s voice, shape, silhouette; and step after step brought her closer. She could almost hear the shouts of the Bosun and the Engineer, but the winds of time were in her face and the static and the whistling cries were too loud.
Closer, with each painful step she was closer. Ahead, the Navigatrix wasn’t letting go of that horrible Orb, and the Captain knew she couldn’t keep that up forever. Each step was surreal; grass grew around her feet, withered and died, and was replaced with lava which immediately cooled and became sand.
Until finally she was standing behind the Navigatrix.
She put one hand on her shoulder for balance, tossed the raygun onto the sand, pulled back, and punched that fucking wizard right in the face.
Two things happened – first, her hand screamed with pain, like she had punched a metal girder instead of a man; and second, he slipped up – he let go of the Orb.
As the glow rushed back into the Orb she held, the Navigatrix slumped against the Captain, and then the water rushed back in, knocking them head over heels, and the Captain was suddenly treading water with one good leg, trying to keep ahold of the Navigatrix and her Orb.
The wizard was screaming with rage, and he seemed to will himself to float half out of the water, but his arms and face were suddenly fixed and unchanging. Five arms, one ancient face with horrible eyes. Each hand was clenched around a tiny scrap of that blue glow.