Somewhere a chron was ticking; cold, wet, metallic, coppery pain punctuated each beat. The pain was dull like an early morning hangover. I knew it was there and I knew it would get worse before it got better and I knew sooner or later I would have to get out of bed. It was that kind of dull, vague, blurry, throbbing, indiscriminate pain. Nothing but time would bring relief.

The steady beat grew louder. Someone had turned on the lights and for a second, the piercing pain of bright light shoved the steady throbbing dull pain out of consciousness. This pain was sharp. I felt like someone had stuck their fingers through my eye sockets and was pressing hard against the back of my skull, pinning my head to the floor.

“Turn out those lights,” yelled Kyra, her voice tinged with an anger born of irritation.

“Whoa, there,” said Von. “It’s just me. You’ve taken a very nasty blow to the head. Just another second and I’ll have most of this blood cleaned up. Try and sit up and hold this rag tight against your lip.”

“Von? Is that you?” said Kyra, trying to focus though the tiny slits she would allow her eyelids to open. “What happened? Where are we?”

“Someone up there is looking out for us is about all I can reckon. I couldn’t get the doors open before the Vollmond’s attacked again. I thought we were done. Somehow, we slipped away when the outer hull disintegrated in a huge fireball. One moment my sight was filled with fire and the next the pure blackness of space. For just a moment I thought we had passed over. It was so quiet, so peaceful. And then those beautiful pin-pricks of light.”

“Is everyone else okay?” asked Kyra, her voice muffled by the rag.

“Everyone is fine.”

“And Rog?”

Von hesitated. “Rog is not doing good.”

“We can’t lose him Von. We won’t lose him.”

“Steady now. That’s a pretty nasty cut you’ve got. Besides, I’ve got a plan,” said Von. Reaching inside his jacket he pulled out a ragged piece of paper.

“What the frail is that,” asked Kyra, wincing in pain with the raising of her voice.

“It’s our stone,” smiled Von. “I haven’t forgotten everything your Papa taught me.”

Kyra squinted, her eyes reflecting a puzzled look. “Stone?”

“You know. Kill two birds with one stone. Surely you’ve . . . oh, never mind. This map is going to take us to Mairi and I have a feeling when we find Mairi, we’re going to find the help we need for Rog.”

“So that’s your plan? A piece of paper with a map the size of half of Hyneria?”

“You got any better ideas?” asked Von.

Kyra smiled with the good side of her face. “Nope. Now help me up and tell me more about this plan.”

Categories: Story, Kyra, Von