“What’re you talking about?! What island casing?!” Kiko demanded from Lone but she just smiled.
A larger, hologram panel lit up in both rooms. It was a message that spoke not only to us, but to everyone on the planet.
“Greeting planet Tizarr,” came a raspy, metallic voice from a black hooded figure. Dark tinted goggles and a cloth mouth guard prevented us from seeing their face.
“As most of you know, the great Millennium Galaxy Race is taking place as we speak. The race that grants an unequivocal, mystical power to the winner. The Millennium Galaxy Race, as it has always been, requires the collection of four unknown stones.”
The speaker paused to clear his throat and hack something up before continuing, “Well, congratulations people of Tizarr, we now know the holders of two of the remaining stones.”
One-by-one, captured images of each Jago crewmembers flashed on hologram panels from when we first arrived. My stomach sank, we really were being watched the entire time, and now everyone knew we had two of the stones.
“We will leave it up to you, citizens of Tizarr, to choose to take the stones for yourselves or watch the galaxy’s ultimate power leave this planet right before your eyes.”
The hooded figure’s image vanished, leaving only the Jago’s crew images affixed on the panels. We waited for a moment to see if anything else would appear but nothing did.
“What else do you have planned?!” Kiko threatened Lone by pressing the knife on her neck tighter. A tiny stream of blood emerged from around the edge of the knife.
“Don’t Kiko.” I knew we had bigger problems now, “Just leave her here.”
Kiko’s eyes narrowed with repulsion towards Lone as her grip slowly loosened around her neck, but she didn’t let go of her. Instead, she dragged her to the lit up room and bent a broken metal bar to cuff her hands to the ground. Then she ripped the pack off of her back and put the stones in her pocket, tossing the pack back to her on the floor.
“You’re gonna just leave me here?! At least finish me off!” Lone screamed at us as we walked away. “Cowards! TRASH!”
We continued to ignore her until she said something that grabbed my attention, “It was me Trash! I killed your smart little brain friend!”
I stopped dead in my tracks having just learned something I wish I didn’t.
She saw me stop and continued to taunt me, “That’s right! He’s gone because of me! I sold him out! And you’re not gonna do anything about it?!”
Kiko noticed my anguish. “Sarth?” she asked, trying to bring me back to reality.
I grit my teeth with anger. “It’s nothing, let’s go.” I muttered, never turning back.
We left Lone in the room and swam back the way we came. We stole a two, side-by-side seated water vehicle and rushed back to the main island where the Jago and everyone else was now at. Luckily it wasn’t too far away from the island we were currently on.
“You think that message would actually invoke anyone?” I asked Kiko through the mask.
Kiko swerved through traffic at an insane speed. I was sure we were going to crash a few times but somehow we always barely made it.
She turned the wheel just in time to avoid crashing into a large water vehicle, “I hope not, but I doubt it,” she said casually.
We drove on, undisturbed for a while until the vehicle started flashing red lights.
“That can’t be good.” I said.
“We’re being monitored… and followed.”
I looked back to see a crowd of thug-looking Attars begin to gather behind us in their water vehicles. Blasts shot passed us in our direction. Up ahead I saw Kiko driving us towards the base of the large island’s rock bottom. It was significantly bigger than the one we were just on.
“Take my blaster from my hip and shoot back at them.” Kiko ordered me.
“That would probably help…” I said, feeling for her blaster on her hip.
I found it and began return firing.
“We’re almost there…” she said, “You have Cashel and Jotham?”
I was about to ask what she was talking about, but I realized she was talking to Rei through her earpiece. I forgot I still had mine in and I turned it on to listen to their conversation.
Rei was out of breath when she spoke, “I went and got Jotham just before that disturbing message appeared, but now we’re getting resistance from everyone we encounter and I can’t get ahold of Tammy anymore! I have a feeling those same racers are trying to capture her again.”
Kiko answered, “Most likely. Just get back to the ship, we’ll regroup there.”
“Alright, we’ll meet you there.”
Their conversation ended. I was worried about Tammy’s situation. It was my fault we had to split up the rescue team so she had to rescue Cashel on her own.
“We’ll get Tammy back, don’t worry about it.” Kiko shot a smile at me.
“Yeah, I know.”
Her confidence raised mine. They weren’t going to hurt her anyway; they needed her to find the rest of the stones.
“Hold on!” she told me as we headed into narrow shafts that were throughout the island’s bottom.
The tunnels were dark and the only light came from our small water vehicle’s headlight. I didn’t really have to fire behind us anymore because we lost quite a few pursuers just from the narrow tunnels.
“Do you know where we’re going?” I asked, feeling completely lost.
“Yeah, I’ve been down here once before. This route should bring us almost directly beneath the port where the Jago’s at.”
Kiko pulled up quickly and took a small tunnel that went vertically upwards; it took us to a larger, horizontal tunnel that had many different sized tunnels, including even smaller tunnels.
“Sarth we’re gonna take a smaller tunnel, gimme your hand and get out of your seat.” She said holding out her hand for me.
The tunnel she was headed for was quickly approaching.
“Can’t I just sit behind-”
“Gimme your hand Sarth!”
There was no time to question her, the tunnel appeared faster than I thought and I quickly took her hand and jumped out of my seat. It broke off from the vehicle as it hit the side of the tunnel and I was left dangling from Kiko’s hand. I was going to try and grab her seat when she quickly flung me up upwards.
It all happened so quickly, I didn’t really know what was happening. Apparently Kiko pierced the top of the tunnel with Lone’s stave, stopping our forward motion and using that momentum she tossed me up upwards through a small hole in the top of the tunnel, then using my momentum to carry her with me as she let go of the stave.
We both fell in an empty, large room filled with air. Thankfully Kiko was able to avoid landing on me but we came face-to-face close with each other as she held herself up, right above me. It sparked memories of the time we almost kissed on the ship since that was the last time we were that close to each other.
She pushed herself up and took off her mask.
“You alright?” she asked, helping me on my feet.
I took off my mask as well. “Yeah, but a little warning would help next time,” I said making sure I was all in one piece.
“Sorry,” she said, walking away towards the exit with a little smile on her face. “There wasn’t time.”
I knew she was going say that. I think she rather enjoyed tossing me around.
We landed in what looked like an electrical maintenance room with many different toggles, switches, buttons, and lights everywhere.
We walked out of the room through more dingy, yellow-lit passage ways and into rooms that had a similar design. It smelled moist and steamy and felt humid and gross. There was no one around as we made our way upwards, taking an elevator first and then some ladder-ways until we reached the top hatch which was locked. It wasn’t a problem for Kiko who simply punched through it and the hatch flew open.
She casually stuck her head out to look around.
“Geez! Do you have to cause so much commotion??” came Rei’s pointlessly hushed voice from above.
From below, I heard Attar and people yelling that they found us up above. Rei and Jotham quickly joined us underneath and Kiko held the broken hatch closed.
“What’s going on? Why aren’t we going to the ship?” I asked as Rei and Jotham jumped down from the ladder.
“The Jago’s gone,” said Rei, “Tammy must’ve moved it before she went to save Cashel.”
“So what do we do now?”
The sounds of blasters hitting the hatch rang throughout the room.
“There’s only one place I can think of that she’d put it.”
“Our hideout?” Jotham finished.
Rei nodded, “It’s big enough for the Jago to fit…”
Kiko finished rigging the hatch shut again. “Let’s go!”
Once again I followed everyone to their “hideout” but this time we encountered groups of Attar and different species who were searching the passageways for us.
We easily ran through them, knocking them back from every direction.
“It’s just over here!” said Jotham leading the way, “And after all these years it still hasn’t been touched!”
We crawled up a small ladder, through another small hatch and closed it behind us. I looked up and smiled. It was the Jago, safe and sound inside the small room we were in. It looked like the ship was barely able to fit.
“The Jago!” exclaimed Rei.
We ran to the ship and Kiko opened the cargo bay door.
“Tammy!” I yelled out hoping her hologram would pop up like usual. No response. “Where could she be?!”
“Over here!” Jotham yelled at us from a small room next to the Jago. Kiko, Rei and I ran over to see what it was. “I thought she might be here…” he gestured to Tammy who was soaking wet, typing on multiple electrical panels on the wall. She didn’t even seem to notice us.
“How’s Cashel doing?” Kiko asked as she walked up next to her.
Tammy continued to work the panels as she spoke, “We have a problem.”
I took a better look at her and noticed she was wearing an extra bracelet from what she usually wears. It was bigger than the others and had a green glow. She was also doing more hand movements than she usually does, and her hair wasn’t glowing nearly as brightly as it normally did.
She continued, “The shady racers destroyed the gears that allow the island’s casing to close when the island sinks.”
“Well, can’t you fix it?” Kiko asked.
“I can’t physically fix from here.”
We thought for a moment.
“What about Cashel?” I asked.
“He’s fine. He took care of his captures a while ago. Right now I’m directing him to the area where the gears were disabled.”
“So what’s the problem? Cashel can fix it. He can fix anything.” Rei said.
Jotham took over again after analyzing the panels, “If the island sinks soon, even if Cashel’s able to repair the gear…”
“He’ll die.” Tammy finished.
“What?!” said Rei and I.
Jotham explained, “The gears are made to work underwater, that means the entire level gets flushed with water. He won’t have enough time to escape.”
“Well what are the chances of the island even sinking right now anyway?”
Tammy didn’t answer right away, “The island will sink in less than 10 minutes. I was shown the data that proved it would.”
A hologram of Cashel lit up on one of the panels. It showed him working frantically on a large gear that looked like it was recently on fire.
Rei was the first to speak, “Cashel get out of there!”
Then Kiko, “I’m coming to help you-”
“No!” he commanded. “I can fix this. I’m staying, and you’re staying right there.”
Tammy tried to convince him, “I can issue an evacuation-”
“There’s not enough time and you know it.” He looked at us through the hologram. “I’ve taught you all everything I could teach you…” we all watched in silence, except for the sound of banging coming from the bottom hatch. “My last order as Captain of the Jago, is for all of you to get off the planet and win the race.” No one moved. We couldn’t quite comprehend what he was saying. There had to be a way to save him. “Tammy… get them out of here.” He stared at her with conviction about his decision.
Tammy was frozen staring back at Cashel’s hologram. Then she finally nodded to him and turned around, grabbed Kiko by the arm and steered her back to the ship. Cashel nodded to me and I followed her lead by grabbing Rei. She protested and Jotham helped me drag her away from the hologram.
Kiko was already at one of the ship’s blaster rooms. I told Jotham to handle Rei while I joined her. It took a moment for Tammy to start up the ship and as we were leaving, the hatch blew open. We could see out the bottom half of the ship through the blaster room screens that the ceiling of the room we were in was now open and we emerged through it at the edge of the island.
A few ships followed us but it was nothing compared to when we left Crux. We traveled quickly away from the island and we could see from the distance, as the island casing began to close, proving Cashel’s success and then sink into the sea.
When we were content that no one else was following us, Kiko and I made our way back to the flight deck where everyone else was sitting around quietly.
We flew around the planet for a few hours before stopping over a part of the open sea to drop off Jotham.
“Farewell,” Jotham bid to us. “I’m truly sorry about Cashel… he was a great man.”
We all said goodbye to him and watched as he disappeared into the water, then we took off back into space, without our Captain.
The gloom of leaving Cashel hung with everyone in the Jago. It was quiet. I’d never seen everyone so depressed before. Even Tammy wouldn’t talk for the first few days. She sat alone on the flight deck most of the time. I came up to ask her about the bracelet that Kiko broke off the first day we left Tizarr.
“What is that?” I asked as Kiko took her knife and smashed into the side of the bracelet with ease.
“It’s a stymer,” she answered with a robotic expression. “It inhibits Mechanites from communicating with electrical devices.” She rubbed her wrist where it used to be.
“Those black racers had something like that?”
“They had help from other Mechanites which I encountered on my way to save Cashel…”
She turned around to resume control of the flight deck. It was still too fresh in our minds to mention Cashel so casually.
I tried to change the subject, “So, where are we going now?”
Kiko took out the two stones and slammed them on the table I where I was sitting at, “To finish the race.”