Chapter 8:

Explosive. In More Ways Than One.

"Leland!" Almeda cried, dropping her hand, knife on the floor. She was an experienced killer. Learning never to be distracted, never to hesitate, even for a fraction of a second was drummed into her skull. She had been in situations where a less-hardened killer would've broken: the building she was in, rocking, going up in flames, a brawl behind her, growing ever-closer, a child sobbing and screaming for her to stop.

She hadn't batted an eye.

But this was different.

Seeing a ghost was a shock.

The woman stumbled back a pace.

Jim stumbled away from his mad attacker, now that she was momentarily still. His mind was reeling.

Leland.

Leland.

She was mad, after all. It was dark, after all. Maybe it was a mistake.

No, he thought. No, it was too close to home to be a coincidence.

He stared, still rather horrified.

Almeda shook her head and stepped closer, looking like she was treading on eggshells. She peered at him, and he tried to find somewhere else to back into.

"No," she said, slowly. "Not Leland. Far too young."

She shook her head, quickly pulled up her pistol again. It didn't matter. It couldn't matter. This was the wrong boy. But he had to know where to find the right one.

She shoved the pistol under Jim's chin before he could move.

"Where is he?" she snarled.

There was only one question in Jim's mind—and it came out, rather without thinking.

"Leland?"

She stared at him a second.

"No, idiot! Where is he? James Hawkins? Where?"

Now Jim stared at her in total bewilderment, even though there was a gun at his head he still tried to process what she was saying. She knew Leland. And she was looking for him?

"Me?" he asked, without thinking, and then mentally kicking himself.

The woman rolled her eyes.

"Not you. Hawkins. Jim. James Pleiades Hawkins. Where is he?"

She knew him. She knew who he was, Jim thought in horror. So, why did she ask where he was?

"I'm right here…" he said puzzled.

The woman closed her eyes for a moment.

"Slow, aren't you?" she managed.

Maybe, Jim thought. Maybe mad. He didn't know what madness felt like. But he wouldn't be surprised if he was mad. But she seemed calmer now, sarcastic even. Now that he was slightly, very slightly, less afraid, he simply had to know.

"I'm Jim. James Hawkins."

She stared at him.

"Now, what did you call me?" he asked, praying he had somehow misheard-impossible, but.

"An idiot," Almeda answered, deadpan. "And I grow tired of your idiocy. I know the boy is here. He's your age. He is a student in this academy. Tell me where to find him and I'll spare your life."

"But…" he started. "I am Jim Hawkins."

She looked at him. He didn't look stupid. He was lying, she thought. That was it. Heroic but stupid.

"Listen," she said, almost conversationally. "I know you aren't him. You can't be. Your lying is very nice and heroic. But it won't work."

"What?" Most definitely mad, he decided, "Why can't I be?"

"Because you are obviously Leland's son," she said. "Uncanny resemblance," she remarked, sounding as casual as she could. Leland had a son? That thought went through her head and wouldn't leave. How was it she didn't know that.

"Leland. Leland Hawkins?" the boy said, sounding slightly frequently.

"I suppose," she said, eyes half-lidded. She shrugged. "I didn't know his last name."

That thought nettled her. Why hadn't she known his last name?

Her eyes opened and she sprung back as she realized her charge was lunging at her.

"It's impossible!" the boy cried. "How do you know him? Where is he?"

Almeda got a hand on Jim's uniform and gripped, hard.

"You know, I'd love to reminisce about old acquaintances, but I simply don't have the time, she said, fingering her lazer-pistol. Now, if you'll kindly point me in the direction of the lad I was coming to meet, you can go your merry way."

Jim's mind was working furiously. Infuriating to be here, closer to knowledge of his father than he'd been in nine years, and he couldn't get any closer. And he was going to die, he thought.

Yeah. That too.

Wait. The off-hour was coming to an end. Help could be within calling distance within fifteen minutes. Maybe he could stall the madwoman.

As Almeda gripped the boy's collar, she could practically see the wheels turning. She knew her time was running out. Better to end things before he thought too far. She cocked her pistol.

You can't do that, said a strange voice in her head she didn't know was there.

Yes I can, she thought back.

Leland's own kin! The voice chastened.

Leland Shmeland.

But it's a debt! The voice wailed.

She rolled her eyes.

"I don't have time for this, boy. I will kill you. Unless you name me the name. Or if it isn't his name" (curse her lying source, that money-mad Mantavor!) "then name me the right one. Thirty seconds."

Thirty seconds? Jim almost laughed. What did one do when you told him he had only thirty seconds to live? Did he pray? Did he scheme? Did he contrive some fabulous lie to get out? But…his lying wasn't really up to par. Poker games with Devon were something akin to hell.

He tried the diplomatic approach.

"Are you stupid? Can't you see I am who I say I am? I'm Jim Hawkins—I don't know what you want!"

Almeda shoved the gun hard against his throat so that he had to gasp to breath.

"No you aren't."

"Why not?" he asked.

"Because you are Leland Hawkins's son."

"Yes. But who do you want, if not me?"

Thirteen minutes left. Unlucky.

The woman's laconic expression had turned mad again. She pushed him farther and farther backwards.

"I want the boy who was called Hawkins! The boy from Montressor, the boy who was on the ill-fated expedition with Captain Smollet, the boy who saved a handful of the crew, the boy who joined the Interstellar Academy, the boy who is here. The boy who I'm going. To. Kill!"

She shoved him up against the wall.

Jim stared at her. She knew everything about him. So why…

Ten mintues.

"But…I am him."

Fury overcame Almeda's usually-sharp senses. The boy had a death-wish? Fine! She could find her real victim without his help.

Eight minutes.

She was running out of time.

She flicked her dagger out of her sleeve and lunged. No surprise would stop her now.

"Die, Hawkins!" she cried.

That's when a surprise stopped her.

Their count was off.

No, not off. They had been counting down to the Academy coming back to life.

What they hadn't counted on was the ship in the harbour.

That wasn't supposed to be there.

The one that blew in the wall of their room.

As the crash sounded, Jim, by pure reflex, shoved his captor against the wall and jumped as far as he could.

When he picked himself up, the wall of their room had crumbled in and shards of the walls and roof were everywhere. He blinked dust out his eyes. The wall that he'd pushed his captor against had fallen in.

On top of her.

He swallowed, hoping he wouldn't be sick.

She was a killer. And crazy. But what if she wasn't…dead yet? Jim shuddered. He still didn't like death.

"Hello?" it came out as a question.

The pile of bricks, trembled a bit.

Almeda realized she couldn't move. And this stupid wall was crushing her. She, Almeda Ax, who'd taken assasins, and burning fleets, and kings was not going to be outdone by a freaking wall.

She heard a tentative, muffled, "Hello?"

Her list of deaths to accomplish was now, officially, up to two.

Jim's stomach turned as he wondered if he should try to get the rubble off of her.

She made the decision for him.

"I'm going to kill you!" screamed a voice from under the ruined wall.

That settled it.

He'd get some sort of authorities. They could get her out. In the meantime, what had blown a hole in his school?

Jim turned out of the room and ran.

XxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxX

Author's Note: I know it's been months since I updated. You probably didn't expect another chapter. I cannot explain all of my excuses (which include classes, three jobs, nanowrimo, and many other things). But I hate abandoned stories. So, I intend to finish this. The posts might get few and far-between. But I never intend to really abandon it. Help me make that goal come true! Save the abandoned stories! ^_- Anyway, if any of you remember this one, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks much!

~TheInkgirl

Treasure Planet ©Disney

Almeda © TheInkgirl