Griffin pushed at the cables, trying to pull himself free. He looked up as he heard someone land behind him.
'Is that...?' a girl's voice asked. Griffin stayed deathly still. It had been an entire day since Hero David had left him there, and he was dehydrated, and starving. Not to mention unable to move freely. His muscles were cramped, and he just wanted to find a nice, comfortable bed and sleep on it.
Griffin gritted his teeth as he recognised the voice. Well, the guy thought of himself as the hero, didn't he? So that meant he had to recue "allies" out of dangerous situations, didn't he?
His voice was hoarse, but he heard a sigh of relief as Hero David stepped into view, just below him. The bastard was smiling.
David and Griffin eyed each other warily for a moment. David's little girlfriend was with him, too.
'I'm gonna get you out of there, okay?' David disappeared, and Griffin felt the section of tower sway dangerously as Hero David's weight landed on it. Griffin braced himself against the frame.
'Bad fucking conscience, eh?' Griffin decided to stop talking; it hurt his throat way too much. It was like gargling pineapples, or lychees. Or some other type of spiky fruit.
Griffin felt a hand close around his arm, and suddenly he was on the ground, on all fours. He realised his elbows were shaking, and he allowed them to collapse in, let himself fall in the dirt.
'I can't believe you left him there for a whole day!' the girl was saying, 'You guys were supposed to be a team, why did you even put him there in the first place?'
'He was going to kill you,' David replied. Griffin felt a hand on his back, between his shoulder blades, and the hand began moving gently up and down. Amazing, how such a simple motion could feel so soothing.
'What if I hadn't asked about him?' the girl asked, 'Would you have forgotten him? Left him to rot there? What a great guy you are; you leave me in an airport in Rome, and you leave your friend in a transmission tower in the middle of a warzone!'
'I was trying to save you!'
Griffin sensed the girl bend over him. Her hair brushed against the back of his neck, 'It's okay. You're safe with us.'
Her voice was gentle, and Griffin realised it was her hand on his back, calming him. He felt a slight pang of jealousy, aimed at David. The bastard could protect this girl, the way he'd never been able to protect anyone he'd been close to. David was an idiot, but he seemed pretty good at looking after what was his.
Griffin blinked, and screwed his eyes up. Hero David had everything that he, Griffin, had lost. It didn't seem fair, that the idiot should have everything, while he went without.
Griffin sat up, slowly, and felt the girl trying to steady him. David was standing over him, looking...concerned?
David had everything, and on top of that, he pitied Griffin. That made Griffin angrier.
'I'll fucking kill you!' Griffin cried, leaping up and tackling David. Millie screamed as the pair tumbled to the ground, and stepped back, out of the way. She was genuinely scared of Griffin, even when he seemed helpless.
Griffin landed a good right hook on David's jaw, but David got in a nice jab with his right hand, catching Griffin in the stomach. Griffin tumbled backwards, but lunged forward again, knocking David off his feet.
And then they were gone.
Milie saw them sort of collapse in on themselves, then there was a heap of that misty stuff that hung around after the jumps. A jump scar, David called it.
So they'd jumped. Great.
And she, Millie, was left here on her own. In Chechnya.
Millie whirled around, stopping as she spotted a small girl. The girl tilted her head.
'You're travelling with that other guy, aren't you?' she asked. Millie picked up the broad Australian accent easily. She nodded.
'Who are you?'
The girl approached her, and smiled. 'The boys won't come back here. Come on, I'll take you where they're gonna end up. I'm Rían.'
Rían held out her hand, reaching towards Millie. She smiled. 'It doesn't hurt, but it is a bit rougher than what you'd be used to.'
'Where are we going?' Millie asked hesitantly. Rían smiled.
Millie let her hand slip into Rían's, and the girl closed her eyes. Millie did too, afraid of what might happen.
The ground beneath her was suddenly rolling, as if she were on some sort of...
Millie opened her eyes, and gasped as she stared around the deck. They were in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by water, on a tiny, 1940's-era tramp steamer.
'Like it?' Rían grinned, stepping light-footedly towards a set of stairs that led up to what looked like a control room. Millie followed, not quite a sure-footed as the other girl.
'Where are we?'
The girl called Rían looked at a thick black band on her wrist, reading it. 'Well, we're in the middle of the Pacific, in a space that doesn't come under any official national laws. You could commit the most heinous crimes here, and the only people that could charge you would be the UN. The date is October eighth, 1946.'
Millie stopped. '1946?'
Rían turned to her. 'Is that a problem?'
'How'd we get here?'
'Same way your boyfriend goes from New York to Paris in a blink,' Rían stated simply, starting up the stairs. Millie followed hesitantly.
'So... you can jump through time?'
'I can't get to the future, if that's what you mean,' Rían stated, 'Only the past. Any time or date that is recorded.' She stopped at the top, and turned back to Millie, 'Oh, and if I pop up out of nowhere, and you don't understand half of what I say, that's probably another me.'
'Another you,' Millie repeated faintly, struggling up the stairs.
'I jump back, cross my own timeline. I've already met you, but you haven't met me yet. Well, not the real me.' Rían paused as Millie reached the top of the stairs, 'It gets a bit confusing. But you'll catch on, I think. You don't look like an idiot.'
Millie frowned at the girl as she stepped nimbly into what seemed to be a control room. Millie followed unsteadily. 'How old are you?'
'Twenty,' Rían stated, entering another smaller room, 'I was nineteen first time I met you. You're what, twenty-three?'
'Yeah,' Millie nodded slowly.
'What month did I take you out of?'
'Then when a younger-looking me with purple hair shows up in January, don't be surprised. That's what I looked like when I was nineteen.'
Millie stopped in the doorway. 'We survive until January?'
'At least. Hopefully. I liked our first meeting. It was sort of fun. We had a snowball fight,' Rían looked up from the diary she was flipping through, stared at the blank wall ahead of her, smiling, 'I hit David more times than he hit me, but you got me more than I got you. Isn't that funny?' she turned to Millie, an almost wistful look in her eye, 'The normal girl got me, even though I was jumping everywhere. It was like you knew what was going to happen.'
Millie saw the sad, distant look, but Rían sniffed, and checked the black band on her wrist. Millie noticed that it had three groups of figures on it. At the top, it read 18:13, and the bottom group was in two lines: 8 Oct 1946.
But the middle line of digits surprised Millie, made her curious.
The last two digits ticked down slowly, like the seconds on a clock, except that they counted down, not up.
Paper flew everywhere suddenly, even though there was no wind. Rían grabbed at the diary quickly, and backed up at the same time as Millie.
On the other side of the tiny room stood Rían. Not the Rían that had just been talking, a different Rían. This girl had a small cut on her forehead, and there was blood on her clothes.
'What the hell are you doing, girl?' the second Rían cried, 'They're getting screwed over, seriously bad! Get down there!'
Rían pushed herself off the wall, but kept a safe distance from the second girl. 'Where?'
'Rome. Colosseum, the idiots. Went somewhere that's being watched, and he knew!' the second girl ran her hands through her hair, stressed, 'The idiot knew it was being watched, and he still went there!'
'R2,' Rían stepped up to the other girl, but kept about a metre between them, 'It's bad, isn't it?'
The other girl, R2, nodded, and Millie saw the beginnings of tears. Rían nodded. 'Get back and look after them.'
'I think he's dying,' R2 sobbed suddenly. Millie suddenly realised what they were talking about.
'It's the boys?' she asked, and R2 nodded, 'Is David hurt? Is he okay?'
R2 hesitated, and Millie covered the distance between them in two steps, grabbing the other girl.
Rían cried out, but Millie ignored her as she grabbed R2's shoulder.
And suddenly she saw R2's world, her time.
It was like a ghost shadow, not quite real. It looked like someone had paused a fade between two images, and both worlds were sort of half-faded into the other. Even Rían and R2 looked semi-transparent.
Millie, her hand still on R2's shoulder, stared around what appeared to be a dining room. There was blood on the floor, and the two men, David and Griffin, both lay on the ground, both bleeding. But David was conscious.
And she, Millie, was kneeling beside David, holding something to his forehead. The other Millie looked up, and saw her, Millie, the one with her hand still on R2's shoulder. But the other Millie, and David, and even Griffin, were also semi-transparent, like ghosts. Millie stared dumbly at herself.
'What the hell are you doing?'
Rían had grabbed Millie's other arm, and pulled her away from R2. Suddenly, the world seemed to sway, and Millie felt her knees give way.
'You could've told me she'd do that!' Rían shouted.
'I was busy with other things,' R2 replied, just as loud. 'Just get to the boys. About three minutes after they jumped, okay?'
Rían sighed, 'Get back here and help her when you're done with them. Gotta remember, this is her first time jump.'
'Yeah,' R2 nodded, and disappeared.
Rían grabbed Millie's hand tightly, and jumped. They were in the dining area, and Rían left Millie laying on the floor. She was about to stand up, but Millie grabbed her wrist.
Rían sighed. 'You grabbed R2, me from the future. What you saw is what will happen in about ten minutes from now. If you let me go so I can go and help them.'
'Will David be okay?'
Rían looked at the girl, almost sadly, 'I don't know. I didn't just see the future. But I'm going back to the boys now, okay? I don't know how long I'll be, but I'll try and bring David first, unless Griffin's worse off.'
Millie nodded, as Rían disappeared, leaving a thin jump scar behind.
R2, Rían realised sadly, had been right. The boys were getting their asses kicked.
Griffin was doing well, fending off three, but David was having a bit of trouble. He was already trussed up, and one of the Paladins was holding his knife, which already had red on the blade.
Rían jumped, covering the distance between herself and the knife-bearer, grabbing his knife wrist and twisting it as she threw a punch. She then dived forward as a tether shot towards her, fired by the other man. Rían jumped again, and grabbed the man around the waist, jumping back a year and throwing the man to the ground.
'Enjoy, asshole,' she grinned as she returned.
The second she landed, Rían felt someone grab her in a crushing bear hug from behind, and lift her off the ground. Rían flicked her head backwards, hitting the man's nose, and he let her go. Rían landed on her feet, and wheeled around, delivering a strong spinning kick to the man's middle, hooking her foot around so that she hit his kidneys.
The man doubled over, and Rían found herself back to back with Griffin.
'I'll be back,' she cried, and Griffin nodded. Rían jumped, grabbed David, and jumped again.
Millie screamed as Rían fell onto the floor of the dining room, but she was by David's side quickly.
Rían stopped, took a few breaths. She had all the time in the world, really, but she always acted as if she didn't.
'Look after him,' Rían stated, 'First aid kit, with bandages and that, is under the counter, over there,' she pointed to the long counter that separated the kitchen from the dining area, 'Twenty-first century antiseptics and stuff. Enjoy, but don't use it all up.'
Rían jumped back to the fight.
She timed it to being barely five seconds after she'd first left, but the fight had already turned.
Rían felt a cable wrap around her just after she landed, and she fell to her knees, convulsing violently as the electricity coursed through her entire body. She jumped again, this time underwater somewhere, and the circuits shorted out. Rían, holding her breath, managed to pull the circuits off her skin, and returned, working from memory. This was going to have to be fast.
The two Paladins had Griffin wrapped in several tethers, and more Paladins had arrived. There was a tether around Griffin's throat, two around his torso, and three all wrapped around his arms and legs. As Rían arrived, someone shot a cable at him, and Griffin fell to his knees, screaming as he flickered.
Rían jumped, grabbed Griffin's collar, and jumped again. Before they disappeared, though, she thought she saw one of the larger Paladins, just arriving, raise a gun and fire at them.
The tethers and cable shorted out in the water, and Rían tore them off Griffin's skin, before jumping back to the boat.
Millie looked up as Rían collapsed under Griffin's weight.
'Give us a hand,' Rían stated, trying to lay Griffin down gently. Millie stood up, as Griffin slipped from Rían's grasp, and landed heavily on the floor. Rían was on her knees beside him almost instantly.
'Griffin, speak to me, mate. Don't do this, okay? Stay with it,' Rían grabbed Griffin's shoulders almost desperately, before standing up and moving away. She squeezed her eyes shut, then opened them and checked her black watchband.
'Back in a sec,' she told Millie.
Rían burst into the cabin upstairs, about ten minutes back in time, crossing her own timeline. 'What the hell are you doing, girl?' she cried, spotting herself leaning back against the wall. Her other self pushed off the wall, but kept a safe distance. 'They're getting screwed over, seriously bad! Get down there!'
'Where?' the old Rían asked.
Rían felt herself scoffing. 'Rome. The Colosseum, the idiots. Went to somewhere that's being watched, and he knew!' Rían ran a hand through her hair, stressed. She had to tell herself, else it wouldn't have happened. But she needed to get back and care for Griffin. 'The idiot knew it was being watched, and he still went there!'
The other Rían, the old one, stepped forward, 'R2, it's bad, isn't it?'
Rían nodded, and felt tears spring to her eyes. She knew what her other self would say.
'Get back there and look after them.'
'I think he's dying,' Rían blurted out, and it came out as a sob.
'Its the boys?' Millie asked, and Rían knew she was getting anxious. She nodded, 'Is David hurt? Is he okay?'
What could she say? Rían hesitated, and Millie stepped forward, grabbing her shoulder.
In the dining area, Millie looked up and saw Rían appear, almost like a ghost image, with herself standing in front of her, a hand on the girl's shoulder.
White fire exploded under Millie's hand, spreading across Rían's whole body. It wasn't as bad as the tethers, though, much more mild.
'What the hell are you doing?'
The other Rían lunged forward and grabbed Millie's other arm, pulling her away. In the dining area, the ghost image disappeared.
'You could've told me she'd do that!' The other Rían shouted. Rían felt angry.
'I was a bit busy with other things,' she shouted back, then sighed, frustrated, 'Just get to the boys. About three minutes after they jumped, okay?
'Get back here and help her when you're done with them. Gotta remember, this is her first time jump,' The other Rían sighed.
Rían felt her head nodding, 'Yeah,' she echoed.
She focused on the dining area of the boat, and jumped back to the way she'd left it.