Charlotte ran with her backpack slung across her shoulder to the ship’s ramp off but was stopped by three people waiting for her. Elliot, Simone, and Andy were talking in soft voices before noticing Charlotte’s arrival and turned to her.
“Good, you have not left yet,” Elliot replied, and Simone smiled.
“We have something we need to discuss with you about what you said about Zeke’s meeting. It’ll just be a couple of minutes.” Andy gestured with his arm to walk with them to a quieter location on the ship, but before they could go, Aden and Damien appeared with their baggage. They stopped for a brief second to give the four a strange look.
“Let’s go, damsel,” Aden replied, and Charlotte gave him a scowl.
“I have a name, you know!”
“Right, ‘Char . . . well, you know.’”
“How long are you going to hold that over my head?” she yelled back at him, which was received with a smirk.
Damien chuckled, seeing that the two were acting like they normally would. He was slightly concerned that the girl would be slightly nervous or awkwardly bashful around them after her breakdown earlier that morning. At least, everything appeared normal on the outside.
“You guys go on ahead,” Andrew Nielsen replied with a smile. He was adjusting his ruffled collar while Elliot looked down at the fourth new guest of their group. The Great Dane cowered under his gaze before running over to Charlotte’s side and hiding behind her leg.
“Take the Great Dane with you,” Elliot icily replied, and Cesium violently shook its tail into Charlotte’s calves. Apparently, it did not like being around Aden since it had that bad experience with him.
“Can it stay with me? It seems to not want to leave just yet.” Elliot stared at Charlotte before sighing. Simone chuckled, and Nielsen waved the two boys off with a napkin.
“That is that then. Adieu, gentlemen. We’ll return your third member when we’re done.”
“See you there, Charlotte!” Damien waved then walked off the ship, and Aden followed suit silently. He didn’t even bother looking behind him as she continued staring at him.
When the two were gone, Charlotte was ushered to a quieter place on the deck, and Simone spoke quietly just enough for them to hear, “You know why you are being ordered off this ship and this continent, do you not?”
The girl nodded her head with a small smile. “Is it because of all the trouble that occurred a couple of days ago?”
Elliot nodded before looking off into the distance. “Zeke told you information that should have never been revealed to anyone. Even Nielsen did not know of what you told him when you came to us about everything Zeke said.”
Charlotte swallowed the lump in her throat, remembering the night when Aden and herself had left prematurely.
They arrived in the dead of night where only a few crew members were still on board and working on small work projects. For the most part, a majority of the crew had been celebrating at the town festival and masquerade party.
Aden merely walked off in silence, brooding with a dark expression on his face. He did not walk her up the dock to the ship but rather stood at the edge of the dock and told her to walk straight to the Phoenix.
“Are you not coming?”
“No. Get going,” he replied and did not budge from his spot until she had started her trek up the ramp. He was giving her a mysterious and dark expression the entire time that made it that much harder to ask him about the truth to Zeke’s words, which then reminded her of the two other people on the ship who could confirm Zeke’s words.
She all but ran to the captain’s room where the three were normally located at and burst in with shallow breaths. Andy was shocked by her entrance while Elliot and Simone stopped midway through their conversation.
“Is it true?” she blurted out to the two sitting adjacent from each other, not bothering to look at Nielsen. “Is it true the government experimented on you as children using the stones?”
Nielsen gave her a startled and confused expression. “Charlotte, what on earth are you talking about?” the teacher asked.
Elliot and Simone gave her a pointed look, and she began to shake her head. “Deny it, for the love of the life we are living, deny that you had any prior connections to my mother, the government, and those blasted stones!”
The two turned to look at each other. The one that finally broke the trance was Simone who interlaced his fingers together on the table. “Did you tell anyone else of what you heard tonight, Charlotte?”
Vigorously, she shook her head, causing her tiara to fall off the top of her head with a loud clanging sound when it hit the floor. Nielsen gave the two boys a bewildered look before getting up from his seat and picking up the tiara that dropped. “What is she talking about?”
“Something that never was released to the public,” Elliot replied dully. “We are the first generation of children that was experimented with the true Relic stone when they were creating copy stones. As you might have already guessed, Andy, we have powers from the stones that they created.”
Nielsen was rubbing his chin while looking up at the sky. “I confirmed with Giselle everything that Zeke had discussed with you, even though Elliot and Simone said it was the truth. I needed my own time to research this. The answer to those earlier questions seems to be clearer with each new piece of information we gain.”
Elliot nodded. “The experimentations that were being carried were only known to the scientists who were all killed in the explosion Lessye created to get us out, Lessye, and your father who was our teacher as well as his older brother. No one else could have known that information.” The man then frowned. “Your uncle is dead, and there is no way for Lessye to have come here with Zeke as her enemy. I am now concerned as to who would know this information to pay Zeke to tell you this now.”
Simone agreed and continued on, “We can only continue taking things one step at a time, Charlotte, but at this moment, we need you to do is leave this port. With the way things are going, we cannot put you in danger while we are in the middle of reconstruction.”
Clapping his hands together, Nielsen smiled at the younger girl. “By the time you guys come back, we will prepare for the storm, and then be ready to make our way to our next destination when it is all clear.”
The girl nodded before twiddling her thumbs. She was going to head off but had one more question to ask. “The day I went missing, how did you all know I was with Zeke? Damien would not have known that so I was ju—ah . . .” she broke off her train of thought because she did not know what to say. Also, she found it hard that Aden happened to know everything that happened to her scene for scene.
“Aden reported to us that you had gone to Zeke’s estate.” Elliot then grabbed a couple of tickets still left over from his pocket.
“He procured enough tickets for us to sneak in,” Simone added, and Charlotte felt her eyes widen.
She was remembering the man in the alley, the only one by himself. She started to remember the man’s strange reaction when she was about to knee him. It was like a rock or something blunt had been thrown because there had been a thud sound just before she had kneed him. “He was watching me.”
Nielsen nodded. “Aden was asked to watch you since I would become main captain of the ship. We did not want to leave you without a bodyguard, especially with everything that had happened at the Cheric estate.” The gruesome details of how Charie had been cut through by Zaine still rang hollow in his mind.
Simone reached for her hand, gripping it and making Charlotte look at him quizzically. “What’s wrong?”
“No, just thinking. Do not worry about it.” He released her hand before turning to the rail. He saw Xavier working in the distance on the drifter. “Looks like Xavier will be joining you on your journey. I hope you’re ready.”
The girl nodded while lifting her backpack with her shoulder. “I’m all ready to begin—anything to keep my mind off the current things.” She chuckled before looking at the Great Dane robot clinging to her legs. “Ready, Cesium?” The robot howled sadly in response.
“Bon voyage, Charlotte! We will see you in three to four days.” Andy waved the girl off as she beckoned the robot to follow her off the Phoenix.
۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞