166 Days Until Listening And the Uncertain End
Evester looked over the map and then looked out through the lens. Back to the map. The lens. The map. The lens. The map — It was it. The mountain no longer looked like the images he remembered from online. The mountain was covered in holes, cave systems, built by the Aralax rather than naturally occurring. To hide from the sun. It was the right location, everything everyone had spoken on, but seeing it in person was far more fear inducing than images alone.
“What do you see?” Heia asked.
“That’s it.” Evester confirmed handing her the binoculars. They were in a car far enough away to make it away in a quick get away, but they had done their best to locate it since arriving at the safe house. It was also the middle of the day, which gave them an edge.
“We need to go back.” Zeydar breathed out looking to the sky. The sun was still high in the sky, but the slower they moved, the higher the chance the Aralax would be on their scent upon sun fall. Evester looked to Zeydar who was in a daze. He had taken a dose that day, but his magic was strong. Since the night where they’d slept together, Zeydar had been withheld and reserved. Evester wanted to bridge the gap, but found it difficult to articulate.
“Get pictures then come back.” Uly said over the headset, giving them the official order.
Doing as he was told, Evester took pictures of the mess around them. Cameras into camera bags, radio collapsed, blankets off the ground, he then put his supplies away and looked to the two with him. Zeydar had his eyes into the sky and Heia glanced around with a shiver.
“Is this really the best view?” Heia asked as she made note of how exposed they were.
“We are lucky its day. Any later and we’d be screwed.” Evester told her.
“Come back.” Uly ordered them again.
“Got it.” Zeydar motioned to the car and sauntered over. Packing everything inside, Evester made sure that the car was insulated. Heia got in second, to the front passenger seat. Once inside, Evester began to drive and the car filled with silence. There was a long hour of nothing but their own thoughts when Zeydar broke it. “Why would your father come out here?”
“To find information on our enemy.”And to get away, but he didn’t add the second part.
“Shouldn’t he have started the space program?” Heia asked him.
“Who knows. What if he did?” They’d only know when they got to the facility. Evester tried to think to himself. It was going to be a long and painful drive if they kept questioning him on things he did not know.
“When I was a kid…” Zeydar’s voice drifted from the back seat. “I used to wonder what it was like in the Lowerlands. Its less beautiful than I thought.”
“It wasn’t always like this.” Heia looked back to him. There was a tinge of aggression in her voice. “The Catastrophe destroyed a lot.”
“The Catastrophe destroyed everything.” Zeydar agreed.
“I always thought Towers would be a beautiful too. Turns out only CloudCities are.” Heia’s hostility was filling the car to the brim. All of it, completely warranted. Evester, however, was not certain that Zeydar was listening in the same way.
“With a false sense of security.” His response was scalding with an equal sense of hate. Zeydar looked off into the distance from what Evester could see in his rearview mirror.
“Do you want to talk about it?” Heia’s words were choked but genuine. They were a team and EverDanger had no secrets, or was supposed to have none. Zeydar had his fair share of them and more to spare. No one knew exactly what was on his mind, but Evester had informed them of what Zeydar had said — only after being berated for hours about them sleeping together.
“Not really.” Zeydar was unsurprised by her admission for knowing. “But I’ll tell you some anyway. There’s nothing better to do.”
Evester watched as Zeydar slid deeper into the seat, not caring for his seatbelt. He then began to speak of his Star memories, ones that had nothing to do with the fall of Arcadia. Of Tyler, his Superior supervisor and father. Of how he’d found out he was being drugged. Of memories from times before the fall. Of the day he’d found out what he was drugged on, thanks to Evester. All the while Zeydar was distant, thinking about things that had yet to happen in the story. Things that held their grip around him so fully.
“And I…” Zeydar’s voice dropped and Evester turned his eyes to the mirror for a moment. Zeydar’s eyes shot up to Evester and for a split second their eyes met. A million words were shared in that second before Zeydar looked away, cutting them both out. Evester knew then what Zeydar was doing. Knew then that Zeydar was dropping it because it was too much, too much to speak about at the moment. Heia knew it too, Evester knew there was no way she didn’t.
The rest of the ride was silent.