Here is the second part of last week's story, suggested by Cathy. Just a refresher of the parameters:
Location(s): beach, Boston Public Library, Tokyo, Vancouver (has to be multiple with a teleporter!) :)
TRANSPORTED (PART II)
“Not killer. Assassin.”
Abigail’s eyes were as hard as agates. “There’s no difference.”
“There’s a good deal of difference,” said Tanvik.
“Either way, it’s taking a life,” said Abigail, “and I cannot do that. I can’t!”
There was sympathy in Tanvik’s face. “Okay,” he said. “Okay. We can discuss it when the time comes, but we need to get them fast.”
“How?” Abigail asked. The word hung in the frigid air on a visible puff of breath. Tanvik pointed silently to the transporter in her hands. “What? This? I don’t know how it works.”
“You’ll figure it out,” he told her. “Isn’t that what you said?”
“I don’t think-”
“Then don’t think,” he said. She stared back at him. “Don’t think,” he repeated. “That’s your problem.”
“I don’t mean you have a problem,” Tanvik quickly backtracked. “I just mean that you can’t think your way through this. You’ve grown up thinking that you’re a librarian, and maybe you are here.” He pointed to her head, then moved his hand down to her chest. “But you’re a tinker here.”
Abigail took a step backward. Tanvik smiled slightly and lowered his arm. “You want me to try to figure out how to make this transporter work without thinking?”
“You did it before.”
“I did not!”
“How did you know about turning the gasket?”
Tanvik indicated the piece she had moved before. “When we were in Asia, you said that a gasket was out of place. You fixed it and here we are. You can’t help but work with it. You’re doing it right now.”
Abigail looked down at the transporter in her hands to find that he was right. Her fingers were twisting cogs and turning knobs even without her realizing it. However, as soon as she became aware of it, she stopped. She didn’t know what she was discovering, but she knew for sure that something was being translated from her fingers to her brain and vice-versa. She couldn’t access the information, but it was there.
“Where am I supposed to make this go?” she asked.
“To your parents.”
“And where is that?”
Tanvik hesitated. “They move around a lot,” he admitted.
Abigail’s mood soured further. “They move?” she asked. “We’re supposed to go and save them from this enemy and you don’t even know where they are?”
“You’ll use the transporter,” Tanvik said reasonably.
“Doesn’t the transporter have to know where we’re going?” Abigail asked.
Tanvik shrugged. “You tell me. You’re the tinker. Maybe you can direct it to a person instead of a place.”
“That’s true, I could.” The words were out of her mouth before she realized it and her eyes went wide. She recovered quickly, however. “But I’m not doing anything of the sort until you tell me what we’re up against. Who is this enemy? Why does he hate my parents?”
Tanvik found a tree and leaned up against it. He pulled a cigarette from his pocket, a match from another, and, with a practiced flick of his wrist, struck the match against the bottom of his shoe. He cupped the match, shielding it against the wind, and puffed the cigarette into life. The smoke mingled with his breath and danced off into the bright blue sky. He watched her for a good five minutes before responding.
“I will tell you this only once and then we will never speak of it again.” He fixed her with a glare and she nodded. Tanvik took a breath. “Gabriel was your father’s youngest brother. Your uncle, I suppose. From the way your father tells it, he was brilliant. School came easily to him, but he had no tinkering abilities like the rest of his family. His father was a proud tinker and the fact that Gabriel had no talent in that area was a great source of disappointment to him, compounded by the fact that Gabriel made the decision to become a doctor. No matter how much the boy tried to explain, his father refused to accept it. Gabriel even pointed out that tinkering and doctoring were the same thing, only with different materials. The arguments between them became more and more heated, neither side willing to budge. Your grandmother was the only one of the family who supported Gabriel, begging them to stop.”
“What about my father?” Abigail asked.
“Your father, his brother, and his sister all were stoically on the side of your grandfather. They believed tinkering was the true calling of your family. It continued for the better part of three years, until one day, your father says, Gabriel didn’t come home. He had vanished and he didn’t come home for years. When he did, he had two things with him: a license to practice medicine and your mother.”
Tanvik raised a finger to his lips. “Gabriel brought your mother home to the family. They had been dating for months and your uncle was very proud of her. She was a tinker and Gabriel felt that, by bringing her home, he would be able to demonstrate his dedication to the family tradition, despite the lack of ability he himself possessed.” Tanvik took a last drag of his cigarette and then stamped it out on the cold, hard ground. “Your grandfather refused to acknowledge him directly and asked your father’s older brother, Henry, to send him away. Gabriel refused to go. They almost came to blows over it, but your mother was the one who stopped it. She was found by Gabriel with your father in…a delicate situation.”
“What did Gabriel do?” Abigail whispered.
“Gabriel was heartbroken. Your father tried to apologize, to explain that it was just one of those things. Your uncle wouldn’t hear of it. He never raised his voice. Never raged. Never screamed. He smoldered in furious silence and he left. The family never saw him again. Within a month, your parents had married. Your grandfather was thrilled, of course, and prayed that their children would be master tinkers. And so you were born and showed the family ability. Your grandfather was never so happy. Then, your grandmother passed. Natural causes. Your father told me that Gabriel never even came back for the funeral. Shortly afterward, there were accidents. Henry was killed in an explosion. Your only aunt was found with a head injury that turned her simple and would necessitate her being taken care of for the rest of her life. Your grandfather died of a broken heart. Your parents fled. They knew they were next. They knew that Gabriel would stop at nothing to hunt them down and make them pay.” Tanvik’s jaw clenched. “Your parents would do anything to protect you, even if it meant they couldn’t raise you themselves. So they bought three tickets for a boat trip and made it known that you were all leaving town, knowing full well that Gabriel would take advantage of this.”
Abigail nodded, surprised. “I remember. I went on the boat with them to say goodbye and to see what a boat looked like up close. I was only there for a short time before the captain came down to take me to shore. I cried. My parents cried. My father held me tight and my mother kissed my cheek. They said I was to be good while they were gone and that, no matter what happened, they would always be my parents. Then the captain took me off the boat.”
“Where your adoptive parents were waiting, I assume?”
“Yes. They were close friends of my parents and they have been wonderful parents in their own right. When my parents were killed in the accident, they adopted me without a second thought. I suppose that was all prearranged now.”
“Your parents wanted to make sure that you were taken care of.” Tanvik’s eyes were bright.
Abigail found that her own eyes were wet. “I was! But, oh, if they didn’t die in the accident…”
“Gabriel certainly thought they did for awhile. Everyone thought that for awhile. Your parents tried to lay low, but circumstances were beyond their control.”
“The important thing is that they are back on Gabriel’s radar and he is not happy to know that they are alive. He is moving to rectify the mistake he made over a decade ago.”
“And I’m supposed to stop him?”
The idea was mad, but Tanvik’s answer was an unmistakable, “Yes.” Abigail started to protest, but Tanvik cut her off. “If you don’t kill him, he will kill you.”
Her blood ran cold. “Why would he kill me?”
“You are the last of your line with the tinker ability. Nothing would make him happier than to see that line wiped out.”
“Why can’t you do it?”
There was a beeping sound. Abigail looked all around her, her heart pounding, until she realized that it was coming from the transporter in her hands. “It’s never done that before,” said Tanvik. “What did you do?”
“I…I’m not sure,” Abigail admitted.
“Well, you better figure it out quickly before-”
There was a pop.
“-something bad happens,” Tanvik finished, looking around.
They were back in a library, but it wasn’t her library. She knew it in her gut before she even took it in. The stacks stretched away from them in neat rows and the circulation desk was bathed in early morning light trickling through the windows. Wherever they were, Abigail guessed it couldn’t have been later than six in the morning. The library was closed and silent as a mausoleum.
“Well, this is a pleasant surprise!” Abigail whirled to see a man striding toward her, his arms outstretched and she started in shock.
“Father?” The word escaped her lips even as she realized this man couldn’t possibly be her father. He looked like her father as she remembered him, but her father would be at least a decade older now.
“Your father? Oh, my dear, no! I’m your Uncle Gabriel!” He made this announcement while drawing her into his embrace and, too stunned to move, Abigail let herself be hugged by the strange relative. When he released her, she was dismayed to find that she no longer possessed the transporter. “You wouldn’t want to leave already,” Gabriel told her, noticing the expression. He placed the transporter on a shelf out of her reach. “This family reunion has been a long time coming. Oh, and speaking of reunions…” He stepped back and Abigail got a look at her parents for the first time since she was a child.
They were old. So much older than she had ever imagined they could be. Her father’s face was a haggard version of the man who just released her. His eyes were listless and drawn down, as though pressed upon by the weight of his thick eyebrows. Her mother had the same green eyes as Abigail’s own, and though they were more alert than her husband’s, they flicked from side to side, never daring to stay focused on one subject for too long. She was a larger woman, with flowing curves that bespoke of happier times, but now folded over on themselves as she tried to make herself as small as possible. Her focus lit upon her daughter standing there and her mouth opened slightly in sadness, gesturing helplessly, and Abigail saw that her parents were bound hand and foot.
“She looks good, doesn’t she, Maureen?” Gabriel asked. “Just as beautiful as you were when I met you.”
Abigail’s mother barely moved.
“Have you nothing to say to your daughter? No explanation of why you abandoned her?” Gabriel turned back to Abigail. “That’s what they do, you know. They turn their backs on family when it serves their purpose. Never dare to be an individual in this family.”
“We have apologized for that,” Abigail’s father croaked out. His voice sounded as though it hadn’t been used in years.
“Yes, you’ve told many times over the past few days how sorry you are,” Gabriel agreed, “but it’s too little too late, isn’t it? I spent my youth searching for my way and when I found it, you all treated it as some betrayal. But you were the ones who betrayed me, Andrew. You all wrote me off and carried on with your lives as though I didn’t exist. I went out and made a life for myself. And when I dared to come back to share it with you, to share the person who understood me better than anyone ever had, you stole her away.”
“No one stole me,” Abigail’s mother said.
“No, you went willingly, didn’t you?” Gabriel whirled on her and grabbed her chin in his hand, forcing her to stare him in the face. She tried to hold it, but within moments, she had to look away.
“Leave her alone!” Abigail, spurned to action, raced across the floor, but found herself restrained. “Tanvik!” she shouted, “let me go!”
“Oh, she can’t do that,” Gabriel said, turning around.
Abigail could feel Tanvik’s beard against her face. “She?” she asked, confused.
“Yes, of course. Meet your aunt Verna. She’s had a few upgrades since you last saw her. I did the best I could, but the blow to the head was pretty thorough and even my skills as a doctor weren’t enough to save her without some side effects.”
“The unnatural hair growth. The incredible strength. The loss of tinkering knowledge.” He grinned. “She is now an outcast, just like me. After all, if you can’t tinker, you’re nothing to this family.”
“What about her eye?”
“Well, I couldn’t just leave her with one eye, could I? Oh, and she’s completely loyal to me.” He clucked his tongue. “I’m afraid that the part of the brain that controls decision-making and inhibitions were severely affected by her terrible accident. Those recovery months were essential and I could hardly trust anyone else to be around her. Besides, it gave us time together and we developed a very strong family bond.”
“You brainwashed her,” Abigail accused. “She was left with only you for company after you saved her? You forced those emotions.”
“I did nothing. Verna simply realized her priorities.”
“But she brought me here to kill you!” Abigail protested.
“She brought you here to die,” Gabriel corrected calmly.
“Why me?” Abigail screamed, raging against Verna, who held her tight. “I never did anything to you! I didn’t even know you existed!”
“Exactly!” Gabriel sang out, triumphant. “I was dead to the family. Wiped off the family tree. You think I’d just take that lightly?” He was directing his words toward his brother now. “That I’d just accept it? You stealing my love? Henry begging me to leave? Father not even letting me attend Mother’s funeral?”
“He didn’t let you?” Abigail asked.
“Sent me a letter forbidding me to attend, saying that I was an embarrassment and that if I showed my face, there would be repercussions.” He grinned a manic grin. “There were repercussions. Just not for me.”
“That was years ago,” Abigail’s father said.
“And you should have died years ago!” Gabriel hollered.
“Abby has nothing to do with this!” Abigail’s mother found her voice. “Let her go! Please!”
“Please.” Gabriel’s voice softened as he looked at her. “You ripped my heart out and now you’re asking me ‘please.’ You may remember that I said the same thing to you when I found you with him. ‘Please.’ Even after all you had done with him, knowing my family history, knowing how I felt about them, I still gave you a chance.”
“I was in love!” her mother protested. “I can’t control my heart.”
“As I couldn’t control mine,” Gabriel said. “You took my heart and ripped it to shreds. You chose to destroy my love.” He looked over at Abigail and a knife glinted in his hands. “Now, I choose to destroy yours.”
“NO!” Her parents strained against their bonds.
Abigail’s mind clicked into gear. Verna’s hands gripped Abigail’s upper arms with strong fingers, almost painfully cutting into her flesh and presenting her chest forward as though for sacrifice. Gabriel was coming too quickly for her to dodge and any small movement of her body was met with firm resistance. A small, but fleeting thought crossed her mind and, without examining it too deeply, she acted, throwing her head backwards. Dull pain shot through her head as her carefully-made bun made contact with Verna’s head. The shriek Abigail heard told her that the pen she had stuck in her bun had found its way into Verna’s good eye. Verna released the librarian and fell back.
Abigail, freed from her captivity, leapt to the side. The knife intended for her swept through empty air and Gabriel howled in frustration. He turned to slice at her again, but she was already on the move, racing for the transporter. Gabriel was fast on her heels. Abigail could feel the slashes of the knife at her back and she pushed herself harder. Heart straining against her chest, she snatched the transporter and whirled it around. It made a satisfying thwack as it crunched against Gabriel’s skull and a spray of blood dusted the nearby bookshelves. He reeled, but recovered quickly and began to laugh as he watched Abigail fiddling with the transporter.
“What the hell are you going to do with that?” he sneered. “No matter where you go in the world, I will find you. When I do, you’ll be sorry you ever lived.”
“Uncle, I am sorry for your past, but that has nothing to do with me,” Abigail responded. “You are right about one thing, though. I can’t hide from you. What you failed to realize is: I won’t have to.”
“You’d have to kill me.” Gabriel laughed again. “You don’t have the guts, librarian.”
Abigail clicked her last piece into place and the transporter hummed to life. “I’m a tinker. Goodbye, Uncle.” Gabriel’s eyes widened. There was a pop and the knife clattered to the floor. Abigail walked over and carefully picked it up, then crossed to her parents and used the knife to saw through their bonds.
Her mother stood, rubbing her wrists and staring at the place where Gabriel and Verna had been standing. “Where did you send them?” she asked in a tremulous voice.
“They won’t be back,” Abigail answered, a chill in her tone.
“My daughter,” said her father. “I’m so proud of you.” He held out his arms, but Abigail stepped away.
“Mistakes were made. On both sides. You left me to think you were dead.”
“It was a necess-”
“I don’t care,” Abigail interrupted her father. “It’s possible that, someday, I will be able to speak to you again, but you chose to abandon me and right now, I stick by your own decision. I will not be a part of this family. Not until you change; and I’m not sure you’re even capable of it.”
“We can…” her mother began.
“We will find out,” said Abigail, “but until then…” She raised the transporter aloft. There was a pop.