Chapter 98:

Ticking Time Bomb - Part 2


“Col, eh… I kinda wanna hear more ‘bout this ship, but I guess we’ve to deal with her…” Annabeth turned to her friend with a not-so-energetic tone. “We wake her up and pray then? Ain't sure what to do if the thing wore off...”

The trick used in Colette was, likely due to Minako’s explanation, very simple. Take her to the sea while almost unconscious, say the ‘safe word’ when she wouldn’t notice the disconnection of the illusion too much, and then pray. Wasn’t perfect, but it should trick her brain well enough.

Anna believed the whole thing worked like being in a dream even, which would explain why her friend couldn't notice the errors. And also explained what would happen if she noticed it was a dream. A risk that was high since this whole plan meant keeping someone thinking to be flying inside a ship.

Reacting to this mess was so troublesome that Anna even panicked and knocked Colette with the word used to wake up. It had a little safety system, so there was no reason to not use it.

“Won’t she panic or something? This whole thing was for a reason, wasn’t it?” Karim asked in turn, trying to get the situation away from the discussion from earlier in a good-enough way, even if Anna could notice it. “At least she seemed to think it was necessary…”

“And yer not wrong. She’ll be as bad as if you threw me on some huge tower with no walls.” The redhead explained in an ‘it doesn’t matter’ tone, even though it was, even to Anna’s eyes, a very troublesome situation. “It’s a problem but there ain’t nothing we can do ‘bout it. Unless any of ya can repeat whatever they did to her again, that is.”

“Ow! I know what to do!” The shrine maiden called in full of excitement. “I’ll make a call and have that priest sent here. Just give me the coordinates and I’ll pack him good and some ship should arrive soon enough.”

“Could you, well… Not d-disclose our location… Please?”

“Yeah, like whitey said. We kinda in a secret facility, y’know? Can’t go bringin’ outsiders ‘ere…”

“Worry not for I have the perfect way to make it safe!” Minako continued with her usual confidence that was sure to bring something either worthless or brilliant. “But I can’t explain how it’ll be done and neither why it’s so perfect.”

And this time, it was pretty much worthless.

“Nay. Yer vetoed now. Can we wake Col up and go back to the barrier that works on somethin’ floatin’ instead?”

“I-I can’t, well, can’t answer this one… Even if, if I was allowed to…”

“Hells. Then we solve the other problem instead.” Anna gave up as she lost all her real interest in the situation. “Can I slap her awake or do any of ya’ve an idea to use?”

The other girls looked between themselves, even if it was more like Karim and Minako exchanging glances while Alya stood there, but no answer came from it. And since it had to answer, Anna shrugged and moved closer to her old friend.

“Wakey, wakey, li’l princess!”

And with a weird chant, the red-haired inquisitor gave her best slap to the sleeping girl in the corner of the room... Which instantly caused Annabeth to start jumping in panic while shaking her hand as she felt her wrist wasn't where it should be anymore.

Col was a little harder than expected and putting that much strength on a slap wasn’t a good idea. At least, the brunette seemed to be waking up due to that.

“What? Where am I? What’s happening?” Col looked around in surprise, staring at the almost-crying gunslinger and then at the other girls around her. “Why is she jumping like that?”

“Calm down, Anna! I can fix you if you stop a little…” Minako was trying to make the inquisitor stop in place, even if she didn’t have much of a healing capability. Which made how she would fix Anna’s hand somewhat of a mystery, but that's that.

“I’m not sure…” The cop answered with a good deal of surprise in her voice, mostly because it was a surprising situation considering what Anna usually did. “How exactly you’re feeling pain from that, Annabeth? I’m quite sure you didn’t even feel most things during those fights…”

In a sudden move, the redhead then struck her own hand to the wall after focusing herself enough. Not that it would fix the problem, it was only to straighten the wrist back in place. And it still hurt a lot.

“I forgot to take elixir today. That’s all.” She lied as the reason why she wasn’t using elixir was to save her limited syringes for when they would be necessary. This slap was a case of her forgetting about this fact even if she had already gone through her supplies today.

It was somewhat of another case of her not being focused enough even.

But again, thinking about it wasn’t what mattered right now. Her hand didn’t feel that bad too, so it would heal with enough time. She had another one either way, and she could fire her gun with either.

“Do you need healing? Give me your hand here. I’ll have Karim fix you while I hold it.” The shrine maiden continued, still trying to push her way through for the usual reasons. Nothing new and nothing Anna couldn’t ignore.

“No need, I’m fine. How yer doin’ Col?” The dislodged-wrist girl pulled the subject back to the recently awakened inquisitor that was staring at her in confusion. “And if yer well, I’ll need to’ve you lookin’ at the windows, ‘kay?”

“I’m fine, but what do you…” Colette broke mid-sentence as she both answered the first question and tried to look at the big windows of the bridge for the first time. And then she turned in confusion at it. “No clouds again? What am I supposed to see?”

“The sky ain’t the matter ‘ere, I’m talkin’ ‘bout the windows. They’re bulletproof, ain’t them?”

“And how the fuck would I know that?!”

“Not sure. I only guessed you’d know.”

“You’re such a fucking weirdo sometimes, Anna… But still, why was I sleeping? I don’t even remember getting here…”

“And I’m the weird one, ay? Have you heard a thing ‘bout this vessel at all? One moment we’re talkin’ ‘bout the eventual overlappin’ of energy that usin’ a barrier while not in solid ground would cause and next yer sleepin’ by the side.” Anna went on as if all she was saying had a proper base, which was making some of the other girls in the room stare at her as if she was some rare animal. “Y’know, the whole thing ‘bout how unstable barriers are in sea and aircraft, or any other movin’ vehicle, due to how they’d lack a solid spot to anchor the spell, so…”

“Okay, okay, I got it! You’ll make me sleep again like this…” The brunette stopped the explanation while holding her head, showing clear signs of confusion all the while. “It’s been a while since I actually slept during a lecture… But well, we’re done with it now?”

“Yeah, kinda… Just need to know where we can settle, ay? Not sure you’d like to’ve me on yer bridge all the time, whitey.”

There was this small detail of Anna’s presence making every single fairy in the room fidgety or scared even, so it was better that she would leave the place. It wasn’t as if she could do much here anyway too.

“Hmmm… G-go to the wardroom and, and I’ll call y-you when we’re far enough from base. The signs s-should be enough to get there and it’s, it’s empty enough.”

“Ay, ay, captain! Less' go, Col.”

And so, as if nothing had happened and pulling Col with herself, the walking calamity left the bridge. Behind her, a smiling kitsune and a somewhat shocked witch watched the whole thing.

“She’s so smooth.”

“’Smooth’ isn’t the word I would use, that’s for sure… But it worked, I guess.” Karim accepted the situation, even if bothered by it, and then turned to the ship’s captain before going her way. “Thank you for accommodating us. We’ll be seeing each other soon.”

On her cue, Minako also added some short goodbyes, both of which did more to make the white-haired girl bashful than anything else, but that was irrelevant. And then, without anything more to say and with a hurried Annabeth calling everyone out, the investigation group headed to their waiting spot.