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#14 Begin Again
So. Billy was alive. Just when 2Face thought she was rid of him forever; he shows up, all spooky glowing superhero guy, speaking in tongues or whatever, sending messages to the masses.
Superhero! What Billy looked like was a dead bug stuck in amber. And Jobs looked like he was about to burst with happiness. Sanchez was acting all serious and devout, especially after his little fainting drama. Even Mo'Steel seemed in awe of the freak that was Billy.
2Face was furious. No, she was enraged. Her body felt engorged with anger.
She was definitely about to explode. If she didn't get out of that stinking ship --
"I'll be outside," she murmured to no one, then turned and strode from the ship. Once outside, she breathed deeply, trying but to calm herself. Something cheesy was going on.
First off, why should she trust this Sanchez guy? For all anyone knew he was a total quack. Spiritual seer, her ... He was probably making up the "message" he heard Billy speak for his own sneaky motives. What those motives could be, 2Face wasn't sure, but that didn't matter.
Anyway, if Sanchez wasn't lying about having received a message from Billy, if Billy really told him something, then Billy was the one with something devious up his sleeve. Stranding them all -- accidently or not -- on this stinking chunk of planet wasn't enough. No! Not for Billy the Weird. He probably had some additional torture in mind.
2Face looked back at the ruined ship and imagined the freak inside. God, how she loathed that guy! I will stop you dead, Billy, she vowed silently. I will stop you cold.
Newton followed 2Face out into the dusky light and tried to calm his breathing. If he'd stayed inside a minute longer he was sure he'd have gone crazy.
Everyone who had waited outside stopped what they were doing and looked at him. Balder took a step toward Newton, but Newton was in no mood to talk about what he'd seen. Scowling at his crew, he stalked off alone.
The skeleton had been terrible. Newton had heard of Her, the Source, all his life. Seeing Her so up close and personal, though, that was tough.
But far worse was that spooky kid hanging in midair. That kid and all that stuff about a new world! It was probably all a trick, like that kid who could blend into the dust.
All a trick meant to foll the Marauders.
Newton was used to the dim, consistent light. The ashy ground. The kill-or-be-killed code.
Newton knew this world. He did not want to be thrown into a new one unprepared. So right then and there, looking back at the motley band preparing their nomadic camp -- Aga and the other women unpacking food, Croce bullying the younger children, Cocker on guard against danger -- Newton decided that he would stop the new world from coming.
The resolution gave him heart. Already, Newton felt better, more confident, less -- scared.
Life was already nasty and unfair! Look at what had happened with that kid Mo'Steel! By rights Newton should be the leader of the Marauders, not that stranger.
But he could deal with that -- he would deal with it. For now. Another opportunity would come and Newton would seize it. He would get rid of that kid and life would be fine again.
But only if everything else stayed the same.
Newton began to walk back toward the makeship camp. Along the way, he plotted. He was sure he still had Claw, Snipe, and Balder on his side. That was a place to start. He'd talk to them right away, tell them his intent to stop that disgusting -- thing -- hanging inside the old ship from regreening the planet.
Whatever that really meant.
Violet found herself seated next to Sanchez for the meal. Since leaving the ship he'd spoken to no one and kept to himself. Violet was surprised he'd joined the group now.
"The visions," he said suddenly, handing her a small plate of food.
"What?" Violet blurted. "I'm sorry. You took me be surprise."
Sanchez lowered his head, but Violet saw that he was scanning the circle of hungry people. She guessed he didn't want anyone to overhear their conversation.
"Yes?" she whispered. "What about the visions?"
Sanchez hesitated for a moment before going on. Finally, he said, "I was afraid of what I saw."
"Tell me," she urged.
When he finished, Violet touched his leg. "But there's nothing to be afraid of!" she whispered reassuringly. "You saw my world. What used to be my world before the Rock. Maybe... Sanchez, I think you saw what this world will be like someday. Someday soon, if we can believe Billy."
If we can understand Billy, she thought, experiencing a moment of anxienty. So much was up to Sanchez... Could he handle it?
"There is more about about the vision," Sanchez said now, poking idly at the food on his plate. "There was a yellow ball. And then it became darker, yet still -- intense. Many colors I have seen only in the pillars of flame spreadout from it. I didn't know what was happening. The fiery ball began to drop and I thought it would crush Earth -- but -- it just slipped away... Almost immediately, I saw in its place a bright orb. It started to ascend, so slowly... In it, I saw shadows, but they did not dim the brilliance..."
Violet felt her heart swell. She could hardly keep from shouting with joy.
"Sanchez, you saw the setting sun and the rising moon! Wasn't it beautiful"?
Sanchez put his plate on the ground. Suddenly he looked terribly weary.
"I don't," he said softly. "I don't know."
Newton was sitting at the far side of the circle, directly opposite Sanchez. Jobs averted his eyes as Newton dug into his mouth with a grimy finger.
"J'ou tell us a story, something we laugh at," the big man went on.
Before Sanchez could answer, Mo'Steel got to his feet and said, "I've got another idea. We heard something pretty wild not long ago. The Source spoke to Sanchez and he told us about it. I don't know about you," he went on, looking at each face in turn, "but I've got some questions about this new world."
A murmur of agreement rippled through the group. Newton, though, was silent and scowling. Jobs guessed he wanted to forget about what had gone down in the old ship.
Like that was possible. Mo'Steel was smart to get people talking. To get them comfortable with a serious mind-blowing notion.
Aga spoke. "I don't know what to think. But I want to know."
"Me too," Olga added helpfully. "But where to begin?"
"With what we know about Earth before the Rock," Violet suggested. "We start with the big picture and work down to details.
Mo'Steel looked at Jobs. "How about a lesson," he said. "Explain -- simply -- some basic science. Basic astronomy. Basic, Duck."
Jobs rolled his eyes at his friend. "Yeah, I get it," he said. He gestured for everyone to move back several feet. Then, with the back of his spade, Jobs smoothed and patted down a section of ash.
"I'm going to draw some pictures," he said, looking around the group of wary Marauders. His gaze flickered to Echo, Lyric, and Mattock, then to a few of the Mayflower people. "Some of you might be familiar with what I'm going to show."
Stupid thing to say, he realized too late. Half of the Marauders shot dirty looks at the Alphas and Remnants. He'd just reminded the Marauders that he knew more than they did.
"I need a lesson," Noyze said with a laugh. "I was terrible in science class. Maybe I can finally learn something."
Jobs gave Noyze a quick thankful smile. With the tip of his spade he drew the solar system as it had been known before the Rock. He pointed out Earth and the other planets. He showed them Earth's moon and sun. Next to the crude diagram he drew another one to show what it meant for a planet to spin on its axis. Then he illustrated a planet's path of rotation.
"So, if Billy is talking about a newly green planet, Earth might begin to spin again," he said, becoming lost in the thrill of his work. "To rotate around the sun, too. Which means night and day, and phases of the moon, and high and low tides, and --"
"Spin!" Curia said. "Earth will fall out of the sky!" Jobs looked up startled to see the young Marauder women climbing to her feet. "We will fall off Earth!"
A murmur of horror swept through the group.
"No, no!" Jobs said. "You don't understand. That's not the way it works. There's gravity and... Look, I know it sounds scary but -- trust me. I --"
"Why we trust j'ou?" Nesia shouted. "J'ou talk crazy."
Jobs looked pleadingly at Mo'Steel. His friend walked into the center of the rough circle and with his foot wiped away Jobs's drawings.