Ever been clonked on the side of the head with a metal pole? Well, it hurts, quite a lot. It also tends to knock you over. Now, if it's Donovan Keller who's swinging the pole, you'd get lucky not to get a concussion.
Lady Luck must still be with me, because I'm concussion free, instead I'm on the floor.But on the floor isn't good enough for Donovan, who promptly hits me again. I start to see stars, but I force myself back up. Donovan raises the pole again, but suddenly Archer full-on tackles him from the side and they both go down. Wow, that's actually impressive, Archer's still getting over his last fight with Donovan, and as of this morning, he could hardly stand.
As Donovan and Archer wrestle on the ground, I pick up the pole and now it's my turn to whack Donovan. Right on the back of the head, putting 3 years of baseball behind my swing. Instantly, Donovan goes limp, and I hope I didn't just kill him. But when Archer pushes Donovan off him, the big man groans. I help Archer to his feet, and he puts his arm around my shoulders for support. I can see that fresh blood has stained the side of his shirt, but he's a tough guy, and I know he'll be fine.
We slowly make our way over to the big doors. I rest Archer against the wall as I go looking for the pistol I dropped when we came in. I find it under a table, and then I shoot the lock off the door. It takes a few good shoves, but finally the doors swing open. Outside is Feather, Gem, Shen, and the other escaped kids. Shen comes over to help with Archer, and two of the escapees shut the doors.
Even though we've beaten Donovan for the time being, his men are still crawling around the city. Thankfully, one of the kids used to live here, and she knows most of the back routes. It's nerve-rackingly slow going. I have more than one moment when I'm sure we've been spotted, but we aren't. We reach the dock, where Donovan's boat still sits, and we all pile on.
Gem and Feather take Archer into the cabin, and Shen and I try to figure out how to work this thing. If you think piloting a boat is easy, think again, it's very hard. Or maybe it's just us. I let out a whoop when Shen finds the instruction manual, but take it back when I find out it's only written in Spanish. Why did I take French in high school? Storm even told me to take Spanish with him.
Just when I'm sure my lucky streak has ended, one of the kids steps forward saying he speaks Spanish. I can just hug the little guy. After some translating and more guessing than I'd have liked, we've got a vague idea of how the boat works. And in minutes, we're sailing away. It's only a few hours to the next port, but we instead land(I don't know if that's the word you use) on a beach, where we can see the next city. I don't want to attract attention by docking with a boat full of kids that look abused, and 5 18-year olds, one of which is injured.
After some discussion, we decide to camp out here tonight. While Shen and a few of the older kids get to work on the fire, and Feather entertains the younger ones, I scout out the area. I can't find any threats in the dense forest, so I head back.
The fire's burning already, and as the sun starts to go down, I begin to wonder what we're going to eat. I can't hunt, we don't have any weapons, and I don't think any of these kids would want to eat a squirrel. But, we're saved once more by one of the kids, who found a fully stocked kitchen on the boat. These kids might as well be in charge, they're smarter than me at least.
After everyone's eaten their fill of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Feather and Gem pass out blankets, thankfully, all the kids get one, but the weather's so nice they lay down on top of them. There's even some left for us. Finally, we're all settled down and I'm ready to crash, when suddenly one of the kids asks if Feather can sing again, like she did in the prison, several other kids agree and soon everyone, with the exception of us "adults", is asking Feather to sing.
Feather, being ever the motherly one, says yes, and begins to sing softly in her beautiful voice. The song is simple, just rock-a-bye baby, but it's enough to send most of the little kids to sleep. Gem yawns from where she lies with her head on Archer's chest, and I see that Archer is already out, then again, he's been through a lot lately.
As Feather finishes up her song, I find myself yawning. Feather curls up against me, using my arm as a pillow. Then, I cast a quick glance over at Shen, who's our first on watch, and before I can tell him to wake me after 3 hours, I've fallen asleep.