Schiphol was a busy airport with a lot of gateways. The thousands of people that went through the airport meant that there were a thousand things that could go wrong, but Zib wanted to keep a positive attitude. Although it would have been more preferable to get a direct ticket to Zimbabwe, there was no such luck and so traveling via Amsterdam had been one of the few options they had.
Ziboniso and Xander sat content at the waiting area to board their plane. All the craziness of the past week would finally be worth it once they got what they so desperately needed— freedom from the courts, and freedom from a fate worse than death.
The taxi driver, Cedric was accompanying them, and although Zib was still sceptical about trusting him, he had so far proven himself useful. Not to mention that he wouldn’t leave until she paid back him back. Pixies were often over cautious creatures and Cedric was no exception.
“Are you sure this river spirit can help us?” Xander asked her.
“Yes, but the question is will he help us? The databases back at the Ivbal Court had lots of details about all kinds of ancient fey and Nyaminyami was the only one recently sited within easy reach.”
“Easy reach?” Xander asked, his forehead creased in disbelief. “We have to go to another continent in the hopes that this ancient creature will even appear to speak with us.”
“Considering that we’re wanted fugitives, it’s just as well we flee,” Zib whispered. Even now beyond a number of security measurements, she knew they were not truly safe. The Iabal Court were probably thinking of ways to stop their flight even as they spoke.
“Zib, calm down,” Xander said, touching her shoulder. “We’re safe. At least for now.”
Zib gave him a faint smile. “Safety. Life’s greatest lie. It’s an illusion, Xander. We’ll never be truly safe, but so long as we’re free, I’ll be content.”
Xander took her hand and whilst gazing at her sad, dark eyes replied, “As will I.”
His joy was her joy and her happiness was his happiness. She felt a wave of calm overtake many of her doubts and insecurities, and in that moment she could have almost forgotten the struggles they had faced and the pain they would surely endure in the future. Though the connection they had was tenuous at best when they had first met, their hardships had made their bond stronger.
Zib took her hand back and sighed.
“This will work,” Xander insisted. “We’ll speak with Nyaminyami and he’ll sever the bond between us. We won’t have to be two halves of a whole again, and we’ll no longer be vulnerable.”
“I know,” She admitted. “And I know it was my idea, but being separate is what scares me. I’ve felt alone all my life and now the one time that I have someone, I’m just going to throw it away.”
“Hey, I’m not going to just up and leave, okay?” Xander gave her a smile and grasped her hand again. “You and I are a team, but we have to do this so I can control my gifts, and of course, you reckon Nyaminiyami has some valuable information we could use.”
“I hope he does, or else all of the other Galatea will be royally screwed.”
“Nothing to brighten up your day like thoughts of an endangered species,” Xander muttered.
“Where is Cedric anyway?” Zib asked. “He's been gone for quite a while.”
“The restroom, I think.”
“He had better hurry up. If he betrays us, I’ll need you to stab him. I don’t think I can cause him any harm whilst I owe him a favour.”
An air hostess took up her station by their airline desk and a line began to form for Premium boarding passengers. Zib scowled and tapped her foot furiously.
“Zib, it will be okay,” Xander stated. He squeezed her hand gently and turned his head towards someone or something. Zib followed his gaze and saw Cedric the pixie cabbie heading towards them.
He sat opposite Zib and Xander, then opened up his newspaper as though he didn’t know them. The Iabal wouldn’t know that they were being helped by a pixie so it was imperative that they kept their upper hand a secret.
When the rest of the passengers were called up to line up, they kept a fair distance away from Cedric. Both of them had hand luggage with clothes and hidden weaponry and a bag between them. Shopping for clothes hadn’t been top of their list but Cedric had insisted that some luggage would be needed so as not to arouse suspicion. After all, no one travelled internationally, yet alone across continents without at least a couple dozen items of clothing. Looking after the weaponry had surprisingly been an easier task. Cedric had used his pixie glamour to make them undetectable to machines and Zib’s illusionary powers had been them undetectable to the human eye.
When Zib walked over to show the stewardess her passport, she saw the lady’s cheerful smile freeze. The petite blonde reached out for a communication device and pressed a button on it. She seemed to speak hurriedly in Dutch before raising some sort of alarm.
Zib turned to see Xander’s wide eyes. Before she could even think things through, she reached out to take back her passport before racing out of the line. The passengers around her gasped and gave her a wide berth as she fled.
“Stop!” the stewardess yelled. “You are to be arrested!”
Like hell I am, Zib thought. As far as she was concerned, she had not made it all the way from Heathrow to Schiphol only to be arrested by the Dutch— and that was under the assumption that the Iabal Court were not the ones really behind it all.
It didn’t take long for Xander to catch up with her, though she couldn’t help wonder whether they were after him as well.
“We need to split up for you to use your powers,” Zib ordered.
This airport is huge. We might not find each other again.”
“You’re my Other Half. Of course we will. You know where to go.”
Zib had been a part of the Ivbal Court long enough to know to always have a backup plan. The G28-Dex had run its course and although she wouldn’t say she was at optimum health, Zib had a few tricks up her sleeve.
The security forces would be looking for a tall black woman with shaved hair and glasses. Zib found the closest ladies bathroom and ran towards it, her small suitcase in tow. Thankfully, there was no line, and Zib found a free stall. Placing herself in such a secluded area was not normally a good idea, but if security forces followed her, she would show them something quite unexpected.
Zib took off her disguise, like peeling the skin off a banana. She re-wrapped herself in a smaller form, taking on the guise of a pre-teen blonde girl all dressed in pink. She left the stall to wash her hands, her suitcase now a bejewelled monstrous thing.
Five men and a woman came surging inside about a minute later, and she screamed as loud as possible.
“This is the girl’s bathroom!” she yelled, before spluttering out into German.
A couple of other woman stepped forward towards the security team, one placing a kind hand on Zib’s shoulder.
“What seems to be the problem?” she asked. She was definitely British, but with a Scoucer accent.
“We are looking for a woman about 5ft 8,” the only female security guard stated. “Dark skinned, dark eyes, shaved head, carrying a navy suitcase. She is believed to be armed and dangerous.”
“I may have seen someone of that description walk into that stall,” the other woman beside Zib said. Her high pitched voice became even shriller as fear set in deep within her, causing her finger to shake a bit. She had pointed at the exact stall that Zib had been in previously, just as she had hoped.
The door was closed now, so the female security guard knocked on the door.
“Hello? Hope Mugaga?”
“Yes?” a voice asked at the other side.
“Are you Hope Mugaga?” There was a momentary silence so the security guard repeated the question.
“Yes, is something the matter?”
“You are to be arrested on charges of drug trafficking and armed robbery. Come out with your hands up so we may escort you for deportation.”
Zib couldn’t help curl a small smile. They were all feeding right from her hand.
The door unlocked and a woman with dark skin, dark eyes and a shaved head, wearing glasses stepped out. She was exactly as Zib had worn her, in a blue blouse black jeans and black gladiator shoes. Her arms were raised in the air, her brows raised in shocked.
“Alright,” a stout security guard said. “Howard, please escort the other ladies outside. Polanski, Markov, apprehend her suitcase and handcuff her.”
One of the men approached the woman and just as he did so, Hope attacked. She hit the guard with a front kick, followed by a sidekick and a couple of punches. Surprise had been on her side but the guard was able to grab her hand at the next punch.
Howard— the only female guard--- showed he three woman the exit, uttering reassuring words to them. As she did so, Zib was already needling her way into the minds of the security team.
Hope was a figment of her imagination but with enough willpower, she could make them believe she was real. Fuelled by enough rage and hatred, she could easily make them all lose their minds. Thankfully for them, Hope only needed to exist until they were all truly down and out.
No need to add the murder of seven security guards to the list of my crimes.
As she walked towards one of the many exits, she saw Cedric approach her with a young man about her own age. He had caramel skin with long, dark dreadlocks. More importantly, he was walking side by side with Xander.
Zib kept her hand near her pocket, ready to attack with her spray. Though disguised as a small perfume bottle, it was actually a corrosive substance.
“Zib, relax,” Xander stated. “He’s on our side.”
“Like hell he is,” she said. Once an Ivbal robot, always an Ivbal robot. “You’re responsible for this aren’t you, Tashaun?”
“Charmed as ever to see you, Zib.” His faint Jamaican accent rolled off his tongue musically, but Zib was not easily fooled by the calm smile and kind looking eyes. “I’m guilty as charged of course. I thought considering our complex history it would be much easier this way. Obviously I underestimated your creativity.”
“Why doesn’t that surprise me?” Zib snorted. “Now what do you want with us?”
“I want the same thing you do. I want to break my bond from my Other Half. I want freedom, and then I want revenge. I also wouldn’t mind the faery monarchs’ heads on a platter.”
“Both of them?”
“No, all three.”
“Who is the third?” Xander asked.
“They call him Quinlan.”
Ice-cold terror chilled Zib’s bones, making her insides twist uncomfortably. Tashaun was usually rather logical. Surely he must have known that taking on such a powerful fey was akin to signing his own death warrant. But he had a determined look in his eye that brooked no argument. And once Tashaun made a choice, veering him off his chosen path was a great difficulty.
“Did you forget to take your pills or something?” Zib asked. “Because I think your mind is unravelling a little quicker than usual.”
“You have no idea,” he replied, a deadly half-smile playing on his face.