I was doing okay. I had my reflexes and my general fitness, both of which came pretty naturally to squamata. We didn't need to exercise or watch our diet, because our metabolism simply handled anything we threw at it. Our muscles were constantly renewing even if we sat around doing nothing all day. Another reason we were hated by so many, I always suspected.

"Keep up," Furey said, "we have to get to the docks before word gets through that we're here. They were caught unawares on Hong Kong side. It'll take them a while to figure out what happened. Then they'll either send someone, or send a message through the diviner, depending how seriously they take you as a threat. Maybe both."

Marv grunted as he heaved himself over a horizontal, gnarled trunk. "And we want to be off this island before that happens, right?"

"Oh, yes," Furey said. "If they send a diviner message and the Emperor sets his forces against us, we've got a real problem. But I don't think they'll do that. It'd be a sign of weakness. They'll try to deal with us silently first. Maybe they'll craft a cover story to get local security assistance, but that'll take a while to put together."

"Do they really think they're getting messages from God?" I asked, still incredulous at the concept.

Furey stopped for a moment to catch her breath, and shrugged. "Depends where you are on the planet. Some do, some don't. Some suspect there's something else going on. A few might even have put some of the pieces together. Even if you know the truth; that it's an advanced society from another dimension pulling the strings, well - what are you going to do? Might as well be gods and monsters."

"What am I going to do?" I grinned. "I've got a few ideas."

Marv caught up with us, breathing heavily. "Yeah, but you're not normal, Kay."

"It's probably about another forty minutes from here," Furey announced. "We have to keep going, or this plan of yours is going to be over before it begins."

I wanted to ask her if she was okay about being here at all, as that had never been part of the plan. But it didn't seem like the time. And she probably wouldn't have answered anyway. She wasn't the caring, sharing type, I'd noticed.

As it turned out, she'd underestimated us. We got within sight of the water inside of about half an hour. The landscape was so vastly different to the equivalent space on Earth that I was having difficulty wrapping my head around the concept. The harbour was a humble affair, with a handful of piers connected to a village of sorts.

"The people who live here maintain the boats, keep things ticking, bring cargo on the island," Furey said, "but they never venture up to the residence on the Peak."

"Wings only, right?"

"That's what the books say."

"You know a lot about this place," Marv whispered into the darkness. "More than me. You sure you haven't been here before?"

"I like to be informed. Never expected to be here. That was your fault."

Marv looked startled, as if he'd forgotten about Furey being Furey. "My fault? I saved your arse."

"Not now," she said. "We can talk about it when we get somewhere safe, if you want."

"You're the one that brought it up!"

I pointed through the thin line of trees ahead of us. "There's a small yacht there. Think we could get it to work?"

Furey gave me a withering stare. "It's a sailboat. You do know that they're powered by wind?"

"Do I look like a sailor?"

"Seems windy," Marv said, "so how about we stop talking and get on board?"

The village seemed deserted. There was no sign of panic or alarm. It might just be that we had a chance.

Furey led us out of the cover of the trees. We kept low, hidden by the night and the driving monsoon rain. Moving between fishing nets and low, ramshackle fishing huts and small storage buildings, we kept to the shadows and slunk through the empty village. There was one building in the centre of the small cluster of buildings which had lights on. Some kind of communal hall. We gave it a wide berth and came up on one of the piers from the side.

"It's too exposed to walk out on the jetty," Furey said. "Follow me."

She waded into the water, walking out from the shore until she was up to her neck.

"You up for this?" I looked pointedly at Marv's new arm.

"It's strong," he said, flexing it, "it's just a little unpredictable still. Should be good for this. Just don't ask me to do any fine art."

"Probably won't be needing that tonight."

"Right on."

The water was cool, and waves splashed and broke in the stormy weather. I'd never been much of a swimmer and was glad that we didn't have far to go before reaching the small yacht.

Furey was already aboard and she had lowered a ladder down the side of the ship. I climbed up and she helped me over the side and onto the deck. Marv joined us a moment later.

"This is a junk," Furey said. "I know junks."

"I have literally no idea what you're saying," I said.

We followed her instructions blindly and a few minutes later an enormous fan of a sail had spread across the mast. Casting off, the ship lurched away from the pier, the sail straining against the storm wind.

"Sure you know how to sail one of these things?" Marv clutched onto the rail as spray washed up and splashed onto the deck.

"More than either of you," she muttered.

The island receded from view. I could only vaguely make out the silhouette of the Peak against the dark sky. The storm would cover our escape, and would be keeping wings out of the sky.

We'd done it. We were free. Next, the mainland. And then the really hard work would begin.


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