Chapter 34: The Blue City

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I will meet you back here, said the Nayzun. I cannot leave the station.

The Nayzun disembarked behind them, his footfalls silent on the rock floor. The walls were smooth sandstone and the only decoration was a tile inlay depicting a map of Italy with a golden dot at the heel of the boot-shaped peninsula. Three gas lamps shed little light on the rough rock walls and over the stone floor. The Nayzun stood before them, its long arm and fingers pointing toward the door.

"Before we go, can you tell us what Mr. Goode is trying to do with the Breach?" Turtle asked.

Slavery, said the Nayzun. You will see, outside.

"What do you mean 'slavery'?" asked Agata.

The Nayzun seemed to draw back to its full height.

For centuries, men have subverted your laws to use the Mytro for evil

things. There already was violence on the Mytro, and the Mytro will not allow it. It has given you a reprieve to try to sort this out yourselves. You are important to what is happening these days, and the Mytro thinks you are capable. But humans have free will and the Mytro has misjudged them before. You have two of your hours to gather your family back together and stop this menace before the Breach manifests itself and the Mytro sets the rails on fire.

Agata sputtered. "Fire? What fire?"

When the Mytro is angry, it creates fire. Whoever is riding the rails or is in a station will die. Sometimes whole cities are destroyed. Your mother

is near a station in this place. You must find her and get her out. If you do not, there's no telling what will happen.

"Can you stop it?" asked Turtle.

There is no need. If the Mytro catches fire, the men we are concerned with will be gone forever. You've been given a gift of time by the Mytro. Do not squander it.

"What are we trying to do? Who do we need to save?" asked Turtle.

You will see when you enter the camp. The rails say your mother is here, but she may be moved at any moment. Hurry.

Mr. Partridge opened the wooden door carefully and peeked out. A crisp, chilly wind began to pick up. Somewhere gulls cawed overhead. Mr. Partridge held the door for Turtle and Agata and followed them out.

Agata took Turtle's hand and the three walked into a bracing spray of cold, wet air. The door had opened onto a wide plain near a long, thin gray beach. The narrow, scudding clouds behind them were low on the water, and a faint mist told them it had just rained or was about to. The air was tinged with the smell of the sea. Agata shivered in Turtle's light jacket. The Nayzun ushered them out.

It was dark. They had travelled a few hours past sunset and the time zone here was six hours ahead of New York. In a few minutes, Turtle had moved thousands of miles, and he wondered if he would ever feel jet lag on these trips.

The first thing they saw on the outside was a massive field of blue plastic tents protected by a fence of thin slats connected together with wire. A riot of plastic bags and trash popped and thrashed in the wind and trash piled up at the corners of the fence, swirling up in little eddies in the wind.

The tents spread out from the edge of the field in impossibly long rows. There must have been miles of them, thought Turtle. There was the sound of children playing and people calling through the jungle of blue plastic. A little smoke rose up over some of them. Long lines of hanging clothes were strung from one tent pole to the next, and men and women moved from one tent to the other, calling in a singsong language Turtle didn't recognize. As he watched, it became clear—even from far away—that this was a tent city full of people.

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