This was the end of it. The last stop. The last station. The Conductor's Key burned hot in Turtle's hand, and he almost dropped it until Ehioze reached over, grabbed it, and put it back in Turtle's backpack. Mr. Goode's strong hands pinched their forearms as he led them into the light. Mr. Martin and Mr. Adams stared at the back wall where stars dotted a dark sky. A planet with a swirling atmosphere spun in the distance, illuminated by the sun that was clearly behind them.
The stars out there shone as brightly as diamonds, the constellations lost in a ribbon of blue and purple and dark, deep black. The moon was full, and Turtle could see it as if it were in the room with him, the tracery of the craters looking like rotten lace.
The destruction of the Breach walls had revealed the true majesty of this station. They were looking at the universe through some sort of crystal. White and gold ribs arced from the floor into the darkness above. Along the edge of ceiling above them were Greek letters traced in bright gold, each one a foot high.
Mr. Goode followed their gaze and reached out a hand, one bejeweled finger pointing to each letter in turn. "It's Greek. It's quite a jarring statement, especially for a man who has been dead for 2,300 years."
"It basically says: 'Nothing exists except atoms and empty space; everything else is opinion.' A quote by Democritus. He never saw this, but his worldview would have changed with it," said Mr. Goode.
"The men who built this station were the giants of their day. They knew that one day we would destroy the laws of time and space, thanks to the Mytro. It is my goal to carry on their legacy. I had only ever seen the plans for this station. I thank you, boys, for completing it for me. I would have done it in my own image, on my own terms, but this is just fine. Changes quite a bit of my plan, that's for sure. Stop gawking, lads, and get over here."
The two goons walked Ehioze and Turtle over to Mr. Goode. Slowly, a group of men, covered in cement dust, came out of the hovels nearest the train. They shouted something at Ehioze, who answered.
"Keep the kid quiet, would you?" said Mr. Goode as he reached out to grab Turtle's backpack. Turtle moved out of his grasp.
"This isn't yours," shouted Turtle. "None of this is yours. If you keep doing this, the Mytro will be gone forever."
"That may be the case, but we won't let it go without a fight," said Mr. Goode. "But until then, it belongs to the Mytratti. This system has been with us since our inception, children, and you do not understand its power. I'm going to use it."
The workers called from their huts. They were approaching. Twenty of them in all, their faces caked in cement, remnants of their toil from building the Breach. Now they approached, angrily waving shovels and trowels.
"You'll never get it," said Turtle. "Just let us go."
Mr. Martin fired his gun somewhere off Turtle's left shoulder. Turtle's heart leapt and kept leaping, burning in his chest like an overwrought motor.
A train rolled into the station and out popped Agata and Mr. Partridge, followed by Ernesto and Claire. Surprised, Mr. Martin let Ehioze go for a moment. The boy called something out in his own language, and the workers started towards Mr. Goode and his men, anger flashing in their eyes.
"Tell them to get back," said Mr. Goode, panicking. A look of fear crossed his face as he backed away from the boys and onto the train.
"They're angry you lied to them," said Ehioze. "You said they'd be paid. Now they're wondering just what happened. One of them
was hurt by falling rock. They want to hurt you."
"Tell them they'll be paid!" yelled Mr. Goode.
"Look, Mr. Goode, this wasn't in the contract. I was with you
most of the way, but this is a bit much," said Mr. Adams. He backed toward the train that Agata and the others had just left, and he and Mr. Martin quickly hopped aboard. The doors shut. Turtle pressed the button on the top of the key then twisted it. The train began to roll forward. Inside, Mr. Goode screamed, "London, England. London!"
"The Hangar," whispered Turtle, and the key buzzed like a bee. The train rolled away.
"Turtle!" cried Agata. She ran to him and hugged him for a long time. When she let go, he felt warm.
"We'll have to find them now," said Mr. Partridge. "Unless our friend sent them somewhere else?"
Turtle nodded. "The Nayzuns showed me how to use the key. They're headed for the Hangar. I just wonder what will happen when they get there."
"The key to science, I think, is experimentation," said Ernesto. He shook Turtle's hand. Claire hugged him.
"You guys did great. It sounds like it was a wild ride," said Claire.
"What about Mr. Kincaid?" asked Turtle.
"He's tied up. We'll deal with him later," said Mr. Partridge. The key buzzed in his hand. He heard 411's voice in his head. Her father is beyond this station, Paul. We must fetch him but we
cannot now. The Mytro nearly destroyed itself as you were completing the Breach. But now you are in control. We will help you find him. I remember myself, now.
"Did you hear that?" asked Turtle.
"I did," said Agata, marveling.
You've given me freedom, children. My name was Carlos Llorente. I
remember that now. I remember falling, I remember losing my brother, and I remember being lost until the Nayzuns found me. Over time, without feeling or knowing what was happening, the Mytro changed me. It has been so, so long. I pray that your father does not undergo the same transformation, in the dark, that I did. I believe we can stop it.
It will take time.
I can keep the Mytro in check for a moment. When you completed the station, you completed me. I will ride the rails for you to find what you seek.
"Thank you, Abuelo," whispered Agata. "For everything."
YOU ARE READING
Imagine if, right now, clattering underneath your feet was a secret train system that could take you anywhere in minutes. Imagine a trip full of mystery and excitement from New York to Barcelona to the wind-swept coast of Italy to the edge of space...