Chapter Forty-Three: The Westminster Hijack

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My stomach churned as I tipped end-over-end through the void of night.

The wind whipped at my face, and I could barely make out the glow of a million city lights above me, below me, all around me as I fell.

I gasped for air through my tears, through the rush of the wind and the fear. I stretched my arms and legs like a skydiver to catch the air rushing past and try to steady myself. I snatched glimpses of the sprawling city, the curve of the world, not rushing past as it had on the flight of the Great Falcon, but hanging large and swollen below me, patient to receive me.

One building loomed larger than the rest, and I wondered for one stupid second how anything so big had escaped my notice before. The building wasn't big; it was close. One of the Noble Fleet, miles above the city and sailing into my path.

Black smoke rose from a courtyard. Flames licked at the walls.

I dared to wonder if Éven had steered this ship to save me, overcome with grief and regret.

A stupid hope. I was going to die wherever I landed, but there was a chance that no-one else would get hurt if I hit that building instead of the ground, so I tried to angle myself toward it. I would die a little sooner, but I might hope to die alone.

Something slammed into me and knocked the wind out of my lungs. A hand grabbed my belt, and another wrapped around my chest.

"Don't struggle. Go limp."

Two legs circled my thighs and the arm squeezed me tight enough to hurt. I heard a rushing noise right behind me as if someone was whipping blankets at my head, and two arms crushed me in a bear hug.

With a sudden shuddering jolt our death drop slowed to a glide. My body wanted to keep going; only my unknown saviour's tight grip kept me from tumbling into oblivion. I couldn't tear my eyes away from the ground that was rushing to meet us.

"Relax," shouted the voice in my ear. Nothing about her tone or the situation could possibly compel me to relax. "Stay loose. I can't land us both, so I'm going to have to drop you. Keep your knees bent and try to roll."

"Don't drop me," I said. "I'll die!"

"Trust me, Frazer. I know what I'm doing."


And then she dropped me.

I hit the ground hard enough that the impact rang my body like a bell. I didn't so much roll as skid across cold hard flagstones. When I came to a stop, I lay sprawled on my back and gasped for breath. I felt scuffed and bruised all over, but I was grateful to have landed.

"No time to nap, Frazer."

Abigail gave me her hand.

"I thought you fell off the helicopter?" I said. "How did you get behind me?"

Abigail took off her goggles and unclipped her harness. Her parachute deflated behind her. She drew her taser and checked the gauge.

"I didn't fall. I jumped," said Abigail. "I grabbed onto Éven's ship. I thought I might climb up and jam a few thousand volts in him, but when I saw you fall I decided to share my parachute."

"I didn't fall either," I said. "I was pushed. Thrown."

"Ouch. That's a rough break up," said Abigail.

We were in a car park in the courtyard of a Gothic building, with narrow medieval windows and blackened beige bricks. Thick green foliage sprouted from cracks in the walls. After a moment of focus I could see they weren't really there.

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