The Tiger's Blade

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A/N: Thank you again for reading! Still in shock that this book won a Watty ahhhh. Anyways, hope you like this one!

On a sleepy street in the heart of Edinburgh, there lies a tea house that has been in business for over 100 years, despite the sign on the door always proclaiming it closed. It provides a haven for a specific type of traveler: one who journeys, not from place to place, but through time.

Aoto took a step back from the dartboard, aligning his knife with the center ring. It had been two weeks since Zikmund disappeared and Winston Kwok's father was splinced, but those two weeks felt like twenty years to Aoto. Every second he was reminded of what his father had done, as well as his own failure to do anything to stop him. Word spread quickly of what had happened, and now even the time travelers Aoto had known his entire life paused before saying hello to him. Not that he could blame them.

Taking a deep breath, Aoto pulled back his arm and hurled the knife at the dart board. The blade embedded itself into the cork.

"Imlach isn't going to be pleased with you," a voice said. He glanced back to see Lills standing there. Her messy hair and smudged glasses told Aoto that she'd spent the better part of the last two weeks obsessing over Zikmund's flip drive. Aoto ripped the knife from the board, folding it close. The wood handle was smooth from use, but the carved lines that formed the face of a tiger were as crisp as ever.

Lills opened her mouth to ask about him, but Aoto beat her to it. "How's the research going?" he asked.

"There's not much to research," Lills said. "Zikmund already gave us everything the Butterfly Corps had on Hiroshi and the man called Misha. There's no record anywhere of Dr. Ngô or of the facility she claims to be held at. I don't know what Zikmund expected us to do with it all."

"Are you saying that you're giving up?" Aoto asked. "That doesn't sound like the Lills I know."

Lills groaned and sat down in an armchair next to the fireplace. "I'm just tired and a tad overwhelmed," she said. "I'm an archaeologist, Aoto, not a bobbie. And as fun as playing detective is, I can't help but feel useless."

"You're certainly doing more I help than I am," Aoto said.

"How's Winston's father?"

"He'll live." Aoto stood next to her, his eyes fixated on the fire. "They're still not sure if he'll be able to use his legs again."

"I'm so sorry," Lills said. Her hand moved to touch his arm, but she decided against it. She leaned back into her chair, only to bolt upright a few seconds later. "Do you hear that?"

"What?"

Lills jumped up and ran to the chair in the corner, where Rubén lay asleep, a chemistry book resting on his chest. Gently moving him to the side, Lills pulled the communicator from between the seat cushions. Her eyes widened when she read the transmission details, and she pressed the green "accept" button. The tired face of a woman appeared on the screen. "Who are you?" she asked.

"I'm Lillian Holbright," Lills replied. "Who are you?"

The woman swallowed, and her eyes nervously darted towards an area off-screen. "I am Ngô Yến Nhi, but you may call me Dr. Ngô. I was the one who contacted Zikmund, but now that he's been captured, I have no choice but to trust you. Hiroshi Aihara found Mieko's current location. He's taking a highly skilled team to ambush her in 1924 Hawai'i. I'll transmit you the exact coordinates and details right now. I don't have time to say much more, but please- you cannot let them capture the thief of time." The screen went black, and Lills saw her own stupefied expression staring back at her. A moment later, the communicator beeped, and strings of data scrawled across the screen.

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