“Chapter 8: An unlikely cooperation”

Emilia was reluctantly sipping her coffee. She and Max had stopped near the Forest of Benjamin, a small patch of green between Valedorn and their next stop. Max had been driving for a few hours now, avoiding the highways, as well as the roads with most traffic. Emilia had been silent since she’d waken up.

Beneath the shade of a grown tree, Max was sitting on the driver’s seat, checking his laptop, completely ignoring her and their surroundings. She would have tried to run, but he had tied her legs. She thought she’d crawl behind him, but gave up after the first try, when she saw his gun pointing at her head. He somehow could not be caught by surprise.

“I wonder…” she sighed after her prolonged silence.

“You wonder… about many things, I am sure. Anything in particular?”

“What happened to Aru. What happened in the other timeline. And what exactly are we going to do?”

“Your dog is probably dead in the other timeline. In the other timeline, you no longer exist. You dissapeared from there. Bogart is probably reporting that you were kidnapped by me. He is not one to admit defeat, so he’ll probably try to distract the authorities. As for what we are to do… I told you before: we are going to save the world.”

“By killing every version of me? I still cannot believe you did this! And why the hell is the watch not working?” Emilia yelled, finally losing her cool. Max let out a sigh and walked towards her.

“It has to recharge. Takes about twelve hours. I know you would like to escape, but if you just listen to my plan you will get that-”

“Your plan is to use me, I get that” Emilia interrupted dryly. “And I’ve got another question. Why can’t I get it off me?”

“We have been involved in many projects in the past. One of them was revolving around a very specific problem: how to make things impossible to steal. How can one be sure they’ll never lose something important? And we found the answer. By combining certain materials with a person’s DNA and a special chemical we developed, we created the DNA-memoalloy. Sounds like memory alloy, I know, but it is not the same. What it does, essentially, is remember the DNA used in the process and attach itself onto the person, after scanning their genetic makeup. The strap is made from this material, so it will only attach itself  to you. Hugh’s idea. He wanted to keep it safe from the Government’s hands.”

“And he used me as a scapegoat” said a sad Emilia. She was feeling used and betrayed. Hugh… how many more things have you been hiding from me?

“I hope this answers all of your questions. From now on, you will have to follow my instructions. We have a very hard task ahead, and the only way to succeed, is if we work together. Are we clear on this?”

“Sir, yes sir!” Emilia replied sarcastically, something that Max ignored.

“What we need to do is travel once more. We are going to go to the past, before Hugh was murdered. We are going to prevent the creation of the Watch. That way, we will live in a timeline where the Government doesn’t have control over time. We will, of course, have to…”

“Murder ourselves” finished Emilia. “Are you strong enough for this?”

“My other self is not as important as the safety of the world.”

“You do realise we are playing God?”

“Only to stop others from doing so.”

Emilia took another sip from her cup, thinking about everything Max told her. It was a noble thing to do, sure, but she couldn’t help but feel bad for everything that had to be done. And then, there was Hugh… she pictured him in her mind, with his curly hair and nerdy glasses, his well-trimmed beard, his smile… and then, his face turning blue, his eyes almost popping out. She had to save him. She had to see him again. And she had to demand answers. Emilia had made up her mind. She would help Max, but she would not allow herself to be used.

“Untie me” she demanded.

“Emilia, dear, I don’t think so.”

“If you want me to cooperate, then you will untie me now” she replied, emphasizing the last word. Max considered her for a minute or two, before finally giving in. Once freed from her bondage, she checked the watch once more.

Number of uses: 1

“So, what do we do until we can use it again?”

“We hide. We are going to Mahao Bay. I’ve got friends there. How many hours left?”

“Five and thirty-two minutes. Are you sure you can trust them?”

Max looked her directly in the eyes, and she could see the spark in his as he smiled.

“No. But they owe me. It will be fine” he added, as he saw her expression. “Get in the car, Emilia. We’ve got about six hours to save the world.”

Fine. Just don’t think you can use me, Emilia thought, as the Max began driving once again.

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