Shield of the Ishim 6

Ishim Shield

The ticket was absolutely and totally gone. Maya looked wildly, desperately at the sisters with big frightened eyes. Any second she could be hurtling into train tracks, an embankment or whatever when she missed the changeover. Why had they not warned her before they got on the train? Now she was doomed and there was not a single thing she could do about it. She felt like falling to her knees and just giving up.

“Relax, Maya. China was just messing with you. The tickets disappear after they’re activated.” Ivy said, showing her empty hands. “We’re perfectly safe.”

Maya took a deep breath and then scowled at China. “You’re a real piece of crap, China.” Maya said but she only mostly meant it. She kept scowling at China until China shifted uncomfortably. It almost felt like a victory so she found herself smiling just a little.

“Sorry. That was the last one. I promise.” China said. She was telling the truth or at least she thought she was. Maya softened her expression a little more.

“Don’t you believe it,” Ivy said. “She’ll do it again. But we’re all friends, right? Partners?”

“Yeah. Partners.” China said.

“Partners,” Maya said. “Should we sit down?”

“Gross! It looked like a full train. Wouldn’t it be like sitting in someone’s lap?” China asked.

“More like sitting through somebody’s lap,” Maya said with a smile.

“Exactly. Just like the ticket taker. I know it’s weird but we might as well get comfortable. Besides, you’re both still injured.” Ivy said. China had been it so well but she had to have also been injured in the fall.

“I’m fine,” China said flatly.

“I’m also feeling a lot better. Maya said. She focused on her crutches and watched them collapse slowly. In a second the crutches had collapsed to six-inch wooden rods. She slipped those into her messenger bag. She smiled at Ivy and she was sure she caught a look of approval from China out of the corner of her eye. She fought off a blush.

“Very impressive, tough girls. Why don’t we sit down anyway?” Ivy asked and sat down right in the middle of a frumpy old lady. Thankfully, as she did, the lady faded to transparency so she could still be seen.

“Whoa!” China cried out.

“And that doesn’t hurt them? They went all clear.” Maya asked.

“It’s complicated magic but they should be fine,” Ivy said.

“Should be fine?” Maya asked.

“Nothing is a hundred percent in life, kiddo. Not even magic.” Ivy said with a wise-looking smile.

Maya and China each sat next to each other and everybody relaxed. Maya tried to process what had happened so far. It was a lot to take in. Threats, monsters, injury, the council and now the Spirit Train. Ivy seemed to be taking it all in stride but she was older and more experienced. Of course, she could be covering and putting on a front like China. China put on a tough face but Maya was beginning to realize she was not any better off than Maya.

Maya had received her training out in the county. Her training had been informal and more touchy feely. It was more campfires and feeling things out and becoming one with the universe. It looked like the sisters had received a stricter and more formal education in the city. Maya had only worked with Coyote and eventually their relationship had become more democratic. She wasn’t used to being the good soldier even if she had no objections to being one. The Ishim obviously had a chain of command but it was rarely enforced other than handing out assignments. That was usually very brief communication too.

As she thought about all this, the scenery passed by the train window. Phantom people walked up and down the aisles, stood up and sat in seats. Eventually, it became easier to ignore the people. Just when Maya had gotten used to things, they changed again. The world swirled around her and she felt weightless. She briefly flashed back to the fight in the basement. Everything went gray and then black and then the three of them were suddenly sitting in a bus.

“Wow. Kind of fun, huh?” Ivy asked.

“It’s pretty crazy but I guess it’s really useful magic,” Maya said. She slowly checked to make sure everything was still attached to her. She tried not to make a show of it since she was still sitting next to China. Though it looked like China was doing the same. That was comforting.

“Which way do you think we’re headed now?” China asked.

“No idea,” Maya said, looking out the window. “There are spells to find that out.”

“Not a good idea,” Ivy said. “They want us to not know. Besides, there are probably protections in place against compass or locator spells.”

“Then what are we supposed to do?” China asked.

“Not much to do. I’ll tell you that I’m taking a nap.” Ivy said.

“Me too,” Maya said, curling up against the window.

“Ok. Sleep tight I guess.” China said with a grumble just before Maya fell asleep.

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