transpose vt. Cause [two or more things] to change place; change positions of [thing] in series; change natural or existing orders.
Up on deck it was a myriad of activity: crewmen scurrying every where, like ants; Rongar and Firouz studying a map; Doubar at the tiller; Sinbad staring off into the distance. She whistled, and Dermott flew to perch on her arm.
Firouz and Rongar looked up, saw her, and waved her over. She walked over, stroking Dermott.
"What's up?" she asked.
"We're making the travel plans." explained Firouz. "Three islands, dead ahead. All the islands are the same shape, have the same population, the same trade tax, everything. They are identical."
"Well," said Firouz slowly, "We can't decide which to go to."
Maeve laughed. Dermott squawked. "Flip a coin," she suggested.
Firouz thought for a moment then shook his head. "Coins don't have three faces. I already thought of games of chance: but it's easier if someone just picks one. Sinbad decided it should be you." he said.
She snorted. "Some privilege." Then she decided to think it over. "Well," she said, "What are their names?"
Firouz regarded the map. "Umir, Urim--"
"Urim?!" Maeve cried. Firouz looked startled. Dermott flew off. "Wait right here," she said as she ran off. Sinbad sauntered over at the first sign of commotion.
"What's happening? Did Maeve pick an island?" he asked. Firouz shrugged. Rongar pointed toward below deck. Maeve at that point rushed back up, carrying her Book O Magic. She was reading through it at a furious rate. "What did you find?" asked Sinbad.
"This," she replied, holding open a page for all to see.
It was first an extremely detailed map of the Three Twins (as the islands of Umir, Urim, and Umri were called, even though Firouz patiently insisted that you couldn't have three twins.) and a picture of a medallion, carved with intricate pictures and strange symbols.
"It's called the Locket of Translocation," Maeve explained. "It's used to `travel to different lands'"
"Really? How interesting. `Travel to different lands, huh?" Sinbad remarked. His eyes lit up. "What explorer would pass up a chance like this?" he said. Maeve shook her head.
"It's not to be used by ordinary people. That's why it was placed on one of the Three Twins. Nobody looking for it would have any particular place to start."
"Dim-dim found out." said Sinbad. "And gave the map to you. Therefore, he is inferring that you are capable of using the Locket."
"Actually--" started Firouz, but Sinbad shut him up with a glare.
"Doubar!" yelled Sinbad. "Change course for Urim!"
"Urim? I think I was heading there in the first place," yelled Doubar back.
"No, you were heading to Umir," yelled Firouz.
"What's the difference?!"
"One is where we are going," yelled Sinbad, ending the argument. He looked at Maeve. "Did Dim-dim give you instructions on how to use the Locket?" he asked.
"Well, yes, but--" she started then stopped. Sinbad looked at her patiently. She shook her head. "It's nothing. I'll be able to work it, it's a piece of cake. After all, what could go wrong?"
Sinbad was the first to jump out of the long boat, stepping into the soft sand on the beach. It squelched under his boots as he pulled the long boat on to the shore.
"So this is Umri," he said, looking around.
"Actually, no." interrupted Firouz as he got out of the boat. "It's really Urim."
"I don't see much difference," Sinbad said. Firouz nodded and shrugged. Sinbad tried to shake some of the excess mud of his boots, but it stuck fast. He grimaced. He hated mud on his boots. It made his feet all wet.
"I don't like this," said Maeve. She stroked Dermott's chest nervously. Sinbad clapped a hand on her shoulder.
"Don't worry," he assured her. "What could happen?"
Doubar laughed. "The fact that you said that means something is going to happen."
Sinbad rolled his eyes. "You and that stupid `natural law' of yours. Who was it by, again?"
"I don't know. Just some guy." Doubar shrugged.
"Actually, it has been proved that the so-called `natural law' is correct only as long as the person believes in its power. People create effects by their--" Firouz started excitedly.
"Firouz?" interrupted Doubar.
"Yes?" said Firouz, curious as to what Doubar had to say.
Maeve studied the map in her book. It was very stylized, and what might be a mountain could just as likely be a tree. Or for that matter, a village.
"I do not get this map at all." she said exasperatedly. Sinbad leaned over her shoulder.
"I see the problem," he said. She looked at him, surprised and somewhat confused. He took the book from her, turned it around, and handed it back. "They drew it up-side-down," he explained. Maeve just continued to stare at him. He grinned, and went off ahead. Maeve looked back at her book, and found that even thought it was still stylized, she could definitely make out the symbols.
"We have to head to that mountain, over there," she said, pointing.
"That's no mountain. That's a hill." corrected Doubar. Maeve glared.
"Hill, mountain..I don't care. We have to head for that higher ground over there, happy now?!"
"Very," he said proudly. Maeve rolled her eyes, sighed, and walked on.
It took nearly an hour for them to reach the mountain, but finally they came to it. Doubar was right: it was hardly more than a large hill, but incredibly round. It also stood in the middle of a very flat-otherwise plain.
"I believe that this is actually a artificial structure," said Firouz excitedly, "Designed to mimic a natural hill."
"Well, here's where the entrance to the cave is supposed to be," remarked Maeve. She studied the map. "But it doesn't give any other instructions. I don't get it. It should be here."
"Perhaps if we search the hill, we'll find a hidden door or passageway," suggested Sinbad.
"Good idea," replied Maeve. She studied the map more intensely, and headed towards the hill.
"Rongar, You go with Maeve. Doubar, you and I will go this way. Firouz, you can--well, I don't know. Find something to do." Sinbad ordered. He, his brother, and Rongar headed off.
Firouz was left standing the middle of the plain. He decided to have a closer look at the hill itself, to see if he could figure out its construction. He looked through the grass growing on its sides, but there appeared to be only soil underneath. If he could get through the soil layer, he would no doubt find the underlying rock structure. But how--
The idea come to him with a bang. Literally.
He grabbed a couple of his exploding sticks, and a fuse. He jammed a couple into the grass, lit the fuse, and ran.
A half a minute later the soil blew off the hill with a satisfying KA-BOOM!
Firouz grinned and wiped the dirt from off his clothes. He loved seeing Science in action. He examined the hill again and found he was correct, in a sense.
The soil did not more than the few inches needed to grow grass. But it wasn't rock that Firouz found. It was metal.
Shiny, steel-looking, barely tarnished metal.
"Fascinating," he said to himself. He started ripping sod off, through it behind him. As he uncovered more, he found the very thing that Maeve had insisted was there: a door. Well, a crack in the wall that could very well be a door, but he had to get all the sod off first.
He ripped more grass out, flinging it behind him when suddenly he heard " Ouch!"
Firouz whirled. Right behind him was Sinbad, wiping the dirt from off his face and shoulders. Doubar glared at Firouz and helped Sinbad clean up.
"Sorry," said Firouz, "It's just that I've uncovered--well, I believe I have uncovered, I really shouldn't make judgements until I have all the data--"
"Firouz," said Doubar with the tone of one who has tried being patient, but is very nearly at the end of their rope, "Just tell us what you've found."
"Oh, right," he said, stepping out of the way to show them the partially uncovered door. "It's an entry way, I believe."
Sinbad shook his head. "Maeve was right all along. Doubar, go get Maeve and Rongar. I'll help Firouz clear away the rest." Doubar nodded and headed off.
"So the entrance was here all along," said Maeve, looking smug. "I won't say I told you so..."
"Fine, don't." said Sinbad. "But while you're not gloating, we still need to get the door open."
"I'll get it open," said Doubar, confidently. He drew his sword. Using like a wedge, he tried to lever it open.
"Give me a lever and a fulcrum big enough, and I will move the world." said Firouz softly.
Doubar groaned, and pulled the sword out. "Look at that. The best Damascus steel...ruined! And not even a scratch on the door!"
Firouz inspected the door carefully. "Fascinating...I do believe that the door is made of a metal unknown to man at this time!"
"Are you saying it's magic?" asked Sinbad, brow furrowed.
Firouz shrugged. "It could be magic...or...it could be--" his eyes sparkled, "--a new type of Science."
"Oh no," groaned Doubar. "This is just what we need."
"Hey!" cried Maeve. "I found the key!"
She slammed the book shut, and set it down on the ground. She walked up to the door, and put her hand on its surface. Suddenly, it glowed as white hot, and then it seemed to reform around Maeve's hand. "Hey!" she yelled. "It's pulling me in!"
Sinbad immediately grabbed her other hand and began to pull, but he couldn't stop it. It swallowed Maeve whole, and began to pull Sinbad in as well.
"Little Brother!" cried Doubar. He pulled to his best abilities, but it did no good. In fact, it nearly dislocated Sinbad's arm.
One by one, they were all pulled in. Rongar, who was last, tumbled through the door, landing on Firouz, who was on Doubar, who was on Sinbad, who was on Maeve.
"Hey!" came her muffled voice. "Get off of me, you big lugs! And you, Sinbad, watch your hands!!"
Eventually, they all got disentangled. They were in a small room, barely big enough to fit them all. The walls were all the steel-like metal, and there were no seams where the door should have been. The room was also strangely lit.
"There's no torches, and the light doesn't have the flicker of fire at any rate. The only thing that shines so consistently is the sun, but we're underground." remarked Firouz, who looked like a little kid in a candy shop who couldn't decide what to buy.
"Well, the light is coming from the ceiling. Maybe it's windows?" suggested Sinbad. Firouz shook his head.
"The top of the `hill' was covered in grass," he reminded them. Meanwhile, Rongar was doing some exploring of his own. He had found a little box built into the side of the wall. He found he could open the front. Inside were two small circles, that looked as if they were painted on. He waved Firouz over and pointed.
"Remarkable!" Firouz exclaimed. "I believe those circles will activate something."
"What makes you say that?" asked Doubar suspiciously.
"Well, when I was just a young inventor, starting out, I came across a machine built by a colleague--it made a door open--using a series of gears and pulleys. To operate it, however, you had to undo the latch...a small round circle that you pushed." he explained.
"Oh." said Doubar, not getting it at all.
Firouz sighed. "Just push one, Rongar," he said. Rongar did so. With a hiss and a whisper, the wall parted to reveal a curving metal staircase. It was lit by the strange, white light that illuminated the room, but nobody could see what lay beyond the curve of the staircase.
"Well, c'mon," said Maeve. "We haven't got all day." One by one, they started down the staircase. Except for Rongar. He may not have had Firouz's massive curiosity, but he was definitely curious. As he started down the steps, he stopped, and decided, for once, to give in. He leaned back into the room and pressed the second button.
Sinbad walked down the steps warily. He was expecting at any moment to be ambushed, or for something to leap out of the wall, or for the staircase to stretch on for eternity, and they would be doomed to go down it for ever. In short, he was expecting something unpleasant to happen.
He was not wrong.
Suddenly, before they were more than five minutes into the journey, the steps melted away under Sinbad's feet. The former staircase became as smooth as the walls in the room, and he had nothing to grip on to. So he did the only thing he could: he slid.
Doubar was not enjoying himself. This whole adventure had been nothing but bad news from the start, and now, they were sailing down a smooth steel `staircase' into god-knows-where, and for what? A stupid amulet that might let Sinbad do even more exploring. As if he didn't have enough already, what with trading, and looking for Dim-dim and rescuing people in distress.
Firouz, on the other hand, was enjoying himself immensely. He had guessed that Rongar had pushed the other `button', (as his friend called them), it was the only logical answer for why the stairs had suddenly disappeared.
But at any rate, this whole trip had been nothing but a scientific treasure trove. The people who had built this hill were obviously advanced (which meant it wasn't the current natives--they had enough troubles raising goats) which unfortunately meant that the makers might not be around to answer his questions. Which meant he would have to find out for himself. Which suited him just fine.
Maeve kept shrieking as she slid down the staircase. She didn't like the feeling of sliding into what could be her doom. When the lights went out, she screamed even louder. So what if Sinbad and the others could hear her--she felt perfectly justified in her panicked yells. Suddenly, just when she was starting to get used to the never-ending slide, the staircase dropped out from under her, and for a sickening moment, she was felt as though she was suspended in the air. Then gravity caught up with her and she fell.
It seemed like an eternity as she fell. She had stopped shrieking, her throat hurt too much. There was no light--it was pitch dark--and there was no sounds besides her heartbeat (it sounded so loud) and the whoosh of air as it whistled past her ears.
Maeve was beginning to get worried: she couldn't hear any of the others. She was starting to believe that this hole led straight to Hell; a most disagreeable prospect. Finally, she decided to yell for Sinbad, but just as she opened her mouth, she found the floor at last.
Luckily for her, the floor was not made of the steel, or she would have broken every bone in her body upon contact. The floor was actually made of a soft, bouncy material. It felt like she had landed in a huge pillow. It still hurt, but fortunately, not a lot.
As she started to get up, she was knocked down again by Sinbad landing on her. He crashed down with an oof! and rolled over groaning. Maeve quickly shoved her way over, and avoided being hit by a landing Doubar.
It took a few more moments before Firouz and Rongar touched down, but the moment that Rongar hit the floor, the lights went on. Surprisingly, the floor was made of the same material as the walls and staircase!
"Remarkable," said Firouz as he helped Rongar to his feet, "It appears that the floor is capable of changing to meet the needs of the people using it."
"But how did it change? It's not like we told it." mused Sinbad. Firouz nodded in agreement, then added:
"Of course, somebody else must have changed it for us."
Doubar suddenly looked around nervously. "Are you saying that somebody is here with us?" Firouz nodded. Doubar drew his sword. Sinbad and Maeve followed suit.
Rongar pointed to a door, and carefully, hesitantly, they all moved towards it.
This door was easier to use: it had a handle. They opened it carefully, and went through.
Sinbad gasped. They were in a long hallway: it seemed to have no end. Not only that, the hall was covered in floor-to-ceiling mirrors, perfectly polished so as to show every single detail.
"C'mon," he said, "Let's get on and out of here as soon as possible." No one disagreed with him.
They continued through the hallway cautiously. The mirrors unnerved everyone. As Firouz pointed out, the mirrors were so perfectly positioned, that "they reflected everything into eternity."
"That's really reassuring," commented Doubar. "If anything, it makes those mirrors spookier."
"Well," replied Sinbad, "I'm sure there is an end to this hallway, eventually."
"Of course." added Firouz. "No doubt the builders intended this hallway as a deterrent."
"A deterrent. Something to keep people away."
"Oh." Doubar shivered. "In that case, it's working."
They walked on steadily for another twenty minutes or so when Sinbad exclaimed: "I think I see a door!" It was another ten minutes before they reached the door, but they were overjoyed to at last find it.
The door looked identical to the one that they had encountered at the opening into the hill, so Maeve tried looking for the pad near the door that you put your hand on.
"It's not there!" she cried, still looking. Sinbad joined her in the search, but came to the same conclusion.
"Hmm," he said, hands on his hips, "It seems that we are locked out."
"Actually," said Firouz, "I think that may be a bit of an understatement."
"How do you mean?" asked Maeve.
"I believe that is a false door," he replied. He studied one of the mirrored walls, and reached out to touch it. Suddenly he yelped as he was pulled through.
Sinbad shrugged, drew his sword, and stepped through. Maeve, Rongar, and finally Doubar followed suit and stepped though.
"This room is fantastic!" exclaimed Firouz. He was looking at the wall, or more accurately, through it, since it was transparent, and he could see the hallway in perfect detail.
"I'm glad you like it," remarked Doubar. "I, for one, am hoping that we can just find the stupid Locket and get out of here." Rongar nodded in agreement. This place had him spooked too.
Maeve looked around. "Hey! Look! Another door!" she cried.
"Woohoo," said Doubar sourly. This door also had a handle, and Maeve gasped as she walked through.
They had found the Locket Of Translocation at last.
It was sitting on a small pedestal, illuminated by the strange, overhead light source that had lighted their entire journey.
"Do you remember the instructions on how to use the Locket?" asked Sinbad. "You left your book up top." Maeve nodded in the affirmative.
"Then let's try it out," Sinbad said eagerly, holstering his sword and rubbing his hands together.
"Are you sure that's such a good idea?" asked Doubar, brows furrowed. "I mean, that locket could take us anywhere."
"Exactly!" replied Sinbad. "We could have Dim-dim rescued by tomorrow."
Maeve, in the meanwhile, was having second thoughts of her own. She was worried: what if Firouz was right, and the mirrors, and disappearing staircases and holes and the hill itself were all to keep people away? She was also beginning to doubt her own power. Maybe she wasn't ready to use the Locket? How was she supposed to know when she was ready?
She picked the Locket up and held it in her hands. It was a small, round medallion, almost flat, but not quite, and kind of rounded, like a ball that had been flattened. It was red, and decorated with gold symbols and curlicues. It was on a gold chain, and weighed, surprisingly, almost next to nothing. She slipped it around her neck.
"First," she said taking a deep breath, "First, we all have to be in a circle. Holding hands." she held out her own in example. Sinbad took one, Firouz the other, and then Doubar held hands with Rongar, and Rongar completed the circle with Firouz.
"Okay," she continued. "Now I have to do the spell. Everybody keep quiet, and don't let go of your hands for even a second."
They nodded. She took another deep breath, and then yelled:
Sinbad felt the sudden sensation of falling, combined with a feeling like walking down the deck of the Nomad on a windy day--sort of a rocking, rolling, sensation. His first reaction was to gasp and shut his eyes, it was so sudden, but when he opened his eyes a moment later, the feelings were gone.
And they had gone absolutely nowhere.
"This can't be!" cried Maeve. "I did the spell right!"
"I'm sure you did, Maeve," said Sinbad looking around. The room was perfectly identical to the room they had supposedly left.
"This is just great." groused Doubar. "All this time--spent for nothing!"
"Doubar--" said Sinbad warningly.
"Sinbad? Doubar?," interrupted Firouz, who was looking at the hallway through the translucent walls, "I think you should see this before you make any conclusions. Maeve, Rongar, you too," he added.
They all gathered around the inventor. He gestured to the mirrored walls. They all gasped in response.
The mirrors were still there same as before, but now there was a huge crack, running along the middle, lengthwise.
"I don't understand...they weren't cracked like that when we started the spell.." Maeve whispered.
"No," confirmed Firouz. "And we would have heard the sound of the mirror breaking if...well, I have a theory..."
"Get on with it," growled Doubar.
"Very well. I believe that the spell did work; that we are no longer where we started out."
"But the room..."
"I believe," Firouz said patiently, "That we have travelled to, well, "mirror lands". A colleague of mine--the same one who came up with the door opener, in fact--had a pet theory: That for every world, there were a thousand other ones. Most were pretty much like the original world--to be more precise, the singled out world, for who can say which is original?--but others were different, some incredibly different, and some less so."
"Like a mirror's reflection?" asked Sinbad.
"Exactly so--think of the mirrors in the hall. Each reflection was a reflection of a reflection...on and on into infinity."
The room was silent as the effects of the speech sank in. Finally Maeve said "You mean, we're probably on one of those other worlds, one of those other reflections? One of an infinite number?"
Firouz nodded. She stared at him, and he nodded again, sadly. She gasped, and sat down on the floor, leaning against the wall.
"What?" asked Sinbad, concerned. "What is it?"
Maeve couldn't answer. She was biting her lip to keep from crying. Firouz was just looking at his boots. Suddenly Rongar's eyes went wide. He looked at Maeve, who nodded. She covered her face in her hands.
"What?!" cried Sinbad, who was very worried at this point. Firouz looked at him sadly.
"We're lost," he said simply. "There was no way for Maeve to predict where we would end up when we crossed over--which means there is no way to find our way back."
They trudged down the hallway wearily. They knew that they could never just stay in the hallway, but neither did they feel there was any point.
Only Sinbad remained hopeful. He had had an idea--that perhaps this world was enough like their own that they would be happy there. He knew it was a slim chance, but it was all he had to go on.
As they neared the end of the hallway, Sinbad thought he noticed something weird. The room they had "dropped into" was no longer empty.
"Fascinating." remarked Firouz. Instead of the stark and empty room, there was now a large enclosed box. It was made of the same material as everything else they had seen, and it had an open door in the side, so it was obviously made for humans to enter. It seemed to have large ropes connected to its roof, but Firouz couldn't even fathom what they were for, unless--
"Sinbad," he said, "I believe we have discovered the reason for the large open shaft. It was not originally empty. I believe that this box is the correct way to travel between here and up there."
"Sort of like a vertical ferry?" asked Sinbad.
"Exactly so. I'm confused as to its method of movement: there doesn't seem to be anyway for us to pull it up."
Doubar snorted. "Like we could pull ourselves up in that anyway! It must weigh tons!"
Firouz thought about that for a moment. "Indeed," he said at last, "but I believe that the makers of this box did not intend for us to pull it."
Firouz turned and entered the box. Sinbad and Rongar followed, and then Maeve, and lastly, Doubar. "Aha!" the inventor cried out. "I knew it! Look!"
They looked: two more of the small round "buttons" each with an arrow painted on it. One of the arrows pointed up, the other down.
Firouz looked very proud of himself. Sinbad clapped him on the shoulder. "Good work," he remarked. "May I have the honours?" he asked. Firouz nodded and moved out of the way. Sinbad leaned over and pressed one of the buttons.
"I believe you press the button with the "up" key on it," suggested Firouz.
"Of course," said Sinbad sheepishly. "I was merely trying out the other one." Maeve laughed and Sinbad glared at her as he pressed the other button.
With a sudden lurch and a groan, the box began to move upward. "Fascinating," remarked Firouz again. "It appears that we are being elevated."
"Hey!" cried Maeve. "The door--it's disappeared!" Indeed it had: it had smoothed out to become flush with the rest of the box.
"We're trapped," said Doubar, with a slight edge of panic in his voice.
"Don't go jumping to conclusions, Doubar," ordered Sinbad, in his best Captain's Voice.
Suddenly, the levitating box slowed to a halt. On the other side it, another door opened smoothly and quietly.
"Careful," said Sinbad as he leaned out. "Okay, there's floor." He stepped out of the box and on to the stairs. Luckily, they were stairs, and not the slide from before. Cautiously, Sinbad and his crew made their way up the stairs. They had their swords drawn, and their ears and eyes open. They reached the surface room with out incident, and found, to their astonishment, that the door to the room had been blown wide open.
"Looks like someone else discovered your blasting powder," remarked Sinbad.
"Not only that, I believe that they found a much more potent blend," the inventor replied, eyeing the rooms charred edges. "Actually, I don't see how my blasting powder could have down this at all. Look, the edges are also melted. You would need extreme heat for this, and blasting powder doesn't supply that."
"What could?" asked Maeve and Doubar at the same time. Rongar, pointed to himself and nodded.
"No, no, Rongar, you couldn't--oh, you mean you know what could? Well, what?" asked Firouz. Rongar pointed outside the door. Firouz poked his head out the smoking hole and gasped. He was looking straight down the barrel of his Ruby Beamer.
"This is quite incredible," Firouz remarked. "Not only does it appear that someone else of my ability was capable of designing a Ruby Beamer, they also clearly have no scruples about using it for a more sinister use than communications."
"Could it be that someone else copied your design?" asked Sinbad, circling the Ruby Beamer warily, scanning for its owners. Firouz shook his head. "I don't think so...this model was obviously jury-rigged together. That means that someone constructed it from scratch: if they were working from a plan, they wouldn't have been so free in their substitutions."
"I think that we should get back to the Nomad as soon as possible. I don't like the thought of hanging around here when there could be more "sinister" ruby beamers lying around." said Doubar, waving his sword in agitation.
"Doubar's right. We have to find shelter to be able to fall back if we're attacked." Maeve insisted. Sinbad nodded.
"There's the Nomad, just like we left her," said Doubar, with a sigh of relief.
"I'm not so sure..." said Sinbad suddenly.
"What do you mean?!"
"I mean, look. The sails have got a funny band of black all around them. And the bow is shaped different. That's not our Nomad." he said gently. He didn't want to be to hard on Doubar, who was not accepting the reality of the situation very well.
"Captain Sinbad!" someone called behind them. They all whirled, swords drawn, to face some of Sinbad's crew, led by a young man named Abdul.
"Captain Sinbad!" he said, giving a funny kind of salute. "It is good that we have found you. We searched the village, as per your request, but there was nothing worth taking."
"Oh. That's too bad." Sinbad replied, a little confused.
"Yes. But at any rate, we are able to return to the Nomad, with you sir, if you would let us."
Sinbad, realising that some sort of response was needed, merely nodded. Abdul looked relieved.
"May I inquire to as the success of your mission, sir?" he asked.
"Uh, no, you may not," Sinbad replied rather haughtily. Abdul merely nodded, as if he was expecting that answer. "Uh, now...leave us, we have to prepare something before we go back to the ship," Sinbad ordered. Abdul nodded, saluted, and walked off, the other crewmen following.
"Okay, was that weird or what?" said Sinbad, as soon as they were out of hearing range.
"Definitely weird." agreed Maeve. "I think that this world may be one of those worlds that are very different."
"That's not our only problem," said Firouz. "Our counterparts seem to be identical to us, seeing as how Abdul had no difficulty recognising us. Which means--"
"Which means what?" said Doubar. "Get on with it."
"I was getting on with it. As I was saying, if we allow ourselves to be seen by our counterparts, it could have detrimental effects on this world. That's why the Locket was supposed to be so out of reach."
"I am not following you at all," groused Doubar. "You are making no sense."
"No," said Sinbad, with growing confidence, "He is. Think of it: if people were just allowed to wander around different worlds, who knows what sort of screwing up they could do. The locket was put out of reach to protect the purity of each world from contamination by other-worlders."
"Exactly!" exclaimed Firouz.
"What will we do about the other Sinbad & Co?" asked Maeve. "Maybe we could continue to impersonate them for the time-being. Just long enough to get some supplies..food, money, etc. Then we can try jumping back to our own world." suggested Firouz. Sinbad clapped him on the shoulder.
"I think that's the best idea. C'mon. let's not keep Abdul waiting."
While in the long boat, none of them said anything. Firouz had recommended it, in the theory that if less was said, there was less of a chance that they would slip up, and reveal themselves not to be who they were.
As they rowed to the ship, Maeve became more and more conscious of the Locket around her neck. Obviously the crew of this Nomad were looking for it as well, so would that mean that there was a Locket for every world? That even now, the Sinbad from this world was leading his crew in hers? She shuddered at the thought.
She felt, she knew, that this world had something wrong with it. She could feel the evil in the air. She could see the fear in the eyes of Abdul when he caught Sinbad looking towards him. She could tell, as the others probably could, from the Ruby Beamer back on the island. Somebody had ordered the use of that machine for destructive purposes, and that person could very well have been the Sinbad from this world.
They boarded the Nomad without talking. Sinbad saw several glances towards him from the crew, but the moment that he looked in their direction, they quickly turned away, but not before Sinbad saw the panicked look in their eyes.
He made his way to the quarters, making sure that no one from the ships crew followed. He carefully locked the door after all the others were in.
"Sinbad, something is very wrong here," Maeve said, hurriedly and softly. Doubar, Rongar and Firouz nodded.
"I know. I can see it in their eyes." He took a deep breath. "We'll get some supplies, and then at nightfall, we'll replace the crew on the shifts, and then leave in the longboat. Agreed?"
"Agreed," they all murmured.
Then Firouz whispered, hesitantly: "Since we have a while yet to go until night, I've thought I might go into my counter-part's working area. I might be able to scrounge up some replacement blasting powder."
Sinbad nodded. "Good thinking. Go now, so that it doesn't look like, well,--"
"Like we're plotting?" asked Maeve with a small grin.
Sinbad smiled ruefully. "Exactly."
Firouz eased the door open, trying to attract as little attention as possible. It wasn't hard, since this part of the ship was pretty much deserted, but still.
As he looked around his lab, he realised he would be forced to agree with Maeve. This was one of the very-different realities.
He picked his way through half-built models and plans. The floor was littered with them; somebody had no doubt searched it recently. Firouz already knew why they would search his lab: all of the models, all of plans--were written in a strange code-- were of weapons. He had seen the destructive potentials immediately.
These inventions were not like his, which were developed for benevolent uses. These models and plans were weapons, and had been designed with that goal in mind. Pure and simple.
He picked one of the blueprints up, looking at it carefully. He tried to figure out what it was using only the diagrams, but it was hard, considering his counterpart did not have his flair for artistic rendering. The sketches were crude, at best.
Although, he thought to himself, that code certainly does look familiar. He decided to save the plan for further study. He put it in his satchel, and looked around for any thing else of interest.
Firouz quickly discarded the idea of looking at any more of the plans: they were all of weapons, and, most distressing of all, resembled ideas that he had already developed (there was one that paralleled his Relaxation Tub, but it was used as a method of torture.)
He looked through the cupboard that his counterpart had installed, to find a sizeable amount of blasting powder, along with several bamboo containers. Enough, at the current rate of usage, to last for several months. He also found some candles (which he pocketed) and some containers filled with fluid apparently used for lighting torches. This also went into his satchel.
Suddenly he heard footsteps. Panicking for a second, he debated whether or not to hide in the cupboard, but then decided to try and behave normally.
"Firouz?" he heard Maeve's voice call.
"I'm in here," he called back. As she opened the door and walked in, he realised that this wasn't his Maeve he was talking to.
The first clue was the walk. His Maeve walked with confidence, but softly, cautiously. This Maeve walked with a swagger. It was the walk of someone who knew herself to be in perfect control of the situation. Any situation.
"Looks like you had your room searched," she said with almost a sneer. She kicked aside a stray model.
"You think so, huh," said Firouz, trying to muster all the arrogance he could. Maeve merely sneered again in his general direction. Bingo, thought Firouz. Right answer.
"It's sheer luck that we found a fishing boat that we could take back to the ship, don't you think?" she said idly, as if making small talk. "Turns out that Abdul had taken off without us. Said that he had already taken us aboard. Said he remembered it distinctly. Can you believe that?" she laughed. Firouz chuckled weakly. "Of course, Rongar and Sinbad are punishing him even as we speak."
"Of course," said Firouz, forcing a smile. Suddenly Maeve whirled on him, her eyes narrowing. Firouz panicked for a moment, thinking that his cover had been blown, but Maeve merely started pacing.
"I told that fool Sinbad. I told him that the villagers wouldn't have it, that if it wasn't in the Armoury, then somebody else, obviously, must have gotten it first! And then Abdul tries to take off without us. It's obvious!" she cried, and then looked at him expectantly.
"You mean Abdul has the Locket?" exclaimed Firouz, feigning ignorance. Maeve gave a cry of happiness, and threw her arms around the stunned inventor.
"I knew it," she said breathlessly. "I knew you would get it--you aren't like that idiot captain of ours." And then she kissed him.
"Firouz sure is taking his sweet time, remarked Doubar grouchily, crouched in the hold.
"Be quiet," hushed Sinbad, his sword drawn. Up above them he could hear Abdul cry out in pain. He felt Maeve shift around somewhere to his right, as she tried to get more comfortable.
"It's a good thing that we got out of there without being seen," she said softly. Suddenly, there appeared a large patch of light in their ceiling as the door was opened. Had they been found.
"It's all right," they heard Firouz whisper. He had a torch, and set it in the holder on the wall. He closed the door, and bared it with a barrel. "I told them that I was doing some experiments. We won't get bothered."
Cautiously, the rest of the crew got out of their hiding places.
"We were nearly found out," said Doubar. "How did you find us?"
Firouz shrugged. "It seemed a logical place to hide. And I know that they are back, I had a run in of my own."
"You did?" asked Maeve. For some reason he seemed embarrassed and avoided her eyes.
"Can we still proceed with the plan?" asked Sinbad. Firouz nodded. "Then why don't we. This place is giving me the creeps."
Doubar nodded vigorously.
"No, too risky. Wait until nightfall." recommended Firouz. "They're still...busy upstairs."
It was the longest afternoon of Sinbad's life. He sat in the hold, with Maeve, Rongar and Doubar, while Firouz decoded a plan that he found in his counter-parts lab.
"Oh my god," Firouz said suddenly.
"What?" said Sinbad jumping up. "What have you found?"
Firouz gestured to the plans. "This is a machine that my counter-part is designing. It harnesses the abilities of the Locket to open what my counter-part calls "rips in the space-time." He's done a lot more research into it..."
"Get on with it!" Doubar snapped.
"He plans to build a machine that will rip things apart using the Locket!" Firouz blurted. "He's planning to make a super weapon and use it to over throw the ship. And then..the world."
Rongar looked at Firouz and made a slow down gesture. "You don't understand, Rongar? It's very simple. With this weapon, all the other Firouz has to do is aim it. At a person, an army, a ship, a fleet, a whole island. Anything thing he wants to."
"But he needs the Locket, right?" asked Sinbad. Firouz nodded. "Then we have to make sure that he doesn't get his hands on it," said Sinbad defiantly.
"Easier said than done, my good Captain," said a voice behind them. They whirled, to face themselves.
Sinbad stared, astonished. His counterpart was his identical twin, and would have been completely indistinguishable, were it not for the sneer. Sinbad, no matter how well he acted, could not have come up with a sneer so evil or diabolical.
It was the same for all the crew members. Maeve and her counterpart tried to stare the other down; Doubar and Doubar glared at each other.
"I knew they would be down here...it was the only logical place on board the ship," said the evil Firouz, gloating. He and Maeve shared a sneak glance at each other.
The Sinbad of this dimension waved two unidentified crew members down the steps. They carried ropes and chained, and quickly bound the out-of-place crew.
"I'll be taking that," sneered Maeve, ripping the locket from Maeve's neck. She placed it around her own, and laughed.
"It looks wonderful on you," complimented the evil Sinbad. He put his arm around Maeve, and kissed her.
The other Sinbad and Maeve looked at each other with an eyebrow raised, and Firouz fidgeted nervously. Finally, the Public Display Of Affection was over, and they were led up in chains.
"We are taking you back the island," announced the other Sinbad, to his captives. "There you will witness the true power of this Locket!"
At that cue, the other Firouz wheeled out his invention, which looked like a sinister Ruby Beamer on steroids. Maeve went to place the Locket in the machine, but Firouz stopped her.
"Not yet," he said, looking at her strangely. "Wait until later." Maeve nodded knowingly.
Firouz fidgeted again. Finally, he leaned over to Doubar and said in a whisper: "I have a plan."
Doubar nodded, and leaned over to Maeve and whispered something. She nodded, a tad confused, and whispered to Sinbad.
"What?!" he said the Firouz, taking a risk and raising his voice. "Why are you paving hams?"
Firouz groaned. Doubar looked confused, and Maeve looked sheepish. "I have a plan." Firouz explained.
"I have a plan!" Firouz yelled.
"How interesting," commented the other Sinbad, as he sauntered over. "Would you care to tell it to us?"
"Ummm, no." said Firouz.
"I think you will anyway," said the other Sinbad evilly. He snapped his fingers. "Hazeem, take him to my...office."
A burly crew member grabbed Firouz by the scruff of his neck and pulled him off and below deck.
"I have a bad feeling about this," said Doubar.
Firouz looked around the "office" carefully. It was basically a room, filled with nasty weapons and chains. It smelled terrible, since the only ventilation was through a small window in the wall, which looked out onto a rolling sea.
Hmm, he thought to himself. If that window were a little lower down, and open, water would no doubt flood in.
He couldn't change the window's placement--but, he could change its size....
Hazeem, having left Firouz alone (presumably to let his fate sink in) had also neglected to take Firouz's bag, which held his precious bundle of blasting powder. And a lockpick that he carried for just such an emergency.
Freeing himself quickly from the chains with the lockpick, the inventor spread blasting powder liberally over the window sill. He set up a fuse, and then sat behind the door and waited.
He did not have to wait long. The other Sinbad as well as the other Rongar opened the door noisily, almost slamming it in Firouz's face, but he managed to duck, and swing out with one of the clubs he had found in the room. It caught Rongar square in the head, and he dropped like a ton of bricks. Unfortunately, Firouz fumbled, and dropped the club. The evil Sinbad grinned, and sheathed his sword.
"Why do I get the idea you won't settle for a flesh wound?" asked Firouz nervously. The Sinbad grinned, and Firouz ducked as the sword whirled harmlessly over his head.
"Stop moving around so fast, you little runt. I mean, I'm going to catch you sooner or later!" laughed Sinbad. Firouz didn't bother to reply.
Suddenly, the ship tipped up as it hit a wave, and the deck became too steep. Sinbad and Firouz stumbled, but Firouz managed to stay more or less up, whereas Sinbad tripped over the fallen body of Rongar. He crashed to floor, hitting his head on the rack, where he finally stayed, unconscious.
Firouz heaved a sigh of relief. He hastily lit the fuse and ran upstairs.
"Argh!" yelled Doubar exasperated. "Boy, would I like to rip them limb from limb!"
"Calm down, Doubar." replied Sinbad from his adjacent cell. The other Doubar had had them imprisoned here, after Firouz was lead off.
"Sinbad's right! We have to rescue Firouz," added Maeve.
"Don't worry about that," said Firouz breathlessly, as he ran into the makeshift brig, converted from cargo space. He began to pick the locks on the doors.
"Firouz! You escaped! Now we can go pulverise those impersonating bastards!" yelled Doubar, as his door swung open.
"Not now!" said Firouz as he unlocked Rongar. "We have to get out of here!"
"No!" boomed Doubar. "I am not running!"
"You don't understand!"
"The heck I do! You just don't want to fight!"
"That's not it at all!"
"Oh yeah? Then what?!"
"THE SHIP IS GOING TO BLOW UP, YOU MORON!!" yelled Firouz. Just to add some irony, the ship chose that moment to explode.
Sinbad burst to the water's surface, gasping. For a long moment, he had been trying to get to the surface, but his air had run out. It was only sheer force of will that he managed not to pass out while under water.
As he swam slowly in circles, searching for his crew, he realised that the ship had gone down almost instantly. He was lucky to have managed to survive, but he was a very strong swimmer. Most sailors of his time weren't: they believed that if they learned to swim it was like prolonging the inevitable, and that it was better to die quickly.
Sinbad himself made sure that all the members of his crew could swim, but it was still unlikely that anyone had survived, from what he could tell. With a heavy heart that threatened to pull him down and under, he swam to shore.
He lay down on the soft grass, and silently reflected on his fate.
1.) He was marooned in a strange, inhospitable world.
2.) He was marooned without any of his friends, or family.
3.) His boots were really, really wet.
He had squelched his way to the village, hoping to have heard some news, but the villagers gave him only blank stares when he asked about his crew. He sighed, turning onto his stomach as he looked over to the horizon of his new `home'.
And then he saw it.
A small, perfectly round hill, sticking like a sore thumb out on the horizon.
If any of his crew had survived, they no doubt would have headed there. Sinbad got up and ran. He reached the hill in a matter of moments, but from the outside, it looked deserted. Sinbad decided that he had better check out the inside before he made any rash decisions. He shoved aside the Ruby Beamer in the door way, and felt strangely satisfied as it shattered when it fell.
He walked down the stairs cautiously. As he reached the site of the former shaft, he realised that the moving box was gone.
But when they had left it, it was at the top!
That meant someone had used it again!
Renewed with fresh hope, Sinbad began looking for a way to bring the box up to the top again. Seeing a large red button near the door, he took a chance, and pressed it. At first, nothing happened, but then he heard a groan and a creek, and soon the box stopped in front of him. He stepped in, and pressed the "down" button.
As he walked down the mirrored hallway, he decided that the crack running lengthwise made it seem even creepier than normal, for now the mirrors no longer reflected perfectly. Now they were slightly skewed, and they seemed very ominous to Sinbad. He reached the door, and opened it slowly, careful not to make a noise.
"Sinbad!" he heard a voice cry. It was Maeve, and she ran, wrapping him in a giant bear hug.
"Sinbad!" boomed Doubar. He, Firouz and Rongar, all came to meet him, grinning widely. Doubar hugged his brother, nearly breaking his ribs. "I knew you weren't dead!"
"I felt the same way about you, Big Brother," Sinbad gasped. His ribs hurt, and his boots were wet, but he had found his friends. And that was all that mattered.
They stared out over the cliff to the broad, blue sea that surrounded their new home.
"Well, I suppose we can always get our own ship, and start again," mused Sinbad.
"It won't be the Nomad though," said Doubar sadly.
"Or Dermott," added Maeve. The loss of her bird and her friend had affected her deeply. Sinbad put an arm around her shoulder. "It'll be alright." he said. "We've got each other."
Suddenly Rongar and Firouz ran up. They had been collecting firewood, but now they were extremely agitated, Firouz especially so.
"What's that matter?" asked Doubar. Firouz only shook his head, he was speechless. Rongar, having more experience in that field, pointed over a clump of bushes.
Sinbad, Maeve and Doubar withdrew their swords in unison. They approached the bushes warily, and finally, using his sword, Sinbad parted the shrubs. He gasped.
"By Allah!" exclaimed Doubar. Maeve merely stared in horror.
It was this world's version of Firouz and Maeve, lying together, their clothes sodden, expressions of disbelief on their face. Their throats had been cut, and their blood had soaked the grass.
"They deserved it, you know," said a familiar voice behind them. They whirled. It was the evil Sinbad, clutching the Locket, and waving his sword wildly. "They were plotting. Everybody always plots against me, but I will always triumph! I am SINBAD!" he yelled, his voice shaking.
"He's insane," said Firouz, a little unnecessarily.
"We've got to get the Locket," whispered Maeve. Sinbad nodded.
"I'll take care of it," he said.
The other Sinbad laughed hysterically. "You? Take care of ME?! YOU?!"
Sinbad nodded. He began to circle his foe warily, and gestured to the crew to stay out of this one. He was going to take care of his counterpart personally.
His evil twin was good, Sinbad had to say that. Every blow Sinbad made he blocked it. The same was for Sinbad. It was almost as if they somehow knew the move the other was going to make.
We're too evenly matched! Sinbad realised. This could go on forever...plus I still have to get the Locket.
With that in mind, Sinbad suddenly lashed out toward the Other Sinbad's left hand, the one carrying the Locket. He knew it left him wide open, but he took the chance.
His gamble paid off. The other Sinbad cried out, and dropped the Locket. Sinbad quickly ducked and picked it up. As he did that, he realised that in all the fighting, they had gone back toward the "Hill". A plan hatched in Sinbad's mind.
He started herding the other Sinbad toward the Hill. The other Sinbad was now on the defensive, and did nothing to stop himself from being corralled. Maybe he didn't realise he was being lead: maybe he just didn't care. The whole time he had kept shouting about how he was the "Sinbad--The greatest sailor in the history of the world! The invincible!" and he was starting to seriously get on the Sinbad's nerves.
Finally, they reached the Hill. The other Sinbad finally seemed to realise what was happening, and decided to change the plan somewhat. He began fighting erratically, but the good Sinbad was more used to having to fight off well armed opponents than he was. The other Sinbad was too used to bullying innocent peasants and slicing throats than fighting a excellent and determined sword fighter like Sinbad. The only reason that he managed to hold him off for so long was the fact that he could guess at Sinbad's moves before he made them. But in the long run, he was no match.
Sinbad manoeuvred the other Sinbad inside the Hill. The other Sinbad, knowing that he would be disadvantaged on the stairs, having to fight while walking down and backwards, decided to make a run for it. He turned and quickly went down the steps.
Sinbad grinned. His counterpart was following the plan to the letter, and with enthusiasm. He walked to the top of the stairs, but stopped just short of the stairs themselves. The other Sinbad slowed, and stopped, obviously confused as to this strange behaviour.
Sinbad laughed. "Have fun on your way down," he chuckled.
"What are you talking about?" demanded the other Sinbad angrily. "I am Sinbad! Answer me!"
Sinbad merely grinned, and reached around and pressed one of the two red buttons by the door.
"Who goes there!" demanded Doubar.
"Just your Little Brother," replied Sinbad jauntily. He walked up to the fire and tossed Maeve a small object.
"You got it!" she cried. "You got the Locket! We can go home now!"
"I told you I would," he replied, stretching out. "First thing in the morning, we'll head out."
"How did you take care of the other Sinbad?" asked Firouz curiously.
"Oh, well, it wasn't that hard. I mean, he may have been evil, but deep down, he was just a little kid, looking for some fun." Sinbad settled down, a big grin on his face. Firouz obviously didn't know what to make of the cryptic remark, but Sinbad was too tired to explain. Battling Evil Clones was really exhausting, and he fell asleep.
The crew of the Nomad stood in a circle, on the cliff over looking the sea.
"It's now or never, Maeve," said Sinbad.
"I know, but, I mean, what if we don't find our way back? What if we go to another world, and its not ours?"
"Then we keep looking," Sinbad said, his chin raised. "No matter what, we will find our way home."
The crew nodded solemnly, and held hands. Maeve took a deep breath, and cried: " Locket...Translocation...ACTIVATION!"