As the celebration erupts in the streets, the only thing Sierra could do at the moment is try to enjoy the night. If her worries would let her enjoy it. Will Avery come back and finish with her arrest or will the bounty hunter get to her first? The story continues in the sixth chapter of Catching Time!
[Read First Chapter Here.]
Chapter 6: Old Friends
“I thought you said this would be fun?” Sierra folded her arms and looked out at the scores of people. She hadn’t been watching the news recently. She just found out in the hotel room that the war had come to an end.
“It is fun,” Bliar pushed a cone of cotton candy into her hand. “When was the last time you had cotton candy?”
“In 1922,” Sierra said flatly as she accepted the treat.
“I mean, when was the last time you had any in the 2090’s?” Bliar raised her eyebrows and picked off a piece of the cotton candy.
“Never.” Sierra pulled a piece off for herself and let it melt on her tongue. Bliar was right, they had a night to relax before they left to the skyport and they should enjoy themselves. Since the war, many sugary foods had been rationed and it was rare to get anything in this timeline that didn’t have to get pre-ordered months in advance.
Looking around, Sierra had to admit that she really didn’t like this place. Life was hard and the people were barely holding their lives together. She told herself she only stayed here to keep her brother out of trouble but that wasn’t entirely true. Her brother was the only person that was familiar in her constantly changing environment, so she stayed.
“Hey, it looks like the parade is about to start!” Bliar pulled Sierra’s sleeve excitedly, “Lets get closer and get a better spot, I can’t see over anyone.” Bliar took off with Sierra in tow.
“Aren’t you worried? It’s probably a better idea if we keep out of sight,” Sierra looked around at the crowd. Two people had come after Sierra in the last seventy two hours and standing out in public didn’t make her feel any safer. She also suspected that whatever was going on with everyone trying to arrest her had something to do with this peace treaty.
“Hey, I know you had a traumatizing experience trying to save that woman’s life-”
“Avery.” Sierra interrupted before Bliar could finish.
“Right, Avery…” Bliar continued, “but there are so many people here. It will be easy to get lost in the crowd. That bounty hunter can’t find you-”
“So that makes this safe?” Sierra said skeptically, interrupting Bliar again.
“It means that if anything goes wrong, this is better than being trapped in a hotel room with nowhere to run.” Bliar said a little irritated with her this time.
“Hey, watch it.” A woman that was standing next to them said as Sierra stepped on her foot. She looked at them both with a scowl.
“Sorry,” Bliar lied with a smile and pulled Sierra away. The woman had stopped them from having an argument in public. They really didn’t want to draw attention to themselves.
“I told you this was a bad idea,” Sierra continued but Bliar didn’t listen. Taking a deep breath, Sierra finally decided to give in for the moment.
“This spot is perfect.” Bliar pulled Sierra in between two tall men on the sidewalk. They had a good view of the parade and it was the best spot they were going to get. A deathbringer walked past and the surrounding crowd cheered. Bliar gave Sierra a look, both eyebrows knitted together as she glared, warning Sierra not to say anything negative.
Sierra looked up at deathbringer as Bliar turned away. This new invention hadn’t been out for that long and it had turned the tide of the war. Looking at it still made her uncomfortable. Bones of them were scattered all over this place.
“I think it will be better if we get out of here.” Sierra looked down the street at the upcoming floats. All of this stuff was really nothing to be proud of in Sierra’s opinion. It was all about war and death and that’s all anyone knew around her. For her as an outsider, this display made her uneasy. This atmosphere was a far cry from the one she grew up in but looking back at history, she could see how all of this had started.
“Just a few more minutes and we’ll go back. I want to be around a party for a little while. Y’know, somewhere fun.” Bliar said. Since the parade started, Bliar looked like she was finally getting relaxed. Unfortunately, Sierra was ruining it for her.
“Uh-huh.” Sierra pulled off the last strip of cotton candy. She noticed that Blair’s whole demeanor changed since Avery walked out on them. Bliar didn’t seem as tense.
“Just, try to be happy. It wouldn’t hurt to not be a dick for awhile.” Bliar plucked the empty cone from Sierra. She scanned her surroundings, frowning that they had eaten it so quickly, “I’ll be right back. I’m going to toss this.”
Sierra nodded and continued to watch the parade as Blair left. Maybe, it wouldn’t hurt to enjoy herself. She hadn’t relaxed in so long and Bliar was trying to cheer her up. Bliar was only trying to get her out of her comfort zone, that’s what she always tried to do. Sierra knew she was acting like an ass. She was amazed that Bliar always came back to help her.
Now, with the deathbringer gone, a float with a plane mounted on it was making its way down the street. The crowd cheered around her as she watched it move past. In disbelief her eye caught on someone familiar across the street. She didn’t look well. Tousled brown hair covered part of her face and even in the dark with nothing to illuminate her properly, she looked pale.
“Avery?” Sierra said under her breath.
Avery was sitting on a camping chair, slightly slumped forward. A small group of flag bearers marched behind the float and Sierra lost sight of her. Stumbling through the crowd on her side of the sidewalk, Sierra tried to get a better look.
“Watch where you’re going,” A man pushed back, refusing to move.
Getting stuck on the side, Sierra looked up at the man and scoffed. It was going to be a struggle for her to get a better view and impossible for her to cross the street. She turned her attention back to where Avery was sitting. The flag bearers had crossed and there was a gap between the next float. Sierra blinked, the camping chair was empty. In disbelief, she wondered if she imagined it.
“It looks like you’ve seen a ghost,” Bliar pushed her way back up to her. She was holding two beers this time.
“I just thought I saw-,” Sierra started and then changed her mind, “Nevermind, it was nothing.” She knew Bliar didn’t like Avery. It was probably better for her that she walked out on them on her own. Unfortunately, not like this.
Sierra knew what was wrong with Avery. The side effects of the memory wipe looked like they had already set in… that is, if the woman she saw was actually her. Sierra shook her head and made up her mind. Yes, the woman she saw had been Avery. Sierra knew that she should be there treating her and not hiding in the crowd.
The image of Avery, lying unconscious and bloody on her kitchen floor flashed through her mind. She had shot her and then erased her memory for her own personal gain. Watching Avery stumble with basic knowledge was a little painful to watch. Her brother would have disapproved if he would have seen what she had done. At first, it seemed like the problem fixed itself when Avery walked out.
“You alright?” Bliar looked at her, her eyebrows were knitted together again as she handed Sierra a beer, snapping Sierra back to the present, “Do you want to go back to the hotel?”
“Well, yeah?” Sierra took the beer. Maybe she just needed to get out of here. She couldn’t change the past, what happened to Avery couldn’t be undone. Sierra would have to live with the guilt.
“Alright.” Bliar looked disappointed, she had really wanted to stay.
They both walked away from the front of the sidewalk and their spots got filled by the crowd behind them.
The hotel room was cheap as Sierra sat down on her bed, the springs underneath it creaked. Bliar loudly plopped down on her own bed in the hotel room and the bed groaned with her added weight. The two beds were old and the room wasn’t well kept. The lights on the corners of the windows were turned up to make it look like daylight but it did nothing for the view. They were staring right into a brick wall of the next building.
“You’re an ass sometimes.” Bliar rolled over on the bed and stared at Sierra from her side of the room.
“You could go back to the parade?” Sierra offered.
“No, it’s no fun by myself,” Bliar turned over on her back and stared at the ceiling for awhile. “Y’know, I’m sorry that your brother died but you need to lighten up.”
Sierra turned to Bliar for a moment, she felt a brief pain of guilt for not letting Bliar enjoy the event. This wasn’t the first time she had done that. She had pushed Bliar away in the last several months since he died. “I know I can be an ass sometimes,” she finally said, agreeing with Bliar.
“Good,” Bliar sat up on the bed and leaned over her nightstand. She still had two beers from the parade. “Now, do you want one or are you going to make me drink both.”
“I’ll take one.” Sierra reached over the side of the bed and took the beer from Bliar. They both sat in silence for awhile and Sierra slowly finished half.
Sierra looked over at Bliar who was sitting quietly on the edge of her bed. She remembered when she picked up Bliar in 2002 on one of her first missions. It was right before Bliar was supposed to die in a car accident. She wondered if that’s why Bliar was so loyal to her. It was her way of saying thank you.
“I think I’m going downstairs for awhile,” Bliar finally said after several more minutes of silence. “I’m getting bored.”
“Sure, I’m staying here.” Sierra responded, she didn’t really want to go back out. Right now, she couldn’t process the information that Avery was out there too.
“We leave at five in the morning so I’ll be back by then.” Bliar got up and walked towards the door. She tossed the empty beer bottle in the trash.
“Ok, don’t bring back any trouble, I’m not staying in the same room if you pick up a guy,” Sierra said, attempting to lighten the mood. She didn’t want Bliar to leave in a sombre state.
“What, I only did that once and you’re still bringing it up?” Bliar turned around with a slight smile, remembering the moment. “You won’t let me live that one down.”
“Yeah, I’ll kick you out of the room again.” Sierra said flatly but she couldn’t hold back her own smile.
“I thought that dude was going to punch you so I had to get to it first,” Bliar reached for the doorknob and turned it, opening the door, she turned back to Sierra, “I think I broke his nose. I heard a crunch.”
“Then, he got so mad he rushed out and pulled the fire alarm.”
“That was horrible.” Bliar laughed slightly, “Yeah, I know I’m not doing that again.”
“It makes a great story,” Sierra now couldn’t hold back a full grin, “I’m not looking for repeats, though.”
“Yeah, agreed. I’ll see you in a few hours.” Bliar walked out of the room in a better mood than she had entered it in.
Sierra watched her leave and sat up on the bed. She knew Bliar wanted someone to be her wingwomen but Sierra always turned her down. She really wasn’t into the excitement of picking people up and it never seemed to get old for Bliar no matter what time period they were in. They originally hadn’t been the best of friends when they first started to work together but they grew on each other.
“Turn on the television,” Sierra said after she finished her beer and a 3D projected screen materialized.
This was fine, she didn’t want to get in the way of Blair’s fun. She had no idea what was going to happen in the next several days, so it was only fair that Bliar was allowed to enjoy herself. It felt impossible for Sierra to do the same at the moment.
Slowly, Sierra drifted off to sleep.
“Hello?” A voice was heard in the hallway.
Sierra thought that she was dreaming. She was in and out of sleep and pockets of her memory were blank from being in a light slumber.
“No, I’m not who you’re looking for.” A different voice said followed by muffled speech and some shuffling around.
“Bliar?” Sierra asked in the empty room. She had dimmed the lights and the room had a nice glow. Bliar still hadn’t returned. Sierra looked at the time projected in the corner of the tv and found that Bliar wouldn’t be back for another hour.
Staring at the tv, she thought that all the noise had been coming from the screen. Instead, the chanel was stuck on a cooking show that didn’t fit the noises that she heard in the hallway. It could have been a dream. She had an eventful couple of days that her mind could be playing tricks on her.
“Room service.” A male voice on the other side of the door called, followed by two quick knocks on the door.
It took awhile for it to register in Sierra’s mind. She didn’t remember ordering anything and she doubted Bliar did. “You got the wrong room,” she sat up in bed.
“I’m sure it’s the right room,” the voice on the other side replied and there was a few seconds pause. “If this is the wrong room, it’s on the house.”
Sierra thought about this for a few seconds, something didn’t feel right. It was a mistake that she even answered the guy in the first place. She remembered what Bliar had said earlier about them being stuck inside the hotel room with no place to run if someone came after them.
“Hello?” The man said again and the doorknob of the hotel room shook as he tested it out on the other side. “Hell, I don’t have time for this,” the voice mumbled and the doorknob sizzled.
Suddenly, the handle fell to the floor with a thud.
Sierra didn’t know what to do, she was trapped inside the room. The only thing that was close to her was the decorative lamp on the nightstand. She quickly picked it up.
“Fucking get out, I have a gun!” She yelled, hoping whoever was on the other side would have second thoughts and stop.
Her warning didn’t slow him down. A second later a man entered the room. He stopped in the doorway and took a good look at her holding the lamp.
“A gun?” He smiled, clearly amused.
The only thing that was familiar about him was his boots. They were the same as the other night when Avery and her had to make their escape. It looked like she was now face to face with the man that had broken into her brother’s house. She had been careless. Her and Bliar didn’t bother to use false names when checking into a room.
“Sierra Mirza, is it?” The man said with a sly smile as he closed the door behind him.
“It’s Emily, dipshit,” Sierra lied flatly. It was worth a try to pretend to be someone else. She pulled the cord out from the lamp. If she didn’t have any other choice, she was going to throw it at him.
“So, you have a sense of humor.” The man stepped closer. He shrugged and put his palms up, as though he wanted Sierra to calm down.
“Ok, you got me. I’m guessing you’re here to arrest me?” Sierra clutched the lamp as if her life depended on it. Her plan was to throw it at him and make a run for the hallway. “Well, get in line because I’m not going quietly.”
“I don’t care if you go quietly or not. No, hurt feelings of coarse, you’re high up on Earth’s most wanted list. Kinda worth a lot of money.” He walked a few steps closer and then stopped in the middle of the room.
“Do you even know why I’m listed there?” Sierra stayed perfectly still. She was going to let him make the first move.
“No, and I don’t care.” He shrugged and put his hands down.
“Hey, hands were I can see them,” Sierra said, still not moving from her position.
He reached behind him and pulled out a gun. “Like this?” He pointed it at her. “Who do you think will win? My gun or that lamp?”
Sierra froze. She was really getting tired of getting held at gunpoint. She was too far away and she knew she wouldn’t be able to fight back at this distance. Slowly, she put the lamp down and stood up.
“Bounty hunter, right?” Sierra asked. She already knew the answer but maybe she could stall him for a little bit.
“Right.” He reached for his belt and pulled out a pair of handcuffs. “Now, your choice if you want to use these or not. If you’d just come with me, we don’t have to make a scene on the way out.”
“I’m going to have to say, no.”
“Your funeral.” He uncuffed one side of the handcuffs.
Sierra saw a brief opportunity and did the only thing she could think of. She made a run for the door. It wasn’t enough. Unfortunately, with one long lunge he managed to trap her with one arm held around her waist and the other pressing the gun to her head.
Behind him, someone else entered the room. Sierra was too preoccupied to notice the sound of breaking glass.
“Too bad, we could have done this the eas-” He stopped mid sentence. Sierra felt his grip loosen and he dropped the gun. She heard a strange pained gurgle. Seeing an opportunity, she spun out of his grip, and kicked the gun to the other side of the room.
Now out of the way, she looked back at him. His face was distorted in pain and he had dropped to his knees. Standing above him was Bliar, she had a broken shared from a beer bottle lodged in the side of his neck. His eyes bulged as he tried to claw his way behind himself to get at Bliar but she stood in place, pushing the shard deeper. Quickly, he lost consciousness and slouched over.
“Bliar?” She rushed up to the man and inspected the wound. He was going to bleed out if no one did anything quickly.
“Don’t you dare,” Bliar said and looked directly at Sierra. “You are not saving this one.” Bliar stood up and walked over to the gun and picked it up. Sierra was still standing in shock as Bliar closed the hotel door.
“Shit.” Sierra sat down on the bed as Bliar walked passed her. The sound of running water came from the bathroom as Bliar washed the blood off her hands. The man’s body was left untouched in the middle of the room.
Bliar walked back up to the man and pushed him on his back. She searched his pockets and picked up a tiny device from his ear. It was a communication device. Bliar smashed it swiftly with her foot.
“I think we overextended our stay.” Bliar said as she walked back to Sierra and placed her hand on her shoulder.
Sierra was still in shock after the turn of events but she quickly gathered herself together. It felt like it had been five minutes ago that she had drifted off to sleep. It turns out that she really did have a bounty on her head. She wondered what the turning point was? They always seemed to be after her but not Bliar when they had both worked together under the same orders.
She was the one putting them in danger. They weren’t after Blair, they were after her.
“Bliar, I think I over extended my stay.” Sierra said out loud.
“What? What do you mean by ‘my stay’?”
“That guy was after me. Not you.” Sierra shrugged Bliar’s hand off.
“That doesn’t mean we’re not both getting out of here,” Bliar stood up, “You need somewhere safe to go and I need a change of scenery.”
“We are going to get another bounty hunter after us. He was talking to someone else at the house.”
“So, we’ve dealt with worse.”
“You don’t have to come with me.” Sierra looked up at Bliar from the bed.
“I know, but we are the closest thing we each have to family. I’m not leaving you.” Bliar took Sierra’s hand and pulled her to her feet.
It took awhile for Sierra to think this over. She really needed Bliar to leave if she wanted to keep her safe but she knew she’d be dead without her. She had helped her clean up the mess with Avery and now this. It was selfish to want Bliar to stay but Sierra didn’t know what to do without her.
“Ok, fine.” Sierra knew Bliar would follow no matter what she said.
They left the hotel room. No one would notice the man until the morning when Sierra and Bliar would be far away on Earth.