Ahead of the Curve

This story is set after my July NaNo and follows one of the secondary characters as he sets out to make a new life for himself.  Since that story hasn’t been published here, I’ll just explain that in “Depth Beyond Dreams”, Mikolojus (called Nicholai) makes the decision to help Taurys and Gilbert in their mission.  This marks him as a traitor, so he leaves Veligrad (rather than facing imprisonment and death).

This first section was written using the prompt: Curve.  The title of the section is “Ahead of the Curve”, but it’s the first part of “The Stars Say Goodnight”.


Mikas fidgeted with his hands as he walked along the docks.  What was he going to do?  He knew that he needed to get out of Veligrad.  At the same time, he couldn’t go to IIA, the way that Taurys had.  If they learned what he’d done, and he had no doubt that they would, he’d be just as likely to lose his life there than if he stayed.

“Find a ship,” Nicholai told him sternly.  “There are tons of them and they’re all leaving port.  Sign up with a crew until you get someplace safe!”

“I haven’t been at sea since I was four,” Mikas protested, shaking his head.  He gave a shaky smile to an old woman as he passed her.  She was staring at him funny, so he knew she’d heard him arguing with Nicholai.  He quickened his pace.

“Nicholai is right, Mikas,” Lukas said.  Unlike Nicholai, his voice was soft and gentle, more coaxing than ordering.  “You know it’s not safe here.  You have to do something and… what other options are there?”

“Train?” he said, shaking his head.

Alexei snorted back a laugh.  “They’ll be watching the trains, Mikas,” he said.  “A ship is your only chance of escaping.”

Still fidgeting, Mikas began looking at the ships, trying to spot one that looked like a good option.  Most of them, if the names were anything to go by, were simply going to another Veligradian port.  That wouldn’t do him any good.

“There,” Dmitri said, suddenly.

Mikas gasped softly at the unexpected voice.  He looked up to see a ship called the Whirlwind.  Of course, Dmitri would see that as a sign.  Anything relating to storms reminded him of the Stormbringer.  “I’ll try,” he said, nodding.  Then, he stepped over to the ship’s gangplank.  He was halfway up when someone called out to him.

“Halt,” he said, his voice carrying a faintly foreign accent.  A man stepped into the shaft of light at the top of the plank and frowned at him.  “What are you about down there?”

“I wondered if you might be taking passengers or – or crew,” Mikas said.  He shivered when the man waved him forward.  As he stepped onto the deck, he grimaced.  “I really just… need to get out of Veligrad,” he said.

“You’re too trusting,” Anya snapped.  Her tone was scolding, but Mikas knew that she was more worried and upset than angry.  “Why are you telling him that?”

“We leave on the morning tide,” the man said.  He tilted his head to one side and added, “It’s two hours from now.  Is that soon enough?”

“Y-yes,” Mikas said.

The man patted him on the arm.  “I’ll show you where you can bed down,” he said.  “You can talk to the captain in the morning about repayment.”

“Thank you,” Mikas said, nodding.  He heaved a sigh and let the man lead him below decks.  The room wasn’t fancy.  It was large and mostly empty, except for the hammocks that were tied between the posts.  Mikas settled in an empty one and curled up on his side.  Somehow, he fell asleep.


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