|Apennine by Giambologna (1579)|
I've been working on the collaborative project for CYOA so I decided to just pull in the mythology/technology and write a little offshoot story that can stand somewhat alone, but still ties in to the overall project. This innovative project has been an exciting challenge. You can learn more about the project by checking out the CYOA front page.
Villa di Pratolino
Florence, Italy. 2010
Jane waited for her head to stop spinning and the world around her to come into focus. When it did she could see the orange-red sunrise reflected in the Arno. In the distance the dome of the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore rose above the Piazza del Duomo. Jane wished she could watch from her perch on the bridge as the sunrise splashed over the city and the streets began to fill with the activity of the day, but she had come here for a purpose.
Jane spotted a row of bikes lining the Lungarno Torrigiani. She didn’t have time for a rental so one of these would have to do. She followed the bridge and walked the row of flashy motorcycles. She eyed a simple black Triumph Bonneville 800 that looked to be in good condition. Jane fished the masterkey out of her bag. It was the one piece of tech she never left behind. It was an ingenious invention made to look like a keyless entry device. She turned the dial to bike, typed in the make and model, flipped out the metal piece, and watched as the metal molded itself into a key.
Jane took a quick glance at the empty street before climbing onto the bike. She kicked up the stand, inserted the key, deployed the choke knob, and pressed the start button. The bike hummed under her small frame. She pushed her messenger bag around to rest on her back and tightened the strap. She looked down at her wrist and let out a deep breath. She only had forty minutes to make it out of Florence and navigate the winding roadways to Vaglia. Jane pulled on the helmet, which the owner had been kind enough to leave behind, and began her ride North.
Jane took her post as Time Warden of Southern Europe very seriously. Her post included the years spanning the 19th through the 22nd Century, but she spent most of her time in the 2130s Thessaloniki, Greece at her flat in the Olympiados area. She loved the interesting mix of the thriving city interspersed with the ancient ruins that had been preserved throughout time. Having the latest technology at her fingertips was just a bonus.
Jane had received the communication from Johnathon just as she was freshening up for a night out clubbing with her girlfriends. It sounded urgent: a rift in the continuum 10 Oct 2010 8:03, Villa di Pratolino, Vaglia, Tuscany, Italy. Monitoring the continuum in her assigned time and area was Jane’s top priority. She had immediately looked to her augmentor, a device which allowed her to monitor the flow of time, navigate a jump, and communicate with other wardens. She hadn’t seen anything when she had checked that morning, but now Jane saw the ripple that Johnathon was warning her about.
It had been a long, long time since she had heard anything from Johnathon. He was once one of the most esteemed wardens, but after he left his post there had been little information about him. Johnathon had mentored several of the best Time Wardens, including Jane’s mentor, Selene. Selene refused to talk about him, but lately Jane had heard murmurings that he was in pursuit of some grand scheme. The little bits of information she had gleaned warned her that he was a danger. There was a rumor that he had been murdering Time Wardens to hide his activities in certain eras. Jane had a hard time believing that someone Selene trusted could stoop to such heinous activities. Surely if it were true he would have been stopped by now. There were measures in place after all. All she could worry about now was the threat of a ripple in her zone. She had quickly found a fold in the continuum that would send her closest to Johnathon’s coordinates and made the jump.
Jane pulled the bike into the Villa di Pratolino. She was a little windblown and her body was still vibrating from the long ride. She left the bike and began to traverse the gardens looking for anything out of the ordinary. Everything seemed normal. It was still early and just past the tourist season so Jane was alone in the expanse of drying foliage. Many of the leaves had already started to turn and a few had fallen to the grass below creating a scant covering of orange, red and brown. As she was admiring the lush scenery Jane felt the hair on her arms raise. The tension in the air was faint, but it was enough to alert her that another warden was nearby.
Jane closed her eyes and concentrated. She could sense the pull coming from the east. She opened her eyes and saw the colossal statue of Appennino as it brooded over the grotto. Approaching the sculpture she felt the waves of pressure grow stronger, causing her hands to shake and her stomach to turn. She fought the side effects of being in close proximity to another warden, knowing that it was her responsibility to maintain the continuum. Then she saw him. Even though it had been ages since she’d seen him, Johnathon was unmistakable with his sandy, red-tinged hair and muscular frame. She watched as he paused at the edge of the statue, skirted the foot of the bearded giant and disappeared into the centuries-old trees behind it.
Jane hurried across the grassy expanse, climbed the guard rail, and made her way up the sculpture to the spot she had seen Johnathon pause. She looked down. There was an innocuous-looking black briefcase sitting at the edge of the statue. Confused, she checked her wrist again. 8:02. She didn’t have time to deal with Johnathon’s game of cat and mouse. Whatever was going to happen was going to happen soon. She peered around the edge and searched the trees for him. She saw a movement in the branches and could still feel his presence. The feeling of her stomach turning was distracting. She could feel the pounding of her pulse in her temples and was fighting the urge to get as far away from Johnathon as possible.
That’s when she heard it over the trickle of water flowing into the grotto. A faint beeping noise. She looked around for the source. It was the briefcase. Jane’s heart began to race. She quickly picked her way across the base of the sculpture. She rounded the huge foot and stumbled down into the grass. She looked out into the trees and saw Johnathon. He flashed her a smile and winked before disappearing into the forest.
Jane turned back toward the sculpture. She heard a loud blast followed by deafening silence. Her body was propelled through the air. She slammed against a tree and felt a sharp pain in her left shoulder. When she looked over she could see a jagged branch piercing through her upper arm, pinning her in place. Unable to move, she watched as Giambologna’s masterpiece came crashing down on her in a mass of brick and stone.