“So,” mused Kepa as he stared at the sky, “that thing he was holding, that de Lancre put in that box, was one of these zatiak, one of your pieces of magic.”
“Bai,” answered Marina.
“And we got in the way. We stopped you from stopping him.” Kepa turned to face Marina. “Sentizen dut. I’m so sorry. Because of us, de Lancre has one more of the zatiak.”
“Ez,” replied Marina. “I mean, yes, he does. But, actually, I didn’t come here to stop him, not this time. I came here for you two.”
Maite spun. “You what?” she exclaimed.
Buber’s Basque Story is a weekly serial. While it is a work of fiction, it has elements from both my own experiences and stories I’ve heard from various people. The characters, while in some cases inspired by real people, aren’t directly modeled on anyone in particular. I expect there will be inconsistencies and factual errors. I don’t know where it is going, and I’ll probably forget where it’s been. Why am I doing this? To give me an excuse and a deadline for some creative writing and because I thought people might enjoy it. Gozatu!
Marina sighed, her gaze lingering at her feet. “I can’t do this alone. I can’t stop de Lancre. I’ve been able to collect a few zatiak, but he’s found more. At this rate, he will claim our magic for himself and who knows what he’ll do then. And I can feel my mind… It’s very hard to keep my mind in one piece when I’m constantly jumping from one body to another, from one personality to the next. So many lives, so many worlds, each so different. I can’t keep track and I fear my mind is starting to slip, starting to fragment.” She looked up, first at Maite and then Kepa. “I need help.”
“What does that have to do with us?” asked Maite.
“I need your help,” answered a frustrated Marina. “I need you to help me stop de Lancre.”
Maite laughed. “Assuming for a moment that I believe your story — and I don’t — how would we even be able to help you jump through time and stop a crazy French bastard from destroying the world?”
“Actually,” Kepa interjected, “de Lancre was — is — part Basque.”
Marina nodded. “De Lancre’s aitxitxe, Bernard, was from Nafarroa. His original surname was Rostegui. I suspect it was through him that de Lancre learned about the magics that infuse the Basque Country.”
“It doesn’t matter!” exclaimed Maite. “I don’t care if de Lancre was the most Basque person that ever lived! That’s not the point!” She turned away from Kepa and Marina, staring into the forest. Her hands were clenched by her side, her knuckles white. She took a few deep breaths before turning back to the others. “Look,” she said, forcing her voice to be calm. She looked at Marina. “I simply don’t believe your story, that you are jumping around time, chasing this guy, trying to find God-knows-what before he does. It goes against everything we know about how time works.”
“I understand your frustration,” said Marina plaintively. “I can’t explain any of this. I didn’t create the zatiak, exactly, they created me, created this ghost. I don’t know how they exist, I don’t know how I jump through time, I don’t know how de Lancre does either. All I know is that I can, that he can, and I have to get these zatiak before he does.”
“Don’t you already know how it all turns out?” asked Maite. “If you can jump through time, can’t you just go into the future and see what happens in the end?”
Marina shook her head. “It doesn’t work like that. The zatiak create bubbles in time. When I jump to when and where one of them is, I’m not aware of anything that happened before. I know my history, of course, but I don’t know the history of the moment I’m in. If you showed me a newspaper from today, I would forget anything it said once I left this time.”
“Is that what keeps you and de Lancre from messing with history?” asked Kepa. Maite glared at him.
“Uste dut, bai; I think so,” replied Marina. “The bubbles protect time and history from anything that de Lancre and I might do. We really can’t disrupt history exactly. We interact with the people we meet — like you two — but once we are gone, time somehow forgets we were there.”
“How are we supposed to help you then?” asked Maite. “Even if I believed you, the moment you leave, we won’t remember you.” She shook her head. “None of this makes any sense.”
“Because, I would give you these,” replied Marina. Kepa and Maite watched as a point of light appeared in Marina’s chest, between her breasts, and then proceeded to grow until it was about the size of a saucer. Two small balls of light emerged from the glowing hole in Marina’s chest, hovering for a moment in front of her before they settled down into her outstretched palms. “These two zatiak would let you help me.”