I stared at the rope in my hands, my mind racing with ideas in between taunting visions of my castaway past.

I could… yes, I could hold down Jana and Misham while I figured out what to do about the floating blue orbs.

I took a deep breath. Our journey could not end two gateways in. Would not end only two gateways in. So I began with Jana, who was nearest to the water. Tying a hasty lasso, I looped the rope around one of her wrists, then connected it to the other so that she could not fight back. Then, despite her thrashing, I connected the makeshift handcuff to her ankles, and before long she was restrained on the deck of the boat.

In the distance, something—or someone—fell into the water with a loud splash. We were already losing people.

I turned to Misham, who briefly paused as though noticing Jana had fallen. I took the chance to lunge for his wrists; he pushed me away, but I was swift and desperate and he had begun to fight back against the voices and visions. Soon he, too, was immobile and trapped in the safety of our boat.

I turned up to the blue lights flitting about in the air. They watched me intently, whispering, voices rasping like torn fabric. I stared back, defiant. I had never been close with anyone in my life, but these were my fellow travelers, my comrades. Why were these… these things trying to hurt them? How dare they hurt them? I cannot be sure how long we remained thus, sweat beading on my forehead as I fought through the orbs’ influence to meet their gaze.

But then they stopped. They froze in the air, their frantic movements dulled to nothing. Then, in unison, they sped away toward the horizon.

We were free.