“What did you do to him!?” I demanded.
“Oh, nothing that won’t be permanent.” Freyja tapped the structure Lu was strapped to playfully. “Relax, Frank. I’m just preparing to fight magic with magic.”
I was far from amused. “Let him go!”
She chuckled. “And why would I ever do that?”
“Freyja,” Tilly snapped. “Stop this!”
Freyja looked at her daughter. “I thought you didn’t want people messing with the timestream. So I’m doing what you wanted. I’m protecting the timestream. This is me, protecting the timestream.”
“Protecting the timestream by strapping an innocent man to one of your twisted machines? How is that anything more than you being a sick, cruel woman?”
“Because this isn’t just any ‘innocent man’, dear. This is the gatekeeper of this dimension. He’s the only thing that can protect this reality from that lunatic. Unfortunately, I realized that he wasn’t strong enough and that he would need a boost if he was going to counteract that horn. Mr. Lu, however, refused to be cooperative, so I had to take matters into my own hands.”
Kink laughed. “You’re the good guy now?”
“I’m not the one threatening to erase an innocent man from the timestream,” Freyja rebutted. “Now, am I, pirate?”
Kink glanced at the young Jamal, but only for a second. “I’m only threatening him because it’s the only way to stop you. You’re the real bad guy here.”
Freyja’s laugh was much louder than Kink’s had been. “And you’re the hero?”
Kink gave a confident nod. “You’re damn right I am.”
“Really? Tell it to the man you’re threatening.” Present day Jamal appeared beside her.
“Oh my go!” Jamal of the past exclaimed. “Who is that? What is that!? That’s not…!?”
“You,” Jamal of my present day replied, nonplussed. “Yes, I’m you. From the future. Trust me, this stuff is going to happen a lot more as you get older, so you should probably get used to it.”
Present day Jamal nodded. “Now, maybe you should run along before you get hurt, huh? I’d like to still exist tomorrow.”
“Yes,” the Jamal of yesterday said. He turned around, but Kink was standing in his way.
“That’s not going to happen,” she said.
“Let him go,” I told her.
“I don’t think so, Frank. He’s my hostage and he’ll stay that way until Freyja surrenders.”
“Surrender?” Freyja laughed. “To a timerat like you? I don’t think so. With my new device, I’ve got you and your horn beat.”
“That device is a person,” I said.
Freyja glared at me. She was no longer laughing. “I think I’ve had enough of you. I think I’ve had enough of all of you. I think it’s time I put this to end.”
Tilly exchanged a look with the present day Jamal. “Wait!” he yelled. Freyja glowered at him. “Where’s Tilly?“
“What are you talking about? She’s right…”
“Not her. My Tilly. From my time. Where is she?”
“Matti,” Freyja said, “is currently enjoying her time…”
“No. Bring her down here! Bring her down here now!” Jamal yelled. “We both know she doesn’t want to be up there with you. We both know you like to kidnap her and I won’t let you do it again. You’re not just going to steal her from me.”
“Like to…?” Freyja feigned outrage. “She is my daughter, Jamal! I would never…”
“You continually do,” I said. She shot metaphorical laser beams at me with her eyes. I was lucky she didn’t shoot literal ones.
“You kidnap our daughter?” Past Jamal asked. He sounded disgusted.
Freyja took a deep breath to calm herself before replying, but Present Jamal took the opportunity to answer for her. “Yes. She does.”
“She is my daughter, too!” Freyja yelled, having failed to remain calm. “And I deserve to spend time with her! I am allowed to be with my child!”
“Who you abandoned at my doorstep before she could even walk,” present Jamal replied.
“You abandoned her?” Past Jamal gasped.
“I did not abandon her. I left her with her father,” Freyja explained. “Where she could be safe.”
“Where you wouldn’t have to deal with her!” Present Jamal said.
“So you’re complaining that I didn’t hold onto her now? Make up your mind, Jamal. Is the problem that I want her or that I don’t?”
“The problem is that you treat her like a toy to play with and then discard when you’re bored. She’s not a toy, she’s your daughter!”
“Oh, you and your complaining. This is why our relationship didn’t work out. I just cannot take all your whining all the time. It is just constant.”
“I’m supposed to sleep with her?” the past Jamal said to me. “I think this is doing a good job of convincing me that that’d be a bad idea.”
Freyja scoffed “Please Jamal. You know you’re in a constant state of wanting me.”
“Constant state of wanting you to leave!” future Jamal said. “Now, where is my daughter? Bring her down here before I…”
“Yes, yes,” Freyja interrupted. “Anything to stop your whining.”
The modern version of Tilly appeared next to Freyja and Jamal rushed to hug her. “Geez, dad, it’s only been like a few minutes. Chill out.”
“A few minutes when dealing with Freyja could actually be years. You think I trust her to play it straight with me?”
“I’m standing right here,” Freyja said.
Jamal glared at her. “As if I could ever forget.”
to be continued…