I glanced over my shoulder, watching the retreating backs of the guard and the syntacticians. I didn't release my breath until I heard the reassuring click of the compartment door. I slid back in my seat and turned towards my partners. Raquel was already typing furiously, her bright eyes intent on the netbook's screen.
"We know where we're going," she said, not taking her eyes away from her work, "but we have to know who we have to see."
"Was there a name on the article you found?"
"Nope, there wasn't. I'm doing a bit of metaphorical digging now."
I glanced up at Symin, perched on the seat across from us. Her sharp, intelligent eyes were bouncing around the car, never focusing on something for more than five seconds. There was something avian in her demeanor, in her appearance, in her mannerisms. Maybe she reminded me of a sparrow, or perhaps a chickadee.
"Digging is a good thing to do," Symin chirped, "But sometimes some dirt'll get out about you." Raquel and I could only gaze at her in amazement.
"I'm not sure if that's the most reassuring thing to be saying," Raquel replied, curling her legs underneath herself.
I bit my tongue. We'd only been on this train for about a half hour, maybe less, and already I had this sense of doom. We were on the edge as it was.
Symin peered into my face. "What's on the brain? You look t'be n'pain." I shrugged. "We're on our way! We shall not stray. We'll do what we can, and perhaps lift this ban."
I squirmed. "I'm kind of nervous. I don't know what will happen to The Acronym's creator when we go back to see His Eminence next week."
Symin turned a touch and leaned back, so much so that she was practically laying across the seat. "Don't think 'bout guilt, it'll eat you alive! Y'gotta stay focused if we're gonna survive This crazy mission. We'll make it through, Just so long as those birds don't catch you And Raquel in another lit'ry offense. We just gotta remember, we're right on the fence."
"You have to be careful, too. The meme can appreciate poetry, but the syntacticians can't stand it. They don't like the freedom of it," I replied. "And if the syntacticians don't like poetry, then their superiors would definitely hate it."
"Which group's higher than the syntacticians? I thought they were highest."
"No, they have their superiors. I don't know the name, it was never spoken in our area, considered to be bad luck."
Raquel's netbook chirped at us, causing Symin to sit up and making me jump. She scanned the screen, clenching her fist triumphantly. "Yes! Now we're making some progress!"
"What is it?" Symin and I crowded around her shoulders.
"A friend of mine from over the border works at the University of Calgary, she said she might be able to do some poking around, so we can hit the ground running."
I nodded, satisfied. "Keep in touch with her. We can't afford a lull in the action."
"What did you say?" a harsh voice snapped as an even harsher pull at my shoulder spun me out of the seat and onto the floor. He was dressed like the syntacticians, but the uniform was black this time.
I scuttled backwards, holding up my hands defensively. "'Lull'! I said 'lull'! Ell-you-ell-ell!" I cried in dismay.