APRIL 18, 1912
New York City
The older woman and young man raced through the crowd milling in front of the building where the partial list of survivors and deceased was posted. The great ship Titanic had sunk three days prior, and the records of the survivors were becoming complete -- meaning the record of the deceased was also becoming complete.
While the pair's race caused some incredulous stares at first, the opulence of the woman's clothing caused those stares to cease. This was a mother and son come to see if their husband and father had been among the lucky survivors.
"He's not here..." the man's voice caught as he finished scanning the deceased list. "Mother, he's not here!"
Her hand rested on his forearm. Her brown eyes shone with tears she would not let fall as she shook her head. A voice that still held the delicate shades of her homeland whispered, "Yes, Xian-Quai.... he is here."
She raised her other hand and touched a handwritten name near the bottom. "He traveled under alias this time.... he is here."
Xian-Quai's electric green eyes widened as he mouthed the words 'Samuels, Elijah Lee'. ".....no....."
The Model A coughed its way into Four Corners, Arizona a week later. Xian-Quai got out and helped his mother out of the car as his nine partners began to gather around them.
".....well?" half-brothers Bill Travis and Adam Larabee asked together. When the dark head shook, Adam's hazel eyes closed as Bill shook his head.
"I've got her," an older woman, hair more grey than blonde now, stepped forward and wrapped her arms around Xian-Quai's mother.
He reached for her. "Aunt Mary, I ---"
Her head turned to him, blue eyes snapping. "I said I've got her." When he pulled his hand back and nodded, she turned back to the smaller woman. "Come on, Li Pong...." She led the silent woman away.
"How're you doin', Xian?" Sarah Tanner asked him.
"Not Xian," came the terse answer. "Xian-Quai is dead."
"What?" burst from them all.
His head raised, almond-shaped green eyes meeting each pair in turn. "To honour him, I'm using my middle name now."
One voice laughing greeted that remark. A man with a dark moustache and raven hair graying at the temples stepped from the boardwalk in front of the jail and stopped in front of the ten, who formed a semi-circle around their grieving compatriot.
"Daddy!" Annie Dunne hissed at him.
"Don't worry, punkin," he smiled. "I ain't makin' fun of the lad." He held out his hand. "Been a few years since there's been an Ezra Standish as a Regulator. Nice t'have one back."
His chin lifting proudly, Xian-Quai Ezra Standish took the proffered hand. "Thank you, Uncle John..... I'll do my best to live up to the name."
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