Chapter 13: Life Goes On

"Some times destruction is a good thing. Something old is gone and something new can take its place."

The room was absurdly white. Every detail of the room was obliterated in the all consuming blankness of it. The fact that you were standing in it was the only clear evidence that there was even a floor. The fact that you couldn't see the sky was the only indication there was a ceiling. The walls were unaccounted for, though, theoretically, something must have been holding up the ceiling.

The absence of detail prevented an estimate of the room's size. You got the impression the room was big only because of the amount of stuff in it. There were hundreds of items, samples was what they were. They were all floating, suspended in the air by some invisible force. They were all lined up in a grid pattern stretching in each direction as far as the eye could see. Each sample had it's own bubble of personal space a goodly distance from its neighbor. There were samples as small as a minnow and then some samples were whole whales.

Moving down one of the rows were two people, both in white lab coats. One of them had gone wild and sewn on black cuffs to his coat.

"This ship was damaged during the mission." said No-Cuffs consulting a hand-held. "The crew didn't survive. The ship stayed in the time stream for nearly five thousand years."

"It's a good thing it time-traveled to a set point." said Cuffs. "It'd be a huge set back to have to wait for its return."

"In spite of contamination and other disasters," said No-Cuffs, "Most of the samples are still viable."

"Fantastic." said Cuffs. "We can begin the process."

"There's one more thing." said No-Cuffs. "We picked up something...unintentional."

They had come up to the only four slots on the grid whose samples were wearing clothes. There were three girls in the first three slots and two boys in the fourth. The boys looked indistinguishable from each other, although one had been bleeding from his eyes before arriving. He was being held tightly by the other.

"We couldn't pull them apart." mused Cuffs.

"I'll scan their cortex and get their basic information." said No-Cuffs, typing something into his hand-held. The results popped up. "Oh, my."

"What?" asked Cuffs.

"It's Zack and Cody Martin." said No-Cuffs, winded.

"No way! The Zack Martin and The Cody Martin?" Cuffs asked.

"The The Themselves." No-Cuffs answered. They both stood in awe of the two battered children.

"They look so little." said Cuffs.

"And yet they'll save our species." said No-Cuffs.

"Every species, really." said Cuffs looking around the white room at the other samples.

"Yeah, we should probably send them back." said No-Cuffs.

"If we want life to go on, it would be a good move." agreed Cuffs. He pondered something for a minute. "What they did was amazing, but I always wonder how much more they could have done with some help. A little extra knowledge."

"It would be irresponsible," said No-Cuffs, "to tamper with history."

"It could cause a total catastrophe." conceded Cuffs.

"It could cause destructive paradoxes." added No-Cuffs.

"It could undermine all the progress we've made." said Cuffs.

"The time stream would be an irreparable mess." said No-Cuffs.

"I won't tell if you won't." said Cuffs.

"Deal." said No-Cuffs. And they each reached up and put a finger to one of the twins' foreheads.

Mr. Moseby was frantic. Five of the students of Seven Seas High had been missing for the better part of the week and along with three of the life-boats. No one had been able to pick up the beacons on the life-boats and a thorough search of the ship had turned up nothing.

In a few hours the S.S. Tipton would be docking in Florida and he was going to have to explain how this had happened to an unsympathetic board, angry parents, and Mr. Tipton, who was a combination of the previous two.

He looked out at the sea from the Sky Deck, seriously considering taking out one of the life-boats to the open sea when there was a flash behind him. He turned around quickly. As the light was dissipating he started to make out five figures lying on the sun-chairs by the hot tub.

It was the missing children! All five of them: Zack, Cody, Maya, Bailey, and London. Mr. Moseby whipped out his cell-phone.

"Hello, Emma." he said as he tried to rouse London. "I've found the children...They're on the sky deck...Not a clue, just send up the Med team." he shut the phone and looked them all over, they didn't look injured, they didn't even look sunburned.

"Where am I?" asked London as she was coming round. They were all coming round.

"You're on the Sky Deck of the S.S. Tipton." supplied Mr. Moseby.

"So, it was all a dream?" asked a groggy Maya.

"All I know is that you were missing for nearly a week and there are life-boats missing." said Mr. Moseby. "Explain yourselves now!"

They weren't much help as they all started talking at once: "A deserted island...a bay... the Peak... a wolf... hundreds of desks...a pyramid...growing fruit...Death...vessels in the valley...a thousand glowing fish...a tunnel underground...NEAR-ZACK EXPERIENCE... a crystal...the future...appearing in perfect white!"

"Zzzt!" said Mr. Moseby. "After the ship's doctors make sure you are not hurt you are all sequestered to your rooms until we dock!"

After Cody had been examined he requested to be put in Zack's cabin. Mr. Moseby did not begrudge him that request. He came into Zack's room to find Zack doodling something at his desk. He didn't move as Cody walked over to Zack's bed and sat down.

"What do you think happened?" asked Cody.

"You used the scepters magic powers to send us into Mr. Moseby's clutches." answered Zack.

"Sounds about right." said Cody.

"You might have used it to fill my cabin with money first." said Zack.

"Next time, I promise." said Cody. He let the silence continue for a while. Then he finally got the weight off his chest. "I kissed Maya." Zack stopped doodling. "The day you and Bailey were building the pyre."

Zack was quiet for a bit, then he went back to doodling. "I forgive you." he said.

"Really?" asked Cody.

"Sure." said Zack. "Soon I'll answer her question of 'Which Twin Is The Better Kisser?' and she'll be devoted to me forever."

Cody laughed and walked over to his twin. He looked over Zack's shoulder at the sketch. It was a chemical compound.

"I didn't know you liked chemistry." said Cody.

"Neither did I, but I keep having these ideas..." said Zack and he added a few details.

"You need a nickel atom there to balance the orbit." said Cody indicating a part of the compound.

The rest of the evening they worked on different atomic structures. The compounds they postulated that night would go on to revolutionize energy production and ecological stability. When asked what inspired them that night they could only answer: bonding.

The End