Happy summer y'all! I already know I'm behind schedule with this chapter, which is why I'm just gonna cut to the chase and thank reviewers 96, 97, 98, and 99, aka Watership's Nightwish Rat (haha glad to see I can still surprise you after this long :D), Carlisle Fan 22 (thank you and of course, what kind of author would I be if I didn't tie up all these loose ends into a neat little bow?), Blindluck92 (yes yes you already gave me the ratings lecture, but at least I made up for the dark stuff with extra fluff), and Superfan44 [your words are always much appreciated :)].
Disclaimer: I've changed a lot over the past year, but the one thing that hasn't changed is my lack of ownership for this story
The deck of the SS Booty Hunter was swathed in faint rosy fog under the light of the dawn, which was completely silent other than the soft breathing of six sleeping adolescents in their bunks. The ship looked almost tranquil…even with the plasma damage from the Amazonian attack only days ago. However, tranquility is always temporary when John Silver is around.
The cyborg strode to the center of the ship, smirked, shifted his mechanical arm into a bugle, took a deep breath, and launched into an energetic rendition of Reveille.
"GAH!" Blaise blurted as he rolled off his top bunk and landed face-first on the wooden floor.
"Attention, crew!" Silver ordered.
The sluggish student sailors stumbled out of their cabins (with Adam and Tigre each holding an arm under Blaise's shoulders so his dizziness wouldn't cause him to drop flat on the deck).
"I SAID ATTENTION!" the cyborg captain commanded.
The louder volume and harsher tone snapped the kids out of their groggy state. They lined up shortest to tallest with their shoulders back, chins up, and eyes forward, just like they'd been trained at Pol Prep. They all had various bruises and scrapes from their fight with Captain Virgil's crew (with Skylar in the worst condition), but overall they seemed in good enough shape.
"Now dat everyone's rested an' recovered, let's have a lil chat 'bout yesterday's brawl," Silver continued as he paced up and down his array of crewmembers. "I know yer only students an' summer vacation's s'posed to be 'bout fun an' relaxation...but not dis summer! I've been too easy on ya an' dat stops now! Startin' today, no more sleepin' in, no more shirkin' chores, an' no more wingin' it when yer life depends on it! Adam?"
The green-eyed boy stepped forward, still maintaining his perfect military posture. "Yes, sir?"
Silver grabbed his oldest grandchild by the shoulders. "Boy, I know yer a Terrain Elemental an' all 'bout respectin' life an' all dat, but ya gotta stop relyin' on defense! Yes, defendin' yourself'll keep ya alive, but the fightin' won't stop til ya knock 'em down!"
Adam pressed his lips into a thin line, but he nodded nonetheless. "Aye aye, Captain."
The Latino smirked and, rather than simply step forward, decided to glide forward midair, expecting praise for his stellar and heroic performance in battle. Instead, Silver smacked Tigre in the chest, causing his stance to slacken and his wings to falter.
"Dat's the kind o' showboatin' dat's gonna get ya killed!"
"Don't you 'pero' me!" the cyborg cut in. "Havin' wings is an advantage, I won't deny dat, but when ya keep wastin' energy on over-the-top stunts, they become a burden, not a blessin'."
"Ooh burn!" Skylar jeered, looking like the Cheshire Cat that ate the canary with her smug smirk and her eyes glowing in that mischievous pink shade.
"Shut up!" Tigre hissed.
"Hold up! Does anyone else hear a balloon deflating? Oh wait, that's just the hot air leaking out of Tigre's swollen head!"
"Yer one to talk 'bout hot air, Skylar!" Silver interjected.
"Oh come on, Pops!" the raven-haired teen whined.
"I'm not comin' on!" the cyborg countered. "In fact, dat's part o' your problem! Yer too impatient! Ya rush into battle, not takin' the time to consider your opponents' weaknesses!"
Skylar's face flushed as she stared at her feet so her grandfather wouldn't see the hot and angry tears welling up in her eyes.
Silver softened his tone ever so slightly. "Look, Sky, I know ya think bein' an Air Elemental's all 'bout kickin' up tornadoes, but sometimes a slow breeze can be effective too."
In an attempt to recover her pride, Skylar crossed her arms and rolled her eyes. "Sounds like a snooze-fest to me."
"Yeah!" Blaise agreed. "If I had powers as strong as Sky's, I'd be using 'em to TP the neighbors' houses and give bullies anti-gravity atomic wedgies!"
"And dat's the issue! Ya may have your sister's strong powers, but ya don't have her strong control! So, to help with dat..."
Silver reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a pair of thick fire-proof gloves.
"Cool!" the fiery redhead exclaimed, wasting no time before yanking on the gloves and jabbing the air with his fists like a boxer. "Do they shoot rockets or block lasers or have super-punching powers?!"
"No...but dat's 'cause they're not s'posed to be used as weapons. You'll keep these handy at all times 'til you've convinced me dat I don't have to worry 'bout you settin' the boat on fire every time ya sneeze."
Blaise's shoulders drooped ever so slightly, but he refused to let his disappointment show. "Alright, but don't blame me when they start to stink up the cabin!"
Silver couldn't hold back his light chuckle of amusement. Blaise may be a little haywire, but his spirit reminded Silver of himself as a boy.
"An' now we move on to Jasmine."
"It's Jaz!" the Asian girl retorted with an angry glare.
"Well 'Jaz'," Silver began in a mocking tone, almost as if he was purposefully trying to provoke the tomboy, "ya got no powers, which means yer crude an' boyish attacks are just gonna get ya hurt eventually."
"Ya can't just go for the family jewels every time yer fightin' a man!"
As Silver expected, Jaz's face twisted in anger before she swung her foot back and kicked right between the cyborg's legs. The resounding clang of bone meeting metal echoed across the ship.
"Believe me now?" the cyborg inquired with a smirk as Jaz hopped around the deck, cradling her bruised shin and trying not to let her tears flow down her cheeks.
"Yikes!" Skylar commented with a grimace. "That's more than I ever wanted to learn about my grandfather."
"Um, PawPaw, why did that-" the innocent Marina started to ask, but Adam coughed loudly enough to draw his baby sister's attention and then shook his head in a way that convinced her not to finish her question.
"Speakin' of me lil mermaid," Silver spoke up before kneeling in front of the blue-haired girl. However, rather than discipline his timid granddaughter, the cyborg's eyes and tone softened.
"I know ya like stayin' in yer safe bubble, but you've gotta start learnin' to confront yer fears rather than just hide from 'em. There's a waterfall inside yer heart an' all I've seen so far is a lil creek. Embrace yer powers, Rina, just like yer ma did."
Marina smiled softly and nodded in understanding as the rest of her siblings came over for a group hug. Silver got to his feet and let his crew enjoy a sentimental moment...but only for a moment.
"An' just who do ya think you are, breakin' formation without permission?! Dat's twenty push-ups, right there! All o' ya, down on the ground! Move it, move it, move it, move it! An' when yer done with dat, we get to the real training!"
And from then on, this became the daily routine for the crew of the SS Booty Hunter. Every morning, Silver would launch into a blaring trumpet solo and the kids would jump out of bed, throw on their clothes, race out on to the deck, and line up for inspection before beginning their AM training session. After about an hour or two, Silver would herd the hungry crew down to the galley, where they had to help with breakfast if they expected to eat breakfast. While the kids ate, the cyborg captain would assign chores to occupy them until their pre-dinner sparring session. Soon, every one of the six prep school students became stronger, faster, and more focused with their individual skills.
Since Siria was able to train her older children herself, Adam and Skylar knew the tactics their mother would've used to educate the twins. Adam would help Blaise channel his fire in a more controlled manner (lighting the lamps in the cabins, cooking marshmallows, even tending to the ship's furnace, but basically anything that would keep the boy from igniting a blazing inferno). Meanwhile, Skylar worked on giving Marina the confidence she needed to use her water powers more effectively. Eventually, the Hawkins siblings even learned how to piggyback on each other's powers for twice the punch. They became a force to be reckoned with...just as the prophecy has foretold.
Eventually, days turned to weeks. The kids didn't even bother keeping track of the time anymore. Besides, other than a lot of stars and the occasional planet, there wasn't much sight-seeing to do, nor was there any indication that the ship was getting closer to Elementia...or so they thought.
"PawPaw, where did you say you wanted the-"
Suddenly, Marina felt an icy chill down her spine.
"What'd ya say, Rina?" Silver called back, not turning around from where his telescope was aimed. "Rina?"
"P-P-PawPaw!" Marina sputtered frailly, but the blue-haired girl's teeth were chattering so much she couldn't even finish her reply before she buckled to her knees, spilling the maps and scrolls she'd been carrying across the front deck.
"Marina!" Silver cried out.
The cyborg dropped his telescope, rushed across the deck, and crouched in front of his youngest granddaughter. Her already-pale skin was now as white as snow (and just as cold to the touch). All of a sudden, Silver noticed the water pooling around his feet...water that was oozing from Marina's palms. Silver yanked off his heavy coat, quickly threw it over the little girl's shoulders, and picked her up off the ground.
"Wh-Wh-What's h-happening?!" Marina stammered, her body still trembling violently.
"I don't know, baby," Silver murmured as he cradled the silver-eyed girl in his arms. "I don't know."
"Hey!" Blaise wheezed as he climbed down the mast, his voice raspy like he'd been smoking a pack of cigarettes every day of his eleven years of existence. "Does anybody have any cough drops? My throat-"
Suddenly, Blaise just started spewing flames again…except this time from his mouth like a dragon!
Meanwhile, the two gravity-defying members of the crew were practicing close combat midair. Skylar spun around to see the source of the commotion and Tigre took advantage of the distraction to kick her in the stomach, causing the rainbow-eyed girl to drop to the deck.
"Ay! Soy victorioso!" the winged boy cheered.
However, Skylar was too busy shaking her head, trying to clear her mind, to spit out a comeback. Tigre chuckled as he glided lower to the ground and offered a hand to the fallen Air Elemental. In fact, Skylar was so dazed that she almost took Tigre's hand, but she suddenly felt electricity crackling in her fingertips. Without warning, tornado-level winds blasted from her palm and sent the Latino soaring into the mast.
"Oh come on, I did not kick you that hard!" Tigre groaned before he slid down to the floor.
Skylar winced sympathetically and rushed over to check on the fallen teenager.
Adam emerged from below-deck and took in the situation. "What the-" the blonde boy stopped to clear his gravelly throat "What the heck is going on up here?! I thought you guys finally had your powers under control!"
"Look who's talking!" Skylar retorted as she glanced at her brother's feet while inspecting Tigre's wings.
"What do you mean?" Adam questioned. He tried to take another step, but his foot was rooted in place. The Terrain Elemental looked behind him to see patches of grass sprouting up from the floorboards in the shape of footsteps leading all the way down to the galley.
"I always thought the expression was 'green thumb', not 'green toe'," Tigre commented while pushing himself off the ground.
Silver lowered Marina to the and slowly absorbed the scene around him, his face the very definition of baffled. "What the bloody blazes happened to me crew?! Where's dat well-oiled machine from this mornin'?!"
Amidst all the chaos, Jaz noticed something off in the distance. She picked up Silver's abandoned telescope, which had rolled across the deck, and climbed up to the crow's nest to get a better look.
"I-I don't know, Pops," Adam stammered, his brow furrowed in confusion as he inspected his mossy footprints.
"Rina, you were first to fritz so start talkin'," Silver instructed.
"I-I was just carrying up those maps you asked for and then...I-I just got really cold," Marina stuttered.
"Maybe you got caught in a draft," Tigre proposed with a glance at a certain Air Elemental.
"Not one of mine," Skylar scoffed defensively. "Maybe those fairy wings of yours kicked up a little too much hot air."
"Not the time, you two!" Silver barked. "Blaise?"
"It was kinda like that time the seventh graders invited me and the guys to join them for a smoke outside the gym...which I obviously said no to because smoking is bad," Blaise finished robotically with a toothy grin plastered on his face.
"Blaise..." Adam drawled knowingly.
"I didn't inhale!"
Adam raised an eyebrow.
"Okay maybe I inhaled a little," the redheaded boy admitted, "but only the one time!"
Silver groaned and rubbed his non-mechanical eye. "We'll talk 'bout dat later, boy. Skylar?"
"Well, Tigre and I were just practicing hand-to-hand, I heard Blaise playing dragon, I looked away, Tigre knocked me down, and then I felt this weird shock down my spine."
"I tend to have that effect on girls," Tigre teased, but his smirk and his cockiness vanished after one glare from Silver.
"An' Adam? What about you?" the cyborg asked, hoping his oldest grandchild would be able to provide some insightful wisdom.
"All I know is that I was below deck and felt like someone had poured pebbles down my throat; I came upstairs when I heard all the noise; and now instead of leaving a carbon footprint, I'm leaving a garden footprint!" Adam exclaimed as he flung his hands toward the miniature meadow blooming around his boots. After the initial outburst though, the Terrain Elemental began tapping his chin pensively. "Actually, now that I think about it, that might not be such a bad thing."
Silver groaned as he rubbed the bridge of his nose. That was not the insightful wisdom he wanted.
"So each o' ya got a weird feelin' before yer powers went nuts," Silver summarized, "but why?"
"Um, Captain Silver?" Jaz called down from the crow's nest.
The crew glanced up at the eleven-year-old tomboy.
"I think I found your why!"
"Whatcha talkin' 'bout?!"
Jaz extended an arm and pointed toward a dark and desolate planet growing closer by the second. "I think I'm supposed to say 'land ho!'"
Okay so I was still working my summer job when I started this chapter, but now I'm already done with my junior year of college and back at my summer job...which shows you just how tricky it's been battling my writer's block for that training scene (and how busy my junior year was). In fact, when I came up with this story, I imagined Adam and Skylar training Blaise and Marina how to use their powers with that song from Mulan 2, but I was kinda paranoid that my story would get deleted if I did, so I spent months trying to come up with new ways to choreograph that scene and finally decided just to move on and give y'all some killer fight scenes to look forward to in upcoming chapters.
Once again, I sincerely apologize for going MIA and I cross my heart that I will finish the last four chapters of this story within the next year. I love y'all so much for staying loyal to me over the course of this story and I'll be eagerly awaiting that 100th review!