I'm so sorry for this taking to long. D:

Goodness, what chapter is this? Seven? Never thought I'd get this far, to tell you the truth. I wasn't even expecting any reviews in the beginning, but you proved me wrong. Thanks. I appreciate it. You're all such good people. :0

Hmm…I don't even know if I've kept up the right writing style…I really hope I have.

Okay, here's the next chapter. I'd like to dedicate this one to Stitch Phantom, faithful reviewer and the one to hit the nail on the head. You'll see what I mean…

What else? I need to be doing homeworks. But…oh, it's so boring…so here it is. The next chapter.

Disclaimer: If you're still confused, I don't own Tales of the Abyss. If you're still still confused, you need psychiatric help.

Super Chapter Summary!: While the pair in the hot air balloon prove extremely unhelpful, Florian and Jade find another way to safety…

The rickety boat-thing shook on impact, as it collided with the floating basket of the hot air balloon. Florian nearly lost his footing as the boat wobbled uncontrollably. Once he'd regained his balance, he looked up, both eager and terribly afraid to see who exactly was in the basket.

As soon as he saw the occupants, Florian's eyes grew even wider, if it were possible. For there, staring back at him with the most ferocious scowl, was someone who looked just like him.

Florian's mouth dropped open. He knew he was a replica, and there had been others just like him, of course, but he'd never actually imagined meeting one of them. How exciting! And…and somewhat creepy.

Unfortunately, Florian's double didn't seem as pleased about this chance meeting as Florian was. This was evident from the way he was repeatedly slamming his fist into the side of the basket, enough to make a visible crater.

"No!" roared Sync the Tempest. "No, no, no, no, no!"

Florian worriedly raised a hand to his mouth. What was wrong with his double? Maybe he was broken, too? He was not left long to ponder this, however, as a second occupant popped up from the depths of the basket.

"Oh, we're saved!" cried Dist the Reaper…er, Rose. He threw his arms out in joy. "Jade! Jade! I always knew you cared about me!"

Jade coughed. "I'm sincerely afraid not, Dist."

Dist frowned, and was about to go on, when his eyes fell on a severely confused Florian.

"Ion?" Sync blinked several times. "Oh my GOD, Sync, I think we're dead! Either that, or Ion's come back from the grave to haunt us!"

Sync snorted. "We're not dead, stupid. That's just another one of the worthless pieces of junk made to replace the real Fon Master."

Florian bit his lip. It was true, but…he wasn't really a piece of junk, was he? His almost-but-not-quite brother was certainly not very nice.

"My, my," said Jade condescendingly. "Brilliant as ever, aren't you, Dist?"

"Jade, you're always talking down to me! Everyone's always talking down to me!" Dist exploded. Not literally, although that would have also been quite hilarious. "What have I ever done to make everyone treat me like I'm stupid and worthless?"

"Dist," said Jade, acting as if he were talking to a whining five-year-old, "You haven't done anything to make people treat you like you're stupid and worthless. You are stupid and worthless."

"Oh, that's harsh, Colonel," said Sync mockingly, although, truth be told, he was a bit impressed. If only he could be that mean and biting. He had to be sure to make up for these not-negative thoughts, though. "Where's your little sidekick? The one with the ridiculous puppet?"

Florain, who had been watching this curious exchange with a mixture of worry and fascination, suddenly snapped to attention as the little wires in his brain clicked together. Puppet = Tokunaga = Anise! Oh, he'd give anything to be off this awful boat-thing and eating cookies with Anise. Except…maybe not cookies. Cookies were what had gotten him into this sea-going mess.

Wait a second…was his not-quite-brother…insulting Anise?

"Anise's puppet is not ridiculous," Florian said suddenly. "It…it grows really big. And…it can hit stuff."

Every head swiveled in his direction. Unfortunately for Florian, the conversation had drastically shifted in the time it had taken him to, through his disorganized train of thought, realize Sync was insulting Anise. Nobody was really even sure what he was talking about. They were far too busy insulting each other.

"Uh, Jade," Dist said, momentarily forgetting the huge argument. "Is your little friend…all there?"

"He's as 'all there' as you are, Dist," Jade replied, leaving the answer open to interpretation.

Florian looked down at himself. He certainly seemed all there…

"This arguing is getting us nowhere," Jade said, interrupting Florian's thoughts. "Unless you truly believe the power of argument will get you to your destination, then I suggest we form a plan. Otherwise, I'd suggest you get help."

"There's no way we'd cooperate with you," said Sync in that obnoxious condescending tone of his.

Dist made a whining sound in his throat; he really didn't want to die out here in the middle of nowhere. He voiced this opinion but, of course, no one even wanted to acknowledge his existence.

"I already told you, we're not cooperating! You two can go die, for all I care!" yelled Sync, forcefully throwing the handle that had apparently come off the balloon apparatus. Unfortunately, Sync had a mighty good throwing arm, and that handle thing was…well, it was a bit big. And sharp. And it stabbed a hole right through the bottom of the basket.

Jade stifled a bitter laugh as the basket began to fill with water. It took a while for Dist to notice, but when he did…

"Oh, my GOD, Sync!" wailed Dist. "Look at what you've done! We're going to drown!" He turned to Jade. "Quick, let us in, Jade, let us in!"

Florian, fascinated, looked up at Jade to see what he'd do.

There was a long silence as Jade stood and contemplated the situation. Then, with a deep breath and one word, he summed up his decision.


And with that, he shoved the basket away from the pathetic little boat and felt his spirits lift as it began to drift away.

"Um, Mr. Jade, shouldn't we help them?" asked Florian worriedly as he watched the basket float off.

Jade looked at him. "No," he said firmly.

"Jade!" Dist was screaming as he tried to climb the side of the basket. Perhaps he thought he could fly over to the boat that was getting farther and farther away. "Jade! Don't leave me!"

Sync, unwilling to beg for help as readily as Dist, just stood there, sulking. If he was going to die, at least he'd die with his dignity in tact. Dist had lost his long, long ago.

"Well, that takes care of that," said Jade, brushing his hands together in a businesslike manner.

Florian looked from the basket to Jade, deciding he'd better not get on the Colonel's bad side.

Suddenly, a hideous noise filled the air. Florian was thrown down as giant waves began to rock the little boat back and forth, back and forth, in a very vicious manner. And then, as suddenly as it had started, the commotion stopped, and the sea was, once again, peaceful.

Sitting up and rubbing his elbow, which had smacked painfully against the side of the boat, Florian looked around, wondering what could have possibly made such big waves. What if…what if it was a sea monster?"

"Mr. Jade, Mr. Jade," said Florian frantically, struggling to get up but grandly failing. "Was that a sea monster?"

Jade looked down at the flailing Florian, suddenly becoming very depressed. How in the world had he gotten into this situation? Why was he always surrounded by…people? And not just people…the constant-question-asking people, which was considerably worse. And they were stupid questions, too.

"No, Florian," said Jade patiently, or as patiently as he could manage, "It wasn't a sea monster. There are no sea monsters. There never will be sea monsters. In fact, I-"

But Jade was unable to finish his sentence, leaving it hanging as a large shape loomed up behind their tiny boat. Was that…the Albiore?

"W-what is it?" whispered Florian, who had his back turned to the contraption. He was terrified that it really was a sea monster.

His question was answered for him, however, when a voice called out from behind him.

"Jade? Is that you?" It was Guy, and he looked incredibly confused.

Jade sighed. "Unfortunately."

Struggling to get closer, Guy clambered over various wires and obstructions. This was the last thing he'd expected to find when he'd come down to see what was up with the random pathetic boat floating in the middle of the ocean.

"What are you doing out here?" called Guy. "And…is that Florian?"

Florian craned his neck to see who was saying his name. It was that blonde fellow, Anise's friend. Guy, that was it.

"Hi!" called Florian cheerfully, still sprawled on the bottom of the boat and hopelessly tangled. He waved, which caused him to hit his elbow again. They were saved, and not a moment too soon, as he realized the water was already halfway filling the boat. First, though, they'd have to manage to make it onto the Albiore, and the way things were rocking…it might prove to be quite a feat.

Oh man, I'm sorry it took so long for an update. So, so sorry. I just couldn't think of what to write, and then I got started on other things…anyway, I promise I'll try to update sooner. So sorry. ;_;