Anomaly, Part 2: Rebirth
Chapter 23:
"So many questions and no answers."

"Um…hey guys," Bailey said hesitantly while waving her hand in a sweeping, arc motion. She noticed what she was doing and clasped her hands together in front of her. Riley looked up from the magazine she was reading and gave her a short nod before looking back at the glossy pages. Rhuben didn't acknowledge her existence at all. Bailey hung her head slightly and let out a little sigh.

Ever since they got back onto the boat things have been…strained, to say the least. And it was only their first day back on the ship. Cody was the only one who was still talking to her normally. Zack was hesitant around her, walking on eggshells and being very careful about what he said around her. London was oblivious to the whole thing, still marveling about the trip and the purchases she had made.

But the rest of the group was extremely distant towards her, save for Crystal. Her cousins would clam up entirely whenever she came into the room or leave if she walked in. While Crystal would stay silent she would at least acknowledge that the girl was in the room.

"Hi Bailey," Cody addressed her after shooting Riley a look. His muscles relaxed and he gave her a smile. "You can sit with us," he added while motioning to the empty chair next to him at the table. Riley and Rhuben exchanged looks before Rhuben went back to digging in her smoothie for fruit chunks again. Patrick, Noah, Sydney, and Aaron were sitting on the couch nearby, their heads bent lower over Sydney's laptop and a notebook in Noah's hands. They were the only few people occupying the Sea Lounge as they waited for Zack and Crystal to join them to discuss what was going on and how to approach the situation.

"Thanks," she said hesitantly before pulling out the chair and sat down. She glanced to her right and noticed that Koto and Dricer were sitting at the table as well. She could feel the hairs on the back of her neck raise when Koto turned his eyes to her. He wasn't looking at her in a particular way but she couldn't help but feel intimidated from him. "So…what's up?" She asked slowly.

"The sky," Riley replied almost automatically.

"Riley," Cody said in a stern tone.

"Actually, to be more specific, a deck," Rhuben corrected her twin.

"Rhuben," Cody said, using the same tone he did for Riley.

"Cody!" She shot back using the same tone and rolled her eyes. "Look, how much can we trust her?" She jutted her chin in Bailey's direction. "She could just…be a large target on us or something."

"You can trust me!" Bailey jumped in before Cody could say anything. "I promise. I never said anything to anyone and I won't. I just…have a few questions."

"Here we go," Rhuben muttered while throwing her arms into the air.

"Stop being so difficult." Rhuben tilted her head back to see her cousin and Zack approach them. She tilted her head back down, a bored look on her face, as Crystal took the chair the Dricer had just jumped out of to let her sit in. Crystal dropped her bag off of her shoulder and got situated before continuing. "It's only natural she has a lot of questions. Zack and Cody were the same way."

"Zack and Cody were one of us! She's not!" Riley replied while pointing.

"Someone needs a time out," Koto chuckled while pressing his lips down on the end of the cigarette he held in his mouth.

"Bite me!"

"Don't tempt me!"

"Shut up you two," Crystal snapped. When a growl erupted from Koto's throat Dricer's head shot up and he made a hissing sound right back at him. "You two, too!" She added while flicking Dricer's nose. She rolled her eyes and let out a huff, waiting for the noise to settle down. "Whatever questions you have we can answer to the best of our abilities or else we won't say anything at all. Getting you involved is already putting us, and your life, at risk. If you know too much you're pretty much a liability."

She always thought that being on a cruise ship she would be relaxing and soaking up the sun. But now she felt even tenser than she had before. She had to keep Aaron practically locked up in his cabin just to be sure that no one would try to take him, she had to make sure that Koto and Dricer didn't get into some stupid fight over nothing, and she had to try and keep a smile on her face despite the fact that she was freaking out internally over the fact that her father had gone missing.

"Okay, where do you want to start?" Cody asked while turning his eyes over to Bailey's direction.

Bailey shrugged and picked at her fingernails. Where to start? So many things had happened she didn't understand. She still couldn't get her head over Cody's Cliff Notes version of their past. Especially with how serious he sounded when he told her. It gave her the chills and kept her up at night and when she did go to sleep she couldn't help but have weird dreams where fireballs shot out of Zack's nose. Weird.

"I guess…I want to know what's going on now?" Bailey replied but it came out more as a question than a statement. She wasn't so sure she could take too much information at one time and be able to process it in such a way that it all made sense to her. She still wasn't too sure if she were dreaming or not a quick and discreet pinch to her upper arm reminded her that she, indeed, was awake.

And, unfortunately, that this was her new reality.

"What's going on now is that our powers are gone, basically," Cody replied. "Mine, Riley's, and Crystal's. Because of this." He carefully held the dart in between his forefinger and thumb so as not to prick himself all over again. "The dart stuck me, Riley, and Dricer."

"But you just said Crystal's powers are gone," Bailey pointed out.

"They are, because Dricer got stuck. You see, an Elemental's power source is shared with the power source of a guardian," Cody explained. "Take me and Phantom for example. I share my power with him. If his powers were taken away completely, I would have mine still but I would be in a much weakened state. If my powers are taken away, which they have been, then Phantom's powers are weakened. Only not as much because they have more power than we do. But since it was Dricer that got hit by a dart and not Crys—"

"She's weaker than the rest of you," Bailey interrupted him. Crystal's eyes narrowed slightly at Bailey's statement but she pressed her lips together and kept quiet. Cody nodded. "Okay, I understand that. But why were you hit by the darts and what was in them to take away your powers?"

"That we don't know, sadly," Cody replied. "Any suggestions?" He asked, turning the question over to his friends.

"It's like Koto said, the Government has something to do with this," Riley said with a nod of her head. "Why else would a stupid surfing contest be rigged? If we weren't out there none of this would've happened, now would it? We still would've been shot down if we were parasailing or something. My question is how they got wind of us."

"They attacked Zack at the grocery store, remember?" Crystal spoke up. "They already knew we were here, somehow. But how, is the question?"

"I think the real question is who 'they' are," Rhuben spoke up. Her voice had a slight edge to it that got everyone's attention. Her eyes were trained on nothing in particular but they were hard, as if she were staring at someone that she hated the most. "Who in the Government is doing this to us? Why they want to do this to us? Why are we seen as such a threat? Why do they have Christian? Where is he? What do they want to do with him?"

"So many questions and no answers," Cody sighed.

"There may be a few," Noah spoke up from the couch, turning around so his arms were resting on the back of it. Patrick, Aaron, and Sydney followed his lead and leaned over the back of the couch as well. "Answers, I mean," he continued to their quizzical look. "There may be a few answers."

"Well waddya waiting for? Spit it out!" Zack demanded.

"Koto says the Government is after us," Noah stated. His voice was quiet but it seemed to echo and have authority in the vast room. It was as if he had them all hypnotized, they were hanging on his every word, their breaths held to see what he had to say. "That means that, somehow, they know who we are- what we are. And, yet, that gives us more questions, like how? We think we're so careful but there could be a chance that we're not. Or, someone always knew who we were, someone who worked for them. Someone who knew we always existed and think of us as 'freaks' or 'monsters' and want to fix us."

"What do you mean 'fix'? We're fine," Zack pointed out.

"By our standards, maybe," Sydney scoffed. "What we are…it's not normal to the rest of the world. You have to have thought of that at least once in your life." He paused. "Of course, you're not that normal in the first place so…"

Zack grunted while the others laughed at him and Sydney smiled innocently. Noah let out a quiet sigh and rolled his eyes, instantly getting everyone's attention. "We know who's after us, that's one question answered. We kind of know why, that's another. Why did they take Christian? Easy, he knows the most. Core is gone, otherwise they would've taken him and Christian's the closest to us. Not to mention if we ever figure out where he is they're probably guessing that Crys would go and try and get him back."

"No shit," Crystal muttered from where she was biting her thumbnail.

"The question is what was put in the darts and why they decided to shoot us with them instead of try and snatch us and how long the effects will last," Noah continued. "We can figure out what was put in the dart, there has to be some sort of substance left that we can break down chemically. It could take us some time, though."

"It's the best option we have right now," Cody sighed as he ran his hands through his hair. "We'll only get the answer to how long it'll last once you find that out."

"Do you think it'll last long?" Aaron asked the question that seemed to be on everyone's minds.

"I don't," Koto replied. They gave him a questioning look. "If that were the case they would've shot all of us and be done with it then and there instead of taking her dad." He jutted his chin in Crystal's direction. "They're drawing all this out for a reason."

"To watch us suffer?" Riley question.

Koto shrugged. "Wouldn't put it past 'em."

"So what happens now?" Bailey asked while tugging on the end of her hair. She tried to put herself in their place to try and understand what was going on but she felt a mental block. No matter how hard she tried she just couldn't understand the severity of the situation and it made her feel worse about being left out. But was that really a bad thing? Being left out of this situation? She was still normal; she didn't have anything to do with this. But now that she knew she didn't want Cody to have to go through it alone, or her friends. She may not be able to help much but she would always be there to lend an ear. And that's better than nothing, right?

"We wait, as always," Cody replied. He sighed. "What else can we do?"

"Is there any way we can track Dad's location?" Crystal asked, turning her eyes over to Aaron.

"Crys, we can't do anything," Cody reiterated.

"You don't know that," she said firmly, glaring at him. "Aaron, check if there's any way and get back to me. I'm not going to sit around and let these people do something to my father. I don't care if I have to go looking for him myself I you all want to be scardey cats."

"Well…I'll try, but I can't make any promises," Aaron said hesitantly.

"Good." Crystal nodded. "Otherwise lay low, keep your heads down, and keep quiet."

"Here's the thing, what makes you think that they're not pinpointing this boat at this exact moment?" Riley asked with lifted eyebrows.

"Do you honestly think they're going to want to take out an entire boat just to get to us?" Crystal asked with lifted eyebrows.

"They didn't hold back at the grocery store, that's for sure," Zack scoffed.

"Please." Crystal shook her head. "They may be a part of the government but they're not crazy."