Author's Note: Hey! I know that I update pretty erratically, but here the next chapter is! Let me say, this chapter was the most fun yet to write. First of all, if you haven't seen the episode "Five Days," number 38, I recommend. Go on YouTube right now! It is in my opinion the awesomest episode there is, probably because (a) Cyclonis comes and kicks ass, that's what the entire episode is about, and (b) you get to see a very human side of Cyclonis in the end.
Helliexx—thanks so much for reviewing! I'm glad you liked it!
Pascy—yeah, Finn always makes me laugh. I'm glad you got a giggle from it, too! Thanks for reading and reviewing!
Tsuki-hime Neko—thanks for subscribing, and I'm so glad that you like the story!!!
Disclaimer: I own nothing! ;-)
I was installing a new heating and cooling system into my laboratory, and, of course, I had wanted to hire professional help. Unfortunately, due to cost cuts around the palace (which was my fault, I had been increasing funding in public service projects and decreasing taxes, and the extra money had to come out of somewhere) we couldn't hire professional, aka Wallop, help. So with some trepidation, I allowed the strongest Talon, Snipe, to offer his services.
"Five. Lift the piping to level five," I directed. Snipe looked confused. "Level five and on the right."
Snipe still looked confused, but by now I was convinced that he always looked confused if you told him something that didn't have anything to do with smashing stuff. "Um, my right, or your right?" he mumbled. Then, he actually tried to look down at his hands to determine which one was left and which was one right. Unfortunately, he was holding the giant metal pipe, and forming "L's" with his thumbs made the pipe drop. Sure enough, one thing hit another, and in seconds my beautiful lab was in ruins.
Snipe tried to pick up the rubble, but I angrily brushed him away. He was trying my temper. I was not happy at all about having him help me in the first place, when I had the crystals to do it myself, and now he had destroyed my lab? "Just get out," I sighed.
Then, I noticed something. One of the pipes already attached to the ceiling had fallen onto the table. It couldn't be that table! I thought. I didn't leave it lying on that table! However, as well as I could remember, I had.
I lifted a hand, and a Levitation crystal flew to me. Wielding the crystal's power, which was now so commonplace to me, I lifted the rubble off of the table.
"NOOOOOOOOOOOO!" I screamed. Why? Why this? Why me? Why now?
Snipe had smashed my cell phone.
No, I'm not one of those Valley girls who need their material things. Yes, I know that there is no cell phone coverage in the Atmos. The reason that I kept the otherwise worthless piece of plastic and metal around was because (a), it was my last piece of home, and (b) it had the only pictures I had of my family. There was one picture of my mother and me hugging that I looked at every night. I couldn't have been more than three in the snapshot, but I loved it. It was the phone's wallpaper.
I had worked so hard to create a crystal-powered charger, just so I could look at my mom and remember her.
Hours later, Ravess was the one who came and found me. I'm not sure if it was a dare, or if she was worried that I was going to punish her brother. All I know is she found me, not crying, as I was too shocked to cry, but sitting on the floor staring straight ahead, cradling the broken pieces of plastic and smashed computer chips that were all that remained of my precious cell phone.
"Hey? Are you okay?"
I looked up in surprise to see the Talon leader observing me with worry in her eyes. I wiped my cheeks, which was kind of pointless as they were completely dried, and mumbled, "Uh-huh."
She squatted down next to me. "What did my idiot brother break this time?"
"A piece of Earth technology," I explained, showing her the broken phone parts. She looked at me in confusion. "It's the only…picture…I have…of….my….mother." Finally, admitting the loss got to me. I burst into tears.
"Hey, hey, it's alright now," Ravess said. "You ever wonder why Snipe is so stupid? He wasn't properly formed as a baby. He was born three weeks late. He overdeveloped in the womb, and the resulting labor killed my mother. I was raised by my aunt, and when I became sixteen, I raised Snipe myself. Still, I know what it's like to miss your mom."
I nodded, suddenly feeling very bad. My mom was fine, back on Earth. She was probably more than happy. Poor Ravess…I didn't even want to think about how horrible that must have felt for her.
"You know, kiddo, unlike people, you can fix stuff when it's broken." I looked up at her in surprise. "Come on, surely you've heard of a Nil crystal!"
"Yeah," I replied, going into automatic information regurgitation mode. "Nil crystal, and extremely rare, small, nondescript green crystal capable of returning absolutely anything to its previous state, provided it gets the right amount of time and the thing itself's parts are still fairly intact, or at least all present. The only known one to exist in the Atmos is currently owned by the crystal expert and giant named Gundstaff, who previously was considered to be of the Cyclonian alliance but I have not heard from him since I took the throne." I took a deep breath. "From what I've heard of the Nil crystal, and its similarities to various crystals like Regeneration crystals, it would probably only take me 150 hours of non-stop work to map its matrix from guessing and checking, and another 200 to completely create the crystal from scratch in my lab. 24 hours in a day, taking four hours to eat, sleep, and deal with running the empire business, that's still 17.5 days of solid—"
"Whoa, slow down," Ravess chuckled. "Did you ever consider just going to the Gundstaff guy and asking him?"
Twenty minutes later, I was standing outside of Gundstaff's hut with a small Nightcrawler escort.
A minute to explain the 'Nightcrawler' part—Nightcrawlers weren't evil, just like Wallops aren't evil. They're just misunderstood. Their society existed mostly in underground caverns, near crystals. They absolutely adore crystals, and need them to survive, just like humans need the sun. They actually use crystals to create food, to purify water, and simply to do everything. The youngest, most inexperienced Nightcrawler has more power over crystals than the greatest human Crystal Mage.
However, Nightcrawlers practically worshiped the crystals, and they believed that using them excessively in battle or even for leisure was sacrilege, so they learned to fight without crystals. Unfortunately, without crystal weapons and misunderstood as they were, they were easy pickings to the Atmosians.
A treaty with Cyclonia had changed all that. Now, we supplied them with crystals, and the ones that wanted to were allowed to form elite squadrons for special, peaceful, crystal-finding missions. Together, we had uncovered 34 new mines that supplied the empire with thousands of new crystals every week.
A minute to explain the 'escort' part—first of all, Ravess and Dark Ace said no way was I allowed out of Cyclonia without protection, but I didn't want to disrupt the chain of command even more by taking both of them with me. Secondly, I was extremely scared of this giant. I had heard that he was very…mean. I had brought some scrolls, in case he wanted to trade knowledge or something.
Biting my lip, I carefully knocked on the door. For a moment, there was no response, then I heard, "Who are you? Why are you bothering me again?"
Oh, great. This was extremely intimidating. I decided that I did like looking at the bottom of the door, either, so I focused Levitation Crystal energy around myself, floating up at what I hoped would be his eye level.
The door was yanked open, and I stared right in the eyes of a old, grumpy-looking, extremely tall giant.
"Master Cyclonis," he sputtered. "What an unexpected surprise! Why didn't you tell me you were coming? Come in, come in!"
I was shocked by his change of attitude, but I did as he bade. Inside, I looked around to see a larger-than-life, but clean and homey laboratory/living room cross. "Have you come to collect your monthly tribute?"
My eyes widened. "Look, I don't know what the Master Cyclonis's before did to you, but I want you to know that Cyclonia has changed. We're not going to steal your crystals anymore. We want to help you. We want to make lives better."
He laughed. "You're a young one, still all naïve and idealistic. Let me ask you this: why did you come?"
I blushed. "I need a crystal."
Still laughing, he replied, "Then come and get it."
"But I can pay you," I protested. "Money, crystals, Talon protection—"
"I don't need money, I can't exactly go to a regular marketplace. I don't need any more crystals. Talon protection? I can protect myself quite well enough."
His eyes narrowed. "You would share your findings with me?"
I nodded vigorously. "I actually brought you some copies of scrolls. Even if I'm not borrowing crystals, I'll still send you all my new findings. Knowledge should be shared."
His face split into a true grin, and his eyes sparkled. "Well, maybe you're not too bad, young Master. I couldn't stop you from taking my crystals, but if you want to send me your research, you've got yourself a deal."
I smiled back, depositing the scrolls I brought on the table. "Could I please borrow your Nil crystal for a day? I promise I'd return it tomorrow. Something precious of mine was broken, and there's no other way to fix it."
He nodded slowly. "Can I ask you a favor? I heard that you finally managed to map the matrix of a Regeneration crystal. If I let you hold onto this Nil crystal for a month or to, do you think you could map it's matrix and send me a copy?"
I bobbed my head enthusiastically. "I'd love to!"
Together, we made our way into his vault.
Inside, however, there was a surprise. In place of the Nil crystal was a small note saying, "Sorry. I promise we'll return it. The Storm Hawks."
"It should be there!" Gundstaff shouted, eyes wide with a mixture of rage and fear. "When I get my hands on those kids—"
"Hey, don't freak out," I soothed. "I need to visit the Storm Hawks anyway, so I'll get it back. Then I can map it for you. I promise you'll have your crystal and matrix map back in a month."
"Hey, Piper!" I said into the radio-phone.
"Hi!" came the cheerful reply. "You have no idea what a good time this is, Aerrow's bedridden and we're just circling Terra Nostras. It's rather boring; I never thought I'd say this, but Aerrow is actually getting annoying!"
"So you're using the Nil crystal to heal Aerrow?" I inquired.
"Yeah…" her tone turned a bit more suspicious. "Why do you need to know?"
"Do you think I could stop by and pick it up?" I asked.
"Um, well, the team doesn't really trust you that much. Stork is determined you're evil, Junko's still sort of scared of you from the Storm Engine thing, Aerrow is convinced that you're either insane or evil, and Finn suddenly vehemently hates you. It would be better if you didn't come."
"I need the crystal, Piper," I pleaded. "You don't understand. It's about my family."
She was silent for a second. "Okay. But I don't know, be ready for them to attack you. Don't expect a warm welcome at all."
"Thanks. I owe you, big time." I hung up, a grateful smile plastered across my face. Turning to the Nightcrawlers, I commanded, "Set a course for Terra Nostras, guys!"
The Condor was there, all right, but the Storm Hawks did not look friendly. As I brought my skimmer over towards them, they actually began shooting at us! First, I disabled Piper's crystal with a blast of my own, then I tried to fly towards them, with varying success.
The good news was, I didn't get hit by anything. The bad news was, I still need a lot of practice if I'm ever going to get a driver's license back on Earth, because I absolutely fail at skimmer flying. After spinning upside-down uncontrollably for about the tenth time in a row, I decided to ditch the sky ride for a levitation crystal.
Suddenly, I was a lot more in control. I hit the Condor with another blast that would take out all their electronics, so they could stop shooting at my innocent fleet.
Next, I ended up on the roof above the bridge. Concentrating my crystal power as to do the least damage possible to the roof, I burned a small hole and floated in. The Merb pilot, Stork, was standing at the controls. "Hello, Storm Hawk," I said politely, grinning at him.
"Goodbye, Master Cyclonis," he snarled, violently yanking a lever.
Wait a second, was I?—too late, the floor beneath me popped up, hurtling me from the top of the ship. In the air, I whirled around, and flew back down, blowing up the trap and staring carefully for any other surprises the Merb could have prepared.
The pilot looked ready to fight. Something about his stance scared me; he looked like some ninja or something.
"Sorry," I whispered, then hit him with my Paralyzer crystal. He flew backwards and slammed into the ground, unable to move and completely unharmed.
It was self defense. I was protecting myself from an assailant. Still, I felt really bad just leaving him right there on the floor.
"Freeze, Cyclonis. We've got you surrounded."
I turned to see a very angry looking Finn and his Wallop friend pointing their weapons at me. "Look, Finn, I warned you it was experimental—" I tried to plead.
He aimed his crossbow at me.
Sighing, I Paralyzed both the Storm Hawks. Seriously, couldn't they tell that I didn't want to fight?
Walking down the hallway, I finally came to the infirmary. However, Piper stood in the doorway. "Not a chance, Cyclonis," she growled.
"Piper, my best friend forever, I'm so sorry," I gushed. "Look, I can explain!" She raised her staff, eyes narrowed.
"We're not going down without a fight," she hissed.
Suddenly, a Nightcrawler jumped on her, tackling her from behind. I was very, very grateful that I had indeed come with an escort. I quickly Paralyzed them both before either could hurt one another. "Yes you are," I scolded. "Violence is bad. No violence! No!"
Finally, I had reached my goal. "Aerrow," I said, stepping into his room. "What happened here slipped on a banana peel?"
"Something like that," he replied.
"Oh, really?" I absolutely failed at making small talk. His blue rabbit thingy tried to drop a wardrobe on my head, but I stopped it with one finger. (That was a new crystal trick. It had taken me months to perfect, but it was so worth it.)
"Look, what do you want, Cyclonis?" Aerrow asked.
"The Nil crystal," I admitted. "Piper must have you on a Five Day plan. She's a smart girl. It's too bad you have ten minutes left, and I'm already right here." I paused for a second, and he closed his eyes, in fear or anticipation, I'm not sure.
"Do you have any chairs? Because I'm going to get really bored of standing here for ten minutes straight."
"What!?!" Aerrow sputtered, eyes wide now, in surprise.
"Chairs? To sit on? Please? I promise I don't have the swine flu or anything!"
He looked even more confused over the 'flu' comment (I guess it was an Earth thing), but then again, I think he was getting over the surprise of me being willing to wait for the crystal. "You mean, you're not just going to take it in an attempt to permanently cripple me?"
I looked at him, confused. "Why would I do that? It's not even my crystal to begin with. I feel bad enough having to fight my way through your crew to get to you. I never wanted to hurt anyone!"
He shook his head. "I don't suppose you want to tell me whatever diabolical plan you're going to use this Nil crystal in?"
I sighed. "It's a long story."
"We've got time," he replied. "Nine minutes and fifteen seconds, to be exact."
I smiled. "Okay, fine. I'm not from around here. I'm from…well, I guess you could say, the Far Side of Atmos. The Cyclonians 'recruited' AKA kidnapped me because I possessed natural crystal skills. They set me up as the old Master Cyclonis's heir. With no way to get back to my family, I was stuck in the position of Master."
"I've tried my best to change around Cyclonia for the better. Economically, we have no homeless people, no one without jobs, and no one goes hungry. The only reason we're still fighting you is actually because you're still fighting us. We're just trying to defend ourselves."
"The reason I need that crystal is Snipe smashed up my lab while I was working on remodeling, and the only picture I have of my mother was destroyed. I want to get it back, and only the Nil crystal can fix it."
"I'm so sorry," Aerrow whispered. Empathy filled his large emerald eyes. "We'll find a way to get you back to your home, I promise."
I shook my head. "It's not about me anymore, Aerrow. The people of Cyclonia depend on me. Also, if I just left, do you really think the Cyclonians would stay the good guys?"
He was silent.
"So, um, you've never really introduced yourself," he began. "I mean, I'd feel a bit awkward calling you Cyclonis all the time."
"Don't," I replied. "It's who I am now. Plus, it's easier just to think that I'm evil, right? Less moral qualms about fighting me."
He sighed. "Yeah, sorry about that. You know, you should really come to Terra Atmosia, and sign a peace treaty or something."
I smiled. "Could you guarantee they wouldn't shoot me down on sight? Like you Storm Hawks did, for instance?"
He grinned back sheepishly.
I glanced at the clock: five minutes past midnight. "Oops, we're done. You're all healed!" I exclaimed, then grabbed the crystal from his cast. He started laughing.
"What are you so happy about?" I asked suspiciously.
"I just remembered—that clock is three ticks too slow. I was healed two minutes before you got into the room."
I shook my head. "You're hopeless, Aerrow. Why exactly didn't you tell me?"
"Um, I kind of wondered what you were like. Piper talked an awful lot about you, and we all suspected sometimes when she was hogging the phone that she was talking to you…"
"What do you think of me? Am I insane?"
He blushed. "In a good way. You're rather nice, polite, you seem quite smart."
I grinned. "Thanks, Aerrow! Hope the next time I see you, we're not trying to shoot each other down out of the sky." He opened his mouth, but before he could say anything, I teleported back to Cyclonia in a huge flash of red light.
My cell phone was just where I left it—on the floor, in a neat pile of pieces. I concentrated the energy from the Nil crystal, and slowly but surely, they began to mold together. In a few seconds, it was whole again.
My mother smiled down on me, holding a younger, toddler me. I, in turn, was clutching a teddy bear.
Blinking tears from my eyes, I snapped the phone shut. Everything would be alright in the end. Now, to start mapping that Nil crystal matrix…
That was such a fun chapter to write. First, I watched the episode again just because I loved it. Then, I re-watched the scene where she confronts all the Storm Hawks to make sure I got the right lines. You can check—it's pretty accurate!
Well, please review!