Author's Note: Okay, this time I actually am sorry. I've had a lot of things to do, and I know that everyone is busy, and it isn't an excuse. As the second semester of school started, I realized that if I wanted to be serious about my academics, I needed more time, and I couldn't stand the pressure of updating every week. I'm trying to write and publish a novel, and somewhere in the great many things on my agenda list, Fanfiction writing got lost on the bottom.
Yeah. Sorry. So I went on hiatus with absolutely no warning, leaving you hanging on the edge for another chapter.
What changed my mind? An anonymous review from "", which reminded me a lot of myself, whenever I read stories or read books. I absolutely devour them, then I'm dying for the sequel. That's actually the reason I began writing fanfiction—I needed a sequel so badly I decided to write my own.
I'm not going to promise any other type of regular update. I can't guarantee that you'll get another installment of this for who knows how long. But, , whoever you are, I hope you enjoy this chapter, because it's for you.
The ship creaked eerily with its absence of all life, and once again, I wondered if I should have gone to the solstice party. However, someone had to be ready to respond to emergencies. I popped open a can of SkyFizzer, despite the fact that I hate the sugary stuff, just to give myself something to do.
"--crackle-crackle--Help--static-static--Help–static--stuck–static—Wastelands—" The radio crackled out in full-blown static, but my attention stayed fixed on it. This could be just the sort of excitement I craved tonight, but due to a little laugh my attuned ears picked up in the background, I suspected my squad was playing a trick on me.
Gritting my teeth in annoyance, I tried to focus in on the signal again, using the new technology Brandon installed which gave coordinates using some weird quantum crystal math. I knew that if it was really my own squad, Brandon would find a way to block his own invention, and I would just get nothing.
Unless he sent me on a wild-goose chase by programming false coordinates.
I sighed, and turned the radio on again. This time, the calls for help sounded more strained. Pressing the button Brandon showed me, I jotted down the set of numbers, then took off sprinting to my skimmer. I made sure I locked up before I flew away, and just out of spite, armed all the traps. If my team wanted to prank me, then they could get pranked themselves.
It was a cool night, but flying under the cloudline with the illumination of the Wastelands, despite hundreds of feet of distance, I could feel the molten rock's heat. If there was ever one place I despised, it was the Wastelands. Not being able to see the blue of the sky, red glow all around me—it reminded me of those tales of Cyclonia. According to the myths, the sky there was always red from all their pollution. I didn't think that was possible.
I was getting closer to the coordinates; I could tell because the crystal tracker Brandon had installed on all the skimmers was beeping louder now. Gritting my teeth, I angled myself closer to the roiling magma and began scanning the little islands of rock for some indication of life.
To my great surprise, I found some. There was a small figure, couldn't have been more than a kid, huddled and crying. Quickly I flew down next to him to try to see what was wrong.
He looked up at me, and I realized my mistake. It wasn't a kid—it was a lizard.
It was pale green, and sort of fat, and when I stepped closer it began trembling, reminding me of the shy scientists whom I had rescued. "Hey, what's your name?" I coaxed it. It just began to cry harder.
At this rate, I was never going to get it back to its home. I needed information!
I stormed back to my skimmer to see what I had that could possibly help me. Weapons? No, I was trying to help this kid! Radio? No. The reception down here was especially horrible, and everyone else absolutely hated the Raptors. What else did I have? Just a lot of old junk and trash and—
A candy bar.
Now, I personally don't like those sugar-and-chemical-filled bars of death, but when I caught Zach eating one during a battle, I confiscated his stash from his skimmer. I decided to hide them in my skimmer because the whole team knows how protective I am of it, and none of them would touch it.
An evil grin lit up my face. "Hey, kid, you want some candy?"
Ten minutes later I had landed on Terra Bogatron and the kid and I were prowling through the forest around the main stronghold. He still wouldn't tell me his name, but insisted that he had to get back to his room before his brother discovered he was missing. He mumbled a lot about "Mommy" too.
Surprising how much chocolate opens up kids.
At the fortress entrance, the guards were snoozing, so kid and I tiptoed in. He seemed to know his way around pretty well, which I should have known was a danger sign, but I was oblivious. I just wanted to get him back to his room and get out.
"Walmoos dare," he lisped, motioning for me to come faster. I nodded and sped up. He was a cute kid, definitely growing on me, but no way did I want to be stopped by Repton in a place like this or anything.
Luckily, there was no one in the corridors. We got to the kid's room without encountering a soul. Thank goodness.
"Bye, kid," I whispered, then waited to make sure he got into his room. He flicked the crystal lights on and—
"Leugey," the voice hissed. "So glad you could make it home."
"I told you, Repton," another voice, a cold, human one that I did not recognize, continued. "And look, not only have you got your errant little brother back, but you've also found yourself the Sky Knight who took him hostage."
I stepped into the light. If I had already been found, no use hiding. Maybe I wouldn't get out of this alive, but at least I was going to go down fighting. Except for the fact that I had left my nunchucks on the skimmer to not scare the kid.
Repton was just as scary as I had remembered—ugly, strong, huge, and with those spiky teeth. I felt even smaller than usual, which I hated. It wasn't my fault I was petite!
The other person, the human, was wearing a Talon uniform. He had a sneer on his face, spiky black hair, and dark eyes. I would have said they looked almost red.
"Think whatever you want," I spat. "I found the kid in the Wasteland with a ruined Heliscooter."
"And you rescued him because?" the weird, creepy Talon asked.
"Because that's what Sky Knights do!" I glared back. I turned to Repton, because at least I had met him before. "Hey, Repton, who is this jerk you have with you? Mister-slightly-less-ugly-than-a-Talon-with-a-mustache?"
Repton opened his mouth, but mister-not-as-ugly stopped him with one arm. "No, wait, it's nice not being recognized. This is funny. I want to see how this works out. Get out your weapon, crazy Sky Knight girl."
I felt my fury rising inside me. "What, you want to tell all your little Talon buddies that you got to see a real Sky Knight? You want an autograph?"
"Weapon," he insisted. "Or I'll just tell Repton to attack you unarmed."
"And Repton will listen?" I shot back, just as Repton hissed, "Yeah, right."
He still stared at me expectantly, so I grudgingly admitted, "I didn't bring mine, I didn't want to scare the kid."
He started laughing, a nasty chuckle that made me shiver. "You really are new to this, aren't you? You genuinely were trying to help the kid."
I rolled my eyes. "What kind of horrible place is Cyclonia that everyone has to have ulterior motives? Maybe I was just trying to do something nice."
"Go back to where you came from, kid," the Talon snorted. "You're too young and naïve to be a Sky Knight."
That made me seriously angry. I lunged forward with no warning, grabbing the staff he was holding and whipping behind him so I held its crystal tip at his neck. "I can't," I replied scathingly. "They're all dead, because of people like you."
I glanced up at Repton, and he seemed genuinely nervous. Whomever this Talon was, I guess he had enough power and importance to boss around Repton. They most certainly didn't want him dead.
As if he could tell what I was thinking, Repton said, "Why don't you put the weapon down?" as if soothing a wild animal.
I grinned ferociously. "Why don't you get out of my way?"
The Talon laughed. "Isn't this an interesting turn of events. Well, you better get out of her way, Repton. I know how much you hate me, and I can take care of myself. I promise, Cyclonia won't blame you no matter what happens."
A win-win for Repton, who stepped out of the way, not even trying to hide his smirk.
The entire way back, the strange man was shaking weirdly, and it took me a little while to figure out he was laughing. I wasn't so sure what he found funny, but he was my ticket out, so I didn't question him.
Finally, I reached my skimmer, and snatched up the nunchucks. With my preferred weapon in hand, I released him, and even tossed him back his spear. I climbed onto my skimmer, and he climbed on after me.
"What are you doing, you creepy stalker?"
"You're taking me captive, right?"
"Wrong." I turned to look at him. "I only needed you to get out of there alive. You can go back to whatever you were doing. I don't care."
He started laughing again. "What, is this another strange Sky Knight rule? This honor?"
I blushed, and began to defend myself. "As far as I can tell, you haven't done anything wrong. I'm not going to punish you for being in the wrong place at the wrong time wearing the wrong uniform. Plus, you did save my life."
The man laughed again. "Darling, you'll be dead within a few weeks if you continue with that sort of attitude."
I kicked him off my skimmer, then brought it to a hover before he could climb back on again. "You think I care? The only thing I want to do is help a few people before I go."
"Whatever. Goodbye, suicidal Sky Knight."
"Goodbye, mustache-less Talon."
I flew away into the clear, velvet sky.
Surprise, surprise, when I returned to the Nelistar there were streamers all throughout the bridge, all sorts of baked goodies, music, sparkling apple cider, and my very own team popping out shouting, "SURPRISE!" looking ridiculous in their Happy Winter Solstice! hats.
"You took longer than expected," Zelpha gushed. "We were worried we wouldn't have enough time to set up, but we've been waiting for over half an hour. You didn't get lost or anything?"
"Weren't you going to the party?" I asked, confused.
"No way!" she replied. "Winter Solstices are always spent with the few you care about most, your family, per say."
"You didn't get lost, did you?" Versa asked me, worry written all over her face. "We just meant to have fifteen minutes while you swept through the Wastelands. I was so worried that a magma beast or something would have hurt you, and we would have just sat here, not knowing."
The full danger of what I had done hit me. If anything had happened to me, I wouldn't have had my team, then they wouldn't have had me. Maybe I liked to throw around my life as if it meant nothing, but now I had people depending on me. It wasn't fair to them.
No way could I tell her where I really was, though, of she had been worried at the thought of me in the Wasteland alone. "Um…" I mumbled, stalling for time, blushing furiously.
"Yep, that's our Starling," Zach chimed in. "Stupid enough to get lost in the Wastelands after a fake rescue mission."
Then the party began.
I'm not even going to ask for reviews. I totally get it if you've given up on me, and there's no guarantee you'll get another update any sooner than this one's come. Sorry ;-(