Tale 2: A Blast from the Past
The next, the Interstellar Academy grew to life. Cadets ran about on the training fields for warm-ups or were on their way to their indoor classes. A young Jim Hawkins was roaming through the halls past those students as he was searching for a certain Miss Smyth. Though he and the young miss had been courting each other since that fateful adventure three months ago, not many were aware of their relationship except for a select few.
"Hey, Jim!" The young cadet stopped when he was confronted by his two friends, Eddie and Richard. "Where's the fire? We've been calling after you for five minutes."
"Yeah, where are you headed off to?" Richard asked.
He smiled coyly. "Where do you think?" he replied.
"Ah geez," Eddie murmured. "You'd think everybody in this place would know about you and you-know-who by now. I mean, with the way you're always disappearing, it would be obvious, you know?"
"I'm sure everybody is too busy worrying about themselves rather than what I'm doing. Graduation isn't that far away and the professors are riding us up harder than ever; you think they'd want to waste their time worrying about my personal life. Besides, if anyone found out about my relationship with Robin, do you know what they'd do to me?"
"Torment you, ostracize you, get on your back about your good grades because you're courting the Headmaster's daughter?"
"But that wouldn't be very surprising anyway, Jim. I mean, I always thought you were Headmaster Smyth's favorite."
"What? No I'm not."
"I've always thought the same," Richard commented.
"Well, isn't it obvious?" Jim frowned. "You shouldn't feel ashamed by this, Jim. You work just as hard as the other cadets—harder than most. You deserve the praise." Jim knew Richard was right. Amelia's recommendation only brought him so far. He had to make a real effort to actually get accepted into the Academy, especially since his family had little to support themselves. Now he was in the top of most of his classes, his tuition was funded in the Headmaster's favor, and he was with the greatest girl in the world. And after all he'd been through, he did deserve this.
"And does it really matter what we think, Jim?" asked Eddie. "As long as you make Headmaster Smyth's daughter happy, you won't have anything to worry about. But if you were to break her heart—well, one thing's for sure; you wouldn't be his number one anymore." Jim gave him a sour look. "Speaking of which, here comes my number one." Jim and Richard followed their friend's gaze. Across the hall, they could see a familiar Aquarius approaching them. She had a content look on her face as she walked casually among their peers. No doubt that smile would disappear once Eddie came along.
The mischievous young man wouldn't stop going after Marina since their voyage three months ago. He held certain affections toward Marina for some reason and his friends were still trying to figure out why. Usually, whenever Eddie held a crush for a certain female student, he'd quickly get over it once another girl caught his eye—and considering the small amount of girls that actually attended the Academy, his standards were very low. But so far, he hadn't even taken a second glance at any other female cadets. His three month crush on Marina was a record. "I'll see you gentlemen later." And with that, the love-sick blonde ran after the unsuspecting girl.
"I've never seen Eddie so infatuated with a girl before," said Richard. "You'd think he'd give up right about now."
"That's what love does to you," said Jim.
"So love makes you blind?"
"Nope, just the opposite." And with that final word, Jim left as well.
The young man ran to the back of the school and around the corner until he was behind the Smyth Estate. He kept going until he found himself in a courtyard. Beyond that, he saw a room with a grand piano inside. Three people were present, one occupying the piano. He recognized her as Robin. The other two, he figured, were most likely her mother and her older sister she told him about on occasion. He remembered she didn't like talking about her family that much nowadays, not after she found out that she wasn't really related to them.
Jim decided to move closer in order to hear their conversation but not so close that he would get caught. He hid behind the pillar closest to Robin. "Mother, this isn't fair," he heard Robin cry. "How come you never make Abigail take lessons?"
"Because I'm a woman," her older sister answered snootily. "And I've learned plenty unlike some young ladies who'd rather skip out to play soldier." Robin stuck out her tongue childishly in reply.
"Girls, enough," their mother said. "Robin, you stay and practice. Abigail, leave." The older girl left the room—not before smiling cynically at her younger sister. Robin just frowned. "Robin, you and your sister haven't been acting any better towards each other lately; in fact, you seemed to have it out for her. Is there something wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong," she answered quickly.
"Is this about—"
"I have to practice."
The older woman took the hint and left the room. Robin, who was now by herself, sighed heavily before facing the piano. She cracked her fingers and stretched them over the keys. As soon as she started playing, Jim slowly made his way around the pillar and leaned against it as he listened. He never heard her play before—not that she ever even mentioned her playing an instrument at all—and he normally didn't listen to music that often, either, but listening to her play was like falling in love with her all over again.
When she was finished with her song, Jim applauded her performance. Robin was startled by this and sighed when she realized it was only her beau. "I swear, Jim, you're going to give me a heart attack one day."
Jim chuckled. "You sounded great. Why didn't you tell me you could play?"
"Because I never wanted to learn," she replied. "My parents always forced me to take these stupid lessons, but I never wanted it. I've always wanted to be a spacer, to taste adventure, to leave this wretched dungeon of a mansion." She sighed as she leaned on keys, causing a very resonating chord. "But they've never understood and now I know why. It shouldn't surprise me why we're so different."
"Now, Robin, don't start…"
"I can't help it!" Robin stood from the piano angrily. "I mean, have you seen my family? Their skin glows and mine doesn't! Their ears are pointed and mine aren't! They're Sylphs and I'm not." Sat back down at the piano and put her head on the keys. "I know I sound very ungrateful right now—believe me, I'm very grateful to have parents who love me and have been looking after me for so long, but I've always been the odd one out. When I was younger, I once thought I wasn't their daughter. It was a childish thought, though. But knowing it isn't so childish makes me question so much…"
Jim put a hand on her shoulder. "It's okay, Robin. I know you're confused. But if it makes so you curious, why don't you ask them."
"I can't do that."
Robin sat up. "Because it's not as easy as it sounds."
"You think?" She turned away from him and crossed her arms. "Robin, it's been three months. Don't you think it's about time you were honest with your parents? You're not making this easy for them, either."
"Easy for you to say," Robin chided back. "You don't have to worry about your father lying behind your back."
Jim frowned. By the time she realized what she had said Jim had already turned away from her and began towards the pillar. Robin put her hand over her mouth. She forgot that his father was a heavy topic. He left poor little Jim and his mom at a difficult time, and they had to run the Benbow Inn by themselves ever since. Things were better now—she found that out on her own three months ago—but the mention of his father still made the young man bitter. "Jim, I'm sorry! You know I didn't mean it!"
He sighed as he leaned against the pillar. "I know you didn't."
She took his hand. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you. I just… I'm sorry, okay? Let's just talk about something else."
Jim turned back around with a coy smirk on his face. "You know, we don't have to talk."
Robin also smiled. "Jim, my mom will be back any minute."
"Then let's be quick."
"Uncle Gil, your story's starting to sound like Mom's," Tim complained.
The uncle looked offended. "What do you mean by that?"
"The story's getting all mushy! When's there gonna be action? What happened with those pirates who want to go to Divinia?"
"Now see, this is why I don't like telling story's to anxious little Hawkins boys. They always interrupt."
"Tim's an only child, Gil," Uncle Dick whispered to him.
"We don't know that for sure."
Tim cleared his throat impatiently, but coming from a toddler's mouth, it sounded more like a coughing fit. When the uncles noticed this, they stopped their little conversation and turned back to the boy.
"Okay, we'll cut through this part. I'm getting sickened just remembering it…"
Before Jim's lips could even touch hers, Robin pushed Jim down into the bushes. "Hi, Daddy."
Jim stopped breathing.
"What are you doing here?"
"I heard you playing as I was walking through the hallway. But when you stopped playing, I thought I heard you talking to somebody…" Headmaster Smyth looked about the gala suspiciously. "Jim's not cutting class again, is he?"
"Nope! Jim's not here! It's just me, alone." Jim took that as his cue to scram.
However, instead of going to his class, the cadet ran straight to his dorm. As soon as he was inside, he caught his breath. He was thankful the halls were empty because he was able to get to his dorm without any hassle. And with no one around to catch him, he was scot-free. "That was cl—" Or so he thought when a knock thumped on his door. "Damn."
His door suddenly came to life and slid open, revealing a very irate panther. "Hey, Lionel."
Lionel snarled at him. He was a man-cat of very few words, but his snarls, growls, and quips said so much. This one meant, "What are you doing?"
Jim sighed exasperatedly. "I'm not doing anything wrong, Lionel."
The panther man snarled at him again. Then he sniffed the young man curtly. "What is it that you are hiding?" he hissed.
"Nothing. I promise."
An irate growl erupted from Lionel's chest, which meant, "I'm watching you, Hawkins." And then he left.
Jim let out a deep breath. "How does Robin put up with him every day?" He was caught a few times before, but luckily he was always excused by Headmaster Smyth, and each time he was caught, he was given a warning. The next time he got caught by Lionel, he was on his own.
When Morph sensed that the intimidating presence was gone, he immediately flew to Jim and licked his face. "Quiet down, Morph!" he scolded. "Lionel might hear you and we don't want him coming back." But he couldn't stay mad at the little blob for long. He petted him tenderly before walking to his desk. His makeshift copy of the map of Treasure Planet sat there. He decided to bring it here as a reminder of home and a further reminder of the greatest adventure he had ever endeavored.
"I wonder if I should go to class," he thought to himself as he tossed the map around in his hand. He already missed his morning warm-up and his first period was almost over. He decided to wait out until his next class began.
Suddenly, Jim heard another knock. "What now?" he sighed. He put away his makeshift map and told Morph to hide before answering the door. He pushed the button at the side of his door, revealing a really sweaty Eddie. "What'd you do this time?"
"Nothing! I swear!" Jim gave him a look. "Lionel's out there and my room's too far away."
"Your room is right next door to mine."
"Okay, calm down, Ed." Jim moved aside and allowed his friend to come in before pressing the door shut. "What happened?"
The disheveled young man took a moment to catch his breath before explaining to his friend. "I was just in the hall talking to Marina," he started, "and of course she doesn't have to go to class because she's not really a student, so Lionel caught me in the hallway. When I tried to explain to him why I wasn't in class, he wouldn't hear a word of it. I even told him I had an alibi, but when I turned around, Marina was gone! I had no choice but to run for my life. But can you believe she would just abandon me like that?"
Jim laughed. "Actually, I can."
"It's not funny!"
"I know. I'm sorry." When he was done laughing, Jim said, "But I don't blame her. You were about to blow her cover. You know she's not a real student, Eddie."
"I know, but is it my fault she's so irresistible?"
Jim didn't answer that. "You need to learn some self-control, Ed. I'm telling you no girl is going to be interested in a guy who stalks them all the time. Haven't you learned from all those other attempts? Remember Chelsea?"
Eddie grinned mischievously. "Oh yeah. I remember Chelsea."
"And Morgan. Phoebe. Caroline. Monique. Alison. You went after them all without a second thought, and then when another girl came your way, you just forgot about them like dust in the wind. Girls don't like to be treated like that."
Eddie looked away guiltily. "Man, am I that shallow?"
"Believe or not Eddie, yes."
"Well that's going to change."
Jim did a double take. "Wait, are you telling Edward Gilligan is going change his arrogant ways and become a new man?" he said with feign astonishment.
"I'm serious, Jim," Eddie insisted. "From now on, Marina's the only girl in my life. And if I'm going to get her, I'm going to need to start acting like you."
"Yeah. You got the Headmaster's daughter. You're obviously an expert on these kinds of thing."
"Robin's the only girl I've ever been with," Jim reminded him. "And don't get me involved with your love life. I want nothing to do with it."
Another knock came from the door, making Eddie jump. "It's Lionel!" He jumped behind Jim's desk.
"Calm down, Eddie," said Jim. When he pressed his door open, Marina was revealed to be on the other side. "Hey, Marina."
"Marina?" Eddie immediately flew out of his hiding spot and was at the door in an instant.
However, the brunette ignored him and said to Jim, "I was told to come and get you. Headmaster Smyth wants to speak with you."
"Thanks, Marina. I think I can get to his office on my own."
"You're not going to his office."
"I'm not?" She shook her head gravely. "Did he say why he wanted to speak with me?"
"I'm afraid not." Jim and Eddie looked at each other apprehensively. From the tone of her voice, it didn't sound like this was going to be a good meeting. Without another word, Marina began leading Jim to Headmaster Smyth. Jim looked back at his friend one last time before following her.
Jim noticed she was leading through an unfamiliar corridor. The hall began grow as if protruding to no end. This made the mood even more foreboding and Jim feared what the Headmaster had to say to him. Their journey ended at two large doors. The cadet didn't recognize them. Marina tapped the door once and it opened ajar. Marina stepped aside to let Jim in. She gave him a reassuring smile and he nodded in return before going inside. The door shut behind him, the soft echo drifted eerily through the immense, open space.
The room Jim found himself in what appeared to be a some kind of court. All the well-known, higher status staff members were seated at benches that formed an arch around him. Everyone was looking at him with the same grave expression Marina gave him not too long ago.
"Jim," said the Headmaster, who was seated at the high bench. "Come forward." The anxious cadet stepped forward until he was in the center of the arch. "Jim, as you are aware, you and your friends were sent on a voyage three months ago to rescue my daughter from the clutches of Raphael Jones. And after looking into Raphael's real record, we found something very interesting."
"Sir," Jim spoke up, "if I did something wrong—"
"No, Jim. It wasn't something you did. It was something you failed to do."
Headmaster Smyth didn't look happy with what he was about to say, but he confidently stood and said it anyways. "James Pleiades Hawkins, you are expelled from the Interstellar Academy."
What a twist!