The Day of Three Suns dawned.
Leah's bedside alarm was a loud, obnoxious thing – it was designed like an old fashioned alarm clock, and sounded like one too. It was impossible to ignore, which was good, because she had the unfortunate habit of ignoring her alarms in favour of her pillow. Nevertheless, the incessant ringing of this one eventually dragged her out of her dozing. She reached over and wacked it a few times, eventually hitting the button which turn it off.
After pushing herself into a vaguely upright position, her first thought was of the sky. Still bleary-eyed, she walked over to her bedroom window and drew back the curtains. Squinting against the sunlight, she examined the sky.
One sun. She didn't really know what else she was expecting.
Still yawning, she threw on a dressing gown and made her way out of her bedroom. The moment her door was open, she let out another big yawn… and immediately inhaled a lungful of smoke. Coughing and gasping, she experienced a moment of panic and quickly shot her gaze around the apartment, before she realised what must have caused it.
"And good morning to you too," James called, smirking at her from one of the sofas. He had a dishcloth wrapped around his mouth and nose to shield himself from the smoke, and was tapping away on his computer as normal. Matt sat opposite him, his shirt pulled right up over his nose.
"You'd think I'd be used to this by now," she choked, making her way over to the kitchen area where, predictably, Dan was cooking breakfast. He and Katie both had scarfs wrapped around their faces, and were currently fighting over a frying pan that was quite spectacularly on fire, filling the entire room with a smokey haze.
"It's fine, I tell you!" Dan insisted, trying to put the pan back on the cooker. "I'm just giving it the crispy treatment! A crispy omelette – don't tell me that doesn't sound amazing."
"Dan, for goodness sake, look at it!" Katie said, pointing at the blackened mess in the bottom of the pan, still wreathed in flames. "That's not crispy, that's obsidian!"
"Rubbish!" he grinned. "It's just entering the final stage of crispiness."
Katie sighed and let go of the pan. As Dan turned back to his masterpiece triumphantly, she discreetly reached down and turned off the cooker to prevent the fire from getting any worse, then went over to greet Leah. "Morning sunshine. What can I get you?"
"A tea towel would be lovely," Leah replied, before bursting into another fit of coughing. Katie reached over and threw her one, which she quickly knotted around her head.
"So..." Katie muttered. "How're you feeling?"
Leah adjusted her new fashion accessory carefully, then gave a thumbs up. "Better, thanks."
"Matt told us everything," Katie whispered. "Well, he told me and James everything; Dan came in later. Matt was pretty upset about the whole thing, but he says that you were even worse. Are you sure you're ok?"
"Yeah. Really, I'm fine," Leah assured her. "I'm more worried about Matt to be honest. How is he?"
"Pretty subdued," Katie admitted. "I asked James to try and liven him up, but... well, you know James. When it comes to cheering people up, he's like a ninja with bagpipes."
"A ninja with bagpipes?" Leah asked.
"Utterly useless!" she replied, looking over at him. "And pretty likely to get wacked over the head if he doesn't try to be more subtle."
Leah laughed. "I guess. So what's for breakfast?"
Katie grimaced, and glanced over her shoulder at Dan, who was now holding the flaming frying pan under the ice dispenser, which was pouring crushed ice onto the ultra-crispy omelette. "Well, I can tell you what we're definitely not having for breakfast... by the way, how did Dan react when you told him about that thing with Matt?"
Leah gasped: she had completely forgotten to tell him. How could she forget to tell her best friend? Guiltily, she stepped into the kitchen area and tapped Dan on the shoulder. "Busy right now," he said, using his favourite spatula to mix the rapidly melting ice with the rapidly cooling omelette.
"Dan, I need to tell you something," she said. "It's about Matt..."
"Yeah, I heard about that," he replied, ditching the spatula in favour of a spork. "Both of you were pretty upset about it, but for what it's worth, I think you did the right thing. Delaying any longer would've been cruel, and giving him false hope would've been even crueller."
"Hang on, hang on, what?" Leah said, perplexed. "You already know? How do you already know? Katie said you came in after Matt had finished explaining, and I didn't tell you-"
"Yes you did," he said, finally turning to face her, a big grin on his face. "I was in the room when it happened."
She stared at him for a few moments. "You were in the room when me and Matt were talking last night?"
"Well, you said you wanted me to stay by your side," Dan grinned, "and that's exactly what I did."
"But... I... where were you? I never saw you."
"I doubt it, I was behind the sofa," he explained. "Got cramp like you wouldn't believe... and next time could you two speak up a little? It's hard to hear all that whispering."
Leah burst out laughing. "You were spying on us?"
"Just a little," Dan conceded, completely unabashed.
"Spying on a young girl," she grinned. "You know I could get you arrested for that,".
Dan laughed and spread his arms wide. "Why don't you write a letter to the United Nations?" With that, he returned to his crispy masterpiece. Still giggling a little, Leah started to help Katie, as she endeavoured to make breakfast without Dan noticing and trying to 'help'.
As Leah began breaking some more eggs, she noticed Katie glance at the window, and smiled at her. "Don't worry, I already checked. Just the one sun."
"I know, I checked earlier," Katie said, still staring out the window. "But those words, the Day of Three Suns... I can't get them out of my head." She turned back to Leah. "What if-"
But she didn't finish. At that moment, there was a knock at the door. As one, the five Deltas turned to watch as a man opened the door. It was one of Professor Usur's employees, a balding man with stubble, dressed in a simple grey suit. The unfortunate man took a single step inside the apartment, then recoiled as the wall of smoke hit him, pouring out into the hallway.
"Sorry... sorry about that," Katie called. "Are you ok?"
Still coughing and spluttering, the man stood up and called from just outside the doorway. "Yeah... I'm fine thanks. I'm just here to tell you that when you've finished breakfast, Professor Usur wants to speak with you."
"Yeah, we got his message last night," James shouted. "It'll be a bit longer until we've finished breakfast though."
"Well don't dawdle," the man said nervously. "The Professor hates unpunctuality. When you're finished, he wants you to meet him on the roof of this building. That's all. Enjoy your breakfast."
"Wait, what do you mean 'on the roof'?" Katie called, but the man had already left, clearly keen to get back to work. Katie looked at Leah bewilderedly. "On the roof?" she asked.
"It must be to do with the three suns thing," Matt said, startling both girls. He'd gotten up from his position on the sofa, and was now standing by the countertop. "According to what the Professor said, there's going to be three suns in the sky today. And where's the best place to see the sun at any time of day?"
"Somewhere high and out in the open," Katie replied. "Somewhere out of the way of other buildings. Somewhere like…" She gasped as the realisation hit her. "Somewhere like the roof."
"Exactly," Matt replied. "Whatever the Professor is planning, it's going to happen on the rooftop. And frankly, I don't want to wait any longer, so we should get going now."
"Now?" Leah asked.
"Now," Matt repeated.
"C'mon man, we haven't even had breakfast yet!" James called from the table.
Matt frowned at him. "You heard what that man said: Professor Usur is expecting us any minute now. We don't have time for breakfast. Just grab a sandwich out the fridge or something."
James sighed in frustration, snapped his laptop shut, and made his way over to the fridge. Leah pried Dan's hands away from his frying pan. "Dan, just trust me... it's a lost cause. Let it die a peaceful death."
Dan gave a mock sigh of sadness, and stroked the blackened mess with his little finger. "I hardly knew the poor thing... it was so young..."
She laughed and pulled him away. "Don't worry, you can write a letter to its family once we're done."
*SOME TIME LATER*
The five Deltas, each with a backpack of equipment they felt they might need – including their dueling gear – made their way up a set of steps, through a doorway that had been propped open, and out into the sunlight in single file. There was a large amount of machinery scattered around the roof, but none of them even glanced at it. They only had eyes for the spectacular view. None of them had ever stood on the roof before, and it was quite a sight to behold.
The entire city was stretched out before them like an impossibly huge carpet. They could see each individual street, each building, each park... everything. Some of the skyscrapers stretched high above the other buildings, some of them even as tall as the one they were on. It was like staring at a 3D map, on a colossal scale. They could see across the whole city, all the way down to the coastline, to the ocean. The sea picked up where the city left off, stretching the rest of the way to the horizon. The sun was almost directly over the city, which made the sea sparkle and flicker.
"Beautiful, isn't it?" The five kids got a fright as Professor Usur's voice rang out from behind them. He walked over and stood beside the group, staring out over the city. "Such a majestic view of such a majestic place. Tamashi City... I feel privileged to be able to see such a glorious view."
The kids stayed silent for an appropriate amount of time, allowing the Professor to revel a little longer. Then Matt cleared his throat. "Um... you wanted to see us, Professor?"
"Ah yes, of course!" Usur replied. He glanced quickly at his wristwatch, then over at the machinery, then back at the Deltas. "We have a little time to spare, so before we begin, I'd like to take a little time to explain a few things. So please, gather around."
The five kids huddled in close to the Professor, who was having to speak louder than usual to make himself heard over the wind.
Usur checked his wristwatch again and paused for a moment, then started speaking. "So, my children... what do you know about alternate dimensions?"
Fun Fact #1: More of Dan's cooking. Don't you just love Dan's cooking?
Fun Fact #2: The phrase "Why don't you write a letter to the United Nations?" is a reference to the Cherub series by Robert Muchamore. It's good, I tell you.
Fun Fact #3: Tamashī is Japanese for 'soul'. We named it this as a clever little piece of juxtaposition, because the canon parallel to this city is Heartland City. Heart and Soul, the physical and spiritual pair. You could also see this as a subtle reference to the Pokemon series (HeartGold and SoulSilver).