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Peppa, Tech, Lato and Maize

Peppa sighed contently, awakening slowly to the sound of angry voices. She was comfortably settled in her bunk while, below her, Tech and Maize were shoving each other. The mattress was just too small for the both of them. She was just glad that she had gotten a bed first, not that she would have allowed any of the boys to share a bed with her.

Especially not Tech.

"Wake up!" Peppa shouted, rolling out of her bed and slamming onto the ground.

"Argh!" Lato fell out of his bed in surprise. "Oh, good morning!"

"Come on, guys," Peppa said, reaching up and tugging the robot boy and the cat out of their bunk. "I know you like cuddling, but we really need to get going."

"We were not cuddling!" Tech yelled.

"He's not a good person to cuddle with, either," Maize whispered to Lato. "He's all 'half-robot' and not very soft. And he smells weird."

"Thank you for that," Tech muttered sarcastically. "Maybe next time you should cuddle with Lato instead." He stalked past them with Peppa.

"I'm sure you're much softer," Maize said, poking Lato's arm.

"Probably," Lato said as they started walking down the halls. "That doesn't mean I want to cuddle with you, though." Maize just shrugged.

"So what are we doing so early?" he asked, a little sore from his uncomfortable rest.

"Sturgeon said that if we're in the cave after dark, we'll all freeze. Maybe it'd be best if we leave early to give ourselves as much time as possible," Peppa said.

"Seems like a solid plan to me," Maize said.

"Looks like he came to see us off," Lato said, seeing the young headmaster.

"Good morning, children!" he exclaimed as they came out the doors. "Today might seem warm, but remember what I told you about freezing to death!"

"Don't worry about us," Peppa said. "If we get stuck, we'll think of something."

"I'm sure you will," Sturgeon said with a glint in his eye. "But, try not to get stuck in the first place, just to be safe."

"No problem. I'll make sure this risk taker doesn't do anything stupid," Tech said, nudging Peppa's arm. She just rolled her eyes and walked off, towards their destination. Lato and Maize exchanged shocked looks: usually, a comment like that would get Tech's face ripped of.

Not today, apparently.

"I guess she just wants to get the mission over and done with," Maize said. Lato swallowed nervously. He had forgotten why they were going into the cave in the first place. It was so they could meet with the "hostile" guy who protected the entire planet and then convince him to leave said planet in the care of some unimpressive kid that he never met before on the word of some slightly more impressive kids that he still hadn't met before, and all to save the universe which they have no proof is in danger in the first place.

Fantastic. Just fantastic.

Thoughts began racing through his mind:

What is Kai doesn't trust me?

What if he thinks I'm too weak?

What if I'm too weak to take the responsibility from him?

What if he dies? Then what?

"Hey, are you alright?" Maize asked, nudging his arm.

"Yeah, just thinking about what lies ahead," Lato said, trying not to sound nervous. Maize picked up on it immediately.

"You'll be fine," Maize reassured him. "You'll be the Protector of Water for a solid week, and then that Kai dude will come and take back his responsibility from you."

"Or, you know, he could die, and then I'll be trapped there forever," Lato said, nervously shifting from foot to foot.

"Then I'd come visit you," Maize said. "And Liquorish too. And everyone else. Who knows, though? You might enjoy it."

"I don't think so," Lato said.

"Come on, dude! It's the chance of a lifetime. How many other people get an opportunity like this, huh? To take the place of one of the most powerful mages in the galaxy, just because your teacher asked you to?"

"Not many," Lato admitted.

"Exactly. You'll be in charge of the water for a while. Flax will take care of the winds, and hopefully not abuse his powers. Mint, the lovely flower girl, will be in charge of all the plants. Hyde has got the light. I'm not sure what's going to happen with the dark, though. Better leave that as is..." he trailed off, frowning at the two students walking several paces in front of them.

"What about fire and earth then?" Lato asked. "Peppa and Tech, right? Maybe Macchiato, but I doubt it."

"You don't..." Maize trailed off again. He leaned in closer to his friend and whispered, "You don't think they're going to take the places of the dead Protectors permanently, do you?"

Lato just looked on at his friends with a frown. "I really hope not." He said that with a dark tone that made Maize want to hiss. They continued on in silence.

"Guys, do you need a quick break?" Peppa asked, noticing the silence and assuming they were tired.

"Sure, why not?" Tech said, plopping down in the sand.

"I meant for them, idiot," Peppa muttered. Lato nodded and sat down next to Tech.

"You okay?" Tech asked, looking at Lato.

"He's just a little nervous," Maize said. "Understandably so, in my opinion."

"Of course. We're all feeling that way, but I'm sure it'll be fine," Peppa said, though it seemed like she was directing this more at Tech.

"Yeah, we'll be fine," Tech muttered. In his head, though, he was not believing a word that he was saying. His mind was raging.

This is so unfair! And cruel!

The responsibility of an entire freaking element and planet are literally being forced upon me.

What. The Heck.

I'm a freaking teenager. I still have acne.

And now I'm being sent to take the place of a dead, all powerful mage.

And I'm being blackmailed into it by my teacher.

And the girl of my dreams.

I mean Peppa.

And I'm going to be stuck on that planet for as long as I live.

Maybe I'll live forever, since I'll be the Protector.

Yeah, that'd be cruel. Ripped away from your friends for eternity.

Maybe they'll visit sometime.

Oh, wait! That's right!

The one person who remotely matters WILL BE TRAPPED ON ANOTHER FREAKING PLANET!



And if the other Protectors die, then I'll never see Lato or Mint or Hyde or Flax!



If the Protectors are all dead, I won't have to worry about that


"You okay, Tech?" Peppa asked.

"Yeah, I'm fine."

"You were thinking pretty hard there. I got worried that you'd hurt yourself," she said with a smirk.

"Ouch, Peppa. That stung a little bit," he said, pretending to clutch his heart.

"What were you thinking about?" she asked. He looked at her long and hard.


"Alright then," she said, getting to her feet. "I think we've sat around long enough. Time to get moving." The boys got up and the group resumed their walking.

"How far off are we?" Maize asked.

"Not far at all," Peppa said. She pointed up the purple cliff face. "It's right up there."

Chapter done!


Poor Tech! The agony!