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Waters Rising

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Who knew how long they had spent arguing? Yakov was red in the face, Lilia’s mouth seemed more pinched than usual, Georgi seemed to be fighting back tears, and Viktor just felt empty.

“We haven’t done anything in years!” Yuri shouted, his wild gesticulations creating concentric ripples that Viktor could feel flowing behind him through his long hair. “It’s boring. What’s the point of having these powers if you won’t let us do anything?”

“As you know, Yura, we can’t just interfere with the lives of mortals at will,” Lilia said, craning her long, graceful neck as if to make herself even more intimidating. As if she needed to. “And you must learn to control yourself, the small waves you make can have greater effects than you know. This lack of prudence is most unbecoming.”

Yuri sulked, flopping back into his seat, drawing his skin around him protectively, long legs sprawled across the deck.

“It’s tragic! How can we just let them suffer?” moaned Georgi, limbs flailing. He suctioned himself back to the bulkhead and covered his eyes with his tentacles, continuing to weep.

“It is not tragic.” Yakov struck his triton against wood, causing dozens of fish to flee from beneath the boards. “The humans have brought this on themselves. They’ve known about climate change for decades and have done nothing to stop it, all while polluting our kingdom with toxic oil and plastic. I used to be sympathetic, but no more! The sooner they kill themselves off, the sooner we can save the rest of the living things on Earth.”

Viktor watched passively as Yuri jumped back to his feet to shout at Yakov, and Georgi wailed in the corner. Lilia looked on disapprovingly with her arms folded across her chest as the volume of the arguing rose.

“Yakov! Lilia!”

Viktor turned to find Mila floating at the prow, a scroll held in her claw. She surveyed the scene with an eyebrow raised. Yuri backed away from Yakov with a scowl. Mila simply gestured with her head over the side of the shipwreck, where a coral reef crested over a large trench, before swimming down, her tail propelling her at remarkable speed.

“It seems we’re needed. Come along, Yakov.” Lilia followed Mila, swandiving off the side of the ship into the depths below.

“Listen up,” Yakov growled as he turned to go, “If any one of you attempts to interfere with the mortals in any way, I’ll have your powers revoked.”

“Is that a curse?” Yuri objected.

“It is now.”

With that, Yakov dove after Lilia, swimming much more gracefully than his portly figure would suggest.

Viktor stood from his perch against the fractured mast of the ship, stepping over to Georgi to briefly squeeze his shoulder in what he hoped was accepted as a gesture of comfort—one could never be sure with Georgi, anything might set him off.

Viktor floated aimlessly past the far end of the wreck, looking out over the reef. He understood Georgi’s anguish, but didn’t have any left of his own. Once upon a time, he’d spent his hours thinking up new surprises for the mortals—storms, tsunamis, floods, you name it—but now those kinds of occurrences were commonplace. Nothing surprised them anymore. Viktor felt like he was out of a job, and out of inspiration.

He was shaken from his reverie by a solid kick to his back. Kick, kick, kick.

Viktor turned quickly, his hair swirling around him in a way that might have looked menacing to some, but he knew better than to expect it to work on Yuri.

“What is it?”

“You’re not going to let Yakov stop you from getting out there, are you, old man?” demanded Yuri, his skin floating behind him like an iridescent cape.

“Don’t get any ideas, Yura.” Viktor was careful to keep his voice light, refusing to let his anxieties show. “Don’t test him. You wouldn’t want him to take your skin, would you?”

Yuri pulled the skin closer around his shoulders, Viktor suspected subconsciously.

“Viktor Nikiforov is dead.”

Yuri turned from him and in a blink, a shiny, sleek form was shooting away like a torpedo through the open ocean.

Viktor sighed. Perhaps Yuri was right. What was the point of their powers if they weren’t allowed to use them? And what was the point of Viktor at all without his powers?

He’d spent his immortal life surprising humans with destruction and disaster, and now they were doing it all on their own. They didn’t need him anymore. What else was he good for?

Good. What if... he tried to do good? There must be some way that he could use his powers to help humanity.

Truly, his powers did help. As awful as the storms might have seemed to the mortals, they were a necessary part of the ecosystem. The current state of the environment, however, was entirely unnatural. So Viktor needed to find a new way to do what he was meant to do.

Viktor set off across the reef, whistling for Makkachin along the way, who appeared at his side in excitement.

"Hey girl," Viktor said, ruffling her sandy edges and sending up murky bubbles. "Let's fly."

Throwing a quick glance at his surroundings to make sure they were alone, Viktor grabbed hold of Makka's misty nothingness, and she launched them up until they broke the surface and went careening through the sky.