Yesterday we slid and barely escaped with our lives from ‘Pulsar Benders Earth’ as Remmy and I call it. But because our ‘new’ timer got blown up, we had to slide with a new timer. A timer that, might I add, rightfully belongs to the new group of people we’re sliding with. Honestly, I still can’t believe we’re sliding with so many people now! Our original group has expanded from four members to twenty people total! Not to mention, that within this new group, there are children traveling with us now. Well, at least three of those kids are mutants and, now that I think about it, so are Derek and Alex. But anyway, we’re sliding with them because they had to miss the slide to ‘Paradise World’ due to their compound being invaded. They think it’s because of a mole within the compound or something but in actuality it really doesn’t matter now, I guess. Back to speaking of our new group size, we’re really lucky that Remmy found a new hotel for us to crash in. It’s called The Chandler Hotel! This place has a suit with three bedrooms and can hold our entire group as long as we double up and most of us take the floor. The price isn’t bad either considering other hotel alternatives. But regardless of that, we still have to be very, very mindful of our cash flow. So chances are we’ll be camping a lot more until our funds are bigger. However, our bigger problem is trying to figure out what our future is with sliding. See we haven’t decided what our course of action is going to be yet. Meaning, will we continue to look for Earth Prime? Or, due to the kids, do we look for Paradise World? Or do we look for a way to warn other earths of Kromaggs? Or do we simply find a way to kill the Kromaggs? I hope during our ‘meeting’, as the Professor calls it, we can clear up these questions.
Wade then stopped writing when she heard the door knob rattle then the door opened. Through the opened door, Quinn came in and she noticed that he had a serious look on his face. From her memory, Wade couldn’t think of any other time that she’s seen him look this way. “What’s up?” Wade asked tentatively.
Closing the door quietly, so not to wake Malcolm, Joon, and Sokka, Quinn sat down on Alex and Wade’s bed and whispered, “I’m worried Wade.”
Taken aback by his bluntness, Wade blinked a few times before responding, “Whoa. Okay. Well, start at the beginning.”
Looking at his longest and dearest childhood friend, Quinn said, “You know the beginning Wade. This adventure was only supposed to be with the three of us and we were supposed to be home by midnight. Remmy wasn’t supposed to be here and now we’ve got that’s the least of our problems. We’ve got sixteen others, with kids, to think about. And it doesn’t help that, I saw how you and Remmy were looking at me when we exited the portal.”
“How were we looking at you?”
“You were looking at me like I should know what to do. And I’ve gotta tell you that I don’t know what we should do,” Quinn replied wearily.
“I’m sorry Quinn we don’t mean to put you in those types of situations. But look on the bright side, we’re going to find a ‘meeting’ as the Professor calls it and find out what’s going to happen from here on out,” offered Wade. But despite this, Quinn still looked unsure. So unsure, that Wade put her diary down and scooted closer to Quinn and wrapped her arms around him in a comforting hug. A hug which he returned and the two friends stayed there for a minute or two before the door opened once again, and in Rembrandt’s head poked in.
“Hey guys. We’re ready to start,” said their musical friend.
“Okay Remmy. We’re coming,” said Wade as Rembrandt nodded his head and left. Looking back at Quinn, Wade asked, “Feel better?”
“Yeah. Thanks Wade,” said Quinn as he smiled at her and moved toward the door. Wade, after putting her diary in the night stand’s drawer beside her bed, followed closely behind her tall friend and closed the door quietly.
While the kids were asleep, the adults gathered together in the living room and started the meeting. Luckily for them, this hotel suites also had the spacious living room area separate from the three bedrooms. The living room had a gas fireplace, a large TV, a large couch that folds out into a bed, a work desk, a dining table that fit five, a fully stocked refreshment pantry, and off to the right of the hotel door was the kitchenette.
“So what’s the verdict? Any luck fixing that thing?” asked Wendy. “No such luck Mrs. Lee. Quinn and I have been up most of the night trying, unsuccessfully might I add, to figure out what’s the matter with this timer and have only succeeded in receiving pounding headaches,” replied Arturo, as he got up from his seated position at a table across the room and left the timer on it.
“So what’s that mean?” asked Dorian from his seated position next to Lisa on the couch, which was also occupied by Wendy and Harold.
Pulling up a chair beside the couch and sat in it, Quinn explained, “Well, we’re totally stumped as to why this timer won’t accept the coordinates to Paradise World. And if we don’t understand it in the next three days…uh we have to decide to either slide to the next world or stay here for the next twenty-nine years until the next window of opportunity opens.”
“Twenty-nine years?!” exclaimed Dorian, Lisa, Derek, and Alex simultaneously. The other occupants of the room –Naomi, Zoe, Wendy, Maggie, and Jason– were also stunned silent. The only one of the new sliders who wasn’t shocked was Harold because he’s been working on these figures and had heard from Quinn and Arturo first hand as to what could happen if they ever missed a slide.
With his hands locked behind his back, Arturo decided to just jump right in saying, “Let’s just cut to the quick, shall we. Quite frankly it’s your timer Naomi. Yours and your group. What do wish to do?”
“Well, our goal is to find Paradise World specifically for our children’s sake,” answered Naomi. Zoe nodding in agreement added, “Yeah. I mean I don’t feel comfortable just living permanently on just any world because we really won’t know what’s wrong with whatever world that is until something horrible happens.” At Zoe’s observation, the others nodded in response.
“But what about you guys? What were, or are, your goals?” asked Derek.
“Well our original goal was to find home but with those Krommaggots tracking us, I don’t see how we can with good conscious,” stated Rembrandt.
“We have to Remmy! We’ve talked about this before: every Earth needs to be warned,” rebuked Wade.
“Yeah but that was before we knew we were being tracked and before we knew just how powerful they really are,” said Rembrandt.
“So what? We just give up and wander the universe or would you rather stay here?” Wade asked angrily.
“Look girl that’s not what I meant!”
Long seen as the father of the group, Arturo put a stop to their squabble as he boomed, “Enough! Both of you!” At his deep voice, Rembrandt and Wade both reluctantly stopped their bickering and listened as Naomi said, “From the looks of it, since we only have one timer we have no choice but to merge our plans together.”
“What do you mean Mama?” asked Dorian.
“What I’m mean is, we continue ‘sliding’ until we find either Paradise World or your Earth,” Naomi said as she motioned to Quinn and the others then continued, “Along the way we’ll continue to find ways to, somehow, defeat the Kromaggs and warn other Earths,” answered Naomi.
“What if we find your Paradise World first?” asked Wade.
“Well if that happens, and it is truly Paradise- which shouldn’t too difficult to detect due to the mass number of our friends who’ve slide there-, we’ll give you all the timer to continue on your journey. Sound fair?” asked Naomi. Everyone nodded in agreement to the new plan.
Now with the plan established, Maggie started barking orders, “Alright. So here’s the deal. Batteries, cash, ammo is going to change from world to world. The only thing that matters is..."
Hating the captain's bossy attitude, Wade interrupted and asked belligerently, “Uh, hold on. Who died and made you leader?”
“Don’t start with Welles,” threatened Maggie.
Just as Wade was about to retaliate, Naomi said in a commanding voice, “Alright that’s enough both of you. Now Maggie, there’s no need to bark orders anymore. They’ve been doing this a lot longer than we have, so if anything we’re going to listen to their advice and suggestions. And Wade…all I can ask you is to try and get along with Maggie. She’s from a family of soldiers and has been a soldier for most of her life. And because of this she does have good insight on things.”
Due to her respect for the lawyer, Wade nodded her head in compliance, saying, “Sure Naomi. For you I’ll try.”
Naomi smiled and responded, “Thank you Wade.”
At seeing this unfold, Quinn added, “And just to let you know, even though we’ve been doing this longer we are all equals. There’s no hierarchy here.”
Barking his signature laugh, Rembrandt said, “Except when it comes to the physics stuff, Q-Ball. You and the Professor can have that area!” At his statement, everyone started laughing and soon the kids started to wake and move about.
Sometime later, Breana LaLache had woken up and Arturo decided to go down to the hotel buffet. The Englishman didn’t wish to cause the girl anymore undue stress due to his presence. As he made his way into the eatery, he cause sight of Adira. The young earthbender had her eyes gazed down at the table and she appeared to be brooding. Curiosity filling his mind, Arturo made his way over to the young girl. Once he reached her table, which was situated toward the back, Adira addressed him first. “Hi Professor. Yes, before you say it, I’m fine and don’t need a babysitter.”
Raising a single eyebrow at the child’s chutzpah, Arturo said, “At the risk of sounding foolish, how did you know it was me?”
Smirking at his question, but never allowing her eyes to leave the table top, “I saw you coming and you have a very distinct scent. Not that’s bad or anything; it just adds to my ‘vision’.”
Arturo was, as always with this child, very impressed at her abilities. He then said, “Well, that’s certainly extraordinary. But putting that aside for a moment, didn’t Captain Beckett tell you children earlier not to wander off?”
At his question, Adira raised her eyes and looked directly in the eye and stared angrily for a moment or two. Due to her milky eyes staring back at him, Arturo couldn’t help but feel quite uncomfortable; however, he refused to display it or at least he hoped he did. With the girl’s many abilities, he couldn’t be sure what she could detect or not. Just when he thought she was simply not going to answer, Adira finally in a hard tone said, “Look. I don’t need someone lecturing me what I can and can’t do. And if that was your intention, you’re wasting your time.”
At seeing her jaw set firmly in place, Arturo nodded and asked instead, “Hm. Well would you care for some tea?”
The anger in her eyes dissipated almost immediately and then widened in disbelief. “What?” the young girl sputtered at Arturo retreating back. As she was stunned silent, Arturo was already at the counter making some tea for the both of them. He already had the water boiling in a cleaned out coffee pitcher and only a few minutes later the professor walked back to Adira with two steaming cups of peppermint tea.
Seated across from her now, Arturo sat quietly and waited for the young girl to speak again. At first Adira simply stared at the cup of tea sitting in front of her then finally she picked up the cup and said, “I know what you’re thinking: ‘A blind kid shouldn’t be by herself. What if she gets hurt?’”
Blowing on his tea a little, Arturo took a sip of his tea and after swallowing, the older man said, “That’s not what I was thinking at all my dear.”
Adira countered saying, “Well you didn’t let me pour my tea.”
Continuing as if he hadn’t said anything, “My child, that’s not why I poured you tea. I poured your tea because I was simply being polite. I was already up and thus poured us both a cup of tea.”
Thinking he was being condescending, Adira taunted, “Phff. You think you’re smart ‘cause you always talk like that? Is that supposed to impress me?”
Not appreciating her tone, Arturo answered in an annoyed tone, “I’ll have you know, I’ve always spoken this way. And in terms of ‘smarts’, from what I’ve gathered in the little time that I’ve come to know you, yourself, are a very bright child. And you’d probably take confidence in such a fact if you weren’t so focused on being defensive.”
Once he was finished, silence fell over the two for minute or so. The two simply got lost in their own thoughts and drinking their tea. However, the silence didn’t last very long.
Enjoying the trail of warmth the tea left in her throat after she swallowed, Adira answered, “Well, I’m like that because I know how people see me. When people see me they automatically think that I’m weak. Like they have to take care of me or somethin’. But I can take care of myself by myself.”
With his head cocked to the side, Arturo replied, “Well you don’t have to worry about every little thing running through other peoples’ minds. You should only focus on the people who care about you.”
“Like my mom?” Adira asked in a whisper.
“I…do trust her, ya know. She’s always cared about me. The real me. But sometimes I forget or I just react,” said Adira.
“I understand that quite well. But let me tell you, there is nothing wrong with letting people who love you help you.”
At what the professor just said, Adira pondered deeply on his words. Adira knew that her family and friends cared about her. And she knew they didn’t pity her. But sometimes when people like Maggie treated her differently or bossed her around, Adira couldn’t help but think that her friends and family would soon follow suit in all the wrong ways. However, now after speaking with the professor, Adira did feel better and the old and unintentional insecurities within her started to fade away.
Slowly, Adira got up from her seat and looked at Arturo. The young girl’s expression had softened and grew into a soft smile as she said, “Thank you for what you said. It helped me a lot. I can’t promise that all of my issues will be resolved from this but this will go a long way.”
Arturo smiled back and said, “Your welcome my dear. I’m glad I could help. Thank you for allowing me to have tea with you.”
Adira smiled again and left in the direction of their hotel room.