Wish Upon A Star

The Mall Rats were forced to abandon their home at the end of Series 5, but not their hope. Wish Upon A Star follows their quest in keeping the dream alive as they venture to a new home and further try to rebuild a world void of adults.

I do not own or wish to infringe upon copyright. This is a work of fanfiction based upon the tv show “The Tribe”. All characters and referenced plots are a property of Cloud 9 and their creator(s) except those obviously an original work of my imagination to expand upon the story of the Mallrats into the unknown after the last episode of Series 5 of the show.

Chapter 1: Wish Upon a Star

Cloe turned over to find the space beside her flat and cold. It had been months since their escape from the Techno Prison Camps, she and Ved, Bray, Tai San, and a few other of the deleted prisoners. They had found this place, a little city on an island, someplace safe and secure but even if it were paradise, Ved was unhappy.

Getting up, she went in search of her boyfriend. She found him lying barebacked in the sand and she dropped down beside him. “Another bad dream?” she questioned.

Ved sat up on his elbows, peeling his eyes away from the sky to search her face in the moonlight. “Don’t you miss them, Cloe? I mean the Mallrats?”

“All the time, even the kids,” she replied. She used to hate babysitting the kids, but that did not stop her from missing them.

Ved grunted. “We should have tried to find our way back as soon as the camp was abandoned.”

“Even if we could have, Ved, that would not have been wise. Tai said Mega was still in charge.”

Ved became silent remembering how Mega had planned all along to rid of Ram, get back at Java, and take control of the City. After Ved found out that very information he went to tell Ram, but he never made it to his destination. Instead, he’d found himself zapped and deleted. At least he had been shipped to where Ram had sent Cloe. Or had that been Mega?

Even in darkness, Cloe read the anguish on his face. She wanted to do something, help him past the things they couldn’t change because she hated seeing him this way. She missed the old Ved: sarcastic, stubborn, yet adorable.

”It’s Jay, isn’t it?" she asked.

“He was my brother, Cloe, family. All I ever had after the virus was Jay and the Technos, and after it all, it was Jay who cared most. I was just too stupid to realize it until it was too late.”

Sighing, she reached out, covering one of her hands with his, “Don’t give up hope, Ved. I am sure you’ll see your brother again.”

Ved didn’t believe her, his hope had vanished days ago, but as he glanced up at the sky again, he thought he saw a star falling from the sky. Deciding it could not hurt him to make a wish, he made one: to see Jay again.


In the distance, on a little boat packed with Mallrats and a few undecided members, Jay glanced up at the dark, moonlit sky. Spotting a shooting star, he gave wishing a try. Of course he knew it could’ve been a falling satellite or meteor disintegrating in the Earth’s atmosphere, but what could wishing hurt anyways? He thought.

“What’d you wish for?” a familiar voice behind him beckoned.

Jay turned around, surprised to see Ebony, amazed that she could tear herself away from Slade for five minutes.

“If you must know, I wished to see Ved again.” He shrugged, she could laugh if she wanted.

Ebony sighed joining him at his side. She leaned against the railing enough to see over it. She stared at the dark water, her focus on the moon’s reflection. “I’d give anything to see my sisters again, but…” she stopped, remembering that Ved, unlike her sisters, may still be alive. Choosing her words more wisely, she went on, “You know what? Their dying taught me a little something about family.”

Jay, shocked that Ebony was being so open, asked, “What’s that?”

“It’s too precious to waste, like life, especially when all you have is each other. So do me a favor Jay, do not give up hope on finding Ved. Sure he may have been a pain in the neck at times, but all you had was Ved, and he had you, you two were…are a family.”

“I can’t believe all that just came from you.” Although he could believe it having once seen behind her mask. “It’s definitely more precious than what Amber’s been saying about how we have to be open to the fact that the ‘deleted’ are dead. So for what it’s worth, thanks.”

“Don’t mention it,” Ebony snorted. And she meant it, nobody needed to know she was soft on the inside.

The two of them stood there on deck in silence. Then Jay had to ask, guessing she’d done the same as him. “What did you wish for?”

“What makes you think—Nevermind.” She gave up the facade. Jay knew her too well for her to start pretending. “I wished that we’d really reach that little city island in the morning, I think my sea-sickness is a little more than I bargained for.”

Jay didn’t mean to, but he chuckled, “When are you going to tell Slade the good news?”

Ebony smirked, “When are you going to tell Amber you’re leaving her for Ruby?”

Jay smiled, forgetting how well she knew him too. And the answer she gave, well he knew that meant a never, if she could help it. She would hide the truth until it was almost too big to conceal, like his growing affection for Ruby.

As Ebony left him, making her way back to Slade, Jay took a final look at the horizon, praying that the island in the distance would bring him happiness. He had been far too unhappy for far too long.


Chapter 2: Reunited

Jay had remained awake all night watching and waiting for the boat to reach the island. He couldn’t explain the force of eagerness, the longing more than the ‘seasick’ Ebony to reach land.

“Amber, wake-up, we’re going to drop anchor here in a minute,” he gently nudged his sleeping girlfriend. The blonde opened her eyes a wink and immediately shut them again slipping back into slumber.

He should be sympathetic, her kid was on his on sleeping schedule, that could be rough on a young mum, but he was looking for excuses to dislike her. Reasons to move on with his next flame. “I don’t even know why I bother,” he muttered, thinking he’d be better off with Ruby; it’s what he wanted anyways. Amber just didn’t light his fire anymore. Of course she always would, but Jay had been dissatisfied ever since he and Ebony fizzled out.

“I do, you have a heart,” Ebony said squeezing past him, determined to be the first off the boat.

“Don’t start, Ebony.” He warned, rolling his eyes and vigorously rubbing at the back of his neck. He squinted to see if the two figures on the beach were of human or tree form. As they got closer and closer he nearly fainted.

“I don’t believe my eyes!” His jaw dropped.


Ved and Cloe stood firm on the beach, weapons in hand. Not that they were much, just a stick and Ved’s laser. But they were prepared nonetheless. No boats had come their way in awhile and they feared that it could be the Technos, returning to recapture them. Tai San and Bray were inside, prepared to serve as the back-up if that were the case.

But Ved wasn’t prepared for the weakness that overswept him as the boat was anchored and he recognized the passengers, one in particular. A tall blonde, in a black tank top, army cargo pants, and a smudged, red T on his forehead.

Barely audible, Ved whispered, “Jay?”


“Say something to him, and get out of the way!” Ebony shoved Jay aside and got down on all fours to kiss the sandy beach.

Jay cleared his throat, “Little brother…” he paused, not sure of what to say. Ved appeared older, taller, and his hair was longer and fluffy. Just as Jay remembered it when they were children.

Ved didn’t have anything to say to his brother, just a simple gesture, an embrace. He had wished this only hours ago and his wish had come true. There was nothing left to do but show that he truly loved his brother.

Jay didn’t pull away from his brother either; he hugged him, trying to fight back tears. He couldn’t believe his hope, a simple wish, had led him to the greatest day of his life post-virus.

Brothers, a family reunited stood hugging each other in the sand amongst their friends, with nothing to say but, “I love you.”


Chapter 3: Inside Out

Jay was thrilled to have his brother back and the island was beautiful. Or at least less cramped than the boat, which was what made it even more beautiful and appealing. Jay’s heart was finally pulling back together but there was another sadness he was battling. As if on cue, Amber’s voice cut into his thoughts.

“Jay, are you even listening to me?” Amber asked.

She had been talking non-stop about Bray and his wishes to be involved in Baby Bray’s life, despite her relationship with him. Jay was listening at first, but after awhile tuned Amber out. He was thinking of how finding Bray was a good thing, a perfect escape to move on with Ruby. After-all, Bray had always been Amber’s resistance to move on with Jay, the were soulmates.

“Oh my God, you weren’t even listening!” Amber exploded.

“I was listening the conversation just got dull,” he said bluntly. “Amber, Bray is his father. Did you expect for him not to want to share in his son’s upbringing?” It’s not like the man abandoned her in labor in that barn on purpose. She knew that.

“But you’re the only father he’s ever known. I just don’t know—”

Frustrated, Jay sat up. “He deserves to be in his son’s life, Amber.”

“I just don’t want it to get weird." She sighed, he could see a question on her face as he sat up. "Jay?” she stopped him with a hand on his arm. He knew she was in a tricky spot too, but he was selfish, sensitive to only his feelings.

He looked back at her only for a second, “I’m going for a walk.”

Ebony was thrilled to no longer be battling morning sickness with seasickness, but she felt crummy, still. How was she going to even live this one down? The tribe would ridicule her. She could even picture Slade ridiculing her. She’d openly said she hated kids, now she was going to mother one of her own.

Looking up from where she sat on the beach she spotted Lottie. She was guessing the little girl spotted her too because she froze in her tracks.

“Get over here kid!” Ebony shouted in her direction.

“I didn’t take it, I swear!” Lottie shrieked and ran in the opposite direction.

Ebony sighed; she hadn’t meant to frighten the little girl. And much to her dismay she realized she had an audience of one, Jay.


“Are you sure you are ready to have kids? I mean, you certainly have a way with them,” he snickered. He had been on his walk and spotted her little scene with Lottie. He figured she was doing some searching inside as well.

“Shut up!" She snapped back, "Are you sure you’re ready to be Amber’s shadow?” she counterattacked.

His smirk faded, his voice becoming serious. “No, I’m not ready to be anything she wants me to be, that includes the role of father. I just–I don’t know how to break up with her.”

“Well you certainly knew how to break up with me,” she snorted. “But you needn’t worry, honey, she’ll pick him. Give her a day.”

“Actually it was you who broke up with me, remember?” he asked recalling the memory of her breaking up with him. She had dismissed him without even a second glance, like what they’d had was never anything at all.

“You’d already picked her in your mind, what else was I supposed to do?" she scoffed. "How’d you break up with Trudy? That was easy, wasn’t it? Give old Eagle a taste of her own medicine,” Ebony recovered quickly, smirking.

Jay shook his head, “You will never change.”

“Well nobody ever said a tigress could change her stripes overnight.”

Jay’s smile returned and he half-laughed, “So what are you going to do, you know about your condition?”

“What are you going to do about yours?”

“Why do we even bother talking, we never get anywhere,” he sighed.

“Because you need me to keep your secret and I need you to keep mine as well,” Ebony said smirking.

She stood up and walked off leaving Jay to think about the predicament he had gotten himself into.

Ruby loved Jay. He was open with her and not some mysterious jerk like Slade had been. Okay, she didn’t know if it was love, but she was certainly smitten. She knew he belonged to Amber, and had learned from her mistakes with Ebony and Slade, so for now it was just innocent flirting.

“So, who is he?” Cloe asked. She had been trying to get to know all the new friends the Mallrats had acquired.

Ruby looked away from the water lapping at the shores, “I beg your pardon?”

“I know the signs, you’re walking on the clouds girl, who is the lucky guy?”

Ruby didn’t know if she should open up to Cloe, but she figured it was harmless, “Jay. He and I are just friends, but there’s a connection.”

Cloe shrieked with joy, “I knew it!”

“You aren’t going to tell anyone are you?” Ruby looked at her, a startled expression on her face. “I mean, he’s with Amber.”

Cloe shook her head no, “It is not my place.”

From the inside out Jay was a mess. His facial hair had grown out making him appear older than he was, his hair was un-kept, and he felt sick.

“I’m sorry; maybe I am overreacting…a bit much.” Amber found Jay on the beach and just let the words flow. It was hard for her to admit that she was scared of what letting Bray in might do to her relationship with Jay.

“A bit?” he questioned.

“Okay, a lot. I just want little Bray to have a father that will be there with me, by my side. I can’t raise him alone, and Bray well…he would be a conflict between you and me.”

“Amber, if you want baby Bray to have a father you’re going to have to let Bray in.”

“Okay, are you sick, you aren’t even making since. I’m talking about Bray still having feelings for me…him getting involved would be….” A flicker of anguish in her face let him know she still had feelings for her old boyfriend. Ebony was right, of course. He could get out now and move out of true love’s way. It would be a win for him.

Jay interrupted her, “Amber I can’t be your son’s father, it wouldn’t be right.”

“Why?” Amber asked.

“Because," he hesitated for a few seconds, "I-- I am in love with Ruby.” The words were off his lips before he’d even thought things through. Amber’s face screwed up in hurt and then anger, she stood up speechless and made haste away from him.

He watched her run off, tears streaming from her eyes. Why had he listened to Ebony? It was déjà vu all over again. He had left Ebony for Amber, Trudy for Amber, and now he was leaving Amber for Ruby.

But this time he didn’t feel confused about his feelings. Well, he did feel confuses, but he was certain he had made the right choice, where Amber was concerned. He was just sad that Amber was hurting. He made a mental thought to thank Ebony then he went in search of Ruby. He was in love, he hoped for real this time, and he would love her from the inside out.


I remember this fan fiction! Nice to see it somewhere on the net. Hi Ann! (waves to her pal) its me lizzie! I just found this lovely place!:slight_smile:

Hey, Lizzie! Thanks for reading again :slight_smile:

Your most welcome Ann! And my artwork is up! Sadly though all new stuff! My old stuff got lost in cyber space when my old iMac dead!(cries)

Yay! One of my Eyeboards favourites!

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stalks @Flamekeeper for new material :innocent:

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I’m trying, Supreme Mother. I am. I lost focus somewhere along the lines and I am trying to get it back.

Chapter 4: Shocking News

Slade laid in discontent across his cot one arm behind his head as he watched the ceiling. He didn’t understand this new up and down with his girlfriend or why she was even being so distant. With Ebony, it was not all that uncommon, the mood swings, but he can’t seem to pin point a reason as to why this time. He wasn’t making eyes at any other women and there was ground beneath them as opposed to water so her behavior seemed more erratic.

She was more than freezing him out, she was avoiding him altogether. They used to share everything with one another after a little edging on, but now it was different. He couldn’t even wrap an arm around her without her storming out of their hut, which she’d done just now.

Sighing he laid back down on his cot, “She’ll be back."

Lately, Ram had caught himself eyeing Trudy. She was beautiful, but in a jig saw puzzle sort of way; she was mystifying. Her face, though she smiled at times, held so much sorrow. He told himself picturing the two of them together was ridiculous, especially with the loss of Java still a fresh wound in his heart, but the more he thought about it, the more he enjoyed the thought. He wanted Trudy as his own.

A blur of red, black, and blonde flew past Ram, causing him to take his eyes off Trudy momentarily. He recognized the scent of vanilla and roses almost instantaneously.

“Whoa, Ebony where is the fire, or is the fire finally dwindling down in your current relationship?” he teased.

Unamused she’d shot him a look, "Don’t start with me, Ram!”

“Well I was only going to start off with a murderer joke today, but I’ve noticed you’ve put on a little weight. Good thing the ocean is nearby so you can swim with the rest of the killer whales.”

“I am giving you fair warning Ram, back off!” she barked.

“Meow….you’re no fun anymore,” he said in a bored tone, looking away from her as the squeaking of a door opening was heard. The person stepping out is ultimately why he gave Ebony a reprieve.


Clearly Ebony wasn’t in the mood for Ram’s criticism. She’d just had it out with Slade and she was irritable, not to mentions she felt bloated and had an unending hunger. She needed or rather felt the need to stuff her face with food. A buffet was sounding very appetizing at the moment, even in her anger.

She was never more grateful for Taisan than when the woman stepped outside in that moment. Around her Ram clammed up. She took her cue to exit while Ram was distracted, but it being her unlucky day, she ran into Trudy, literally.

“Why don’t you watch where you are going?!" She couldn’t help snapping at the woman.

Trudy picked herself up off the ground, “You ran into me, Ebony!”

“Whatever, look just stay out of my way, okay?!”

“We are on an island Ebony, I am sure it’s big enough for the both of us!” Trudy retorted, with a sigh.

Ebony almost mistook the woman’s sentence for a fat joke. She began to feel far too self-conscious. She knew she was gaining weight and wouldn’t be able to hide her condition any longer, but it was like everyone was pointing it out before she could accept the fact that there was a life growing inside of her.

Rolling her eyes she shoved Trudy to the side and begin heading back the way she had come. Suddenly being trapped in a small room with Slade showing her his affection seemed appealing. She always sought him out for comfort, he was her anchor.

Ram, who had witnessed Ebony yelling at Trudy ran to confront his ex-wife. He plowed into her how she had shoved Trudy and feeling possessed by months of pent up rage, he found his hand around her neck, “I am sick and tired of you always picking on someone, Ebony. It’s time you atone for all your sins.”

“Ram stop it!" Trudy shrieked, “It was just a misunderstanding!” He felt her clawing at his arm, or was that Taisan? Whoever it was, they were unsuccessful because he just couldn’t let go.

Hearing the commotion outside and cries from both Trudy and Taisan, Jay and Ved came running out of nowhere in time to see Ebony freeing herself from Ram’s grasp and falling backward, hitting her head up against the porch of a nearby hut.

Jay bent over horrified and checked for a pulse, “What is wrong with you Ram?”

“She attacked Trudy! Besides who cares if she dies, she’s taken life before, it’s high time her own was taken.”

“I care!” two voices said at once.

Slade pushed his way to where Ebony was lying still, “why would you care?” he asked Jay, a hint of jealousy peeking through as he began checking his girlfriend for a pulse as well. He was relieved that there was one.

By this time the whole tribe had surrounded them. Jay hesitated, he didn’t want to be the one to tell the tribe Ebony was pregnant, but the life of she and her child now depended on it. “I care because of her baby” Jay sighed, feeling like he’d betrayed her. There was a round of gasps as everyone stared at the unconscious Ebony in disbelief. She was possibly going to kill him if she recovered. “Let’s move her inside," he fought for their attentions, snapping his fingers to bring everyone out of their trance.

Slade, coming out of his shock, took orders from Taisan on how to lift Ebony without causing more harm to her. He couldn’t believe what he’d heard. A baby? Her? Ebony was pregnant? He should believe it, right? It did suddenly explain why she had been acting the way she had. She was going to have a child.

When they’d moved her, Ram tried to hide, to no avail. Trudy had found him watching the waves further down the beach. He felt like a fool after she explained things to him further. And he felt like a jerk knowing he could have killed two lives today had his strangling succeeded in killing Ebony.

“Why’d you get so protective of me anyway?” Trudy asked him after an eternity of silence.
Ram lifted his head out of his hands, “I don’t know, I guess maybe I care about you.”

There, he had said it out loud, finally. He cared about Trudy.

Trudy’s face brightened and she smiled a real smile. He knew it was real because it was the type of smile Brady invoked from her. As Ram sat admiring that smile, he thought she seemed awfully close. Yes, she was and her face got closer as she grabbed his face, pulling it to hers.

“I thought you’d never stop beating around the bush,” Trudy murmured. And she didn’t hesitate after that to put her lips on his. It caught him off guard and though he stiffened for a second, he gave into the kiss, nearly losing his breath before they parted.

Blast! He thought to himself as Trudy took his hand, laying her head on his shoulder. If she woke up, he’d have to first apologize and thank Ebony. As if she deserved the courtesy.


Love the new part Ann! And when you get a chance a have a thread of my artwork old and new. Please look when you have time. Again love the new part! Yay Ram and Trudy are together! :slight_smile:

I’d forgotten all about Ram and Trudy!

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Finally able to read it… and I want more :slight_smile:

What? How could you forget them? They belong together, right? Or is that just what people keep trying to make me accept? :joy:

Thanks. I’m just editing what’s already been written and reposting it. After years and be done maturing on my part, there is much needed editing and beefing up to certain chapters :wink:

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Chapter 5: Apologies and Acceptances

Lex had been hiding. Not intentionally, he realized, but he had been successfully avoiding Taisan. Every time he saw her he tripped out. He found easy ways to avoid her, excusing himself when he saw her coming and spending most of his time far away from the others, which was characteristic, fortunately. He just needed time to react. No, not to react, but to think about how he needed to react.

“You can’t hide from her forever you know?” Cloe said bringing him a plate of food onto the porch.

He grumbled, taking the plate. “I’m not hiding.”

“What do you call it?” she questioned, giving him a raised brow.

Lex couldn’t answer her, “Okay, so maybe I am hiding, but it’s not because I want to.”

Cloe lowered her brow, smiling, “She loves you Lex. She always knew you were the type to find something in between to pacify your needs and she’s okay with that, because she loves you. You should talk to her, and quit hiding.”

Lex knew Cloe was talking about him being with Siva in Taisan’s absence. He frowned a little at her, uncomfortable with his feelings going mush on him. He managed a half-smirk in the end. “When did you become so wise anyways?”

Cloe shrugged, “I am not a little girl anymore.”

Apparently not, Lex agreed. She had matured in more ways than one in the months she’d been absent of the Mallrats. Gone was the bratty, moody teenager. She was more of a young woman now.

At the window with a good view of Lex, Taisan watched he and Cloe chit chatting away, curious as to what was being said.

“Tai, don’t worry about it. He’ll come around, you’ll see,” Bray tried to reassure Taisan.

She shrugged off Bray’s comforting hand, “Like Amber’s coming around to you?” she snapped then became calm again, “I’m sorry. It’s just, well he’s my husband and I betrayed his trust. I expected that from him, but what’s my excuse?”

“Mega re-programmed you. That’s your excuse. Besides, it’s Lex. I doubt he gave you any bit of loyalty in your absence.”

Taisan knew that to be true, she and Lex always had a push and pull thing. Regardless, she still felt a bit of guilt. “But my feelings for Josh were real, as was Lex’s for Siva. We both shared beds with different people during our marriage, neither of us remaining faithful, and now those people are dead. We can’t just jump back on the bandwagon, not after other hearts were involved. But I loved—still love, Lex. I wouldn’t have married him otherwise or be worrying myself an ulcer if not.” She stared out the window, “I just want him to stop avoiding me.”

“And he will and you’ll stop avoiding him, or letting him avoid you. When you’re both ready, so stop worrying,” Bray gave her shoulder a light squeeze before leaving her alone to watch in silence.

“I’ll try.” Taisan sighed when he was gone. Bray was right, she was avoiding Lex too. Not intentionally, but it was easy to stay away. She didn’t want to make the first move, out of fear, very unlike her. There wasn’t much she feared, but that confrontation gave her a sort of anxiety she wasn’t used to. Time, distance, and circumstances had made she and Lex strangers, how could they ever reconcile?

She turned from the window, drawing in a deep breath. When she exhaled she resolved to fix it at whatever cost.

Gel had found Lex scraping his plate clean and washing it. She hadn’t seen Taisan lurking just outside the kitchen, neither did Lex.

In that very girly, juvenile shrill voice, Gel tapped him, “Lex there you are, I was looking for you.”

“What for, Gel?” Lex tried not to show his distaste through his voice.

“In case you have forgotten you’re my boyfriend, silly.”

Lex sighed, “Gel would you get a grip on reality please? We were never, nor will we ever be a couple.”

Gel crossed her arms and pouted. When Lex continued to ignore her, she left and said, “You’ll be sorry when some other guy snatches me up.”

“Yeah, I doubt that,” he mumbled as she stormed off, nearly barreling into Taisan.

Taisan tried to stifle a laugh as she showed herself to Lex, “Wasn’t that a little harsh?”

Lex turned from the sink to see his wife, “For her? No, way!”

Taisan smiled, same old Lex. “Listen, we’ve both been hiding from one another. I think it’s time we had a talk.”

“I know,” he immediately sank down at a kitchen chair.

Taisan sat across from him, “You weren’t the only one who had someone else.” She’d call it anything but cheating.

“I know, Mega told me you two had a thing. He also told me where to find you, how else do you think we happened upon this island?”

And yet he’d found her and hid from her she shook her head. Taisan didn’t want to stray off of topic, “I think I loved him, Lex. Even after I got my memory back and seen you again. My feelings for him were authentic.”

“And I loved Siva,” he admitted, “but when I saw you again, I got the urge to find you, no matter what.”

“So what do we do about us?” Taisan asked after some silence passed between them. Her eyes were growing glossy from the tears she was withholding.

“We start over; take things slow, because I don’t ever want to lose you again. I may have been unfaithful, but I love you Taisan.” Lex reached across the table and grabbed his wife’s hand.

Taisan squeezed back, “I love you too.”

When no one was watching, Ram would sneak into Ebony’s room and see how she was doing. He felt incredibly guilty, despite his strong dislike of her. Maybe it was the spirit of Siva, an angel to the devil of Java on his shoulders. He wasn’t a kid person, he might even consider the unborn as parasites, but he valued the life inside Ebony, for Slade. The man had given him his life back, it was only fair.

And he would never really kill Ebony after ridiculing her for the death of her sisters, not that he was above being a hypocrite, he was just so angry.

Ebony was as cold-hearted as he had been towards others in the past. He understood why and knew he should cut her some slack, but he hadn’t yet forgiven her for Java. Even if it was self-defense. He could, however, apologize as long as no one was listening. Grabbing her hand, he whispered, “I’m sorry.” Then let it go as quickly as he’d picked it up and took his leave.

Ebony had been awake the whole time Ram was there, but she wanted to hear what he had to say, so she remained eyes shut, body still. She accepted his apology too, but she owed him many. She owed the whole tribe a thousand apologies except maybe Gel, Sammy, and the babies.

Sighing she tried to sit up but her head was pounding. And worse than her head hurting, her stomach and throat were killing her. She was starving and dehydrated. She was glad to see Slade when he came into the room, “Slade!” she exclaimed in a dry whisper.

Slade was more than thrilled to see her awake. He poured her a glass of water, “Welcome back sleeping beauty.”

She drank hastily, “I don’t feel like a beauty, my body aches. How long have I been out?”

“A day and a half and you worried most of us.”

“Yeah, right, everyone was probably praying I would die.”

“Okay, so most of us is like a few of us, but everyone also knows you’re only human and their perspectives too changed when they learned about the baby.”

Ebony grunted, “I am going to kill Jay,” she said then thought about her aching body, “Is It—the baby okay?” she asked, real worry in her voice.

Slade was surprised at the worry written on her face and in her voice. She had once said she hated kids, now she was worried about her own unborn, “Taisan said she gave you some medicine that would feed the baby while you were unable to eat. Does your body hurt?”

“Like hell,” she said.

“Good, that means we’ve got to get you some exercise and food.”

“I don’t know if I can walk,” she started, but it was too late, Slade was at her side, helping her out of the bed and onto her feet.

He looked at Ebony as they walked around the room, “I have to ask,” he couldn’t look at her, “Is it mine?”

Ebony was too weak to pull away from him and knock him unconscious, though she really wanted to. She may be a little selfish, out for her own gain and glory, but she never stepped out while in a relationship. With as much energy as she could muster, she pinched him, “I’m freshly pregnant, you do the math Mister, everybody’s asleep, as long as we’re quiet.”

Slade gave her a sheepish grin. He felt stupid asking her a question like that, but he needed to hear her say it was his child. He knew underneath a hard layer of skin, Ebony wasn’t as cold hearted as she seemed, but after Ruby and the false pregnancy, he liked being reassured.

He helped her back into bed and kissed her forehead, “I’m going to get Taisan, you stay put.”

“Where am I going to go?” Ebony scoffed as he left the room.

The door opened a few moments later and Ruby entered instead of Slade or Taisan, making Ebony grow anxious.

“Oh good you’re awake, and alive,” Ruby started off the conversation.

Ebony rolled her eyes, “We both know you wish I were dead.”

“Well considering you pushed me in front of a moving truck, maybe just a little bit.”

“About that, I am sorry. I was desperate, you wouldn’t let go of Slade, and well you see my current condition.” Ebony shrugged, “I’ve never been very good at sharing.” And she surely hadn’t wanted Slade’s attention divided by four.

“Was that a genuine apology?” Ruby asked.

“As genuine as it’s going to get, sister. Take it or leave it.”

“Well then I guess I can’t suffocate you with your pillow, those had been my intentions at first, so apology accepted,” Ruby smirked. “But I’m not here to seek out an apology or confession now. I just wanted to thank you.”

Ebony lifted a brow,“What for?”

“If you hadn’t of stolen Slade, I might never have given any other man a chance. But I know Jay and I can be happy.”

Ebony didn’t know what to say. She wasn’t one for all this gratitude. It was all new for her, so she said, “I’m glad…though I do have a bone to pick with your new boy-toy.”

Ruby laughed, “Glad the fiery Ebony is still in you otherwise things would just be too boring. I’m also glad the baby is okay,” she said, only with a hint of envy. That could’ve been her, but she and Slade never could’ve worked out, not really.

After Taisan’s diagnosis Ebony was both thrilled and frightened. She was thrilled because she was alive and her child was okay, but she was terrified because after so much denial it was real now, there was a living organism inside of her. She was going to have to learn to be a mother.

“Slade, when I said I hated kids, I didn’t mean it, but I’m not really maternal, so how do you expect me to raise a baby?”

“We should have thought of that months ago,” he smirked.

“This is all your fault,” she pouted and ran a hand over her abdomen.

Slade looked at her with shock, “My fault? You were the one calling all the shots as I remember it.”

She threw a pillow at him, “I hope you are a better father than you are a liar!”

Recovering the pillow from off the floor he returned it to her and gripped her hand. He was just as frightened as she was, though she would never know it. He thought his worries were over with Ruby’s confession that she was never pregnant, but now Ebony was.

“Ebony, we’ll be great parents, no worries,” he said, trying to reassure them both. “You protect what’s yours and that’s a great maternal instinct. And I’m here. We’re a great team.”

To that, there was some truth which eased both their fears a mite. Still, the thought of being parents would give them many restless nights.


Chapter 6: Fresh Starts

Pride’s sudden death was still an open wound for Salene. Just knowing that he was gone and never coming back made her heart feel irreparable. And in thinking back, she had lost a whole lot in the course of a few short years that she figured her life had to be destined for dark, lonely times. That’s why it bothered her to see couples like Lex and Taisan, and Bray and Amber beating around the bush about their reconciliation. She wanted them to fix things already. Though Lex and Taisan seemed to be working at it, Amber and Bray needed advice or a push and a shove, especially since it seemed Jay was out of the way. She smirked to herself when she saw Amber coming towards her, it would give her a chance to “preach” as she liked to call it.

“What’s on your mind?” Amber joined her on the beach.

“I was just thinking about all we’ve lost and left behind.”

“Pride?” Amber asked as if she could read Sal’s mind.

“Yes. But not just him, but Ryan and our baby too. I have high hopes that Mouse is alive as well, but she isn’t here either.”

“Well we did leave a lot behind. But we also gained a lot. The virus killed our parents, but taught us to be adults and face each new day no matter what. We survived the virus twice and we left our home in fear, but we landed here in paradise. We have room to leave the pain behind Sal; it’s time for a fresh start.”

“Right, where is Bray Jr.?” Salene asked.

“Bonding with his father,” Amber sighed. “We’ve got to effectively co-parent, right?”

“What about you two? You were still madly in love with him before you finally moved on with Jay.”

Amber frowned, looking away. “I don’t know. I don’t think we could ever get back to the way things used to be.”

Salene stood up, her moment had come to give advice and she would leave her fellow tribe mate to think on it, “You never truly know until you try.”

Bray watched Ebony pick at her nails and study Baby Bray from his spot in the sand. The boy was playing with his cousin, Brady; the two were giggling and speaking gibberish.

“You are scared aren’t you?”

Ebony, whose mind was a mile away, looked up at him oddly, “Excuse me?”

“Come on Ebony, I knew you before the world went to hell. I can read you like a book some days. Today I read fear.”

“Stop it Bray, stop studying me or analyzing me, whatever you’re doing. This isn’t the time.”

“I was scared too, you know?” Bray went on ignoring her pleas for him to stop, “Amber’s pregnancy was unexpected. We weren’t prepared to be parents, but we’re pulling it off.”

“You mean Amber is pulling it off and you just showed up, but bravo, good for you, ” Ebony clapped in a sarcastic manner, clearly irritated. “Now you should pull off hooking up with her again so you can read her like a book and leave me alone!”

Bray shook his head, “Same old Ebony,” he sighed as she got up and walked off. She was the same old Ebony, even after receiving a bump on the head. But he knew her, all those layers of masks held a heart beneath it.

The island, or at least this side, had once been a resort of some kind because the huts were built like hotel rooms. The house Bray, Cloe, Ved, and Taisan shared was the main building with several tiki-type huts surrounding them, room numbers on doors, and there was a drained pool off to the far right side behind the main building.

Lottie sat playing with her doll outside Ebony and Slade’s hut. She was telling her doll that maybe the pool would get full and they’d both learn to swim.

Ebony smiled at the child’s ability to occupy herself with just a doll, but quickly turned on the mean, the lingering effects of she and Bray’s conversation still weighing on her, “You’re in the way!”

Lottie jumped up, “I didn’t take anything I swear. Slade told me to stay here until he got back, honest.”

“Whatever,” Ebony sighed sitting next to the child who seemed to tense up, ready to take off even though Slade told her to stay put. “Why do you run from me all the time? I’m not the big bad wolf, you know?”

“The big bad wolf?” Lottie asked with curiosity written on her face.

“Oh wait a minute; you’ve never heard the story of the three little pigs?”

Lottie shook her head, no.

Ebony sighed; the kids of today had never heard many of the fairytales and folktales the adults used to tell.

“If I tell you the story, do you promise not to run when it gets a little scary?”

“I don’t run from you Ebony,” the little girl confessed, “ it’s just sometimes you give me gooserbumps cause’ you get really scary.”

“Yeah, I get that a lot,” she muttered under her breath and began telling Lottie about the Three Little Pigs.

Amber thought about exactly what Salene had said. She’d never know if the “fire” was still burning unless she gave Bray another chance. She hadn’t expected to go back to Bray, no matter hobher heart swelled for him, but Jay had dumped her, a blow she didn’t see coming.

“There you two are, how’s my baby boy?” she asked the baby, and sat down next to his father. Bray jr. and Brady were enjoying a light snack.

“He’s such a happy child, you’ve done well raising him so far,” Bray said to her.

“Well I wasn’t alone, I had Trudy, and Salene. We all know she’s the mother of the tribe.”

Bray laughed, “Right.” He picked at his shorts absentminded as he watched the kids munch away.

Amber smiled at the silence between them, “We used to have a lot to say to one another.”

“That was before the Technos tore us apart.”

“I thought you left me,” Amber said, honestly, looking over at him. “I didn’t know we were being invaded. Trudy found me and told me the truth. If Ebony hadn’t of banned us from the City we might of had a fighting chance.”

“Maybe, but think about all the people that were taken from the mall. Alice, KC, Taisan, May, and others. There was no way we could have known who would be taken and who wouldn’t. They even had the Guardian.”

Amber sat silently for a moment. “Bray I looked for you. I even made Jay look for you, when I saw deleted on that screen, my heart broke. I still loved you, even after that. I don’t think I could ever stop loving you.”

Her confession came as a shock to Bray. He hadn’t expected the truth so soon. “I still love you too.”

“Can we start over fresh, Bray?” Amber asked getting choked on the tears that were working their way to the surface.

He hesitated, not because he didn’t want to start over, but it all seemed so sudden and he was remembering something, but he pushed it to the back of his mind. He had to live in the present. “I thought you’d never ask,” he stood up and walked a few feet away from her. Turning around he walked back to her, his arm outstretched, “Hi, I’m Bray.”

Amber smiled, shaking her head at the absurdity, but she played along. “Hello, I’m Amber, the mother of your son.”

They both laughed, speaking in unison, “It’s nice to meet you.”

Amber stood, “Well, I just feel silly.”

“Don’t,” Bray said rising with her, brushing a thumb against her cheek to catch a fallen tear. He went to kiss her cheek, but she turned her face so that their lips met. It took him only a moment to kiss her back and for a brief moment it felt like the first time their lips had met with fire and passion.

They pulled apart as someone cleared their throat, asking, “In front of the kids, guys? Really?”

Looking at the speaker, they let go of one another, “Cloe, we were…” Amber, started, but found herself cut off.

“Save it, no explanation needed,” the younger woman winked, “But if you two are done playing tonsil hockey, maybe you’d like to join the rest of the tribe for lunch?”

Bray nodded a smirk still on his face. They gathered the kids together and went inside, Bray and Amber hand in hand.

Once Ebony was done telling Lottie the story of the Three Little Pigs, she felt good about herself. She was able to sit down with a child and be nice, not getting annoyed. The only other child she had sat down with like that had been Mouse, and that was when Java had made her crazy by drugging her with Paradise in her dreams.

Lottie giggled, “That story was silly, pigs can’t really build houses.”

“Well haven’t you seen Lex fixing up the huts around here?” Ebony snickered.

The imagery made the child giggle even more, “Yeah, but the story is still silly.”

“It was, wasn’t it? But it had a nice moral to it.”

“Moral?” Lottie questioned.

Ebony forgot for a moment education was pretty much a joke since the virus wiped out the adults. “Yes, moral. It’s like a lesson on standards. You know, what’s right or wrong and all that jazz. So even if the story is a bit ridiculous, maybe you’ll learn something from it.” She could see understanding starting to form behind those eyes of the girl’s as she explained it.

“Thanks, Ebony. I’m going for lunch are you coming?”

“In a minute,” she watched Lottie skip off towards the main house, joining Sammy and Gel as they walked.

She thought to herself, “Who knows, maybe I will make a good mother after all.”


Chapter 7:Lost and Found

May was bored with the island. There was nothing but sea in front of them, sand all around, and unknown jungle behind them. They spent their days doing mostly nothing, like they had on Trader’s small vessel and unlike many of the others, she had no love story to repair.

“Tell me again why we can’t explore the island?” She looked at Bray, who was sitting outside the main house.

Bray groaned, “May, none of us were supposed to land here, according to maps this place doesn’t exist. We don’t know what is out there. Some other people were with us and disappeared.” Bray knew they disappeared because they’d stolen the boat he and the others arrived on, but he wasn’t getting ready to tell May that and having her think that doesn’t make the island unsafe.

“But there are hotel rooms. This was a resort of some kind; tell me tourists didn’t have trips through the jungle.”

“May, perhaps Bray is right, we shouldn’t explore. Just because this is a resort doesn’t mean there aren’t dangers about,” Darryl, who was also outside, piped in.

“Shut up you wimp!” she snapped at him, I don’t care about you two, but tomorrow I’m exploring.”

“I really wish you would think this through,” Bray said.

May smirked, “Already have.”

Ellie was happy with Jack. She loved the boy to death, but sometimes she wished he was more sure about what he wanted. Since arriving on the island he had become distant in his thoughts, he wasn’t sleeping, and she could barely get a kiss from him.

“Jack what is it?” she asked frustration in her voice. She stretched across their bed propping herself up on her elbows.

“What? huh?” Jack questioned, confused.

Ellie sighed, “What’s on your mind, Jack?”

“No…nothing.” He stammered, unconvincing.

“Are you having technology withdrawals…is it me? You don’t want to be together anymore do you?” she asked panicking.

Jack smiled at her now, “Elle, calm down. No, it’s nothing of the sorts. I have my laptop, it’s just ruined thanks to the brilliant Gel,” he said shaking his head then adding, “and I love you.”

Ellie calmed down, “There’s the Jack I know. Now what else is up there?” she reached out and knocked on his forehead.

“What you don’t love me back?” he asked trying to change the subject.

“I love you; now tell me what that genius brain of yours is working up…”

“Ellie, this island isn’t supposed to exist. So why is there half a resort on it? Something doesn’t add up. Tomorrow, I’m going with May to explore.”

“What?!” Ellie jumped up out of the bed.

“I’m going and that’s final.”

“B-But you said yourself this island isn’t supposed to exist! So why would you go exploring?”

“I said it’s final Ellie.”

“Fine,” she huffed, “but where you go, I go,” she smirked, “and if you die, I die with you.”

“Very Shakespeare,” Jack pulled her onto his lap.

“And you’re my fair Romeo,” she kissed him sweetly.

A part of her was afraid to go exploring, but she was attached to Jack. She couldn’t let the love of her life face the danger alone. Plus perhaps it would reawaken the journalist in her.

“Here we are again…” Ebony rolled her eyes, meeting Jay on deck of the boat.

“What are you doing here Ebony?” He was not amused by the sudden company of his ex.

“What? I can’t come on the boat now, you’ve claimed it for yourself or something?”

Jay chuckled, “You’re right, I’m getting a bit possessive, that’s your department.”

Ebony glared at him, raising a suspecting eyebrow, “Right, so what are you doing here?”

“I-I don’t know. Just looking out at the horizon and setting up something for Ruby and I.”

“It’s weird…”

“What? Ruby and I?”

“Well there’s that too, but no. It’s just weird how we used to date and now we’re dating one another’s ex.”

“Yeah I guess so,” he smiled at the thought. “But what else is on your mind, Ebony?”

“Why does there have to be something else on my mind?”

Jay looked at her amused, “I know you Ebony…”

“Alright, but these things don’t come easily to me. I guess I just wanted to say thank you.”

“For?” Jay was confused but his expression hopeful.

“Giving me my life back.”

“I thought Slade did that.”

“He helped. But I’m talking about you first ever hooking up with me. You gave me back hope for ‘life’. You’ve saved my life more than once, and now you’ve saved the life of my unborn child.”

It wasn’t what Jay expected, his hopeful expression deflating though his smile remained, “Well, you’re welcome.”

Suddenly an argument breaks out, drawing their attention towards the Huts.

They see Gel and an apologetic Sammy.

“You-you…idiot!” Gel screeched.

“I’m sorry, it was an accident.”

Gel screams, “you imbecile!” Then marches off to her hut.

Jay and Ebony laugh. “I wonder when those two will hook up,” Jay chuckles again.

Ebony snorted, “Are you kidding? When that happens, fish will fly.”

“You want to shake on that?”

“No. Anyways, about you setting up something for Ruby…”

Jay’s eyes twinkled, “See I knew there was something else…”

“You know me all too well,” Ebony smirked. “Now about this date with Ruby, how long is it going to take?”

“A lifetime, if I can help it.”

She fake gags, “I meant tonight,”

“Oh that, are you saying you want a double date?”

“Not exactly, just the boat.”

“Why don’t we share it?”

“Fine, but don’t think we’re going to be all buddy buddy…this is not a double date,” she made her way down the ramp.

Jay smiled as she went. She didn’t know it, but everyone else sensed it and knew that she was changing. She was becoming ‘nice’. Jay shuttered at the thought of a ‘sweet’ Ebony. He preferred his Ebony with a little heat to her, that flame is what has always attracted him.

“Alice, I swear, there are people on the other side of the island, I saw a boat. Two boats, actually, but one left quite some time ago.”

“I don’t care if you saw a boat, two boats, or an adult for that matter, we’re not going that way!”

KC grumbled, “We didn’t’ break out of that Techno Prison Camp to still be prisoners on this island. A boat could mean getting off the island, going back to the city, finding the Mallrats. We’re lucky the Technos didn’t try and bring back the holocaust, I say we go to where people are.”

“Shh…” Alice held up her hand.

They were still in dangerous territory. The Technos weren’t far behind them, not to mention the loony Guardian.


She put a hand over the younger boy’s mouth. Motioning with her finger towards ruffling in the foliage to the right of them. That got KC to shut up.

“I think I just got bitten,” Ellie smacked at her neck.

They had been traveling for half and hour, she was sticky with sweat and bugs were beginning to buzz around them.

Jack rolled his eyes, “Elle, a little quiet would be nice, please.”

“Well excuse me!” She snapped back.

“You wanted to—”

May had had enough of their quarreling. She cut Jack off, “Clam it! You’re both giving me a headache!”

“Sorry,” Ellie muttered. Jack put a finger to his lips, pointing to foot prints.

May bent over them, studying the sets and feeling them. “They’re fresh.”

“How would you know?” Ellie almost laughed.

“Pride taught me.”

“Well if there are humans, then we know what we’re looking for now, right?” Ellie questioned.

“Ellie would you shut up please!” May pleaded, she had heard a noise to the left of them, and now her fear was kicking in.

“Ellie?” Alice questioned. No, she couldn’t have just heard her baby sister’s name. Was it possible the Mallrats were on the island?

She peeked her head from her hiding spot, spotting a figure that looked just like her sister. She stood frozen in her tracks, but KC moved.

He burst right through the foilage, a huge smile on his face. “Guys, boy am I glad to see you, Alice has been driving me insane!”

Jack was startled at the boy’s appearance. He could easily be mistaken for a savage, his clothes torn, skin dirty, and hair matted, but even dirty, that hair couldn’t be mistaken.

“KC?” he asked.

“Yeah, and Alice too.”

Ellie stopped glaring at May, “Al-Alice?”

“Yeah it’s me little sis,” Alice finally moved, marching across the space between them and hugging her sister tight as a bear hugs honey.

“I-I thought you were dead,” Ellie cried.

“Oh you know death is too good for me…”

“Certainly sure of that,” Jack smirked.

Alice turned her nose up at him in banter, “I see you couldn’t shake the geek.”

“What can I say; he put a spell on me.”

May rolled her eyes, “I’m all for lost and found reunions, but we’re on a mission here.”

“So are we,” KC said, “We’re trying to get off this island.”

“What? Why?” May questioned. She was just beginning to get excited about exploring.

“Because there are Technos still out for power and chaos in the direction we came from,” Alice pointed.

May snorted, “Well I ain’t getting back on that boat, so they’ll just have to be prepared to give up on that charade.”

“Told ya I seen a boat,” KC smirked at Alice.

“I don’t care who was right or wrong, we’re sitting ducks here.” Alice shouted.

“Let’s get back to the resort then, Bray was right,” May groaned.

“Bray? He’s alive then, I thought he’d been killed…” Alice looked puzzled.

“We did too…look we have so much to fill you in on, as do you and KC have so much to tell us,” Ellie smiled, “and we must warn you, a few of the Mallrats are shacking up with ex-Technos.”

Alice shook her head, “I do detest the power of love.”


Chapter 8:What Now?

Lex was outraged. Turning to Ram he shouted, “You knew there were Technos here!”

Alice had told the tribe everything about her and KC’s ordeal with The Technos. Now they were deliberating.

“Mega obviously left me in the dark, but that’s not news,” Ram rolled his eyes. “But if you want to point fingers Lexy boy, it was you who lead us here.”

“He does have a good point,” Amber pointed out to Lex.

Lex grew silent, but the room grew louder. Everyone had something to say or a question and they were all talking over one another.

“Alright, one at a time!” Bray broke up the squabble, rubbing at his temples.

“So what do we do? Do we get back on the boat and float to some other island? What?” Gel questioned, fear in her expression.

“Why not?” Cloe asked.

May slumped on the porch, “For one, we can’t all fit on the boat and two, some of us can’t stand to be afloat. And we don’t know which islands are inhabited.”

Bray held up a hand to silence everyone once more, “May’s right, the boat isn’t big enough, and ours was stolen. Besides Ebony is going to be immobile soon. We’re going to have to plan a takeover.”

“Say we do that. What happens when we capture them? Do we keep them in cages and what happens when other Technos come to drop off another load?” Trudy asked; worry written clear in her expression.

Ved looked at Jay, who in turn looked at Ram.

Ram seemed unbothered. “Why don’t we ask Taisan? She was extremely close to Mega.”

“Hey watch it!” Lex warned.

“It’s okay Lex,” she rested a hand on the man’s arm, “He’s right. But Mega wasn’t as ‘in charge’ as he thought he was. There are a group of Technos out there that were doing things their way, helping the virts.”

“Great!” Cloe exclaimed.

Ebony was getting bored with the small talk. “What about planes? You stupid Technos came in on planes, running people’s lives. Couldn’t we just hop on one and find a nice little patch of Utopia?”

Ram snorted, “Sure Ebony, and we could all jump in our magic time machine and change the virus from ever happening.”

“Well Ram, what do you propose?” She snapped back at him.

Slade squeezed her shoulders to calm her. He was remaining silent on the issue, but taking mental notes.

“It’s like Bray said,” Ram shrugged, “We take them over.”

“This is going nowhere,” Amber sighed in frustration.

Slade finally cut into the conversation, “Even if we take them over, even with the help of these ‘anti-Technos’ Taisan has mentioned, we can’t force them to join us, and we can’t keep them in cages. Even more so, there would only be more of them out there.”

There was some more sighing from Bray, “He’s right, but where do we go? And how are we getting there?”

Bray, Taisan, Ved, and Cloe all looked at one another, a silent understanding of something. It was fleeting, but Lex noticed. He doesn’t think He likes how close they’d become. Then again he’d never liked Bray or Ved.

Ram stood, Trudy with him, “We steal their boats.”

“That solves what?” Salene asked.

“We can’t stay here obviously, so we steal their boats and find somewhere else to go,” Ram said firmly.

“If he says Paradise, can I kill him?” Ruby asked.

Ram smirked, “Not paradise, but a place we could stay and not worry about Technos. It’s where the Technos first came from.”

Jay cut in, “Ram are you talking about the place your father had built?”

“Precisely. I told the first batch of Technos, then that consisted of five of us, that the base was the safe haven my father had built, but that self-destructed once we left. This other place, it’s the Utopia Ebony was speaking about.”

“ You lied, so that if your little ‘take over the world’ plan failed, at least you’d always have some place to go. But I thought you said that it was in Hawaii.”

“I said that to cover up it’s true location, I am a mastermind after all.”

“So, where is it?” Darryl asked excitedly.

“Spoilers,” Ram grinned, avoiding the question. The trick is getting there. We surely can’t pack it in like sardines someone would have to stay behind,” Ram stroked his chin.

“Can I just kill him?” Alice snarled making Ram only smirk more.

Lex let out a short snort with an angry, ha at the end. “He’s like a cockroach, Alice. It’ll be a waste of your energy.”

“If we are going to get off this island, it had better be soon, I haven’t planned on having a baby on an unsterilized boat in the middle of the ocean,” a voice cut through all the others.

Everyone turned, laughing and looked at the speaker. It was Ebony.

“I fear this Ebony,” Alice laughed, “What happened to the other one?”

Ebony rolled her eyes, “Don’t worry; she hasn’t gone anywhere.” Her hormones were just out of whack.

“So it’s decided?” Trudy asked.

Taisan stood, giving no direct answer. “We will work harder on a plan in the morning.”

Everybody agreed. Going to their respective huts. No one noticed the stranger lurking about listening to their every word.

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Chapter 9: The Guardian

Jaffa had been following KC and Alice, knowing they were his only chance for survival.

He was having a hard time piecing reality from fantasy. His mind was always playing tricks on him, and with him not being all there mentally, he was reliant on others to sustain his life. Who better than a couple of rats?

All he ever wanted was acceptance. He wanted to fit in and be noticed. Martin had given him that notoriety, the very day they stood up on the school desks chanting, Power and Chaos. But it got his brain all twisted. He couldn’t find love let alone his place in the world. Not until the Technos put him on the same level as the virts. Being around the other slaves had brought him down off the highest pedestal.

Now, after listening to the Mallrats bicker and fight, they set a plan into motion in his head.
The rusted, web-covered cogs began to turn the wheels once again and Jaffa’s brilliance was returning.

“I’ll be a stowaway and these peace addicts will have no choice, but to nurse me back to health.”

Salene tossed and turned all night. She kept having a nightmare about Ryan. Every time she closed her eyes she could see his face. But he wasn’t himself. He had toned up a bit and he bore the red T of the Techno upon his forehead.

She’d run towards him in the dream, but he’d zap her with the laser, laughing and saying: “I could never love a two-timing virt.” Then she’d wake up with a start, face wet with tears. She didn’t understand it. How could she dream something so horrible? She had loved Ryan. Even through their trials, even with Pride sharing her bed, she never forgot Ryan.

“Trudy, I just don’t understand it,” she could be seen telling the other woman, their feet in the cold, wet sand, the waves lapping a short distance ahead.

Trudy took a long, hard look at her daughter splashing in the water trapped in a dug hole. “I fear I’m not much help Sal, not unless you’re feeling guilty that you stopped looking for Ryan and fell in love with Pride.”

“But it’s eerie, you know? Him as a Techno?” These are the sort of dreams she expected Taisan to relay to her and not be having herself. But she was the one with the soul tie to him, not the tribe cuckoo lady. Which gave her hope that hurt places in heart still healing. “If I didn’t know any better, I would say Ryan’s alive.”

“You’re starting to sound like Taisan,” Trudy smiled, “but Sal,” she tried to be reassuring, “If Alice says the Guardian is alive and nabbed by Technos, it is possible any one of his prisoners could be alive and with the Technos themselves.”
Salene nodded, sighing quietly and nodding her head repeatedly. "You’re right. Maybe it is a guilt trip I’m on.”

Trudy leaned over and hugged the woman, “If you have the dream again, we’ll look further into it.”

Salene laughed, “What are you, a shrink?”

Trudy shook her head but smiled unoffended. “Just a friend with a open ear.”

“Thanks Trude.”

The Guardian knew if Trudy saw him, she’d kill him, Tai-San too, but not Salene. Sal was a different story. She would want him alive for questioning.

That is perhaps why he waited until she was alone on the sand to show himself.

Salene was deep in her thoughts after Trudy took Brady in for breakfast with the others. So deep that the thud of the body collapsing at her feet seemed merely an extension of her nightmares forming daydreams.

She took a minute to realize it was real when she reached out and touched him. “Oh my word!” She exclaimed, calling for help.

It was Bray who came running. Wasn’t it always? She willed the thought away. “He just collapsed at my feet, like he fell out the sky, who is it?” she asked as he lifted the dirty man off his face and onto his back.

They both took five steps backwards. “It can’ be…” she whispered in fear.

Bray looked at her, taking her hand, “Oh, but it is.”

“Perhaps there is some higher power who still answers prayers.”

“You prayed for the Guardian to fall out the sky half-dead at your feet?” a woman’s voice broke up the moment.

Salene jumped and Bray let go of her hand like a child caught with it in the cookie jar. Neither Bray, nor Salene had seen Ebony appear or heard her approach.

“I’ll explain later,” Salene found the strength to smile, that hope floating again. “Right now we need to get him some water and clean clothes, and bandages,” she examined his badly damaged left hand.

“She’s gone cuckoo Bray,” Ebony looked at him in disbelief. “The man that took life away from her is lying before her feet, half-dead, and she wants to nurse him back to health?”

Bray didn’t know what to say,” I don’t understand either, but I’m going to do as she asks."

Ebony could not find her voice, but she did manage to say, “I’ll send Slade to help. I think he’s the only person who’d help, regardless of the man’s sick, sadistic past.”

Salene smiled, “Thank you, Ebony.”

The other woman only waved her off, muttering something about crazies.