XV. Put Into Motion

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Kai, Luke, and Jace were sitting at a table outside of the food court, the sun setting on the horizon. Dai, Lena, and Aria joined them a moment later, pleasantly surprised to find Jace sitting among them.

"It's certainly a pleasure to finally formally meet you," Dai said as they sat down.
"You too," Jace smiled.
He then looked at Lena, and she looked back at him with a small smile.
"It's nice to see you again," Lena said.
"Same to you," Jace replied.
"Anyway," Luke interjected, "Are you guys gonna enter the tournament in December?"
"Kinda," Aria said.
"No?" Lena asked, "What is that?"
"You haven't heard?" Luke asked.
Lena shook her head.
"It's an event that happens at the arena on the other side of the island," Luke explained, "Gifted here at New Haven can enter and compete to win!"
"What do you win?" Lena asked.
Luke paused.
"Uh, a medal," he said plainly, "It's just for fun."
"Those medals are expensive and made from real gold, though," Dai pointed out, "I've seen winners sell them online for hefty prices."
Luke scoffed, "If I won, I would keep my model, not pawn it off to the highest bidder."
"And have you won?" Dai asked.
Luke paused.
"No... in fact, I never entered it before," he said, "But, I might this year!"
"Why don't we all?" Aria suggested, "It sounds like fun!"
"I'm sure Tweedledee and Tweedledum over here have been in enough tournaments," Luke teased, pointing his thumb at the twins.
"And what is that supposed to mean?" Dai asked.
"It means you have plenty of experience," Luke said, shrugging jokingly, "Let the rest of us have a chance."
"As if," Kai huffed.
"I could beat you in a fight every day," Dai scoffed, "And that's not even arrogance talking."
"You don't know how well I can fight," Luke leaned on the table, "I would introduce your ass to the ground in the first five seconds."
"Care to test that?" Dai asked.
Luke stood up out of his seat, spreading his arms out in a 'square up' gesture.
Dai simply stood up next to him, and stared down at him.
The two locked eyes, before Luke started snorting of laughter.
"It's not as intimidating when I have to look up at you," he giggled.
"Bring him to his knees, then it would work," Lena suggested, hiding a smile.
"Can you stand on your knees please?" Luke asked innocently.
Dai grinned mischievously, "No."
"Well, I've done all I can do," Luke shrugged, and sat back down.
Dai sat back down as well, as the whole table erupted into giggles.
Jace found himself quite enjoying this company, and for the first time in months, felt genuinely happy.

🌊

Meanwhile, Melany was entering her dorm room. Upon closing the door behind her, she realized neither of her roommates were present.
She sighed, relieved, and pulled out her phone.
A notification appeared on her lock screen, stating she had one missed call from "Father".

Melany took a deep breath, and swiped on the notification, initiating a call. She held the phone to her ear, and waited for an answer.

After a couple of seconds, an answer came.
"Melany," came a grown man's voice, "Why did you miss my call earlier?"
"Sorry, Father," she said, "I was tied up with something else. Have you found something?"
"We have now," he replied, "I was calling to tell you that the information you retrieved from Danford's office a couple months back was, in fact, useful."
"And? What did you find?" Melany asked.
"An island in the Pacific, surrounded by a strange energy," her father reported, "It is undocumented, and there are no official naval routes close to it. Our employer is quite pleased."
Melany paused, knowing full well the situation she and her father were in, but still felt anxious about the whole thing.

"Are you sure we're doing the right thing, Father?" she asked, "This feels... wrong."
"Sweetheart, you know the company is failing," her father replied, "If we don't get some more money in the budget soon, I'll be out of a job, and you won't have a future."
Melany didn't reply, still not happy with this.
"I don't like this either, but an opportunity like this rarely shows itself," her father continued, "If releasing whatever's in there gets our family back up off the ground, then I say so be it."
Melany paused.
"But, what if innocent people get hurt?" she asked.
"Our employer says the prisoner there is only interested in one person, and she wants that person distracted," her father explained, "I promise, everything will be alright."
"If you say so, Father," she sighed, "Love you."
"Love you too," her father replied, "Make sure to give Hunter and your friends my best wishes."
Melany paused again, this time with a forlorn expression on her face.
"Sure thing."

She then hung up, and her father hung up on the phone as well. He was situated in an office near the top of a skyscraper in downtown Seattle. The office was moderately big and somewhat spacious, with a window behind the desk to provide a view of the city.

"So," he said out loud, "You think he's on this island?"
"Of course," came a feminine voice.
A woman then stepped forward from the shadows slightly. She was tall and slender, and wore a long, dark blue skirt with a matching crop top. Sashes twirled around her arms from her shoulders to her elbows, and she held a matching folding fan in front of her face. Her hair was also draped over her shoulders, a striking natural red.
"The information your daughter provided us gives us the exact location," she continued, "Free the prisoner there, and you shall be rewarded, Michelangelo."
Michelangelo Topal looked at his desk, unsure.
"And you promise the money you give us will save my business?" he asked.
"But of course," the woman chuckled, "As long as our arrangement is kept secret, I'll have no reason not to provide you with the funds you need. You doing this for me is a big help, after all."
"Why do you even want this guy released?" Michelangelo asked, "I mean, I know you said he wants a specific person, but what do you gain from that?"
"Shhh," the woman put a finger in front of her fan, right where her lips would be,

"That is none of your concern."

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