Kinetic: The First Alliance Ch. 06bykineticalliance©
Cloudy with a Chance of Rain
Alex's next journey sent him to another place he had never been. This time it was Orlando, Florida. The humidity there was insane to him; he felt as if he were being roasted alive for a slow-cooked meal. He couldn't help but wonder why the state was so hot given that it was almost completely surrounded by the ocean. He wanted to know where that ocean breeze he heard so much about was. That aside, the place was beautiful. There was no denying the appeal of living there, sans the heat. The palm trees were gorgeous, and the air was so clean and fresh, it was definitely worthy of being the Sunshine State.
Alex scanned around and felt the esper not too far away. Shyra had some pretty good aim today, he thought. Still, it felt too far to walk, especially in that blistering heat. As Alex walked the streets in search of new means of transportation, he discovered a pay phone with a phonebook on the other side of the road. He flipped the pages to a taxi cab service with hopes to reach the new esper in some level of comfort. He was low on funds but prayed he'd have enough for the ride over.
The trip itself was short, but in the time Alex had, his mind started to wander. He couldn't help but think about all that had happened. For so long, he thought he was some kind of parentless freak, but now his life had meaning and purpose. He also wasn't alone like he once thought. There were others out there like him—people who would understand what he went through.
The cab ride was over, and the feeling that the esper in question was giving off had brought Alex to a local park where tons of people were outside enjoying the weather.
"He's close, but who?" Alex said. He tried his best to narrow in on the feeling, but he hadn't yet perfected his technique, so he couldn't single anyone out. Alex scoured the crowd for what felt like hours with no luck.
The park was majestic looking, with its richly soiled grass and crystal blue lake, but that wasn't what he was there for. The children playing with their parents did bring him down a little; he always wondered what that would feel like. Grandpa Henry tried his best but was just too old to be the active parent Alex wanted growing up. Those thoughts were distracting him from his goal, and he knew he needed to focus on the task at hand. He continued his search but wanted to take a rest, so he found a secluded lake to lie by and took in the scenery. A refreshing breeze finally cooled his baked skin, but he noticed he wasn't truly alone. There was a girl sitting by the side of the lake.
She's really cute, Alex stopped and thought to himself. The teenage girl who sat there had long, scarlet hair that she'd tucked behind her ear. The color was deep enough to make any rose contempt with jealousy. Her high cheekbones sat atop her dimples, and she had just enough freckles to make you want to connect the dots scattered across her ivory skin, which in its own respect surprised Alex. He thought all Floridians had tans.
She wore a blue-and-white horizontally striped shirt and beige capri pants topped off with black sandals—perfect beach attire, which made sense considering the weather. To Alex, she looked like a fallen angel, much more different looking than the girls he was used to. Alex had never really been a ladies' man; in fact, he was painfully clumsy at it, but he felt compelled to talk to her. She hadn't noticed him yet, so he approached with caution.
Alex knew he was on a mission, but it had been so long since he'd had a pleasant conversation with someone who would be considered "normal." He missed that human contact, and considering the life he was about to have, it might be his last chance. He mustered up the courage and continued to walk toward her. Then, he saw something that stopped him in his tracks.
"You gotta be freaking kidding me," he said under his breath.
The girl who made his heart skip a beat was manipulating water around her hand with ease. Making it look like child's play, she bent the water up and down, side to side with her mind.
It's her ... She's the one I've been looking for this whole time, Alex thought. "Okay, be cool. I gotta approach this the right way. Damn, I had this whole thing planned out in my head, and my mind's gone blank," Alex said quietly.
The girl still hadn't noticed Alex, so he slowly moved in closer. Alex was about ten feet away when she was finally alert to his presence. The water splashed down on her lap, drenching her thighs. Startled, she stumbled back. Her face had lost some color over the scare that someone had discovered her secret. She stared up at him, and as their eyes locked, it felt like time itself slowed down for a moment. Her hazel eyes left Alex stuttering as he looked for words to speak.
"Who are you?" she asked.
"I ... I ... I'm really sorry for scaring you. I didn't mean to. I just want to talk," Alex began.
"My name is Alex, and I have something really important to discuss with you."
The girl furrowed her eyebrows and responded,
"I've heard that before. Sorry, but I'm not interested, so please walk away. I'd like to be alone." She turned her whole body the other way so as not to face him anymore. Rejection didn't come easy, and Alex's hopes were shattered against the sharp, jagged rocks of reality.
"Crap, I blew it. Why am I so bad at this?" He thought to himself.
"It's not like that," he told her.
"Then what's it like?" she asked.
It was clear that he was very rusty at talking to girls, as the charm he thought he had seemed to be fading fast. It was difficult to convince Dimitri, but this was on a whole new level of epic failure. He thought how he'd rather be fighting him than awkwardly bumbling his recruitment with this girl. His palms grew increasingly sweaty.
"Look, whatever you're selling, I'm not buying, and I don't appreciate being spied on," she said.
Now on the defense, he declared, "I wasn't spying ... I just saw you from a distance," Alex explained,
"and trust me when I say we need to talk."
"About what? Whatever you think you saw, you can trust me when I say you didn't. Now if you don't mind, talking to you is really giving me a headache. Maybe it's your accent, where are you from?" she questioned.
"Houston," he revealed.
"Ah makes sense... well southern boy, you're a long way from home, but if you start now maybe you can make it back by 'supper,'" she sarcastically said before giggling.
But Alex wasn't giving up. "Lemme start over. My name is Alex Carter, and believe it or not, I've traveled a long way to meet you."
"Does that line work with all the girls? I don't even know you, and I find it really creepy that you claim you came so far to meet me."
"It's not a line. I don't really know how to explain it, but something big is coming—something really bad—and you are a crucial part of stopping it."
She stared at him a moment before speaking again.
"What are you talking about?"
"There's something I have to show you, but don't freak out. Okay?" Alex said.
"Whoa! What kind of girl do you take me for? I'll scream right here," she retorted back. Alex looked confused, What is she talking about? he thought before it finally registered in his mind. "Oh ... God no! That's not what I meant at all!" he said. As he thought about how this was turning out, he decided there had to be a way to turn things around. Alex held out his hands, and they immediately begin to glow with a yellowish, electric hue.
"See," he stressed. "You're not the only one."
She almost passed out as a sense of relief and fear rushed over her. "You're a freak like me?" she attested.
Alex arched an eyebrow. "I don't know if I'd call myself a freak, but I do have abilities," he said.
"Can I see yours?"
She looked at him intently. She still didn't know if she could trust him, but her instincts were telling her to see where this all went.
"You did show me yours, so I guess I can show you mine." The girl was extremely nervous; she'd never opened up and completely divulged her powers to anyone before. She calmed herself and turned toward the lake. She took a look around to make sure no one else was watching before taking one final glance at Alex. "Here goes nothing," she said.
The girl closed her eyes and raised both her hands. It took a minute or so, but using her hydrokinesis, she formed a vortex in the water. It was swirling at a steady rate and growing in strength. She looked back at Alex to make sure he was still there.
Alex's jaw had dropped open completely. It was always breathtaking to see someone's ability for the first time. The fact that he was not the only one with powers still freaked him out from time to time, though. The girl lifted the water into a stream from the lake and manipulated it so it took flight.
The water bent to her will, and Alex was amazed at her control. She had never received praise for her ability before and reveled in the moment, putting on a bit of a show for him. The water became an assortment of different shapes and sizes.
"Incredible," Alex declared. "I've never seen anything like it before. It's truly beautiful."
The girl blushed. "Um, thanks. You're actually the first person I've really shown my power to."
"Something so beautiful should be shared with the world," Alex said.
She couldn't help but smile. No one ever truly accepted her and her ability before.
"Who is this boy, and why am I suddenly so flustered? I've been hit on before, but this is different—he's different. He's like me ... But I have to keep my cool. Keep it together, Cassie. He might just be a smooth talker, but he's also really cute. Dammit all," she thought to herself.
Cassie was torn inside. For her entire life, she'd learned to only rely on herself, but now she was finding herself being swayed by his words. She knew the first thing she had to do was wipe that ridiculous, cheesy smile off her face.
Alex spoke, interrupting her thoughts and getting back to business. "Like I said before, there is something very important I have to talk to you about. Trust me, it's not gonna be easy to believe, but I promise you every word will be the truth."
Alex started from the top—his first encounter with Shyra, the Zenakuu, the invasion plans. He told her all he knew, but what shocked him wasn't the fact that he was able to be so honest with this person he'd just met; it was that she took it so well. No dropped jaws, no bloody screams, not one demeaning laugh. Her eyes and ears just processed his every word. He knew it was a lot to take in, but so far, she'd handled the news of her planet being potentially annihilated by an evil alien race bent on total planetary supremacy like a champion.
"So ... that's about the gist of it." When he was all done, Alex waited for a reaction. He knew it was coming—that snickering, snide laughter.
It never came, though. In fact, the only thing she asked was, "How much time do we have?"
"You believe me?" he asked as he staggered back.
"Basically. I can tell you're not lying. Also, I never thought my powers were an accident. I never imagined it would be for this, but if these are the cards we're dealt, I say we play them."
Alex smirked. "So what's your name?" he inquired.
"My name is Cassandra Daye, but everyone calls me Cassie."
"I can't tell you how nice it is to meet you, Cassie," he said with a smile. "I'll meet you back here tonight, and we will head out."
With a raised eyebrow, she questioned him. "Meet me back here for what?"
"Why do you think? You still need to pack your things and say good-bye to your family," he conveyed to her.
Only one word came to Cassie's mind with the deliverance of the news: "Shit."
Damn, how could I be so careless as to forget that? This guy really messes me up. I need to be careful about that, Cassie thought to herself. "He's really cute, though ... Cassie, no! Stay focused. He's right. What am I gonna tell Katelyn?"
"Okay, I'll meet you back here tonight at eight o'clock," Cassie finally said aloud.
The walk home for Cassie was a long one—so much coursed through her mind. She always had to look out for herself and her little sister, because her parents were completely oblivious to them. They just focused on fighting with each other about money problems until they divorced, and then their mom obtained full custody. Cassandra couldn't stand to be home and see another one of her mom's alcoholic fits, but she endured for her sister's sake.
Of course, not all products of a broken family turn out horrible, and Cassandra was a perfect example of that. It was because she came from a broken family that she had grown up spending most of her time reading books, escaping her harsh reality and sharpening her mind in the process. She had few friends in high school, but the ones she did have could never be replaced.
Her powers didn't manifest until she was about seven. She had been at the local swimming pool with her younger sister. What all seemed like innocent fun turned almost fatal when her powers erupted and nearly drowned her younger sister. Ever since then, she has been somewhat afraid of her potentially destructive powers.
Always the A-plus student, Cassie excelled very quickly, but she had a sense of longing for something bigger that she never quite understood. The only thing she could do to keep her mind distracted from the sheer bizarreness that was her life was submerse herself in her precious puzzles, which gave her extraordinary problem-solving skills and a more technical mind than anyone she knew.
Life as Cassie knew it was about to be flipped upside down. She mulled over in her head how she was going to break the news to her sister. She could care less how her mom would react—if she reacted at all—but her sister would surely be devastated.
"God, I hope I'm doing the right thing here," Cassie said aloud as she approached their driveway. She walked inside their house, but there was no one in sight. She treaded to the kitchen, passed the table with the mountain of overdue bills piled up, and saw a note left on the refrigerator from her mom.
"Gotta head out for a minute. Be back soon. I left some money on the counter. Order pizza for you and your sister."
Typical, Cassie thought. She definitely wouldn't be sad to leave her mother, but she wondered where her sister was. Cassie crept down the hall to Katelyn's door. She pressed her ear against it but heard nothing. Anxious to know if Katie was in there, Cassie cracked open the door just enough to peek inside. Katelyn was on her bed lying on her stomach with some headphones in her ears doing what looked like homework.
Cassie didn't disturb her at first; she wanted to remember that moment for as long as she could. It was gonna be a while until she could see her again it seemed, so she made the most of it. Once she had her fill, she finally interrupted.
"Katie," she said, but no acknowledgment followed.
"Katie!" she shouted.
A frightened Katie looked up. "Geez, Cassie. What is wrong with you? You scared the bejesus out of me."
"Sorry, but I have to talk to you," she expressed.
Katelyn responded back in a wavering voice, "Okay ... what's up?"
With a somber expression on her face, Cassandra announced that she would be leaving for a while.
"It's tough to explain, but there is something I must take care of. I don't expect you to understand, but I have to do this."
"Is this about your ability to control water?" Katie asked.
For the second time that day, Cassie's face turned ghostly white.
"H-how did you know about that?" she asked.
Katelyn confessed that she'd known for a long time. "It's not my place to out you; I always figured you would tell me when you were ready."
Cassie was suddenly filled with a sense of relief that Katelyn knew the entire time her older sister was a freak of nature but always treated her with the same level of love. She smiled and nodded to confirm her sister's suspicions.
"If you're aware of my power, trust me when I say I'm doing this to protect us all. But I don't want to leave you alone with Mom."
Katelyn smiled back at her big sister and reassured her. "Don't worry about me. I'm tougher than I look. I learned from the best."
Try as she might, Cassie could no longer hold back the tears. She pulled in her little sister and embraced her tightly to hide the fact that she'd broken down with such raw emotion.
"Katie, this isn't good-bye. I'll be back. I promise," Cassie assured her sister.
"What's up with you today? I know you will. Bring me back something cool," Katie said with a big smile.
"You got it," Cassie responded. She left to pack her things and headed out a few hours later. With the boy who inspired her, Cassie was eager to start what would undoubtedly be the greatest thing she had ever been a part of, but there was something about his words that made her heart tremble. Her only daunting question would be—could she separate the two feelings?