TW: Parent death
Sitting in this tent, in a place they’ve never been before, with people they’ve never seen before, eating food with unknown origins, all five teenagers were relatively calm. They all knew this was a possibility. From the moment each of them turned thirteen and found out that one of their parents wasn't from Earth. Marcus forked his greens aimlessly while thinking about the time his parents sat him down after his thirteenth birthday party.
He was sitting on their old couch while his parents sat across from him on dining room chairs that they pulled up. After having such a great day and being relatively well behaved at his party, Marcus had no reason to believe that they would be having a serious conversation. He had not expected his mother to get up from her seat and transform before his very eyes. Green iridescent wings tore through the back of her t-shirt as her oak colored skin revealed tattoo-like circle patterns that glowed in the same lime color as her wings. Even her usually deep brown eyes sparkled with flecks of gold. Suddenly, the sound of metal on wood pulled Marcus out of his memory. Scanning the small room for the culprit, he located a girl similar in age. She looked down at the table where her fork had dropped, unable to pick up her fork or her head. Marcus laughed as quietly as possible and went back to eating.
Tumila stared at her fork as if it were Brutus and she, Caesar. They were having a good time together, picking at potatoes and plopping them back down on the plate. She had never been more grateful for her large afro that covered the rivers of stress sweat pouring out of her forehead. Without her partner in crime, an intricately designed eating utensil, Tumila was forced to think about the unbelievable events that brought her to a soldier's training facility in an alternate dimension.
It had been four years since she had been told that her father wasn't human, making her half not-human. Her dad and half of her were these fairy-like creatures called Samprins. She was shocked to see her dad grow light blue wings and swirly blue tattoos all over his body. A month later, she was more than shocked to wake up, look in the mirror and see that her face and arms were adorned with the same tattoos as her dad in a pretty lilac hue. Later that day, a backache would end with her very own pair of lilac wings. Luckily for her, she was on vacation from school and had a week to learn the basics of concealment and flying. She's had the last three years to learn about natural powers that all Samprins possessed. Nature, Air, Water, Fire, and Energy were the five orders that all Samprins were capable of. Most Samprins, however, excelled in one and mastered it. While her father was skilled in Energy she and Nature were one. Even now, she could feel the trees outside of their tent. Her concealed tattoos flickered from the small use of her power. If she wanted to she could instantly grow the grass under the dining table, or turn a section of grass into another species of plant. Focusing on the piece of grass to the side of her, she imagined it ten feet taller. Immediately, the patch of green rose to greet her and Tumila secretly enjoyed the gasps coming from the strangers at the table. She was usually more reserved than this but she has never had the chance to showcase her talents to people outside of her parents. For her next trick, she imagined the long patch of grass to be a lovely bush of red roses.
“Hey, that was great! Maybe we can fight off those gigantic, thousand year old, fire spitting dragons by hiding under rose bushes,” said a red haired boy, Rin. His words were dripping with sarcasm and fear disguised as anger. Under the table, Rin’s fraternal twin pinched his calf but didn’t succeed in cooling their brother down.
Tattoos shining bright from the use of her powers, Tumila couldn’t help but smile at the insult “Or, I could impale one with a super sharp thorn,” Tumila suggested, turning the rose bush into one huge thorn that was fast approaching the rude stranger’s right eye. Usually, Tumila was skilled enough to know when to stop, but Nature could be unpredictable. That is why she was grateful for Rin’s sibling who pushed out their arms, blew a rush of wind and saved Tumila from blinding a stranger.
“Dude! You could have blinded me!” Rin shouted. Tumila watched in slight amusement as the cups of water around the table started to vibrate. “Well, that’s surprising. I would have bet my college fund that he was skilled in the Fire order. I should probably bet my college fund on something since I’ll probably die here,” Tumila thought grimly to herself.
“You would have deserved it,” his sibling stated.
“Really Cory, then why did you save me?” their brother accused. He was less angry now, Tumila could tell.
“It would’ve killed the vibes of the party,” Cory deadpanned once again. This tone really seemed to piss their brother off and they knew it.
“I actually think it would have livened up this little function,” Marcus chimed in between bites of chicken. He’d been the only one to actually eat since they’d been dropped off here. Tumila guessed that he was skilled in the Energy order. From her personal experience, Energy orders ate… a lot.
“You’re right! That’s my fault,” Cory joked in return and the whole room giggled except for one girl, seated between Marcus and Cory.
“So, that’s what we’re doing here? Fighting dragons in an alternate dimension that none of us have ever been in until today?” Hang asked.
“How haven’t you heard of the Samprin-Dragon War?” Marcus asked with genuine confusion before focusing on his meal again.
“Yeah I thought all of our parents told us about that on our thirteenth birthdays. Dragons and Samprins lived in peace until the Samprin King tried to trick the Dragon Head out of some land. After discovering that he was caught in a lie he tried to migrate his people to a new dimension, knowing that the Dragon Head would never accept an apology or even a return on the land. The military, however, wanted to fight for their home. Others ran away with the King’s permission but that title was becoming less and less important. At any given time our parents and any kids they had could be summoned back home to fight in the war,” Rin explained roughly. Tumila winced at the lack of finesse in his storytelling but she let it go to hear why Hang had never heard of this.
“Oh. Well I probably never heard of it because my Samprin parent died when I was twelve. My mom did her best to teach me what she remembered about concealment and the orders or whatever, but he didn’t talk much about home to her...now I see why,” she concluded.
“Yeah,” the rest of the table agreed. Silence once again drenched the atmosphere. Marcus had finally stopped eating and all that could be heard was the rustle of the trees.
“Okay, but does anybody know why the colors of our tattoos don't match with what orders we use? I thought mine was broken or something but red haired guy’s was pink when he was bubbling the water, Cory’s was orange, and Nature Girl’s was purple,” Hang asked.
“Nature Girl’s actual name is Tumila. How about you guys?” Tumila asked.
“The name is Rin, and you already know Cory’s name,” Rin explained.
“Hi,” Cory said with a small wave
“My name is Hang. Nice to meet you all, I guess,” Hang answered.
“My name’s Marcus,” Marcus said with a smile.
“So now that the introductions are out of the way, does anyone have an answer for the tattoo thing? I've always wanted to know,” Rin said. He was a little less on edge now that the people before him were becoming less like cell mates. Suddenly, the entrance of the tent was opened, letting the friendly atmosphere rush out with a sudden wind. ‘Sudden’ seemed to be this crew’s word of the day.
“The textbooks say that it was an evolutionary thing. That Samprins evolved to have random colored Gradis, not tattoos, to confuse predators about our powers,” answered a tall and dark haired stranger. He was fitted in chest and arm armor and walked confidently without concealment of his Samprin features. Deep blue hair, bright white Gradis, and gigantic translucent wings to match his broad build. Tumila heard the audible gasps and gulps coming from the table. Tumila blinked what she thought could have been a world record in attempts to process the beauty she was witnessing.
“They don’t make ‘em like you in Rhode Island,” Tumila blurted and immediately regretted.
“He’s not all that,” whispered Marcus into the table. Seeing his reflection in his clean plate, he ensured that his locs were in place and his teeth were free from food. He wasn’t jealous or anything; just a little bit prideful. His nice smile and whisky colored eyes made him the popular one among crowds. We’re in a whole new world for sure, he concluded. Across from him, Hang was occupied with a different piece of information.
“Predators? Like the dragons?” She asked the beautiful stranger.
The dragons, the Brisas (nasty slug-like creatures with horrible acid reflux), and gigantic scorpions if you live in the Northern territory,” the stranger explained way too casually for anyone’s liking. Rin slumped lower into his seat and rubbed his eyes aggressively.
“Man, I already miss being at the top of the food chain,” he said after sulking.
“Yeah. Must have been nice to not live in fear for your entire species. To wake up and not wonder if it was going to be your last day. Or your sister’s, or your mother’s,” the stranger shot back at them. Cory, Marcus, Rin, and Hang faced the floor while Tumila was paralyzed by the poison that laced his words. They locked eyes until the stranger spoke once again. Tumila joined the others staring at the ground; she, facing the massive rose thorn she made earlier.
“Anyways, I hope you all ate enough because training starts bright and early tomorrow. I know you don’t know when that is but just look out for when the sun is above the forest. Get some sleep,” he said, forcing his tone to return to its previous level of professionalism.
The stranger floated out of the room, leaving his words behind as a tragic bedtime story. Sleep was few and far between.