"It was like some sort of blockage. Like –"
"Like a blood clot. But with energy." Cencio said. Hector nodded.
"Your wind blast just stopped working and your body went numb?"
"It's never happened before." Mariel admitted. "But fighting the smoke golem…"
"Could it be latency?" Cencio asked. "It sounds like a power blockage."
"Lend me your hand."
Mariel extended her hand toward the admiral. He held her hand with his hands. A sudden wind current flowed in around them and stopped. The wind picked up and stopped again.
"Engine won't start. There it is." Cencio said. Hector nodded.
"You seem to have a second latent power lying within you. Cencio experienced his latent power in a similar way."
"The giant eel I'm able to invoke. It's a latent power that appeared when I was about sixteen."
"Can you explain that to me a bit more?"
"A latent power is a power you are born with that matures over time and appears later in life. It usually awakens when you feel your life being threatened. The fact that your body shut down when you tried to use your power – something triggered it and your body is trying to adjust to the emerging latent power. In most cases though it's passed from generation to generation."
"So then, how long will this last?"
"Maybe a few days. It varies." Cencio shrugged.
"But you don't seem to know if you possess a latent power. Neither of your parents have any latent powers? What about cousins or relatives?"
"I don't know any of my family."
Mariel eyes started to trail downward.
"Well, you're a wind user like me." Hector said. "Perhaps we can find a way to release your latent power."
"Wind users from this region are often descendants of Kaptan's acolytes. As the host of Kaptan, if I just lend you some energy, I may be able to temporarily awaken it."
Hector touched Mariel's shoulder. His eyes began to glow. Mariel could feel power surging within her. For only a split second, she felt eternity flow through her veins. Suddenly, Hector drew his hand back. He could feel a sharp pain digging into his skin.
"Ouch. That was quite painful." Hector winced.
"Did it work?" Cencio asked. Hector shook his head.
"It appears your powers do not originate from Kaptan. It's not compatible with mine. Although it usually doesn't bite back like that."
"So what now?" Mariel asked.
"We'll have to do this the old-fashioned way. Without the assistance of a magical host, you will have to accept and realize your powers. Often certain emotions – regrets, prevent this from happening. Latent powers will mature more quickly once these issues are resolved."
"You mentioned something that threatens your life –"
"Is there something wrong?" Cencio asked.
"We can't help you do this if you aren't telling us everything." Hector said.
"The Engkanto. He made me see things. Hallucinate. I thought he was going to kill us."
"You're safe now." Cencio said. "And we'll get him."
"But what did he make you see?" Hector said.
"A memory from my past. But I'm fine. It was years ago."
"This internal struggle has a hold on you. If your engine isn't starting, those memories could be preventing your latent power from manifesting. A fully realized wind user should be able to form a cyclone with me."
"So I have to face it? Please. It happened years ago. I'm much stronger now. It wasn't my fault and I've accepted that."
"Listen, I know you are used to being a leader. Mariel" Hector started.
"You're used to setting an example for your team. Being that pillar of strength that the team can rely on. But you're a danger to them if you can't control your wind blasts."
Mariel's lips pursed to the left; she took a deep breath.
"The Engkanto probed your deepest, darkest thoughts. You're right. It probably triggered the release of your latent powers but if you force it, you'll only end up with power blockages like the one you faced fighting the smoke golem. We have to face this problem head on."
"What did you have in mind?"
"We have to send you back into the illusion."
"We're feeling the heat Cencio, it's getting messy." Raya yelled into the com system.
"We're trying our best too. She's untouchable, as long as the docks are flooded."
"Yours too? Ours is too hot to even get near."
The boy's eyes were glowing red hot. His skin had patches of grey scales scattered all over his body. Black smoke rose from the tops of evacuated buildings. Stragglers ran for cover, keeping clear of the clouds of flame. Daniel rushed through the town, carrying stragglers to safety.
"Llandro! It's me Daniel!"
The boy replied with a breath of fire from his scaly jaw. Daniel rolled to cover nearby, clambered to the top of the building and disappeared above the roof tops. He moved like a lightning bolt with limbs. A silver aura pulsed out of him like a jet stream – booming with sound as he moved.
He thought about his options. He could circle around Llandro – try to get a sucker punch in and end this quickly. No, Llandro's scales were tough enough. There was no telling how durable he was after what the Disonansya did to him. Even a timed blow to the jaw, wouldn't be able to do significant damage. Llandro would burn him to a crisp.
"He's a dragonborn. Don't let him tag you, he's also strong and durable on top of his fire abilities."
"Why don't you use that Holy Aura. Punch him into next week." Raya yelled.
"Leoneros are the brute force types. We prefer speed." Daniel admitted. "But I can improvise."
Daniel jumped off the roof, narrowly avoiding a cascade of flames. He quickly gathered a pile of stones, aimed at Llandro's head and launched a spray of stone bullets at the boy. Daniel made quick work of the pile of stones. The dragonborn seemed unmoved.
"It's not doing any major damage."
A burst of light connected with the beast's temple and exploded. Raya ducked behind cover, narrowly avoiding an incoming inferno. Daniel retreated behind one of the buildings before Llandro could find him.
"We need back-up."
"Same here." Cencio said.
"Jordan give me some ground. I'm gonna try to make a move." Jaylin shouted.
Jordan was crouched on the rooftop, his feet ankle deep in water. He nodded and dove into the waves, hoping to reach the bottom safely. He paddled through the water as fast as possible. The naga circled the area, moving naturally with its slender body.
I feel like I'm moving in slow motion compared to her. As long as I'm in this water, I'm in danger. If she spots me. I'm dead.
The dock was completely underwater. Each giant wave pushed the flooding further into the city. Driftwood and debris floated on the surface of the water. Every building along the dock was completely submerged. Jordan heard a ripple behind him.
Cencio looked onward. The dock was barely distinguishable from the rest of the ocean, the tides coming in were reckless and unpredictable. This was bittersweet. His gills weren't just for show, and his electric sense was functional underwater – unlike Mariel's breeze. Cencio could quickly maneuver in water by manifesting his eel and letting it propel him. Even without the eel, he was a strong swimmer. His fighting style was perfect for fighting in the water. The Thunder Twins were adaptable fighters, but not natural marines. They would be better off moving above the surface and fighting the monster from there – but they had to be creative to do so.
"I'll cover him." Cencio said.
The gills on Cencio's neck flared open. He plunged into the water after Jordan, his eel materializing in a tight protective spiral around his arm. The eel began to fluoresce. Cencio focused his energy, into generating quick, precise electromagnetic waves forward.
"Jordan. I'm at your six. Can you see me?" A rattled voice buzzed into Jordan's earpiece.
Jordan nodded. Cencio sent out a pulse in reply.
"Alright. Do your thing. I'll keep an eye out."
The water was cold. Uncommon during this time of year – or in general for that matter. The Three Nations were on the equator. It took a storm to get the water this cold during midday. He could feel the cold water pulling him in different directions. Jordan quickly swam under the tides, he could feel the air in his lungs being consumed.
Swim slower. He thought to himself. Can't waste my breath consuming more oxygen than I can afford.
Jordan drifted toward the bottom and reached for the rocks below him. Something screeched directly above him, wrapping its slender body around his neck. Quickly, the creature began to constrict tighter.
Jordan gasped for air. Water filled his lungs.
"You don't scare me. I went to school with bigger snakes than you!" Jaylin taunted.
The naga had long black hair and a thin wiry human upper body. She had spots of white scales embedded in her skin and harsh golden eyes. Her lower half was a giant snake's body. Standing upright in a coiled position, she stood three stories tall. She bared her sharp nails and lunged at Jaylin. Jaylin aimed a seismic blast directly below her, propelling herself into the air. The girl barreled past her like a speeding truck, then pivoted slowly to strike again, coiling her body on the rooftop of the White Monkey Motel. Jordan could feel the pull of the serpent's massive body on his neck as it lunged at his sister.
"I'm running out of moves here!"
Jaylin hurtled to her side as the serpent girl was pulled back into the water. Its body tore down the roof of the motel as it retracted back. Jaylin could see bubbling below. She watched two sea monsters ramming their bodies into one another below her. Cencio moved like a natural, commanding his eel with ease. Jaylin balanced on the side of the building on what was left of the rooftop. As the roof finally caved, the earth began to shake.
Dozens of stone pillars erupted from the ground. The wooden dock below broke into pieces of driftwood and floated to the surface. Jordan emerged, holding onto a splintered doorway coughing the water out of his lungs.
"Took you long enough." Jaylin said, perched on a newly risen tower of solid ground.
Jordan rubbed his wet hair vigorously until it was somewhat drier. He clambered on top of the floating door, shivering and trying to keep his balance. The pillars closed in tightly around the serpent, giving it little room to move. Its body was interwoven between the obelisks.
"It was really cold down there." Jordan wheezed.
"Quit complaining. How do we knock this thing out? Hurry!"
"I think we're good for now." Jordan gestured. "Look, easy. The thing's already trapped within the pillars. Don't worry."
"Spoke too soon, Raya." Cencio said. "We're done here with the snake. Back-up is on the way."
The beast wound its body tighter around its prison. It coiled until it reduced the pillars to rubble. She screeched, returning underwater. The water began to swirl ferociously, the stone pillars and platforms were swept away in a vicious maelstrom.
"You jinxed it." Jaylin said.
"Spoke too soon." Cencio said. "Again."
Batalios Bay – The Northern Kingdom
Ash and debris scattered through the harsh winds. Lightning lit the sky. Rain flooded the streets. A tall, broad shouldered man stood above the smoke clouds. He had wild dark hair and scruff on his chin. He wore a midnight blue cloak and bore a tattoo with a conch shell on his chest. Faint figures battled forces below. Two women, one with fierce eyes enveloped in blue flames fluttered across the battlefield, moving like a phantom. Another with a body as hard as steel shot like a jet through the battlefield. A man wearing aviator goggles soared through the air on four wings that produced a sonic wave that decimated the forces on the ground. An older man stood on the back of an eagle, radioing orders from behind.
"Hold position. We're almost there."
"We can't take much more, we have to retreat."
"But the base! We can retake it."
"Clear the streets. Make sure there aren't any civilians. We're executing Lightshow."
"Stand down, Hector. Those are orders."
"We're fighting a war here!"
Soldiers scattered, removing children from the streets. Blasts of flames and ice boomed through the air. Men and women scrambled for the next block over. The young man in the midnight blue cloak descended to the ground. His eyes glowed yellow. Storm clouds gathered as he raised his hand. With a clasp of his fist -
A small boy sat crying in the street behind a broken-down car. He scrambled frantically, looking for his mother and father. The wind began to pick up. Thunder began to boom.
"You have to redirect it!
The entire city was enveloped in blinding light and deafening thunder. Slowly, the light faded.
The city fell quiet.
The rain stopped.
"Sleep Admiral. Sleep until you are fully rested." Jeriko said. "You will be needed very soon."