Chapter 13: Breaking Dad:

Meanwhile, in the deeper recesses of the jungle, the twins' father nervously trekked around, trying to be as fast yet stealthy as possible, for he was in the most dangerous situation out of everyone else roaming the island, no thanks to the occasional gunshot that rang out in the vicinity. Every time Mark heard the noise, he quickened his pace for a spell until he felt the need to catch his breath, repeating the cycle until he ended up on the same beach that his children had just stood on not too long ago.

He didn't have much time to catch his breath before the sound of a gun could be heard yet again, and this time it sounded as though it was much closer. Thinking fast, he quickly scurried up the nearest tree, standing atop a thick branch as he surveyed the ground below. In no time, Mike came out of the woods, armed with his smoking shotgun as he looked around alertly. He pulled a magazine out of his blazer pocket and hastily reloaded, before glancing down at the ground and noticing the footprints right by the tree's roots. However, he ultimately stalked away.

As Mark watched him leave, he let out a sigh of relief, before immediately starting to deliberate how to slip out and search for his children, only to be caught off guard as Mike abruptly appeared on the same branch as him. Without hesitation, the two wealthy family-men immediately engaged in a fist-fight, each managing to land more than one hit on their opponent. However, Mike managed to knock Mark off balance with a kick to the knee, before whacking him with the handle of his gun to knock him over. Dazed, he could only sit dangerously close to the end of the branch as his rival approached him and squatted down, the gun's double-barrel aimed right at his throat. And as if the situation couldn't get intense enough, some of the lava from the recent eruption flowed onto the ground directly below him.

"Mike, why... why are you doing this?" Mark asked through his panting.

"It's what I should've done all those decades ago!" Mike gave an embittered response. "Putting a definitive end to you and everything you value. And once I do, I'll have finally accomplished my mission for revenge and inner peace!"

"Revenge? For what?" Mark asked, before quickly coming to a realization. "...Oh, you're still pissed off about that football game back in high school? I already said I was sorry!"

Mike then took a moment to unnervingly laugh in his rival's face.

"You still think this is about that damn football game? Pfft, I got over that years ago!" he spat, standing back up and pacing around. "Simply put, the reason why I want revenge on your family is because if not for them, my parents would still be alive."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Mark raised an eyebrow.

"Well as you surely know at this point, our families' business empires constantly rivaled each other over several generations, and when we were in high school, the heatedness of that rivalry only increased tenfold," Mike explained. "Your parents led the pack as always, and my parents constantly made more and more investments, in hopes of replacing them as the wealthiest in America. But eventually their efforts drove our family to near bankruptcy, and that combined with the stress of the feud sent them spiraling into depression and then suicide."

"Look, I'm more than sorry to hear that, but what does any of this have to do with me?!" Mark asked, growing impatient with his rival's monologuing.

"I thought you'd never ask. My parents' untimely death tore me up like nothing else, but thankfully I managed to bring the family back to financial stability. Even so, there was still the matter of trying to get revenge upon your family," Mike continued. "And surely you remember what came next, right? September 14th, 2011? An event that shook the whole foundation of Kicksburg, and yet the causes for it were deemed inconclusive?"

"Well duh, of course I remember that night!" Mark replied. "And no, it was not inconclusive. The verdict was that they died of old age!"

"Heh heh, well clearly the coroner forgot to check their Cincinnati chili that night," Mike casually smirked.

"No... you mean...?!" Mark's eyes widened in realization. "You murdered my parents!"

"Bahahahaha! Well gee, it took ya' long enough to figure that one out," Mike gave a slow, sarcastic clap. "Heh, and to think you've gone all these decades thinking it was just old age... typical of an idiot like you."

Mark did not reply, trying hard to steady his breathing as his face displayed a combination of intense anger and deep sorrow. It was one thing to learn about and accept his parents being deceased, but to suddenly find out many years later that their death had been the result of a homicide?

"But you wanna know the weirdest part? Getting even with you somehow didn't satisfy me enough," Mike continued, once again readying his gun. "So in the many years since then, I've constantly tried to notch some sort of victory over you. Every football game, every investment, every business or stock acquisition, and hell, I even funded the Gonzalez campaign back in 2024 after I heard you were running. And just when I thought I'd finally won, I found out that you funded the Looks Don't Matter movement to get him overthrown!"

"You are the most despicable asshole on this whole fucking planet!" Mark glared daggers at his rival.

"Meh, so what? As society has shown us time and time again, you could be the biggest asshole in the world, and it won't stop you from getting publishing, movie or record deals, being honored after you die, or even getting elected president," Mike rambled on. "So allow me to have one more asshole moment as I finally best you once and for- Aagh!"

He was abruptly cut off as Mark jabbed him in the face with his foot, sending him reeling into the trunk of the tree they were on, where he hit his head pretty hard upon impact. The latter didn't hesitate to stand up and grab his rival's gun, before aiming it at him.

"You sly dog-!" Mike started.

"Shut up!" Mark cut him off, disgruntled tears welling up in his eyes. "We've known each other for most of our lives, and in all that time, I thought you were just some obnoxious try-hard who only wanted to carry on the generations of rivalry between our families! But all I know now is that I was dead wrong! You're nothing but a petty, murderous ass who will do whatever it takes to be the best without caring about how it affects other people!"

"Well hey, I'm a billionaire. Comes with the territory," Mike shrugged nonchalantly. "So now that you've found out my darkest secret, are you gonna end me right here and now?"

"No!" Mark replied, whacking his rival on the head with the handle of his own firearm. "Because I'm not a killer like you!"

As a result of that final blow, Mike lost consciousness and collapsed so that his body draped over the sides of the tree branch, blood dripping from his mouth and a few other parts of his head. Now with his rival having been properly dispatched, Mark took a moment to catch his breath, before an inhuman growl escaped his lips as he angrily raised the gun in the air. He slammed it down onto his raised knee, effectively snapping it in two, and then weakly dropped to his knees and wept, a concoction of despair, rage, and satisfaction bubbling inside of him. As he did so, the storm that could only be seen and heard in the distance had now reached Isla del Exilio, bringing with it some heavy rainfall that turned the lava on the ground into a layer of solid, harmless rock and forming thick clouds of steam that covered the island.

By the time the Simmons family managed to get reunited with one another, the sun was creeping up over the horizon and only now starting to light up the village. Normally at this time, the townsfolk would only now start waking up, but today everyone was gathered on the black-sand beach just outside of town, with Captain Jones standing somewhat ahead of them. On the sand, Mark Jr. and Justine had both their luggage with them as they waved back at the onlooking crowd. Their parents stood a good ways behind them, right by the parked Seymour helicopter, which was accompanied by a few of the other choppers that had followed it here.

"Hey thanks again, Captain. For everything," Mark Jr. shook Jones' hand.

"Yeah, what he said," Justine did the same.

"It's been more than an honor looking after the children of such a well-known family," Jones formally straightened his cap. "Mark? I can tell you did a fine job in raising these two."

"Heh heh, well I certainly tried my hardest," Mark replied.

"And it's been pretty fun living here," Mark Jr. replied as his sister nodded. "Part of me is really gonna miss this place."

Right as the twins made their way back towards their commandeered chopper, they were halted in their tracks.

"Hey! Wait up, guys!" a voice called out to them from within the crowd.

Looking back, Justine's eyes widened at the sight of a forlorn Mandy hurrying over towards her. Letting go of her suitcase, she quickly opened her arms to wrap her girlfriend up in as tight of a hug as she could muster.

"Oh, how could I forget to say goodbye to you?" she asked affectionately.

"Look, Justine. I... I know it's for the best, but... just promise me you'll... never forget me, and... good luck on all your future endeavors," Mandy replied in the midst of sobbing.

"Good luck to you too, Mandy. Really sucks to know I'll never get to see you again. God knows how much I'm gonna miss you," Justine replied, tightening the hug as she sniffled. "Man, I really wish it didn't have to come to this."

"It ain't gotta be this way," Katrina chimed in.

"Yeah, if you want, you could always come with us," Mark added.

"We've got room for one more," the Seymour family's former pilot added.

"The choice is yours, sweetie," Captain Jones nodded.

"But... but then I won't be able to see you again," Mandy told her father.

"Well seeing how we just discovered the existence of this island, we could always come back later and bring everyone here back to civilization," one of the coast guard pilots said. "Of course it might take a while to complete the process, though."

"Y'know what? I think I'm gonna stay with my dad, but once we get back to the states, you can bet I'll be paying you a ton of visits," Mandy withdrew from the hug and wiped her eyes.

"Sounds like a plan," Justine smiled. "Now why don't you give me a proper goodbye?"

Without another word, Mandy instantly pulled her girlfriend in close and the two sank into a deep, intense kiss for a good fifteen seconds, before pulling away with a grin. Mark Jr. took the time to hug Mandy as well; just because they never wound up in a relationship didn't mean they weren't friends.

"Okay, so with all that bein' said, I'm ready to get back to the mainland," Katrina checked her watch. "Come on, paisanos!"

"Coming, Mom!" Justine and Mark Jr. replied in unison. "Bye, everyone! Home sweet home, here we come!"

With that, the entire population of Shipwreck Village waved off their newest guests as they climbed into the Seymour chopper and flew away. The first thing the twins did was make use of the complimentary outlets and plug in their long dead electronics, adopting relieved expressions as the screens lit up again, before they started sifting through several months worth of unread notifications.

"Y'know I'll be honest, as soon as we got the coordinates to your location, your mother and I were already fearing the worst," Mark said.

"Yeah, all dey' showed us was blue on the map, so for all we knew, you two coulda' been drownin' at the bottom a'the ocean," Katrina added. "Oh, and don't think I didn't notice you've been rootin' through my dresser. That's clearly my tube-top ya' have on, young lady."

"Eh," Justine shrugged. "But yeah, we're sorry for worrying you."

"We didn't exactly plan to land in a spot with no cell service," Mark Jr. momentarily looked up from his phone. "Man, that was quite the way to spend my summer vacation. I can't wait to tell all my friends about it once college starts!"

"They probably wouldn't believe us anyway," Justine chuckled.

"Speaking of your little adventure this summer, why don't you fill us in a little more?" Mark asked.

"And tell us if there was anything questionable you two did without us there to harp on ya'?" Katrina directed a concerned glance at her kids.

"Oh, you have no idea..." Mark Jr. chuckled nervously.

"Kind of a long story, though, so you may as well get comfy," Justine added.

Just a couple of weeks later, everyone who resided in Shipwreck Village had been successfully rescued and were in the process of being brought back to their home countries, effectively returning Isla del Exilio to its uninhabited status, though that didn't stop the world's cartographers from including it on all future maps.

That is, except for one man. Mike Seymour, who had survived his encounter with Mark and woken up from his coma, limped his way through the rainforest until he found the village, which he discovered was completely empty. He wasn't sure what to make of this until he heard the sound of a helicopter off in the distance. In a panic, he hurried in the direction of the noise and frantically climbed up Mt. Jones to see it flying away.

"Th-They left me here?! I'm... I'm all alone. Oh no, I'm stranded here! No... no... NNNNOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Mike dropped to his knees and screamed to the heavens, despite it all being for naught.

~ ~ ~ The End ~ ~ ~