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Short Story Challenge

Genre: Sci fi
Theme: Leap of faith

Charlotte stared in horror at the blinking red lights on the monitors before her.

"Thrusters," At first she whispered but then scrambled to open up another Communication channel with the pilot aboard the nearby fighter ship.

"Evelyn! Thrusters!" Charlotte's emerald eyes started tearing up as she saw the silhouette of the damaged ship quickly drifting towards the planet's red atmosphere.

With the sustained damage from the asteroid belt run, the ship would not survive the entry. The Conchords Shield was no longer working and the surface would melt away from the extreme friction.

"Evelyn, do you read me?!"

Only silence came from the Channel.

"Evelyn please! Do you read me?!"

Still nothing.

Desperate to save her best friend she stood and yanked the control panel from underneath the console to try and jump the ship back on. The asteroid belt run had depleted most of her power and damaged her solar recharge panels.

As it stood she was dead in the water... or space for that matter.

Anytime now the notorious Bounty Hunter Eriquis would be arriving to collect her. Their escape attempt to prove her innocence was now fruitless.

Anxiously she tied her dark honey curls back and attempted the communication channel again, "Evelyn do you read me!?"

This time a brief crackle and murmer came through. After some quick adjustments, Charlotte heard the sweetest voice she'd ever heard in her entire life.

"I read you, Darlin'" there was a pause, "You okay over there?"

Charlotte sighed in relief, tweaking the panel I an attempt to boost the signal. "Ship is dead, my charging panel is damaged. Shield is stable though."

She could hear the smirk in Evelyn's voice as she chided,  "next time, let's not take the asteroid belt as a shortcut."

Charlotte raised up and switched on the cam. The monitor switched from high alert to video communIcation. On the screen, Evelyn was beautiful - dark with cropped black hair and silver eyes.

Evelyn continued, "We should start our decent in two minutes," she seemed top glance around at her controls, getting reports from various ship systems, "If we work it right, we can reserve power to land safely. We'll have to defend slowly though..."

"We will have company by then."  Charlotte then snapped her finger with an idea. "We could skip this planet and head to --"

"We won't have time to do that either-" Evelyn cut her off, " right now we need to get onto this planet to maintain our advantage."

"Waiting until the last minute before we crash to start up the engines is it out of the question."

Evelyn paused, then looked up at the monitor earnestly, "Do you trust me?"

Charlotte hesitated at that loaded statement.

Evelyn started before Charlotte could answer, "You still have a shield, I still have thrusters, If we hook together we can boost our chances of a safe landing."

A few more moments of silence prompted Evelyn to square off, "So I ask you. Do you trust me?"

Charlotte felt her heart racing. The thought of dying from an entry incident was the last on her list of glorious ways to die. However, this beautiful wonderful woman that had stuck with her through this adventure.

"Yes." Popped out of her mouth unconsciously, "I trust you." Charlotte beamed up at the monitor, "If we go out, I go out with you by my side in a literal blaze of glory."

Evelyn blushed a tad but grinned, "Don't worry dearie, we'll be lounging on beach chairs sooner than you know it."

It was now or never.

Each sent out their gripping arms and pulled on one another until they could lock their ships together.

"You ready?" Evelyn prepared her thrusters as they descended.

Charlotte nodded.


Band Story: Living with Jeong

Note: this is under a normal grading scale from back then... I realized that 2nd grade grading scale has changed. Just work with me on this one...


Seven year old Tyler pressed his back against his bedroom door. His heart was racing his body was heavy with Dread.

Trembles came over him as he held the History test tightly between his hands.

Tyler was very smart for his age and could pull an A from nowhere if he applied himself. Straight A's was what his father expected of him.

As such, there were consequences for anything lower than an A.

For a B, he was usually grounded for a week. And that was going lightly. One time he got a B- on his spelling test and his dad made him do everyone's chores that entire week. That's after getting a spanking with the belt.

Tyler was on the verge of tears.

He'd made a C on his history test. What was worse was that he had studied so hard for it, but the dates blurred into his math homework.

He had never gotten a C before. He couldn't even fathom his father's reaction. Unfortunately, it was only a matter of time before his father knew.

Anytime now his father would be walking through the front door after getting off of work.

Before he knew it, Tyler was starting to hyperventilate at the thought.

Pure terror rumbled through his small body.

Over and over Tyler blamed himself for the lousy grade and fought the intense urge to cry. Despite his willpower, tears rolled hot down his cheeks.

His father was going to be furious. Especially since somehow the man always knew when he had tests or even worse - his report card.

There was soft knock at his door, startling him from his anxiety attack, enough to calm down a little. His mother's soft voice broke the silence, "hey sweetie, are you hungry? I've got a snack for you."

Tyler swallowed, his voice cracked and wavered, betraying his emotions, "no ma'am."

The other side of the door was quiet for a second before he heard her walk back towards the kitchen. He never moved, even as she came back.

"Hey, sweetie, I'm coming in okay?"

"Okay." He quickly wiped away the tears and stood to let her in.

His mother, Eomeoni, stood at his door with a tray full of grapes, Triscuits, and a bottle of water.

Tyler moved out of the way and closed the door after her.

His mother sat down on the bed, and laid the tray out for him. Although he never made eye contact she smiled ruefully down at him, "Tell me what's wrong, sweetheart."

Tyler was very hesitant, but relinquished the offending paper. His mother was a lot more lenient than his father... There was a shred of hope that telling Eomeoni first may soften the blow later.

She collected the page in her hand and looked it over. Her eyebrows lifted and surprise, "A C?"

He absolutely cringed at her disappointed tone.

Eomeoni mused, more to herself, "Appa's not going to like this." At that his breathing picked up as anxiety threatened to take hold of him again.

A sympathetic look crossed her features as she set the test down beside her on the bed. Sliding off the bed towards his kneeling form, she collected him into an embrace. "It'll be okay sweetie." She whispered into his hair, and kissed the top of his head. "We'll work on doing better on the next test okay?"

"But I studied so hard!" Ty started to break down in her arms. "And I still failed!"

A short surprised chuckle came from her throat, "Fail? You didn't fail sweetie, you just got an average grade."

He sniffed and hiccuped, "But Appa said anything below a B is -hic- failing." He gripped her tighter, "and failing gets discipline."


Anne's eyebrows furrowed as she held her completely distraught son. Ty usually did well in school, so they never usually had an issue.

When it came to parenting, she and Jeong were mostly winging it, but after seven years, Anne was confident that her skills had improved since college. Especially when it came to discipline.

If Tyler got in trouble, Anne would have just chided him, maybe grounded and helped him study harder. Jeong took a physical route of discipline.

Unfortunately Jeong also had a short fuse and a fierce hand.

 Tyler never usually got in trouble, and was a pretty good kid. Relatively happy most times. It was rather worrisome, however, that he would react this way to getting in trouble from something that isn't too bad.

Lord have mercy he could have been doing crack or something... But he just got a C in history.

What kind of discipline was Jeong really dealing to have their son this scared? His small trembling frame caused her blood to boil. A good boy like Tyler didn't need a harsh punishment.

A frown crossed her face as she rocked him gently back and forth, gently stroking his head until he calmed down finally.

The boy's sobs quelled, but he did not try to leave her arms.

Anne finally broke the silence, " okay sweetheart, I want you to understand that I know you are smart... you can do better than a c." Suddenly he tensed and looked up at her, fear mottled his face.

She hesitated - her heart breaking - but continued, "I will administer your punishment, not daddy."

A maelstrom of emotions played out on his face - he wasn't sure if he should feel relieved or even more afraid.

"You will be grounded to your room for a week. Where you will study hard until next week's test and if you get a good grade then you won't be grounded anymore."

Tyler's face finally settled on contentment and he nodded, "Yes Eomeoni."

Anne kissed his head and shifted back into a stand. "Dinner is at six when Appa gets home." She then walked to the door, opened  it and looked back at him, "Go ahead and get your homework done. Alright?"

Tyler stood up and nodded.

"Yes Eomeoni"


A couple hours had passed quietly, and Anne was completely on edge. Even though her eyes were gliding over the words of her micro biology textbook, nothing was registering.

The look of Horror on her son's face echoed through her mind. The expression was very troubling to her.

Tyler had always received excellent marks in school. The boy was incredibly smart and quite the gentleman. A few weeks before, Tyler came home with a B on his report card and Jeong had immediately punished the poor boy.

Anne had been on a 12-hour shift at work so there was no way for her to know how Jeong punished him. In fact, anytime she would bring up punishments he would either change the subject or get angry and defensive.

Tyler didn't want to leave his room for a week even though he was not grounded. Anne had assumed that he was popped.

Given the boy's reaction and her husband's notorious short fuse, it made her wonder if the punishment was far more severe than she first thought.

The thought of her child getting beaten made her stomach turn.

Anne quickly closed her textbook and walked to the oven to check on the chicken broccoli cheese rice casserole she'd thrown together.

Anxiously she glanced at the flowery.clock on the wall.

6:16 p.m.

Jeong's office job usually got on his nerves. So when he got home, it usually took him at least an hour to de-stress.

She wasn't even sure how to handle what she knew was going to be a fight between them. All she knew was that her son was unjustly punished and on the verge of being abused.

Heaven and Earth would cease for she would allow such a thing to her offspring. Mama Bear was pissed.


Jeong arrived minutes later. Anne greeted him with a frown, and the four most dreaded words in the English dictionary.

"We need to talk."

Jeong narrowed his gaze, sliding his suit jacket off, "I JUST walked in, can this wait?"

Anne crossed her arms defiantly, "No."

"Well what ever it is, can wait 2 seconds while I get in the door." He set his briefcase down and all but glowered at her.

"How about we talk about it now?" She glared at him loosening her arms and put her hands on her hips, "and you explain why our son believes that a C is failing?"

Jeong looked taken aback, then angry, "He made a C?! In what?!"

"Answer my question Jeong."

"You don't get it Anne," Jeong grit his teeth, "If you make anything below an A, you are average. He'll never make it in this world if he makes less than an A."

Anne hesitated because she was downright flabbergasted, "Are you serious?! He is SEVEN."

"If we don't push him early, he will fall behind and fail." Jeong undid his belt and whipped it off on one motion. "I'll go find out, for myself."

He tried to push past her, but she managed to block his pathway. "Jeong, no, I already punished him!"

A hand clasped her shoulder and shoved her out the way, "Children don't listen to grounding." He walked down the hallway. "You have to make sure they remember the consequences -"

Anne recovered, having been shoved into the living room, and caught up to him as he disappeared into their son's room.

By the time she dashed to the doorway, Jeong had already snatched Tyler from his desk and raked the belt across the child's legs a couple times.

After 6/7 licks Jeong let go and Tyler crumpled to the floor choking on sobs. "You study hard! You get A's! Is that clear?!"

Tyler only nodded, grasping the chair and hiding behind it like a shield. "You answer me properly when I ask you a question -" he raised the belt again only to have Anne grab it before he could bring it down again.

"Jeong Stop!" Oh, mama bear was pissed. "You are being unreasonable! One C does not warrant a spanking!"

Jeong jerked against her, but her grip was strong, "Anne, let go!"

"Or what?!" She challenged, "You're gonna beat me too?"

Jeong swung and back slapped her against her cheek.

Everything stopped.

Anne cupped her cheek, staring at him dumbfounded..

There was a tense silence between all of them as Jeong realized what he's done. Even Tyler was shocked at what he had seen.

Jeong relinquished the belt to Anne.

She grit her teeth and grind out, "You need to leave."

It was Jeong's turn to look baffled, "Excuse me?"

"You have 15 minutes to pack your belongings, and get out of my house. Our I'm calling the police."

"You're out of your mind -"

"You just beat our son over a test grade-"

Jeong narrowed his eyes, "You're son, you mean."

A tremor of anger rocked her, but he continued before she could speak, "As you recall, I never said I wanted kids. Then this stupid accident occurred." He gestured to Tyler who was still gripping his desk chair.

Anne was seeing red while Jeong vented, "The only reason I stayed was because you pleaded with me to take care of him. If you don't like my method of discipline, then fine, I'm through being a father to this piece of shit!"

Suddenly Anne whirled and slapped Jeong so hard that it almost echoed through the small room. "Get. Out. Now." Every syllable was ground out.

Jeong sneered at the boy before leaving the room. Not even two minutes later, he'd gathered his essentials and left.

Anne reeled a bit, covering her mouth to quell the sob that threatened to release time Jeong slammed the door on the way out.

The whole house headed shook, then settled into an eerie quiet once more. Tyler timidly stood up from behind the chair and went to hug his mother.

Each held each other in a tight embrace.

Neither let go for a good 20 minutes.

Aquarium AU - Tyler

The aquarium was probably one of Tyler Little's least favorite places to be on his birthday.

Even so, his mother, Dr. Anne Stillwater, was treating him to a free VIP session behind the scenes - since she worked as a researcher at the facility. So Tyler sported his khaki cargo shorts and blue striped t-shirt to brave the late summer heat. His bright yellow lanyard with the “VIP” card swung back and forth against his chest as he walked up the entrance ramp. His thick black hair was cropped relatively short - a stark contrast to the long blue hair he had back in the high school days. His hair was now short enough to show off his stainless cartilage piercings as they glistened in the morning light.

Back in his teen years, Anne would drag him there to see everyone (both staff and animals) almost every weekend. He especially came around when a few of his friends started working there. College proved to be a bit more challenging to schedule visits around.

Today marked his first visit since he’d left for Maryland to attend his masters program in nursing.

It had been two years to be precise.

Nothing much had changed in two years, barring the depletion of whales, the crew seemed to be as amicable as ever. So it was no surprise that Jade greeted him with a bear hug time he stepped through the double entrance doors.

The wiley brunette dragged him through the aquarium to see every one of their friends. Hyper would not let him leave the front desk without a hug. He was forced to accept a lunch invitation from GJ as well as RSVP to Sunny in the gift shop concerning the wedding. ( because of his recent move back to Charleston he only heard through his mother about their engagement)

Tyler was completely floored however when he witnessed Kai swimming with Mega in the mermaid tank. The older brother was sporting a beautiful red and gold finned tail that shimmered as he practically swam circles around Kai, who was clad in scuba gear. They waved briefly, then retreated to the mermaid caves, hewn specifically for the privacy of the mermaid tank’s occupants.

As part of the VIP treatment - and not just because he was friends with the staff, they traversed upstairs to the tank access area. By the time they got to the changing and locker area (for the mermaid show staff) Kai and Mega had come back to the surface.

Ty was almost numb seeing the elder Springs twin in such a state. It triggered a series of flashbacks that he had to suppress quickly.

Thankfully Donnie was preoccupied when his crush suddenly walking in and everyone else snickering at the poor young God for stopping mid-sentence as she entered the locker room. Ty refocused and quickly turned his attention back, and joined in poking fun at Donnie and his ridiculous crush on Medley.

Jade managed to escort him all over the place, but had to break off for a group tour, so he walked to Dolphin Bay by himself. Memories flooded him as he walked down the hallways lined with plentiful varieties of fish and mammals. Everything was pretty much the same as it had been years before.

That lingering feeling of mild dread crept up on him again as he approached his destination.

It wasn't until the dolphin tank with Alex that it really started getting to him. And to be completely Fair, he was surprised it didn't happen sooner. His dread was the reason that Alex didn't say anything when he arrived and simply gathered him into a big hug.

It had been two years since he stepped foot in this Aquarium, however, today marked the five year anniversary of the accident. All the sympathetic glances throughout the day were not lost on him.

Alex left his side and moved to watch the dolphins briefly, “It’s been a long time.”

Rather than watch the dolphins, his gaze lowered at her words and spotted the small plaque on the side of the dolphin tank. The raised bronze lettering was a harsh reminder.

“It still feels like she’s around the corner somewhere.” he muttered, mostly to himself. Ty reached out and let his fingers trace the name on the plaque.

It had been five years but Ty felt a prickle behind his eyes, and his throat went dry. The pain still felt fresh even though it had been so long.

This was probably his least favorite birthday present. Coming back on the 5th anniversary of the day he became a widower.


The sun rose late that morning, peeking through the skylights and illuminating the lobby. The aquarium was full of the natural light, but the hallways and the gift shop were still dimmed.

Inside of the giftshop, in the back left corner - near the exit - light seeped out from underneathe the office door. They were still on from the night before.

From inside, Sunny yawned and sat up from her comfortable position, hunched over the desk with her head in her arms. With a deep sniff she reached for her phone to shut off the soft piano alarm, telling her it was time to get up. The desk was covered in surveillance vhs tapes from the last few days. On the left was the computer, on the right was the small vhs tv. (The pile of VHS had been shoved a bit closer to the wall against the computer in order for Sunny to lay her head down.)

The only reason she was even able to take a three hour nap was due to fatigue.

On the flip side....

The only reason she was now instantly awake, was due to pure, unadulterated ire. Only this was steadily surpassing ire.

Sunny was fucking pissed.

A brief flashback from the night before haunted her mind as she unfurled her arms and legs to stretch. Memories slipped back to young Taylor, timidly explained everything that had happened, and how a fire had ignited in Sunny.

Sunny had a passion for business, she enjoyed managing, coordinating and delegating. However, she did not play games. This manager did not take this degree of steaming bullshit that had been handed to her. As a business professional, she had been royally offended that this turn of events even happened.

The chair grunted as it was pushed behind her when she stood. Sunny had been an absolute mess the night before after everyone else had left.

Why someone would do this to her? To the aquarium? They were all like family.  Sunny had rehearsed the scenario over and over. It all came with being a manager, but to do this this soon since her ascension to power, it threw her completely off guard.

Carefully she opened the door and the light from the office spilled into the dim gift shop. Everything was in order. The sales floor was cleaned and stocked. All merchandise was tagged. The drawers were counted and reconciled. The deposits were ready to head to the bank. And all the termination papers lay in a pile on top of the vhs tapes, filled out and ready to serve.

Someone was getting fired, and she had all the evidence she needed paused on the screen of the tv.

A ding from her phone snapped her out of her thoughts and she quickly read the loving "Good Morning Sunshine" message from Kai. Her stomach growled, so instead of typing in something sweet, her only response was: "Bagel" ... followed up by "Coffee".  His only response, was "Yes Ma'am."

It was just after 6.30am - about time for staff and trainers to start showing up. The aquarium didn't open until 10am anyway, so they had the couple of hours to tend to the babies. Between meal prep, feeding, grooming, health care, and cleaning the tanks, those couple hours go by quickly before they have to take most of it behind the scenes. Even then, it didn't end. The days usually went by quickly because there was much to do anyway.

Sunny needed a serious pick me up, before her day went into the toilet and she hid in the backroom until closing time. She flipped the flourescents on in the shop, leaving the track spot lights off for now until they were supposed to open, and closed the door behind her.

After a quick refreshing trip to the bathrooms, she came back groomed, fresh and ready to bitch someone out. And that person was on morning shift.

Lord have mercy on their soul.



It had been a few days since her not-quite-brother-in-law had arrived, and Sunny was elbow deep in mer-plushes. Not surprising - as quickly as she'd put it on display, an hour and a rush later, the shelf would be empty again. Only a day or two into her new position as manager and special forces were attempting to drive the store to hell.

The manager was normally not supposed to be on the sales floor, but rather working behind the scenes and only tending to extreme customer cases - however, the new attraction was keeping her terribly busy. Thank goodness Ethan had pre-ordered many boxes to be shipped overnight as soon as the news had hit them. The man seemed to be psychic when it came to  inventory. However he had already left for his new job and Sunny was in charge of it all now.

Sunny grabbed the pricing gun and started tagging each one and tossing it into an emptied box to go out onto the sales floor.

Outside the stockroom door, she heard the hub bub of the sales floor. The metallic rush of the register openning for a second then slamming shut - immediately followed by "Have a good night." from Leslie, her assistant manager in training. The timid questions by the new girl, Taylor - fresh out of high school.  The blonde was holding up pretty well. Training was nothing new to Sunny, but getting a newbie under these stressful circumstances really raised the stakes and tested the young girl almost as a baptism by fire.

The two others on the floor that evening were Matt, the college senior and Terry the high school dropout that had been there for 3 years. Both were dependible in a pinch, it's what made their evening crew pretty awesome in the giftshop. Samantha, Rick and Ebony made up the primary morning crew, and they were equally efficient.

This incredibly ridiculous pace was wearing at her a little, but it was easily brushed off by the sheer numbers they were pulling in.

At this rate, they would surpass their monthly quota and it's only the first week of the month.

It tickled her to think of the quota incentive bonus being put towards her wedding. (For every $500 dollars over their MTD goal they received a $.50 bonus. For the entire month. As a manager, she received a $1.)  The wedding dress had already been picked out, financed and most everything else had to wait for the actual day. Three months away and she was desperately anxious.

Kai was non-chalant about it on the outside, but he was a frickin' train wreck of emotions. From the moment they simultaneously proposed to each other that hot summer night at the waterfront park, through the war waged between Sunny and her mother over the wedding arrangements, and now sitting at the edge of their seats just waiting. This whole bizarre situation with Altmega had compeltely blind-sided them. Kai's minute-older twin was young, successful and making his way through college when struck down with one of the most unimaginable conditions.

The aquarium had been so busy the past few days - Sunny and Kai hadn't actually talked about how things would pan out now, since the best man was now half fish. It was gnawing at her. She loved her brother-in-law, and it was soul wrenching to watch her future mother-in-law fighting to be brave only to sputter with a single tear cascading down her cheeks while watching him swim around the massive tank. The tight hug Nikki had given her when they got home was tense and full of unshed tears. Sunny was pretty sure that if Nikki had broke down, there wasn't much she could do except hold the woman tight.

Suffice to say, their whole family was in utter shock.

Sunny stopped and looked at the pile of tagged plushes that was over-filling the box.

"Poor Mega," she let out a sigh, then straightened when she heard footsteps just outside of the door. A soft knock sounded. Sunny stood and opened up the door, only to find Taylor sheepishly pointing towards the sales floor, "We're uh, out of plushies."

Sunny smiled down at the young girl, "Don't worry," the honey blonde then leaned down and picked up the box, shifting it so Taylor could grab hold of it, "Please put these out on the shelf for me. I have to start on the nightly paperwork."

"Yes ma'am." The girl nodded, accepting the box and toddling out to the appropriate shelf that was barren. Poor thing couldn't even set down the box before a couple kids walked up and grabbed some out of the box. Sunny watched and folded her arms. 'Mental note: tag all the plushies and order a few more boxes.'

Leaving the storage closet, she made her way to the back office and sat in the worn wood and leather chair.

A soft bing-bong came over the loud speaker and Hyper's soothing voice echoed through the Aquarium halls. Telling everyone in the most polite way to get their ass out of there in 15 minutes.

Unfortunately that also meant that a flood of people would have to come through the gift shop to exit. At the rate the plushes were flying off the shelf, she'd have to get there early in the morning to make sure that the rest were tagged and more were on per-order.

Such is the role of manager. With a small sigh she pulled out the papers and calculator to start prepping for close so they could be out and heading home within the hour. Fifteen minutes slipped by with the busy sounds of crowd noise, "Have a good evening", "Thank you for coming", "come back and see us soon" and "no ma'am we don't have those in that color."

As the minutes wound down, Hyper's voice came on over the intercom every five minutes, making it easy to keep up with the time without looking at her watch. The glorious moment when Hyper stated that they were closed, Sunny leaned back in her chair and stood. It was time to rally the troops and round up the stragglers.

Thankfully almost everyone was gone and 2/3 registers could start counting their drawers.

It was about ten minutes and four customers later that Blythe stopped by and gave them the thumbs up, meaning that they could finally lock up and recover for the morning.
Matt and Terry finished up their drawers and bid everyone a goodnight. Leslie helped reorganize the shop while Sunny walked Taylor through the steps of closing out.

Hyper wearily wandered in with her own drawer, walking straight into the office and closing the door. It was a nightly ritual. Hyper was the face of the Aquarium customer service afterall. 9 hours later and the woman was just as people'd out as they were, if not more.

Leslie finished with the restocking and maintenance and clocked out. Almost immediately - about this time - Jade wandered in after checking in with all her babies. Except for Sari... because fuck that Orca. The curly haired brunette had her preferences, and made her rounds accordingly. The future assistant manager was leaving so it was time for Jade to make an appearance without a word and began looking around.

Alex, Kai and GJ eventually made it over with their dufflebags full of swimwear and remnants of lunch.

Usually the quad would converse while waiting for Hyper and Sunny. Quietly Hyper added her deposit to the office safe and left the office, meandering back to the front desk to replace her drawer and gather her items.

Taylor was a swift learner and even though this was her first job, she picked up the closing process rather easily. Although the quad's banter about the aquarium proved to be a distraction in the process, thankfully not derailing the young girl though. Hyper walked back over and listened in on their discussion that devolved into giving the newbie sarcastic tips for fitting in around the aquarium.

Sunny rolled her eyes and collected the deposit in her hand, "You did well," the girl beamed up at her, "Go get some sleep. I'll see you bright and early."

Sunny watched the girl nod and thank her before taking off for the back room next to the bathroom where a single cabinet of lockers were.

Jade leaned on the glass counter and smirked, "She's adorable. So innocent." Sunny collected the paperwork before her as Jade continued, sympathetically, "She's not been broken in, has she."

"No," she hadn't been. Sunny mused aloud, "But for a newbie, she's adapting quickly." The stack of paper tapped loudly against the glass when she neatened it, "- showing great potential." Sunny resumed a business like stance, "Her GPA was stellar and her volunteer work is at least a page or two long." she paused, "In fact, she may be too good, I'd probably recommend her for the lab internship here, but she has no work history and only a high school diploma." Sunny paused as Taylor resurfaced from the door, head down and right hand rubbing her other arm bashfully.

"Ms. Summers?"

"There's... there's something I need to tell you about..."

A hush fell around the group as they stared at her for a second. Sunny eyes narrowed a little, "What would that be?"

"The deposit was not correct."

Sunny straightened and raked her with an icy stare, "What do you mean?"

((Too tired...tbc))

Aquarium AU - The Entrance

It was such a bizarre week at the aquarium. On the first day of the Mega's arrival, the aquarium was absolutely swamped. It didn't help that it was a Saturday morning either. Jade was not originally supposed to work because she was going to go into overtime, however management practically begged her. The tours were running at full capacity and as quickly as she could muster, after the third she was getting worn out pretty quick.

Luckily there was only one more tour until she could go on her break.

Walking around the place was a workout in and of itself.

The aquarium was huge. It took up at least five city blocks. There was the awning covered cement ramp lined with guide ropes that led up to the entrance way. Once inside, there were more line ropes that wound left and right until they met the ticket booths. Eight of the ten were open. And once tickets were obtained, they passed through Security  that was manned by non-other than the part-timers Matara and Hutaru. A lovely older couple that volunteered on occasion to help out the aquarium in exchange for free access. Hutaru sported spikey red hair and khakis with a green tunic. and his hunter green eyes inspected bags while Matara (in her purple lolita dress and teal pigtails) gathered tickets. It was a blessing they were there that day.

Once past security, then the turn stiles, there was a large cylinder shaped aquarium (8ft in diameter) holding school of local Spadefish ever circling. Underneathe sat a photo op with the Aquarium mascot, Medley dressed as one of the mermaids. Beautiful bright blue eyes, long wavy raven hair adorned in white pearls, pearl jewelry and a bright pink skintight sequined tail with matching clam bra. Thank god she wasn't anywhere near the big Mer tank because Donnie was a bumbling idiot around the woman.

Love the guy, but seriously, he was not one to hide a crush. If she were around, the boy would probably drown forgetting to take his breath.

Right after the cylinder on the left, against the wall was the front desk - or Customer Service as the sign said above Hyper. The woman practiced her wonder woman impression by handling, customer service, questions, tour information, and Roll call all at once for hours on end.

Lickily her brother, Etienne needed volunteer credit hours for his classes, that she was more than happy to give him. The teen looked almost exactly like the male version of her, except with a buzzed cut, and he dressed in a white t-shirt and jeans with a big yellow sticker that read Volunteer.

Etienne walked up and down the line assisting with simpler question and managed to deplete the numbers down by eliminating questions about directions. Byhanding out maps, and taking applicable questions about brochures, it made Hyper's job a hell of a easier.

To the right of the cyllinder was the huge gift shop where the exit is hidden after the checkouts. Sunny had at least four other retail employers working for her as the assistant manager. Ethan was supposed to be leaving in the next two days. So they were overstaffed until he skedaddled.

On that day though, it was very much not a big deal considering the work load. Ethan, with his adorable fluffy brown bowl cut, acted as security, but more often had women flirting with him - to which he professionally declined.

Sunny was absolutely flawless in adversity, so it was her time to shine. Her determination encouraged the other four to work their best, despite the crowd.

Jade stood from the bench by the giant glass windows on the other side of the giftshop over looking the harbor to walk over to roll call and start the next tour, now that the crowd had gathered, and it was 1pm on the dot. Jade walked up to Hyper's desk, reached behind the counter to the lower counter and grabbed her touring stick - a tall black metal dowel with a bright red plastic flag on top and a small rectangular sign that read "Guided Tour".

The group on the other side of the desk eyed her curiously, as she then about faced and shot them a grin. "Ladies and Gentlemen," she announced, raising her voice to the crowd in front of her and made her way to the Roll Call sign and stood on the chair to face them, "If I may have everyone who signed up for the 1 o'clock tour please gather around!"

Thankfully they gathered en masse and left poor Hyper's desk alone now.

"That's right." she grinned at the kids and motioned for them to come closer around her chair, "Scooch in." At least half of the group were children from the same church, dressed in their bright orange t-shirts with their church logo.

Then she glanced around, "Do we have everyone? Any stragglers?" The chaperones looked around and counted then shook their heads. The younger kids giggled.

"Alright!" Jade spread her arms wide, "Hello! And Welcome everyone to .. The Notebook Aquarium!" A couple of the kids squealed in delight as she continued, "My name is Jade I will be your tour guide this lovely afternoon!" she bowed lightly at her introduction, "If you stick with me, you'll get to see all the cool exhibits we have here at the Aquarium!"

The kids giggled and spouted off a couple creatures they were exicted to see, Jade only nodded, "Yep, yep! All of those! We'll even see SHARKS," she quickly pulled her hands to her mouth and used her fingers to mimic teeth, causing the kids to giggle and copy her and one of them to grip the chaperone's leg tighter, "And stingrays," This time she opened up her arms to simulate the gliding and slow flapping. Oh she was getting the kids super excited, "And whales!" She imitated a blowhole expelling with the poof sound effect, then she drew quiet, and said to them in a hushed tone "And we'll even get to see Mermaids!"

Oh the kids were losing their minds, but Jade had this under her control.

"I'm excited to show you guys, but you have to follow the rules, or we have to feed you to the sharks. And they like yummy kids." Jade remarked menacingly, causing them to giggle.

With a smirk she held up her index finger, "Rule number 1:" she pointed to the flag at the end of her pole, once they responded she continued, "Kids, if you follow the flag you won't get lost. Stay with your chaperones or your designated buddy. Okay?" She looked at everyone of them and smirked, "I don't see those head nodding." Immediately they exagerated their agreement.

This time she straightened and held up two fingers, "Rule number 2: Don't tap tap tap," she made a tapping motion, "on the fish tanks. It gives them headaches." She held her fingers to her head, "We're running really low on headache medicine. So don't give those poor fishies headaches okay?"

They nodded profusely.

Three fingers went up, "Now for Rule Number 3: If you find yourself lost. Look for someone with a shirt just like mine okay?" She held out her light blue aquarium uniform polo with the navy blue lettering and logo. Her hair was pulled back into a messy bun, which worked so you could see the word "Tour Guide" in huge lettering on the back. "Or go to the front desk." she gestured to the front desk. "That lovely lady Ms. Kenyon will let me know where you are."

At that precise moment Hyper picked up on her name between customers and she looked back at the woman, shaking her head, "I didn't do it. It wasn't me. I don't care what they said -"

Jade only smirked and pointed to the walkie talkie on her belt while the chaperones snickered, "But if these poor children are lost, who will they turn to?"

Hyper grinned and said playfully, "They gonna turn to the sharks, because getting lost means you're shark bait. And they gon' eat you." The kids half cried out into giggles, "Om nom nom."

The woman who had been next in line snorted and suppressed a giggle fit when Hyper finally turned around and apologized for the wait. The woman waved her off and started on her return (probably a little more cheerfully this time).

Jade in turn crouched down and said in a loud whisper for them all to hear, "If you give her chocolate, she won't feed you to the sharks."

The kids looked on, a cross between horrified and amused.

"Okay!" Jade straightened, starting off loud, "Do you remember the rules?"

The chaperones listed them off, guiding the kids with the cues of Jade's fingers.

"By george I think we have an adventure on our hands!" Jade raised her pole to lead the charge, "Alright! Let's begin this tour!"

Don't worry this is only the first part of the aquarium description, there will be more. Jade will guide us through the exhibits as they roundabout back to the foyer.

Aquarium AU: Welcoming the Newbie

The entire aquarium was abuzz about the new arrival. His story was a bit tragic but they were excited and ready to accommodate the new guy. The loading dock was on the backside of the building, near the marina docks. They received and shipped out creatures at times, not as often now that they have been established for over a decade, but every new addition was welcomed with open arms.

After breakfast, the staff and trainers had gathered at the loading docks. Since it was still a couple hours before open there were customers to accommodate and so all the staff had arrived early in order to greet this new fellow.

Jade stood beside Hyper as they all watched the truck back in, ready to lend a hand. The sun was still barely peaking over the trees when the new guy arrived. Jade was still in her casual wear of jeans and a tshirt - since it was her day off - her curly light brown hair fell to her shoulders and framed her natural, hazel eyed, grinning face.

"Isn't this exciting?!" she nudged Hyper - the dark haired beauty was dressed in a tea length navy dress (decorated with white patterned anchors), that complimented her dark caramel complexion.

"Yes! Oh I can't wait!" Hyper smiled widely, grey eyes sparkling and nodded, her long earrings swinging to her movements, "I want to hug him."

Jade's smirking response was cut off by the group parting down the middle for the loaders Blythe and Tobias. Blythe's dark, spiked hair was covered in a hankerchief, a tanned complexion, and he had a blue janitorial jumpsuit flittering in the morning breeze. In matching gear and brown eyes, Tobias had short cropped brown hair and a soul patch. Only his two lower legs were artificial, and by all means sturdy.

Jade fished her phone to take pictures for Gran just as GJ (Blythes less serious twin) finally walked through the parting, geared up in his black and red wet suit and helped open up the doors once the trailer was over the dock edge.

Behind Hyper was the blond, green eyed god, Donnie of whom looked on curious... and only in his jeans. Beside him was trainer Alex already in her black wet suit with purple and lime green stripes for the day her hair was pulled back and matching in coloration. Her lavendar eyes raked him with a smirk, "Ready for a new tank-mate Adonis?" He only rolled eyes and leaned so he could get a better view of the interior of the small six wheel tractor trailor.

GJ, Blythe and Tobias disappeared and out popped Dr. Nikkoa. The older woman had beautiful brown hair pulled into a simple pony tail, bangs flipped to the side of her vivid brown eyes. She was sporting the Aquarium's sky blue polo tucked into her black work pants with black loafers. Usually she'd have her lab coat on, but it was inside of the truck soaked against the chair she'd been sitting in. Nikki also appeared to have been soaked multiple times, probably trying to help with transport.

Usually they would bring in a tank or if it were a whale, they would use a sling. The aquarium however had borrowed a gourney from the closest hospital and hoisted Mega onto it.

Blythe came back out and helped pull the gourney out as gently as they could. At first all you could see was a fire red tail, then slowly the rest came out of the truck. He was completely covered in white wet towels and held down with straps to ensure he didn't slip off. Finally the back park came out, not without some jar because of the two inch drop.

The young man took very short frequent breaths. Dr. Nikkoa clapped her hands at everyone taking their curious gazes away from him and onto her, "He's been out of water for about a half hour, we need to get him back in quickly." she pointed to the interior of the building, "I need everyone to clear a pathway from here to the Mermaid tank, stat!"

Obligingly the staff and trainers held doors and held elevator doors and assisted in getting to the shallow pool of the tank near the top.

With all the excitement Gran surfaced at the pools edge and propped herself up to sit.  Mega had weakened from breathing in air for too long, his lungs were no long able to stay out of water for too long - his breathing was becoming labored.
It took six of them, but Nikkoa, GJ, Alex, Veronica, Blythe and Tobias lifted Mega from the gourney and laid him down in the water, removing the towels.

Nikkoa was completely soaked, but was not in the mood to care as she knelt beside him, easing him into the water so he could breathe the water through the gills on his neck. The others stood and backed away while she watched his breathing return to normal - or what was apparently normal for Mers.

Gran caught GJs eye and signed questionably asking if he were the one they'd discussed earlier. GJ nodded to confrim. Carefully Gran slid towards the shallow end and beside Nikkoa who looked completely distraught, but trying to keep it together. The rest watched as Gran smiled and took her hand. "You know my son Kai?" the older woman smiled and nodded, "This is his brother, Altmega."

From behind, them Jade nudged and whipered to Hyper who had been transfixed by the boy.  "Don't tell Kai, but Mega is hotter." Hyper snickered only to have Kai whisper, "I heard that." Jade only snorted as Kai pushed past them. He was Mega's twin so he looked almost exactly like him. In looks at least - Kai was still human, and Mega had a double striped scar over his left eye from the sting.

The younger twin wore his royal blue and black striped wet suit. Carefully he stepped into the shallow pool and knelt beside the trio. Gran greeted him with a sympathetic smile, she signed to him, "I promise to take care of him, my son." She turned to NIkkoa and took her hand in both of hers and squeezed reassuringly.

Kai nodded and then turned to his mother, "He is in good hands."  That seemed to comfort her quite a bit.

"We should probably get him swimming." Gran nodded and backed away into the drop off into the tank. "Gj?" The man abliged, walking back over and slipping his arms underneathe the tail while Kai grabbed Mega's shoulders. They gently floated him over the drop off for Gran to take his hand to get him started.

Right now, he had to get oriented and used to swimming and they had to get everything prepared for when the flood of people come in to see the new attraction - as advertised in the newspaper and on the signs out front - which seemed tacky in Jade's opinion.

Let be the boy adjust first for goodness sakes~!

This was going to be a long day for everyone it seemed.

Aquarium AU: Transmerplasia

When Mega opened up his eyes, everything was blurry. His body was wracked in pain and it felt like he was floating underwater.

Instincually he gasped for air but was not met with the burning or coughing sensation he knew would come. The very weird feeling of water rushing through his mouth and his neck was not discomforting, but rather, relieving, like taking a long drawn breathe. However instead of air, he gathered water.

Around him he heard muffled voices and shadows above the water in the shapes of human heads. Carefully he stared up at them for a second trying to figure out what in the world was going on - especially before a full panic set in.

First, he wasn't on the beach anymore obviously.

Second he was able to breath... water.

Third his clothes were missing - which wasn't a good sign.

Mega twitched the muscles of his body to ensure that they were there. However, for some reason when he moved his toes it felt like he was dragging more with it.  When he tried to unbend his knees, much to his surprise all of his lower half bent forward in an inhuman curve.

Shock overcame him as a golden red and orange sleek mass waved upwards into his field of vision. When he reached out to it, he could feel his fingers grazing across the shimmering scales - of his leg. It felt absolutely bizarre. He sat up from the bottom and gaped at what was a huge tail that joined with his hips and the scales trickled up his hips until it became flesh.


What the hell- he mouthed, unable to speak. Which also caught him off guard.

His hand leapt to his throat to feel scales on the back of his neck and crawling up his non-existent ears. Utter confusion and anxiety consumed him until a white board appeared to be dipped into the water before him with the phrases, "Don't panic. Yes, you are a merman. We are here to help." written.

Instantly he looked to the source, and pushed off towards the surface. The tank was only three feet deep (and 3ftx9ft) so he came up quickly, startling the biologist holding the white board.

Mega's brown hair flattened and clung to his head, he used a hand to wipe his bangs from his brown eyes. He used the new tail to prop himself up so that his head and shoulders remained above the surface of the water. The blonde biologist recovered and greeted him with a smile, behind her a couple lab assistants had backed away from the sudden movement.

"Let me introduce myself," she pulled the white board from the water,  "My name is Dr. Erica Phillips." The woman's hair was pulled back into bun but thick strands of bangs were loose and framing her bright green eyes. She was dressed in business casual with a pale pink polo and khakis, "I am head marine biologist at the Folly Beach Marina," she smiled and gestured around her, "You are in my lab on my boat docked there."

Mega tried to talk, he really did, but nothing was coming out. Even if he gathered air, it would not surpass his throat. He opened his mouth, and attempted once more before the biologist interrupted him with a sympathetic look. "I'm afraid that those afflicted with Transmerplasia lose their ability to speak."

That was almost a kick to the gut when he heard that, but she continued.

"Which is why," she held up the white board still dripping a little bit, "We have these special boards you can write on."

Well that answered two questions, but there were dozens more. His eyes narrowed and she started up again, "I can tell you want more answers, I'll do my best to cover all bases." He gingerly accepted the board as she offered it to him.

This time she pulled up a chair beside the tank and grabbed a chart from the table before she plunked down beside him. "Alright." she flipped to the top page, "Mr. Altmega Springs." she looked back up at him, "You were located on Folly Beach by some surfers, it appeared you were stung by a manowar jelly fish but started showing the symptoms of Transmerplasia, so you were brought here. Since two nights ago your body has changed to that of a merman." she paused to let him soak it in. He glanced down at his tail and flickered it a little bit, with genuine concern. "It took a bit of time, but we have contacted your mother, Dr. Nikkoa over at the Notebook Aquarium. She stopped by last night to check on you, but you were still unconcious. Seeing as how you are unable to talk, I'll call her to come down here."

Mega frowned, he knew about their research facility there and how they studied this rare condition. To think, it happened to him. Mega was not too fond of fish, but he had a feeling he was about to get intimately acquainted with the idea.

"As of right now, there is no cure or treatments." Dr. Phillips interrupted his train of thought, causing him to look up at her, "However your mother has already talked to the managers at the aquarium and can arrange for you to stay there if you would like to help them find one."

That notion shook him.

It finally hit him.

There was no going back to normal.

Everything in college he'd worked towards was not plausible in this state.

He couldn't become an engineer with a merman's tail.

There were no accommodations for this kind of thing.

Tightly grasping the white board he pulled at the pen, clipped to the top, then hastily spelled out "What about school and work?" he flipped it so she could see and watched for her reaction.

What was once a cheery expression faded into a sympathetic countenance. Her eyebrows drew upwards and her smile drew to a relaxed frown, "I'm sorry. Mr. Springs." Dr. Phillips shook her head slowly, "I'm afraid you won't be able to attend either in your condition."

A crippling feeling of helplessness overcame him, masked by anger as he grit his teeth.


Everything he'd worked for.

Gone because of - a flurry of curses surged through his head like a torrent.

But as quickly as the anger had consumed him....

....it left....

It left an emotionless void in its wake, and he stared at her. The doctor's face held genuine concern, but...

Everything... Was gone.

Seeing his whirlwind of emotions Dr. Phillips offered a comforting hand upon his still clutching the board. "I know it's sudden. Just when you think everything is going okay, something like this knocks you off of your feet." she glanced at his tail, "Literally." she paused and offered him a small smile, "Your mother and I will talk with your employers and your university. I'm sure we will reach an understanding given your situation."

Numbly he nodded, accepting her help.

This was the start of a very long and crazy journey. Definitely not how he wanted to spend his summer - or his life - in the very least.

Aquarium AU: Jade the All-Seeing Tour Guide

Jade was the tour guide. She knew every critter in the aquarium and they knew her. Each of them had a name and a unique personality.

Everyday she would tap twice on the Beluga tank and the lovely false killer whale, Kloud, would stop by and greet the kids affectionately. Following their movements, nodding, waving, or spinning around. He was most certainly the charmer.

When she gathered the kids into the dolphin bay, the common dolphin, Jen was always happy to play with the kids, splashing, chirping or being rather cheeky. Jen's trainer Alex talked about care and things unique to dolphins, allowing Jade a small break for a couple minutes to grab herself a water or a snack while the kids sat entranced by the sleek mammal.

Most all of the trainers and employees were wonderful to work with - especially since most of them had been there for years. The christmas parties were most certainly interesting.

Occasionally, between tours, she would stop by the gift shop and say hello to everyone's favorite up and coming business-woman, Sunny. She was a shoe-in for the manager position once Ethan, the current store manager, transferred to the Aquarium Tropical de la Porte Doree in Paris. Hyper had the most ridiculous crush on the guy, it was a shame the boy was going so far away - especially after convincing Hyper to finally ask him out less than a week before.

Through all the fun times they shared there were literally only one trainer Jade did not care for. Hyper's sister, Veronica. Apparently her passive bitchy disposition transferred to the orca she was in charge of, Sari - Jade's least favorite creature. Sari had become very aggressive to share a tank with another Orca and the only other orca was transferred out this past summer. After several close calls with the visitors, the topside tours were being cancelled that week. One of the scientists had suggested adding the false killer whale, Kloud, to the tank - however they were fairly cautious about it given the orcas history.

The hot buzz from Hyper at the front desk was that they may be transferring Sari out and getting a whale shark in place of her. The tank was most certainly big enough to house one.

The thought of a whale shark greatly pleased Jade.

On her official break, she would deviate to any number of the rooms and hallways behind the tanks and nibble from her lunch cooler. Occassionally she'd talk to the divers or trainers - her favorites being Donnie. Despite being a "merman" Donnie was just a diver that attracted guests to the Mermaid shows.

If anyone said he wasn't hired for his looks, they'd be lying. Management almost completely overlooked his college degree and just added an extra zero at the end of his paycheck to get him to accept their job offer. He was partially indignant about not going into his field but relented that it was a foot - or fin in his case - in the door. Jade would usually find him resting his lungs for a bit in the back room and they would talk about various things including world events and the latest art happenings around their fair city of Charleston.

Sometimes Ashleigh would join in. She also was one of the mermaid show divers that was very sweet and shy - fairly quiet. There wasn't much she had to say but she certainly enjoyed listening to the backroom chat. Ashleigh was known for interacting with the kids by touching the glass and doing tricks for them- unlike Donnie who mostly wound up taking pictures with the crowd.  Jade had to revel though, the lung capacity on these two were amazing, but considering that they had been at it for a couple years now, they could outmatch any snorkeler.

Even sometimes the researchers popped in on her breaks and took measurements or pH levels or something. Will specialized in the land mammals, Anne specialized in the water mammals and Nikkoa specialized in sharks.

Quite often she would hold discussions with each of them respectively about their subjects. Especially since Jade knew about every creature in the facility, their habits, their likes and dislikes. It was because she spent almost all of her time learning and sharing her knowledge with excited children, curious adults and even the researchers that she now was almost the hub of the aquarium.

Not many things got by without her knowing.

She became known as the all seeing, all knowing Jade for a good reason.

Aquarium AU: Hyper the Receptionist

There was always something unique about this aquarium, but it never really bothered Hyper that much.

Every morning she opened up her station at the front desk and greeted customers with the biggest smiles. Sometimes the children were loud and the parents impatient, but that was to be expected in customer service. Honestly she enjoyed her job a lot - especially considering the benefits.

Every afternoon she would take a lovely stroll through the aquarium on her break and visit the variety of animals. She loved the otters that playfully followed her. The manatees would always wave. However her favorite exhibit was now the main attraction. The mermaid tank they'd installed a few years ago to entertain the kids. There were live shows twice every afternoon - and every one of them was packed.

There were the usual divers, but over the years she had grown fond of the older woman that actually lived in the tank. Gran was an absolute sassy peach - she had beautiful long greying hair that fell around her shoulders in waves. The woman didn't look a day over 40 with laughlines and a couple worry creases framing her bright and beautiful tanned face. Oddly enough, she seemed to look younger almost everytime Hyper stopped by to wave or sign chat with the woman.

Gran's handler (and grandson) Gjynn, would usually join in their conversation. Their topics would range from philosophy to fandoms. They shared a passion for telenovellas and anime. Occasionally his twin, Blythe would stop by on his rounds to check on Gran, and less occassionally talk to them. He was a rather quiet one.

News of a new addition to their family arriving was all the buzz. He had been found injured, but nursed back to health and reservred a spot at their facility. Hyper really couldn't wait to meet the new addition to the aquarium family.

In retrospect, it's believed that his arrival to the Aquarium probably changed everything. Considering that they were the only aquarium in the world dedicated to finding a cure for Transmerplasia.


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