Chapter 40: Family Breakfast
Kytan glanced around the circular table. To his right sat his mother, currently engaged in conversation with Genakex, who sat at her other side. To his left was Tahra, who had been very polite and attentive but had a mischievous gleam in her eye that made Kytan nervous. Completing the party was Phaenyx, who was focused more on his meal than anything else.
Zane and Xyla had been invited but both refused; the former because he had no intention of interacting with the group any more than he had to, and the latter because she and Cerah had never gotten along very well. Cerah had seemed just a little pleased that Xyla could not make it.
Tahra nudged Kytan to snap him out of his observation. “Relax,” she whispered. “It’s not like she’s showing baby pictures or anything.”
Kytan replied in an equally hushed tone. “This whole thing caught me off-guard. Plus…”
Tahra half-nodded and half-shrugged—she understood. Most of them were doing a good job of avoiding mention of the Shadow Consortium or the King Bohrok. The only one who nearly let it slip was Phaenyx, and it was only Tahra kicking him in the shin that reminded him to stay quiet.
“Xyla hasn’t been giving you trouble, has she?” Cerah asked Genakex.
The boy thought for a moment, not sure how much he wanted to reveal. “Ehm…we’ve had our ups and downs.”
“You don’t necessarily have to travel with her, you know.”
“It’s fine, really. I think I’m growing on her.”
With a forced smile, Cerah changed the subject. “Alright…tell me more about how your quest has been going. Has anything exciting happened?”
“Definitely,” Phaenyx answered. “The whole reason I joined the group was because—OW!”
Phaenyx shot a glare at Tahra, who just smiled at him. “…Because…Tahra here knows all the best places to hunt for Spirits! Yeah—she’s been to all the islands before, so she’s able to lead us into all sorts of dangerous situations.”
Tahra and Phaenyx appeared to swap expressions.
Concerned, Cerah repeated, “Dangerous…?”
“He exaggerates,” Tahra replied. “Sure, we’ve hunted some dangerous Spirits, but we’re always in a group and take plenty of items. Nobody’s been hurt.”
Determined to get his revenge, Phaenyx contradicted, “But wasn’t there that one time on Onu-Isle? That swarm of Spirits popped up in the tunnel, and they threw Genakex into the wall and started a cave-in?”
Tahra’s eyes narrowed. Cerah gave a frightened look to Genakex, who was unsure which side to take.
“Well, I was able to get him out of there,” Kytan intervened. “We made it out unharmed, with a haul of Spirits we were able to get a great price for.”
Tahra smiled at Kytan, silently thanking him for the back-up.
“Well…as long as you’re all being careful,” Cerah said.
Phaenyx was already at work crafting a new lie, and Tahra waited eagerly to see what he would throw at her. Not wanting the mini-feud to escalate, Genakex said, “Y-Yeah, Tahra’s hunting grounds have been a great help. Without them I wouldn’t have been able to save up my Widgets for Gurren Lagann so quickly. It’s been a huge help in my Orb Battles.”
Realizing that he was lying to his mother, Genakex felt guilt well up inside of him.
“Oh, so you were able to get one of those?” Cerah said. “That’s great! You always talked about how you wanted one. Have you been able to make some fun Combinations?”
Pushing his guilt aside, Genakex went on, “Yep. I used Exo-Skrall Master Warrior to help me against the Earth-Lord, and I had both Mu Warrior and Grimlock when I fought the Ice-Lord. Grimlock’s effect kicked in right when I needed it, so it was definitely a good choice!”
Kytan raised an eyebrow. Spirit effects generally did not activate until the Bioni-Lord had obtained the Ultima-Orbs corresponding to the Spirit’s Elements. There were exceptions, of course—obvious ones like Parasite Spirits, and not-so-obvious ones like Articuno and Moltres—but Kytan was sure that Grimlock was not one of them. Being a pure Steel Spirit, Grimlock’s effect should only work for a Bioni-Lord who had defeated the Steel-Lord.
How, then, had Genakex been able to use it?
Maybe because it was Combined with Gurren Lagann? Kytan thought. Hm…I would think that the effects of Spirits it Combines with would only work if they could be used by the Spirit individually—that makes the most sense, at least. But what other explanation is there that matches Genakex’s story?
“That’s great!” Cerah said. “How about you, Kytan?”
Kytan abandoned his pondering. “Hm? Oh, uh, my Orb Battles have been going well. I’ve been using a variety of Spirits—whatever seems suited to the specific battle.”
“You’ve always been analytic,” Cerah said proudly. “He never understood why anyone would choose an Element to specialize in. What was it you said? ‘It’s a foolish mistake that lets a Bioni-Lord be wiped out by anyone with the Elemental advantage’?”
Tahra’s fork froze in mid-air. Kytan gulped as he felt a small spike in the temperature.
“I…didn’t have all the facts,” Kytan weakly offered.
Cerah looked at him for a moment, then back to Kytan. It didn’t take her long to figure out what was going on.
“Hm…I seem to recall telling you all about how well I did as a Psionics specialist,” she remembered. “What changed your mind?”
“First-hand experience,” Kytan replied. “I’m sorry for not taking your stories as seriously as I should have, Mom.”
Tahra slowly began to move again. The temperature returned to normal.
“Oh, that’s alright,” Cerah said. “So long as you’ve learned your lesson, hehe.”
Kytan breathed a badly-disguised sigh of relief.
“On a different subject…why have neither of you called me?” Cerah asked.
While Kytan worked on his answer, Genakex reluctantly said, “Well…I kinda ran away, and I wasn’t sure how to explain that…”
An awkward silence wrapped itself around the tale. Genakex looked down and picked at his food.
Unable to bear it, Phaenyx stood up and said, “Uh…if you’ll excuse me for a minute.”
As he left, Cerah quietly said, “You never had to explain, Genakex. I saw you leave. I didn’t stop you because I understand what caused you to go.”
Genakex looked up in surprise. “You…you saw me?”
Cerah nodded. “I won’t pretend I wasn’t sad to see you go. But, I know you feel like you didn’t have a choice because of the way your father is. You deserve a chance to prove yourself, so I won’t take that away from you.”
She paused and gave a sad smile. “I would feel better if I heard from you now and again, though. You know how overprotective I am.”
Genakex was unable to reply. Kytan was also surprised, but he recovered quickly enough to step in.
“We’ll call more often, Mom,” he said. “I promise.”
Cerah turned to thank him, but her gaze lingered on Tahra. “Are you alright, Tahra?”
Kytan turned around. A sad look was in Tahra’s eyes, but she put a hand over her face to hide it.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” she said. Her tone wavered slightly. “I just, ah…I…ah…sorry, excuse me.”
She stood up and walked away from the table. Kytan had no idea what was going on, and as he watched her go he wondered if he should follow her.
No, he told himself. I should know by now that I can’t force things with Tahra. If she wants my help, she’ll ask for it.
Still, he found himself filled with a worried feeling that he could not shake. The exact name of the emotion escaped him, however, and he began trying to place it.
“You’ve been spacing out a lot,” Cerah noticed.
“Hm? Have I?” Kytan responded. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be rude.”
“No, that’s not what I meant. I’m just wondering what has you so preoccupied.”
It was then that Phaenyx came back to the table. He sat down cautiously, asking, “So, uh…what are we talking about now?”
Cerah replied, “Well…it looks like we’re about done here. Unless anyone wants dessert?”
Kytan and Genakex declined, though Phaenyx jumped at the chance. It did not take long for the food to arrive, and Tahra arrived soon after.
“Sorry, I think the food and I had a disagreement,” Tahra muttered. “I’ll skip dessert.”
She did her best to seem agreeable, though she ignored Kytan’s look of concern.
“So…Le-Isle already,” Cerah said. “How many of you have fought the Air-Lord?”
“Zane fought him when we got here yesterday,” Kytan answered. “Tahra and I fought a Tag Match just before you arrived.”
Cerah nodded and turned to Genakex and Phaenyx. “Either of you working on strategies?”
“I’m just gonna wing it,” Phaenyx said. “All I need is my trusty Dakrevusko!”
“I was considering using Grimlock again, but I want to try out a new Combination,” Genakex said. “Usually I just go to the Orb Center and see what’s available. Basically…I’m also winging it.”
Cerah laughed softly. “Well, good luck! Maybe I’ll be here long enough to see you fight.”
“How long will you be here?” Genakex asked.
“Hm…” Cerah mumbled. “I’m not exactly looking forward to seeing you father again, because it’ll probably just be a non-stop argument. Plus, things are pretty chaotic on the Mainland after what happened to the President and I’m not eager to jump into that. Still…you boys need to continue your quest, and I know I have to let you fend for yourselves now. I’ll always be able to find an excuse to not let you go, so I shouldn’t give myself too much time to think about it. This was never planned to be a long visit anyway. I think I’ll leave tomorrow, or maybe the day after.”
Genakex frowned, disappointed that he would not get more time with his mother. It was for the best, though—the longer she stayed, the more likely she would discover their secrets. If Cerah knew her sons were in harm’s way, she would immediately set herself before them like a shield, and Genakex did not want her to get hurt.
“I understand,” Genakex said. “I’ll miss you.”
Cerah took Genakex’s hand. “I’ll miss you too…but, I haven’t left yet! Is there anything else you all would like to do?”
“I think I should go back to the Battlefield and lie down,” Tahra replied.
“I’m up for anything,” Genakex said.
“I think I’m going to wander off and train a bit,” was Phaenyx’s response.
Kytan had to think; part of him wanted to make sure Tahra was okay, but he also felt he should spend time with his mother while he had the chance.
“…I…think I’ll head back to the Battlefield too,” he finally decided. “I got up pretty early, so I’m a little bit drowsy.”
“Alright, I’ll see you later then,” Cerah said. She motioned for the waiter to bring her the check.
While Cerah was busy, Tahra leaned towards Kytan and said, “I know what you’re doing. Don’t feel like you have to keep an eye on me.”
Kytan smiled. “It’s just what I want to do is all.”
Review in: Genakex's Journal.