Surini makes a startling revelation about herself and Misha’s true identity. Misha also finally discovers who Kelly actually is. However, before all the new information has sunk in, her room is flooded with camouflaged figures.
Misha was getting tired of passing out so much. As if all this weirdness was not enough of a problem, her consciousness seemed to be craving for a vacation in the Bahamas, abandoning her every five seconds to explore the beaches.
However, it was not her fault this time around. Some idiots had barged into their house. They had actually dared to gas her room! That woman, her eerie face was singed into her eyelids.
Misha felt groggy and disorientated as she tried to make sense of the situation. They seemed to be in some kind of storage bunker. Her mother and Kelly were slumped against the wall beside her. Her hands were tied behind her back. Misha could hear the gentle sound of lapping water coming in from beyond the walls along with what sounded like heavy machinery being moved around.
Just when she was beginning to contemplate the possibility of wriggling closer to her mother, the wooden door swung upon noiselessly. Standing before her was a six-feet-tall woman whose head was completely devoid of hair. With gray eyes that were almost white and no eyebrows on her forehead, the woman looked as if she was chemically engineered in sterile laboratory conditions. Decked in black camouflage clothing from head to toe, she had a malevolent smile on her face.
“I see we’re awake. I’m terribly sorry for that rather unceremonious ushering we had to do back at your place, but I’m afraid we had no other choice,” her surprisingly mellow voice did not fit at all with her intimidating stature.
“That’s a fairly polite way to say ‘kidnapping'”, said Misha through gritted teeth.
The hairless woman shrugged nonchalantly, “Po-teah-to, po-tah-to. Nevertheless, you have my heartfelt apologies. Now, if you could spare me the sarcastic remarks, can we discuss the matter at hand?”
Misha stayed quiet.
“Excellent,” the woman continued. “My name is Shotana. I don’t know if your mother and shape-shifting friend here told you anything about me, but I do play an important role in your history, my girl.”
“You’re the woman who attacked my home island, aren’t you? The one who made my… my birth father turn against his own home,” Misha swallowed. She still could not quite process the earth-shattering revelation about her parentage.
“Why, yes,” Shotana smiled emphatically. “Glad to know we won’t have to waste time with introductions. You see, back when you were just a wee little turnip in your mummy’s belly, my plan to turn the whole of Oksana into my own personal machine of fortune had almost come to fruition. If it wasn’t for your wretched father, all of Oksana’s resources would have been mine.”
“What?” Misha was puzzled. “I thought my father helped you in your plan,” she mused aloud.
“He did… in the beginning. But I suppose it all came down to his perverted sense of morality or patriotism or whatever made him change his mind in the last second,” Shotana exclaimed with disgust. “He used his inhuman powers to sink the whole island.”
“It can’t be,” both Misha and Shotana were startled to hear the words whispered by a just-awakened Kelly. Misha’s mother seemed to be waking up too, though she was still dazed and confused.
“All this time, I thought Hodera was selfish to the core,” Kelly seemed to be talking to himself. “It wasn’t the island. It wasn’t the Mecredotak deities who sunk the island… it was Hodera!” Kelly’s eyes were as wide as coins.
“Yes, well, his egoistical need to be a hero did my whole crew in. How I wish he’d survived so I could kill him myself,” Shotana growled.
Kelly let out a shout of disgust and tried to shape-shift. However, something was causing him immense pain as he did. He cried out, unable to bear the anguish.
“No point trying to use your savage powers, boy. We’ve administered you neuroleptics. They interfere with the adrenaline you demons need to transform or whatever it is that you lot do,” the woman smirked.
Kelly could not even talk. He was gasping for breath.
“Why don’t you cut to the chase and tell us what you want already?” Misha yelled trying to look at her mother from the corner of her eye.
“Oh well, it’s simple, really. You see, we’ve been watching your friend here for a while. It was a pain to find him, but we finally did and just waited for… you know, something good to happen. And something like that did happen when he found you, Hodera’s little offspring. And if I’m not mistaken, you probably have some of the powers your pathetic father had,” Shotana squinted at Misha as she walked across the room. She stopped near a crate and pushed of its lid. After rummaging for a while, she pulled out a jar that was full of some kind of clear liquid. Its main content, however, was a small twig. It was bone white with a single black bloom – the remnant of a Mecredotak tree.
“As you must know, Oksana was a mangrove island. It is thus almost certainly possible for some of its flora to still remain under the ocean, waiting patiently just like I have done all these years,” Shotana proclaimed. “And I need you to bring it back to its former glory,” she said while examining the jar of specimen in her hand.
“I don’t have any powers, okay? And even if I did, why would I help someone who destroyed my home and messed up my whole life?” Misha shouted.
Shotana walked up to her and grabbed her chin, whispering each word in a menacing tone, “Because if you don’t, then I’ll kill your mother as well as this shape-shifting friend of yours. So you better figure out whatever tribal crap I want.”
Misha’s heart threatened to burst out of her chest. She could not quite gather her thoughts. Kelly was still trying to shape-shift, but the strain of it was weakening him even further. Misha’s mother kept looking at her with fear writ large on her face. She found herself unable to save her daughter from a fate that just would not stop following her, no matter how fast she ran.
Shotana whistled a short tune and two men and three women, who looked like they were trained to be wrestlers, barged into the room. They violently lifted Misha, Surni and Kelly off the ground and took them out of the bunker, which turned out to be a shipping container.
They were at a beach, but Misha had no idea where it was. Huge, machine-operated cranes and bulldozers lined the beach front, as men and women milled around.
“This is where I was washed up after the island sank all those years ago. It was very hard to gather the equipment and funds again, but a resourceful woman is never short of backup,” Shotana said as they were all walked to the ocean.
Shotana placed the Mecredotak specimen jar on the sand as Misha was forced to kneel down in front of it. Her back was to the ocean. Kelly and Misha’s mother stood behind Shotana, still restrained and manhandled by her goons.
“Come on, call upon your gods, Misha. Call upon your home or get ready to see your mother die a painful death.”
Shotana unsheathed a gun from the back of her trousers, pointing it directly at Misha’s mother.
“Look, I’m not lying. I really don’t have any powers. I can’t -“
A loud noise cracked through the air as Shotana shot at Surini’s foot.
Misha cried out, not knowing what to do. Her eyes filled with tears as she looked at her helpless mother. Surini looked back at her daughter with all the love she had for her. She was trying to take in all of her before her imminent death.
Misha steeled herself and looked at the jar. She focused with everything she had in her. She closed her eyes and tried to imagine Oksana, her mother and Kelly happily running around in a heavenly, almost magical ambience. Misha tried to picture the Mecredotak grave, its black blooms engulfing her entire being. Something cracked inside of her.
She was transported back to the place in her dream – the Bellows.
“Why do you summon us, child?” Several voices, deep and grave, spoke into Misha’s mind.
“Help me revive you, help me revive Oksana,” she pleaded.
“Why would we help the child whose father was the cause of our destruction?” the voices snapped at her.
“Because he was also the man who did the right thing in the end. Help me so that Oksana can once again be brought back to its former glory. Help me so that we can defeat this wicked woman by using the Dotaki power,” Misha tried to reason.
The black blooms started swirling around her, “Your reasons are selfish, foolish girl. You shall perish like your father. Oksana will never be your home.” The icy voices sent a chill down her spine.
The blooms began turning into a tornado that threatened to swallow her whole. They pushed into her throat and lifted her off the ground. All the energy seeped out of her skin as her vision started giving in to darkness. All she wanted to do was give up and go to sleep.
However, as the last dregs of light threatened to desert her, her mother’s face danced before her eyes. It radiated love and energy back into her.
“No,” her mind seemed to scream into the bleak expanse of the Bellows. “I’m a Dotaki, the rightful protector of Oksana. The power of the Mecredotaks runs in my blood. You shall help me restore my home or be obliterated into oblivion.”
The energy coursed into her veins. She could feel the magical sap of the Mecredotak tree matching her own pulse. The grove and she were one now, and she could feel its black flowers following her commands.
Misha opened her eyes to find herself back at the beach. She freed herself from her bonds and dived into the ocean before anybody could do anything.
She was pulled deeper and deeper, as if reeled in by a tether, until she found the dormant Mecredotak groves on the ocean floor, lying in wait. Just as she was running out of air, she put all her strength into one last-ditch effort to awaken the gods of the Bellows. It sent shock waves across the ocean floor. She felt a tug in her stomach and the ocean floor started rising with her. The grove grew in both numbers and volume – in a force so ancient that the very core of her being shook with power and energy. The roots knit themselves together to form the floating ground of the island. The entire grove grew until it encompassed thousands of miles in all four directions.
Shotana and everyone else on the beach stared in awe as Misha rose in a swirl of black Mecredotak blooms.
“You wanted Oksana in all her glory, didn’t you? Well, here it is,” Misha proclaimed calmly.
She thrust her arms and the mighty roots and branches of the grove shot forward, ripping apart the huge bulldozers and cranes as though they were made of clay. Shotana’s goons were swept aside like ants when they tried to shoot at the roots. Kelly was finally able to shape-shift into a huge eagle and carried Surini to safety. Shotana jumped onto a branch and tried to run up to Misha, her dagger poised to slash at her neck. But just as she was about to stab Misha, Kelly swooped at her in his eagle form and swiped at her eyes. Blinded, she fell into the ocean while screaming Misha’s name.
As the last of the goons ran away, the Mecredotaks calmed into their original state. The island of Oksana went back to the way it used to be. All kinds of flora flourished on its lands, along with the sacred grove. Kelly had tears in his eyes, finding his native island in its pristine form. However, it was without the people that made it home.
Misha commanded a branch to bring her mother on the island, from the beach. They fell into each other’s arms realizing how lucky they were to have each other.
“You brought back our home, Misha. Your father would be so proud of you,” Surini exclaimed as the three of them looked at the New Oksana.
“It’s still not home without its people,” Kelly said as he changed back into his human form. “Come on, we can’t be the only ones who made it. We have to find other survivors.”
Misha looked at him and said, “The Mecredotaks agree.” Like her father, Misha too could communicate with the sacred tree gods.
“They say we have to find them and bring them back to Oksana. And to do that, I need to unlock my powers to their full extent,” said Misha while stroking the bone-white bark of a nearby tree.
Kelly and Surini looked at her in surprise as she smiled at them.
Without discussing anything else, they decided to enjoy the sunset together. Sitting by her mother near the ocean, Misha knew that things would never go back to normal. But as she felt the power of the island course through her arms, she knew that better things were to come for her than the normal she was used to.
…now that you’re here
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