Characters: Cinder & Kai, Scarlet & Wolf, Cress & Thorne, Winter & Jacin, and the android Iko.
Time: Set some time after the events in Something Old, Something New (Stars Above) by Marissa Meyer
Disclaimer: I don’t own any of the characters. This fanfic contains spoilers to all the books!!!
Our favorite characters take a vacation to the exotic Lesser Sunda Islands on a liveaboard.
Part 1 of 2.
“Not fair. Everyone gets to dive but us,” Iko complained to Cinder, looking at the crystal clear waters with longing in her eyes. Her droid body was not waterproof, so it was out of the question for her to go scuba diving. Cinder, a cyborg with a steel hand, foot, and computer implants in her brain, faced the same predicament. Cinder wasn’t bothered though. She was still traumatized over the time when she jumped off the Lunar palace into the river. Although it was an artificial river, that jump nearly destroyed significant robotic parts of her body.
“Why don’t you go flirt with the Captain?” Cinder winked at Iko. “He seems like your type.”
Iko flashed Cinder a naughty smile and headed towards the upper deck of the Rafida Adventure boat. They were all on this liveaboard for one glorious week, together with a team of local Earthen boat crew, guide, and their cute Captain. For once Thorne, the Captain of the Rampion spaceship, was calling someone else “Captain.”
Cinder’s retina scanner gave her information on the water currents, temperature, visibility, and estimation of how long everyone else would be under the water. It would be roughly 30 minutes since they were all newbies to scuba diving. Well except Wolf, who due to his genetic modification was an excellent swimmer and could handle the water conditions much longer than everyone else. But even he couldn’t stay down there just by himself.
You always need to dive with a buddy, their dive guide had reminded them during the dive briefing. Stay close to your buddy. Take care of each other. Cinder smiled. Wolf and Scarlet didn’t need a reminder to look out for each other. They did that all the time whether on land, flying over the galaxy in a spaceship, overthrowing an evil Queen on the moon. No doubt they would watch over each other under the ocean.
It was Kai she was worried about. He could swim, but he was the Emperor. She imagined the panic everyone would be in if something happened to him. Torin, his advisor, insisted on a personal bodyguard joining the liveaboard to ensure the young Emperor’s safety. This bodyguard could also swim and was an experienced divemaster. He was assigned as Kai’s buddy during the dives.
Cinder drove unnecessary fears away from her mind. They would be fine, she told herself. Andre, the bodyguard, was experienced. He knew what he was doing. She went into the ship’s engine room to distract herself. Linh Cinder, in addition to being a Lunar and a cyborg, was also a talented mechanic. Her experience revolved around androids and spaceships, but never with well, actual ocean ships.
It was fascinating. The Rafida Adventure was a phinisi – a type of ship originating from the year 1906 of the Second Era of Earth. It was found in an archipelago nation once known as Indonesia. Now, in the Third Era, all the islands are part of the Eastern Commonwealth under the rule of Emperor Kaito.
Who was, at this moment, submerged underwater…Cinder again reminded herself that everyone would be fine. Her retina scanner confirmed that the statistics of accidents during scuba diving were very low. Sharks rarely attacked humans unless humans attacked them first. Plus they were only doing open water diving – only about 12 meters under the surface.
She pulled her attention back to studying the ship. It was originally crafted by master seafarers from the Bugis race, with multiple sails and soaring masts that gracefully parted the waves. Now though, they came with serious engines to increase speed. Not to mention power for air conditioners, refrigerators, scuba diving oxygen tanks, and even charging stations for androids.
The crazy idea for a reunion on this liveaboard came from Cress. Several months ago she made a trip to the exotic island of Flores with Thorne on the spaceship Rampion. They were delivering antidotes for a recent letumosis plague outbreak. Cress spent 7 years as a prisoner inside a satellite orbiting Earth when Queen Levana was still alive. After Cinder dethroned the evil Levana, Cress resolved to see more of the world – as much of the world as possible. Thorne was right there with the Rampion to support all her travel itches.
When Cress saw the phinisi ships harboring in the Flores port, she decided it was the next experience she wanted to try. And what better idea than to have all your best friends join on the adventure!
They all needed the break, but especially Cinder and Kaito. Since Cinder became Queen of Luna, her first act was to sign the Treaty of Bremen to ensure peace between Earthen Union and Luna. Her next act was to dissolve her own monarchy, paving the way to a republic governmental system on the moon. After her abdication, she was now a Lunar Ambassador in a relationship with Kaito, the Emperor of the Eastern Commonwealth.
This was their first vacation since they changed history. She decided that saving the world was pretty important, but saving your mind and body was just as important. Kai usually forgot this. He always worked so hard for his people, often neglecting the care of himself. Cinder hoped some ocean, fish, and sun would recharge his energy and spirits. She hoped at the very least he would get a tan after this trip was over.
Dinner that night was filled with talks of what they saw during their dives. Wolf layered all his food with the delicious sambal luat, a local spicy sauce made of small chili peppers, tomatoes, onions, and coriander leaves. Poor Iko could barely contain her envy because she could not taste the food, nor join the dives.
Scarlet thought the luat would be even more delicious if it was made with tomatoes from her farm, but then again she was biased. The farm was her grandmother’s farm, passed on to Scarlet after the old lady died a tragic death. In fact, Scarlet’s grandmother was tortured by Queen Levana’s genetically modified wolven armies. The very same army which Wolf was a part of, but had been able to break away from. The very same army which Winter later convinced to fight on their side.
“None of my hallucinations could compare to what was happening down there,” Winter stated happily. “The corals, the sharks, and even all the tiny crazy-looking creatures! Everything is wilder under the ocean. My scary visions seem tame in comparison.”
Jacin patted her head lovingly. “Then we’ll dive more. We can even take the deep-diving specialty and explore other wonders hiding in the blue.”
“Oh, can we! I’d love to join!” Cress bubbled in excitement. “I’ve heard of dive sites which are quite difficult to access but have marvels beyond marvels. The ocean itself is a wonder – it’s a galaxy all of its own!”
Everyone had to nod in agreement. Cinder traded jealous looks with Iko. Life was not fair. Not fair at all. The cyborg felt a soft hand take her right hand-her human hand and squeezed it lightly. It was Kai, trying to make her feel better. He’s the best, Cinder thought.
“How was your day?” he asked her quietly.
“Honestly? A bit boring up here waiting for everyone,” Cinder shrugged. “I did take a good look at the engine rooms though. The machines are fascinating.” She played with Kai’s fingers, a gesture they both enjoyed.
“But I’m glad you all had a great time. And that everyone surfaced safely.”
“I did. It was the best fun I’ve had in a while,” answered Kai, with a dreamy look on his face. He was remembering the gentle body of the giant manta ray, flying through the waters like an angel. “Oh and the turtles! Cinder, they were huge! I think I saw one as big as my body!”
Cinder laughed. She rarely saw this side of him, this face which was like a happy little boy. He usually had so many problems etched into his forehead. She leaned forward and kissed his cheek.
“I’m really happy for you. I’m glad we’re here.”
On her other side, Thorne rolled his eyes and was about to groan, but Scarlet shot him one of her silencing glares.
“By the way, did anyone notice all the trash?” asked Scarlet, frowning. “There was plastic stuff everywhere. Isn’t it supposed to be bad for the marine animals?”
“It’s bad for all of the underwater environment,” Iko piped up, glad that she could contribute to the conversation again. “My data is showing me that there are more than 200 million tons of plastic thrown in these waters every year.”
“Damn. Can you imagine if our neighbors were throwing trash at our farm, and we couldn’t get rid of it?” Scarlet turned to Wolf, shaking her head angrily.
“Better to get rid of our neighbors then,” he snarled in response.
“Take it easy there!” Thorne protested. He quickly hid the plastic water bottle which he was drinking from.
“You know, these islands are part of the Eastern Commonwealth…” said Kai slowly. “They’re so remote and away from the capital that they don’t usually get much attention. But I think I can look into something to help marine conservation around this area.”
Winter clapped in excitement. “That would be wonderful!”
Jacin, ever the realist, had to be the devil’s advocate. “It won’t be that easy. Top-down initiatives are never easy, especially this far away from the source of power. You would have to work very closely with locals here.”
Everyone turned towards the boat crew, who were hanging around behind them waiting to clear up their plates. They smiled innocently back at their guests.
“I bet I can make some kind of program…” muttered Cress to herself. “Some kind of game translated into the local language for the kids to learn about their oceans better.” She was already busy punching codes and ideas into her portscreen.
Cinder coughed loudly. “This is great everyone. I’m glad we’re thinking about this. But look it’s supposed to be a holiday, not a working visit. Let’s stick to the having fun plan and do our research and work later. We can always come again.”
“I wouldn’t mind parking the Rampion here for a month or two to analyze what we can do,” Thorne suggested. “Cress and I can easily keep you all updated.”
“My data feed is showing me that there are many traditional ways – local wisdom – from the old women in the society. I bet you can ask them for information and ideas,” added Iko.
“Correction: you’ll have to ask them. Everyone knows old women harbor the most knowledge,” Scarlet reminded the Emperor. No doubt she was thinking again of her grandmother.
“Great! It’s a plan.” Cinder stood up, taking pulling Kai with her. He obliged happily. “I’m sure Emperor Kai will follow through. But for now, how about letting the crew clean up and we do some stargazing.”
Continued to Part 2: Winter and the Komodo Dragon.
1. This is my first fanfiction! Feedback much appreciated.
2. The Rafida Adventure is an actual liveaboard that can take you to the Lesser Sunda Islands. If you ever want to book a trip with them, you can use my promo code : airinrafida2021 for a special discount!