A week later, my parents let me return to school. Apparently, all of our parents returned us together. The whispers and stares at school were pretty intense and freakier than dealing with Captain Li. More intimidating in their own way. The kids no longer saw us as one of them.
We were something else. Something more like living legends.
That was freakier than I would like to admit.
I thought I wanted to run and hide a lot. I was only twelve after all. I was no immortal or demigod. But I wasn't the same twelve. I was different. Too much had changed. I had seen too much. Helmet. Li. Jaideep. Too much.
My friends and I finally got to talk. The story I got was pretty much the same. Everyone majorly grounded. Some parents were cooler than mine. Some were less. Poor Veena! Her parents were considering homeschool and whether or not she'd be allowed to even talk to us, never mind be friends. On the other hand, Rosa's parents were stunned and thrilled and let her off with a light grounding. I guess I didn't get it too bad compared to Veena though.
The adults did ransack our fort. They took everything from there. They were considering tearing it down altogether. Dad counseled caution though. Once torn down, it would not be rebuilt easily. The adults grumbled, but accepted it for that moment. They didn't tear it down, but we didn't get to go back until the next school year.
Everyone felt like we needed to chill out for a while and lay off the pranks. That lasted until the next school year only though.
And then there was Maven.
She showed up a week later with Derplicates in tow. She made her displeasure known and she would get us back. Yet, Tom didn't seem phased. Whatever used to scare him about her was dispelled by the adventure. She was disturbed. And turned on me and vented, I just looked at her and dismissed her. She didn't have anything even remotely as scary as Li did in that moment and I had stood my ground then. No two bit crabby brat was going to phase me again.
We dismissed her. She looked shocked. Our great and terrible enemy - in her mind and once upon a time - had been dismissed as a nothing more than an annoyance.
Our message was loud and clear:
Go away kid: you're bothering us.
We went back to the manmade cave where Helmet died. We erected a marker. We never knew his name and the BII agents were not saying if they did. We came for years afterwards. Even has Shadwell slowly encroached on the site.