What Unbound Us

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Chapter 6: Adventures of The Starblazer

Once Emma calmed down completely, the two us decided to dive right into the search for another story. We passed by many shelves in search of another book, but Emma could never find exactly what she was looking for. It felt like the search would take longer than the other two had, but the stakes were higher now. Everything depended on finding the right story. After ten minutes of aimless searching though, she stopped at a bookshelf in the middle of the store.

She pulled out a book from the shelf and stared down at it. I looked at it from over her shoulders and raised an eyebrow. The book itself was thick, with the cover having a vast amount of stars on it to make it look like outer space, or even the In-Between for that matter, and in the middle of it floated a ship. In silver letters on the cover was the book’s name, Adventures of The Starblazer. Emma smiled when she read the title of the book.

“I loved this book! It was my favorite trilogy growing up. This edition looks like all three of the books combined into one,” she said, turning the book over to inspect it.

“What’s it about?” I asked.

I remembered hearing about the series when I was younger, but I never read it.

“Well, it’s about life in the Andromeda galaxy, and the adventures of a space pirate crew whose ship is The Starblazer. It mainly focused on the captain and her development over time, but they were good books overall,” Emma explained.

“Her? So the captain was a girl?” I asked.

Emma frowned at me. “Yeah, why? Have a problem with that?”

“No! Not at all. I’m just surprised,” I said.

Emma rolled her eyes. “That’s another thing I liked about these books; the presence of strong, independent females.”

I frowned at her. “I never said a woman couldn’t be a captain, it’s just that our society is sexist, and only thinks men should be in ‘manly’ positions. That author defied the social norm. Good for them! Maybe they should get a cookie.”

Emma glared at me. “If you keep acting so snarky all the time you’re going to get punched in the face someday. If you haven’t already, I mean.”

“Oh believe me, I already have,” I said, smirking. “I’m sorry, I couldn’t help it.”

Emma just rolled her eyes at me again. “Uh huh, sure.”

“Really, I am. Sometimes it just comes out. It’s from living with Pete my whole life. Survival went to the snarkiest.”

Emma seemed to be ignoring me, and had flipped open the book to the first page. She clearly didn’t care for my joking around at the moment. I sighed, and held out my hand for her to take. She grabbed it absentmindedly, already reading the first lines. I joined her in reading, and the more I read, the more I felt the now familiar tug of being sucked up into a story. Then everything faded away as we left the bookstore.

The first thing I heard when I regained consciousness was the sound of people screaming. Opening my eyes, I saw that I lay on the deck of a ship with Emma next to me. I now wore a red shirt and white breeches, with a futuristic gun attached to my belt, and shiny black boots on my feet. Sitting up, I glanced at my surroundings. The ship reminded me of one that would have been around in the eighteenth century, with some modifications added to it.

Even though most of the ship looked wooden, a lot of additions and parts were made of metal, like the ship’s wheel, levers, and doors. The sails of the ship didn’t even look like they were made from cloth, and instead seemed to be made from a very flexible metal or plastic material. I even heard the ship’s engine roaring, which meant they used fuel instead of just steering the ship like what would normally be the case. What surprised me the most were the creatures that I guessed had to be the crew. To think, I got to see aliens first hand, even though it was through a story.

None of them looked the same, and all of them had interesting features. Some looked like piles of snot, some looked animalistic, like something related to a cat or elephants, and others seemed more humanoid, especially in facial features and their limbs. All of them though were running around the ship with panic-stricken expressions, which meant Emma and I couldn’t lay around here for much longer. Something must have been going on.

Nudging Emma with my boot, I tried to get her to wake up, but she didn’t respond. Then I noticed her own attire. She wore a white cotton shirt with puffy sleeves and a red skirt. A leather belt wrapped around her hips, and she also had a strange looking gun attached to it. Black boots also adorned her feet, and after kicking her one more time, her eyes finally snapped open.

“Where are we?” Emma asked, rubbing her eyes.

“I think we’re on that space pirate ship you were talking about,” I said, as I heard more screaming, and saw more of the aliens scrambling around on deck.

Emma looked around at our surroundings and nodded. “I would say you’re right. And look at how beautiful space looks.”

She pointed up into the sky, and I gasped. Stretched out above us was indeed, space. Millions of stars shone in the black sky, seeming to go on forever without stopping. It reminded me once again eerily of the In-Between, and I wondered if I would ever be able to disassociate space from that weird place Grim lived in.

“How are we able to breathe with space so close?” I asked, clutching my neck.

“There’s a force field around the ship that gives oxygen to the crew and keeps people from flying off into the unknown. If the shield is hit, then we would all be doomed,” a voice said behind us.

Emma and I whipped our heads around and jumped back when we saw who stood there. Standing before us was a girl a year or two younger than us, with long, curly black hair pinned up into a ponytail and sapphire eyes. Her skin was extremely pale, and she had pointy, elf-like ears. The strangest part about her were the little black stars that seemed to be tattooed into her skin, and were spread out everywhere.

She wore a white, puffy sleeved shirt with a brown bodice on top, and a red skirt similar to the one Emma wore. Black boots also adorned her feet, and swung across her shoulder was a navy blue and white coat with a brown tricornered hat on top. When I saw the hat my eyes widened; that hat had to mean she was the captain of the ship. Attached to her waist by a belt hung a long, curved sword in a metal sheath, and one of her hands rested on its hilt as she smirked down at us.

“I know you two are new recruits and all, but we’re kind of in the middle of a fight right now, so you need get off your asses and help instead of gawking,” she said, motioning behind her to the growing chaos.

Emma gaped up at her. “You’re Stella Brightwood, the best space pirate in the whole Andromeda galaxy!”

“Most people don’t know me by that name. Among pirates I’m known as Captain Demon Star, but I’d prefer it if you just called me Captain,” Stella whispered.

The two of us nodded in understanding.

“Now get up please. We have Hunters after us, and it would be best to stop them sooner rather than later,” Stella said, pulling the two of us to our feet.

“Hunters?” I asked, confused.

“Yes, Hunters. You know, pirate hunters. Their sole mission in life is to squash out anybody who results to piracy as a career. They have tried to even take out the pirate planet, Nestra, several times, but since piracy isn’t exactly illegal as long as we don’t steal from the AFP, they have been forced to leave us alone. Of course, the Hunters disregard the AFP’s request and continue to chase us anyways,” Stella spat.

“Well, what can we do to help?” Emma asked, glancing at me nervously.

I barely understood what was going on, but I knew Emma had an idea about what we were up against, considering she had read this book and all.

“They’ve been firing at us for the past thirty minutes, but we’ve managed to keep them at bay for a while now. Still, they may try to board us soon. You two need to help defend the ship if that happens,” Stella explained.

“How are we supposed to fight back if all we have are these guns? I don’t think that will work in hand-to-hand combat,” I said.

Stella raised an eyebrow at me. “If you don’t think a gun is sufficient enough for you then go down to the armory, get a plasma sword, and stop complaining. Either way you’re going to have to fight.”

I just frowned. “Fine then, Captain.”

I walked away from her, shaking my head in disbelief. Emma followed after me as we took off in search of the armory.

“It kind of annoys me that she assumed I didn’t want to fight. I simply asked her how we were supposed to fight against these ‘Hunters’, not that I wanted to escape on the next ship out of here,” I said. “Although at this point, I do kind of want to join the other side just to spite her.”

“Well that’s how she is…at least that’s what I remember from reading the books. She was always snappy and cutthroat-like. That’s how she’s supposed to be though; she is the captain,” Emma remarked. “And hey, don’t say that. In any case, as soon as the Hunters spotted you, they’d kill you instantly. I remember them being ruthless.”

“Oh great, what a lovely cast of characters,” I said sarcastically, reaching the stairs that went below deck. “Let’s just get this over with then.”

I didn’t know where the armory would be, but Emma seemed to know—almost as if she was rereading the story over in her mind—so she led the way. We found it soon enough, and both quickly picked out plasma swords to use. Exiting the armory, we rushed back up the stairs to see what Stella had said earlier coming true: the Hunters were boarding the ship. I gasped at the sight of all the different species of aliens rushing upon each other.

They all brandished plasma swords that lit up when unsheathed, the light illuminating from the metal being bright neon colors. Emma and I didn’t know how we should enter the fray, and just stared at the scene before us mouth agape. We eventually got forced to join the fight when an alien with purple skin and scales rushed towards us. The creature reminded me of a sea monster complete with gill slits and fins sprouting out from its neck, except this one actually had legs instead of a long tail. I pulled out my sword from its sheath and parried the creature’s sword before it could slash Emma across the chest.

The light my sword illuminated was a deep red, with the creature’s own being a bright purple. Emma unsheathed her sword as well, her light a sky blue color. The two of us got into a fighting position as the alien rushed us again. It tried to aim for my side but I blocked it, with Emma swinging her sword toward its shoulder. The alien managed to block her attack by bending its body back, and slicing its sword horizontally at us.

That forced Emma and I to step back and parry its sword away, lunging forward towards it and striking at opposite angles. It tried to block both of our attacks, but it could only block my sword aimed at its side. Emma’s sword, however, sliced through the alien’s shoulder, and it cried out. Green liquid poured out of the cut, as the creature fell to its knees and clutched its shoulder. I took that time to slice its head clean off, and watched it roll away across the deck.

More green liquid spilled out from the body as Emma and I stepped away from it, not looking back. When we joined the main mob of pirates and Hunters, though, the two of us got separated from each other, even though I tried to hang on to her. Fight after fight passed by as we were jostled apart, all of them ending up in a blur as every opponent put in front of me got struck down. I couldn’t find Emma, but I did see Stella fighting a couple of times, the light from her sword being a blue-green. By just looking at her I could tell she was an expert fighter, and probably grew up fighting.

Everyone who faced her didn’t stand a chance, and I wondered if she even kept prisoners, or if whoever didn’t die got thrown overboard. I searched through the mob again for Emma, and I finally saw her near the edge of all the fighting. Shoving my way through the crowd, I noticed something rather odd about how Emma acted. She stood frozen at the spot, staring up at something coming from the Hunters’ ship. When I followed her gaze upwards myself, my eyes widened.

Her ex, Mark, stood behind the wheel of the other ship, staring down at everyone with the same unfathomable gaze I had seen on him before. He still wore his blue shirt and grey shorts, but he now wore black boots on his feet, a tricornered hat signaling him as the captain, and a long sword was attached to his belt.

At seeing him again, I sadly wasn’t shocked, since I had a feeling the last story wouldn’t be the only time we bumped into him. Even so, seeing him so soon again annoyed me, but Emma’s frozen stance suggested that if I didn’t do anything, she could have another breakdown again. With knowing that, I tried to break through to Emma before anything else could happen, but something knocked me over the head forcefully, like the hilt end of one of the plasma swords, and I fell to the ground hard.

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