Stargazer

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Chapter 11

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”
~William Shakespeare


Lilly

The day of the party was chaotic. My training lessons had been cut short so we could all go back and start getting dressed for the big event. I would’ve been done probably close to half an hour early had my kittens not chosen to get into everything. At least they didn’t try and climb my dress like they did the curtains…

I was texting Caleb, asking where the ball was being held because despite knowing the location, I didn’t exactly know how to get there. I wasn’t going with anyone. I had asked Vivienne, but she was going with Chad. Dylan was going with Iris and Caleb. I didn’t feel comfortable imposing myself on them. I vaguely wondered if Shane was going considering Chad was, but thought better of it. There was no way I was going to go the dance with Shane, even though I was pretty sure he would’ve gladly accepted my invitation.

Suddenly my phone rang, breaking me out of my thoughts. Turning my music down, I answered. Caleb said, “Hey, you know where my lab is?”

“Yeah, of course,” I responded. “I’d be worried if I didn’t know where it was considering I’m down there all the time.”

He chuckled. “Right, so if you keep going farther down that hall, there will be a stairwell. Take that and it’ll lead you downstairs to the entrance to the ballroom.”

“Awesome. I’ll see you down there.”

“Great. You going with Vivienne?”

“No, she’s going with Chad.”

“Then who are you going with? Please tell me it’s not Shane.”

I snorted. “God no. I’m going by myself.”

“What? No you’re not. Come with me and Dylan and Iris.”

“I wouldn’t want to intrude.”

“You would not be intruding whatsoever. You’re one of us. We’ll come get you if you’re ready?”

“I just have to finish up with my hair really, but you’re welcome to come up now to hang out if you want. You’ll just have to put up with the kittens and my music and the slight mess of my room.”

“We’ll be up there in two minutes. Maybe less if the elevators hurry.”

“All right, see you soon.” I hung up, my heart pounding as I swallowed the knot down in my throat. For some reason, I felt relieved by Caleb’s words. Had they not wanted me to hang out with them, Caleb would’ve found a reason to exclude me. It was nice to know that I had friends who wanted me around, who would invite me to do things without me having to always initiate everything. I hadn’t had that recently, especially with Vivienne wrapped up in work and Chad. I was happy for her being with Chad, and I think that guy needed someone as light and happy as her because he was worse than Grumpy Cat, but I missed having my best friend around.

Within two minutes, Caleb, Dylan, and Iris were at my door. They filed in, taking residence on my bed and chairs while I got ready. Berlioz decided to sit on Caleb’s shoulder, Iris cuddled with Marie, and Dylan played with Toulouse. Toothless kept his position next to my makeup bag on the bathroom counter.

“Where’s your dress?” Iris called out.

“It’s in here with me. I’m putting it on in a moment. Once my hair and makeup are fully done. Learned that a long time ago when I got mascara on a white dress. Thankfully I was able to get it out but didn’t want to deal with that again so I’ve opted to do everything beforehand,” I explained.

“Guys have it so easy. All they have to do is shower if they feel the need, style their hair which let’s be honest, usually isn’t much, and throw on their suit. They spritz some cologne and they’re done. I mean most girls will shower, dry their hair, style their hair, most do some form of makeup, if not a full face of it like you and I are doing. Hell, some even contour their face for it. I would never have that talent but still. And then we have to get into these contraptions of dresses, match them with shoes, and pick out jewelry. It’s complicated,” Iris ranted. Dylan and Caleb both looked completely bewildered by it all but I just laughed and whole-heartedly agreed.

Within the next ten minutes, I was ready to go. The four of us made our way downstairs to the ballroom. I expected the event to be elegant and glamorous, but nothing could stop my mouth from falling open at the sight of everything. Glittering diamonds strung together were wrapped around the chandeliers. Fragile, silver tree branches intertwined themselves in the ceiling area above us. Emerald flowers adorned the branches as well, creating the sensation that you were in a forest when you looked up.

The walls were decorated with elegant, green tapestries that matched the color of the flowers. There was silver filigree on them that mimicked the branches above me. It took me a moment before I observed that the silver filigree on the tapestries actually came off of them to form the branches overhead. No wonder I thought they were so similar to each other.

Caleb escorted me to the table we were sitting at. Thank god I was with people I knew or else I would’ve felt completely out of place. It wasn’t that I couldn’t socialize, but it was obvious that almost everyone here knew everyone else, and I usually started feeling very alone and uncomfortable which is when I became very quiet and my resting bitch face appeared, which I learned made me seem very unapproachable.

Vivienne wore a blush pink, satin dress with spaghetti straps. It had a plunging V-neck that was connected together by a small, crystal encrusted band. Chad sat beside her in a sharp black suit with a matching blush-colored tie. Shane sat on the other side of him in a dark blue suit, causing his blue eyes to become even more intense, especially when they rested on me. I was thankfully not sitting next to him. That seat was given to Dylan. I sat between him and Caleb, and Iris sat next to Vivienne, leaving the seat in between her and Caleb vacant.

“Hi!” Vivienne exclaimed. “I love your dresses, Lilly and Iris!”

“Thank you! It’s brand new,” Iris said. “I wanted to get something different for the occasion.”

Iris’s outfit consisted of a white, flowing chiffon dress with a matte gold belt encrusted with crystals. With gold shoes and jewelry to match, she looked like an angel.

“Good evening everyone,” Esmeralda greeted when she approached us. She looked stunning in a dark, emerald green, floor-length dress with delicate, tiny diamonds swirling around on the skirt and lining the neckline. A flashy diamond necklace matched with simple earrings qand a dangling bracelet completed the ensemble. Again, I hoped I aged as gracefully as she did.

“You look stunning!” Vivienne exclaimed.

“As do you darling,” Esmeralda complimented. “You all look amazing!”

Caleb pulled out the chair for her so she could sit down before taking his seat next to me again.

“So what is the agenda for this party?” I whispered to Dylan.

“Oh it’s always amazing. So first we have a three course meal, then there’s the show put on. Sometimes it’s dancing, sometimes it’s magic, sometimes it’s a musical. I’m curious to know what it is this year. She’s been into musicals recently so it wouldn’t surprise me if they did something like ‘Burlesque’ or ‘The Greatest Showman’ or even ‘Frozen’. Although I think people who are hoping for a sequel need to let it go.”

Caleb groaned at his friend’s pun but said nothing; Dylan gave a cheeky grin. Conversation’s started going all around the table. I chatted with Dylan who seemed unwilling to talk to Shane. Couldn’t necessarily blame him, but the elder Calhoun brother appeared unaffected by it. He was, I noticed, paying attention to everything going on around him with a calculating gaze.

However, even Shane seemed unable to avoid the distraction the appetizers presented. We had our choice of beef carpaccio, tuna tartare, or a salad that I’m not entirely sure all that was on it, but it sounded expensive. I got the tuna tartare even though I adore beef carpaccio since I was getting a steak for the main course. Vivienne had gone for it though as did Iris and Dylan; Caleb, Esmeralda, and Chad all got what I did. Shane was the only one who got the salad. In the middle of the table was a massive basket of rolls and different toppings for it: butter, pate, olive oil, pesto, and those were just the ones I could name. We snacked on those periodically throughout the meal.

After the appetizer came the main course, and my steak was to die for. It was so tender that I barely needed a knife. It was topped with lumps of crab meat and some sort of white wine sauce. With potato au gratin on the side, I was in heaven. The other choices had been salmon or a vegetarian dish. I didn’t pay much attention to what were involved with those dishes because I was too wrapped up in my own.

“If I eat anymore, I’m going to pop,” I mumbled, leaning back in my chair and resting my hands on my stomach as if I had a baby. It sure felt like I did with how full I felt. I had a food baby, that’s what I had.

“Get ready because we have dessert next. Don’t worry though, we eat it during the performance so we have plenty of time to eat our way through it,” Dylan said. Sure enough, just as he said that, the desserts were rolled out. Everyone had a cake for their table, one that would give at least two pieces per person. Then there were mini desserts, like a miniature apple cobbler, chocolate eclairs, strawberry cheesecake, cannoli cups, and more. But as amazing as the desserts were, the show knocked it out of the park.

Dylan had somehow managed to hit the nail on the head with what was going to happen. Sure enough it was a musical and one that I absolutely adored: The Greatest Showman. A lot of the performers were shapeshifters, so they were shifting into either people or animals; they were also dancing all over the place flying through the air, balancing precariously on the tree limbs above and swinging from the curtains that were previously emerald green but now they were flashing cerulean blue and scarlet red to match the mood of the song, and the tree branches were switching between gold and silver.

The show seemed to fly right on by and before I knew it, it was our time to dance. Chad quietly took Vivienne’s hand to take her to the dance floor. Dylan asked Esmeralda to dance. Caleb looked conflicted between asking me and Iris because either way, one of us would be stuck with Shane; it was obvious he didn’t want either of us subjected to that fate. To make the decision easier for him, I excused myself to go to the bathroom. I actually needed to go so it wasn’t a lie. There were a few other people in there but they were already preoccupying stalls.

“Did you see who was all at the Queen’s table?” one of the girls inquired as the sink turned on for her to wash her hands. I knew I shouldn’t listen but it was kind of hard when they were in such close proximity with me. I’m pretty sure they had no idea I was even in here…

“Yeah. I mean the boys are always there but Shane Calhoun? He shouldn’t be here, let alone out of prison,” the other girl responded.

“The Queen probably wants to keep an eye on him and it’s probably easier to do that with him at her table. I’m talking about the humans.”

“Well they have powers.”

“Vivienne does. Like she’s insanely good at Healing. I’m talking about her friend. What’s her name? Lisa?”

“Lilly. I think. I guess they worried about insulting her if they put her somewhere else. How is she part of that prophecy? Vivienne, sure I can see it. But a girl with no power after being here for months? It’s never taken someone this long to discover their powers. It’s bizarre. If you ask me, she shouldn’t even be here. She doesn’t belong.”

“Tell me about it. Let’s get back to the party.”

I heard the girls leave. I swallowed down the knot in my throat in an attempt to not let their words get to me. Numbly, I left the stall and washed my hands, my party mood gone. So my lack of powers hadn’t gone unnoticed by everyone else. They were talking about it, about me. In most cases, I wouldn’t care what people thought about me because why should the opinions of people I don’t know matter to me? But this was different. They were talking about my own insecurity, one that had been eating me up for months.

I couldn’t stay at the party and pretend like everything was okay. Besides, everyone would be so wrapped up in the party that I was sure my absence would go unnoticed. I dried my hands and made my way to the elevators that would take me up to my apartment, but I barely made it two steps before Dylan appeared in front of me.

“Hey! There you are! I was wondering where you disappeared to,” he said, his signature lopsided grin on his face.

“I was just using the bathroom. I needed it after all that food,” I told him.

“God I know. I think I ate my weight’s worth in food. Duty calls, but I’ll see you back in there.”

“Yeah, I’ll see you in there.”

“Hey, you okay?” his brow suddenly furrowed in concern, making my heart go out to him. But not wanting to ruin his fun, I plastered a smile on my face and assured him I was fine. He seemed to buy it, went back to his chipper self, and rushed to the bathroom. I lifted my head to look up at the ceiling in a useless attempt to block the tears that were about to cascade down my face. I headed to the elevators, wondering if this could get worse when I ran into a guy on my way to my destination.

“Hey sweetheart, everything okay?” he asked.

“Yeah, just got some bad news is all,” I told him.

“Would you like me to escort you up to your room?” he offered. Something about the way he was looking at me made me uncomfortable. My conscience screamed at me to get away from him because he was bad news. With this in mind, I politely declined his offer, but that did not go over well with him. As I continued my walk to the elevator he got progressively more and more insistent. Finally, he made the mistake of grabbing my arm, resulting in me yanking it out of his grip and my sadness turned to fury.

“Don’t you dare touch me,” I snapped at him.

His face scrunched up as he violently grabbed me by arms and demanded, “What’s wrong? You should’ve used your powers. Where’s your powers?”

I struggled against his grip as I told him bitterly, “Haven’t you heard? I don’t have any.”

“No, no, we were told the one of the prophecy has arrived. So why aren’t you using your powers?” He roared. Realizing this situation was worse than I thought, I did what I do best.

I kicked out and I kicked hard, nailing him in the groin

The guy let out a grunt of pain, and his grip slackened enough that I could break free. The elevators weren’t an option anymore so I had to figure out a new tactic. I bolted away from him to go back to the party but when I glanced over my shoulder, I found to my dismay he was rapidly gaining on me. There was no way I could outrun him. I needed to go somewhere else and let people know I was in trouble. Caleb’s lab was closer and I would be more likely to make it there in time than the ballroom.

I risked the chance.

Putting on a burst of speed, I had nearly reached his lab when something wrapped around my ankle. I went down hard and had just rolled when suddenly the guy was on top of me.

“Show me your powers,” he growled.

“Get off of me,” I snarled, throwing my fist at his face. It hit him square in the jaw but seemed not to affect him. He simply slammed my arms above my head. I had no idea how I was going to get out of this, especially without powers. I racked my brain for all the training I’d gone through, but I hadn’t quite reached the stage where they taught you how to get out from underneath someone. So I had to improvise. But with both my legs and arms pinned down, no powers, and no weapons, I couldn’t think of anything else to do but squirm underneath him in an attempt to get some limb free.

“Stop struggling,” he snapped, hands clamping down on my throat. I gasped for air as he slowly strangled me. I tugged futilely in order to try and free my neck but it was hopeless. My vision was going black and in one last desperate attempt to free myself, I pushed my hands upwards at his shoulders.

An invisible force blasted him backwards. Air came rushing back into my lungs, momentarily filling me with a sense of euphoria as I was able to breathe again. But in the back of my mind, I knew the danger was far from over. I forced myself up, placed my eyes in front of the scanner for Caleb’s lab, and waited for the AI system to let me in.

“Welcome, Lilly Snow,” the voice said as the door opened. I stumbled in, trying to find a way to contact security or Caleb or anyone for that matter.

“Where’d you go?” the guy’s voice called out. How had he gotten in?! I had gone around the corner and immediately ducked as I crawled under one of the tables. It was a solid base board on three sides so he couldn’t see where I was, but it would be a problem if he came this way.

It was cold in here, but I couldn’t tell if my shivering was from fear or from the cold. I sat with my back against the cupboard, my breath a stark white against the blackness of it. But then it dawned on me that if I could see my breath, there was a possibility he could. I clamped a hand over my mouth in order to prevent that from happening.

Footsteps could be heard approaching from my right. My heart raced so wildly I thought it was going to beat out of my chest.

“You really think hiding there is going to stop me from seeing you?” the guy remarked in amusement. I kicked out at his legs, but he simply jumped back. I took the opportunity to scramble from my terrible hiding place. I had barely made it three feet when a bullet whizzed past my ear. I dropped to the ground out of reflex.

“I wouldn’t run if I were you. It’s a coward’s death you know,” he said. “Turn around, sweetling.”

“My name is not sweetling,” I growled at him as I did what he said. I found him pointing some form of an alien gun at me. “My name is Lilly Snow.”

“So feisty for someone who’s about to die. Stand up.” I did. “You were hard to kill for a person who doesn’t have powers. I commend you for that. But we can’t have both heroes of the prophecy alive because that’s bad news for us. And since you’re the one without powers, you’re easier to kill. Bye bye.”

He pulled the trigger.


Caleb

I felt bad that Lily didn’t have a partner for the first dance so when the song was over, I went searching for her. I knew she’d gone to the bathroom and that it was a bit of a ways away but I started worrying about her because it seemed she’d been gone for a while. When the ten minute mark hit, I was low-key panicking, something Dylan picked up on.

“What’s up man?” he inquired, stuffing his face full of some miniature desserts. I couldn’t figure out how he could still eat so much after everything.

“I’m trying to find Lilly,” I said.

“She isn’t back yet? I saw her like… ten minutes ago when I went to the bathroom,” he responded in a muffled voice.

“Where was she headed?”

“I thought back here. She didn’t say otherwise. Maybe she needed something from her room.”

“I don’t know. I’m getting a bad feeling about this.” At that moment, my phone made a sound that I dreaded to hear. It was an alarm. It was alerting me that something was very, very wrong in my lab. I hurriedly pulled it out of my pocket to look at the video of what was happening. When I watched it, my blood ran cold.

Lilly was being held at gunpoint.

I bolted. Dylan called out after me before deciding to follow. Our hasty departure caught the attention of the party-goers. Chad fell into step with Dylan who was a few feet behind me. Some armed guards joined the chase as well.

I came to a skidding stop in front of my lab to find the door had been wedged open by a device that looked way too much like a bomb.

“What is that?” Dylan stated when he stopped next to me.

“Someone go get Mallory. She’ll need to diffuse the bomb before we can go in,” I said. One of the guards dashed off. Within a minute, he was back with the Electrokinesis-powered girl beside him.

“That’s a Malkan bomb,” she observed. “That’s going to be more difficult.”

“Can you do it?” I asked.

“I can do it, but how quickly do you need to get in there?”

“As soon as possible. Lilly is being held at gunpoint

“What?!” Chad and Dylan demanded simultaneously. .” As if on cue, we heard a gun fire from within my lab. I shouted for my friend that was trapped inside there. Dylan lost most of the color in his face; Chad looked livid. The severity of the situation seemed to motivate Mallory even more to get the bomb diffused. Whilst she did that, I hurriedly explained how I knew what was going on.

“Got it!” Mallory exclaimed, yanking the device from out the doorway. It slammed shut, so I gave my AI a retinal scan and gave permission for everyone to come in. I was the first to enter and promptly slipped, falling straight on to my back. Dylan, Chad, and the guards followed in suit.

“What the hell?” Chad groaned. We all sat up. I was in shock to find the floor covered in a thin sheet of black ice. I could see my breath in front of me too. Why was my lab so cold? I chose to figure it out later; there were more important matters at hand. Treading carefully, I went as fast as I could around the corner to find a terrifying sight before me. Lilly was cornered in the back of my lab with a gun pointed at her head again. The bad guy fired. I vaguely heard myself shout her name through the pounding of the blood in my ears. But my terror quickly dissolved into confusion when I saw a block of ice directly in front of her, the bullet meant to kill her frozen inside it.

A black tendril shot out from Chad’s hand, wrapping itself around the guy’s neck, lifting him up and slamming him into the ceiling with so much force it left an indentation. The weapon fell out of his hands. Chad proceeded to slam the guy down into the concrete ground below, effectively knocking him out. I skated over to Lilly, ignoring the possibility that there could be more people like him around. But all I cared about was getting to her. She was frozen in place with her hands and arms blocking her face.

“Lilly?” I said gently. “It’s Caleb. Hey, you’re safe now.”

Carefully, I took her hands in mine, gently lowering them. She was shaking, but strangely enough, her body wasn’t cold despite the freezing temperatures in the lab. But my touch seemed to jar her into her senses as her terror-filled eyes met my worried ones. I brushed a piece of hair out of her face and said, “You’re safe now. We’re here. Are you hurt?”

Lilly shook her head.

“Are you cold?”

“N-no,” she stammered.

“What happened?”

“H-he attacked me after I… after I left the bathroom.”

“Caleb,” Chad said in a tone that insinuated not listening was not an option. Trying to hide my annoyance, I glanced over my shoulder to see what he wanted. He was pointing at massive ice blocks all around my lab, seven of them, not including the one that Lilly and I were currently behind. I furrowed my brows in confusion before the revelation slowly started dawning on me of what had happened, of why Lilly was still alive after being shot at eight times. In my haze of horror at seeing her be shot at point blank, I had failed to realize where the eruption of ice had originated from, but now it all made sense.

She must’ve seen the change in expression on face because she asked, “What? What is it?”

I faced her, my lips spreading into a proud smile. “I believe,” I said, “That you’ve just gotten your powers.”


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