Stargazer

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Chapter 2

“The stars up there at night are closer than you think.”
~Doug Dillon


Vivienne

Voices were the first thing I heard. Unfamiliar, male voices. I dared not open my eyes because the topic of the men’s conversation wasn’t on me or Lilly and I didn’t want it to be. At the thought of Lilly, I began to panic. Where was she? Was she okay? Was she alive?

Unable to prevent myself from checking, I opened my eyes to slits to glance around. To my relief, Lilly was in front of me. To my horror, she was strapped to a chair, her head lolling forward, alerting me she was still passed out.

“You guys almost ready?” A guy said.

“Hold your horses Caleb, we just got on the ship,” another one responded.

“We’re on a tight time schedule. Besides, we can’t have another incident like last time,” Caleb remarked. “Or need I remind you of that?”

“We didn’t know we were going to get stuck in a hurricane. The wind kept blowing out my fire. I couldn’t intimidate the person like I usually could and it’s not my fault that our ship was seen by people who are way too eager to believe in us ‘aliens’. Hey, Chad, would you stop watching over our two sleeping beauties and help me here?”

“Don’t order me around, Dylan,” a third male voice said. I presumed him to be Chad. So there were three guys total… weird, I only remember Dylan and Chad. Where had the third guy come from?

“My ship. My rules. I’m Han Solo. You’re a shorter, slightly less hairy Chewbacca. Now hit that switch and let’s get out of here,” Dylan said.

“I’m pretty sure Chad is more than ‘slightly less hairy’ than Chewbacca,” Caleb noted.

“Would significantly work better?” Dylan asked as something beneath my feet shuddered to life. I gripped the arm rests out of fear. What on earth was I on?

“I would say Chad’s completely hairless compared to Chewbacca.”

“He’s not completely hairless. I mean he has hair on his head, you’ve seen his legs when we go to the beach, not to mention down-”

“Focus, Dylan,” Chad growled.

“Aye, aye, Mr. Sunshine.” Dylan saluted his friend and pushed down on something. I could see the mountains through the windshield of… whatever I was in, but they were rapidly disappearing. Somehow, we were rising straight up from the ground. I tried not to panic but nothing could stop the rapid beating of my heart. Who were these people and where were they taking us?

“Vivienne?” Lilly’s groggy voice broke my concentration on the changing scenery of outside which had suspiciously changed to what looked like outer space… “Vivienne?!”

“I’m here,” I said, now fully opening my eyes.

“Looks like they’re awake,” Caleb said.

“Really? I didn’t hear anything,” Dylan responded. “Chad, go see if they’re okay. Most people don’t handle this part of the trip well. Not initially at least.”

Lilly was struggling against the straps binding her to the chair she was in as Chad rounded the corner. He stared expressionlessly at my friend.

“Stop struggling, it’s not going to do anything,” he said, leaning against the wall.

“Let. Me. Go,” Lilly snarled, glaring venomously at Chad. He continued staring at her.

“Feisty one isn’t she?” Dylan observed.

“I can hear that, unlike some people,” Caleb said.

“You’re the one that gets to deal with her once we get her to you, sass ass.”

“I’m not the one actually kidnapping them.”

“No, you’re just the one who runs tests on them.”

“Tests to make sure they’re okay and healthy and to see if I can discover their powers early. I don’t knock them out by injecting a syringe into their necks.”

“God, you’re lunatics,” Lilly said. “Viv, you okay?”

“Yeah, you?”

“I’ll be fine once I’m out of these things!” Lilly huffed, causing a piece of her dark blonde hair to move out of her face. “Where are we now and where are we going?”

“You’re on my spaceship darling. We’re in space right now, but we’re heading to Vasileia. That’s our home planet. Soon to be yours,” Dylan explained.

“We’re what?!” Lilly started struggling again, but it was different this time. She was panicking to the point she was hyperventilating.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, calm down!” Dylan said, turning around in his seat to look at her. I heard Caleb ask what was going on but my focus was on my friend. She needed my help and I couldn’t do anything about it because I was just as trapped as she was.

“Let me go! I can help her! Please!” I begged, staring pleadingly at Chad. “I’m a nurse! I can calm her down!”

“Chad, let her go. And by her I mean Vivienne, not Lilly. I don’t trust her not to kick me again,” Dylan said. Chad hesitated before pushing himself off the wall and unlocking the straps on my wrists and ankles. I dashed over to my friend who was now having a full blown panic attack about being in space with two strangers. I was freaking out as well but I also knew there was nothing I could actually do about my predicament until we arrived at these guys’ home planet.

Grasping my friend’s hands, I said, “Lilly, look at me, okay? Take deep breaths. Deep breaths.”

She looked at me but that was the only advice of mine she followed. She was still hyperventilating. Gently but firmly, I said, “Okay, when I start counting, breathe in. On two, breathe out. On four, breathe in, and so on. Got it? Okay. One, two…” I began counting. I could see Lilly trying to follow my advice. I could see it in her eyes that she knew what was happening to her. But her fear of being in space was too overwhelming and by the time we got to ten, she’d lost focus on the counting. I tried to get her attention again but she was inconsolable.

“Lilly, it’s going to be okay. I promise.” Turning to Chad, I said, “Could you please unlock her out of these? I don’t think they’re helping.”

“No.”

“Why not? You let me out.”

“Because you’re in a right state of mind. Your friend here isn’t and who knows what fight she’d put up if we let her loose.”

“Then can you leave me alone with her? I don’t think seeing her kidnapper is helping.”

“Listen to the nurse,” Dylan shouted from the pilot’s seat. “Vivienne, just don’t open any doors and try to escape if you don’t want to die. We are actually in space now.”

“Not helping!” I replied when Lilly snapped her head in the direction of Dylan’s voice when he mentioned that we were in space. Chad joined his friend in the cockpit while I figured out a way to get Lilly free from the straps. These things were one of the reasons she was panicking and I’d be damned if I didn’t help her find a way out of them.

“Lilly, please, I’m trying,” I promised when she let out a cry to be let out of the constraints. There was some muffled conversation up front before Chad appeared again, key in hand. He unlocked the straps around Lilly’s hands and ankles. My friend tried to stand up but collapsed to the ground instead. I grasped her shoulders to steady her. As I was about to get her to try the breathing technique again, Lilly slumped forward into my arms. At first I thought she’d passed out from her panic attack even though I knew that was a rare occurrence. Then I saw the syringe in Chad’s hand.

“You injected her with that knock out drug?” I asked angrily.

It was Dylan who answered. “We, or at least I was, worried she was going to hurt herself. We’re going to be in space for four hours. She could barely handle four minutes. It was for her safety. She’s going to be out for a while, long after we land too. We should make her comfy. Let me take her to one of the rooms on the ship. They have beds and everything.”

“She would’ve been fine if you’d just given me a couple more minutes,” I said.

“Dylan,” Chad began. “Who’s driving the ship?”

“Caleb is. Listen, we should-”

“Caleb is back on Vasileia. How is he driving?”

Dylan swore before rushing back to the cockpit. His friend rolled his eyes. A few seconds later, Dylan reappeared, announcing, “It’s on autopilot now. We can go into hyperspace in a few. As I was saying earlier, we should put Lilly in one of the rooms where she’ll be comfier and in case anything happens, she won’t get hurt.”

“What do you mean ‘in case anything happens’?” I asked warily.

“Oh you know, if we come across enemy fighters or an asteroid field or something,” Dylan answered me in a very nonchalant tone considering his reply did not have very nonchalant topics in it. He scooped Lilly into his arms and carried her to the back of the ship with me on his heels.

“Explain to me why you kidnapped us but are acting like you care about well-being,” I said.

Dylan pushed a door open with his butt as he replied, “Because we do care about you. Kidnapping was honestly the only way to go in getting the two of you to come with us. I mean, if Chad and I had told you that we’re from another planet and we need you two to help us save it, would you have believed us?” He didn’t give me a chance to respond because he already knew my answer. “No, you wouldn’t. I am sorry we had to knock you out but you, and especially Lilly here, wouldn’t go without a fight. Most people don’t, actually. We have a few people who believe us but I think that happens every five hundred years or so.”

He placed Lilly down on a bed before turning around to face me. I stared at him. “Okay, assuming this is all real and not some really strange, really terrifying dream, what are we going to do about our pets? We can’t just leave them by themselves in our apartments? What are we going to do about clothes? Money? Makeup? Our jobs? Not necessarily in that order except for our pets which are my primary concern,” I pointed out.

“We have people, liaisons if you will, scattered around your planet. We can have them take care of everything while you’re gone until we can get it over to you. We’ll just need your address.” I hesitated before giving it to him. “Awesome, I’ll get this sorted now. Stay in here for a bit if you want, or come hang out with me and Chad in the cockpit. We’re going into hyperspace soon which is really cool to see. See you later Vivienne. And remember, don’t open any exterior doors. Not only is that a lot of paperwork, but I also don’t want to die today.”

Giving me a wink, Dylan disappeared. I finally collapsed onto the bed, trying to wrap my head around everything going on. In a nutshell, it boiled down to this: Lilly and I were kidnapped by a joker of a guy who claims he can catch himself on fire and a guy who barely says anything, whose plans were to bring us to a planet by the name on Vasileia (or was it Vaseline?). There was a disembodied voice named Caleb that was apparently going to be running tests on the two of us once we arrived at the planet to determine our health and discover some power we had. That second half made no sense whatsoever. Actually, who am I kidding? None of this made sense.

“Lilly, what have we gotten ourselves into?” I groaned, placing my hand on her arm. Taking a deep breath, I stood up. This room was too small for my comfort at the moment. Not wanting to leave her but also knowing there was nothing I could do to help her at the moment, I made my way towards the cockpit. Peering into it, I saw Dylan and Chad sitting in the two front seats of the cockpit. In the middle of the windshield (is that what you call it on a spaceship?) was a small screen playing a video? No, a video call, with another guy. Was that Caleb?

“-a temporary misappropriation of-” Caleb was in the middle of his sentence before Dylan interrupted him by saying, “Dude, English, please.”

“Borrowed without asking,” Caleb replied.

“You little rebel,” Dylan snorted. “So what you’re saying is you stole something. What exactly did you ‘temporarily misappropriate’ from your brother and why?”

“His bow and arrow.”

“Why on earth did you steal your brother’s most prized weapon?”

“Because I need to test some stuff.”

“What exactly are you testing?”

“Explosive arrows.”

“Can you even shoot the thing?”

“Yes,” Caleb said indignantly. “Perks of growing up with David Queen as your older brother. I’m not a master archer like him, or a master at any weapon unless it’s chemical, but I can still shoot it with enough accuracy that it won’t be a danger to anyone or anything. Usually.”

“He’s going to kill you.”

“Dave knows better than to step foot in my lab. Last time he did that he got hydrochloric acid on himself. It’s a good thing it wasn’t a lot. As long as I stay in my lab and as long as he stays over in Aurora for the said amount of time he told me, I’ll be fine.” Caleb’s eyes finally rested on me. “Hey there, which one are you?”

Dylan turned around. “Vivienne, glad you could join us! Strap yourself in, you’re just in time to watch the jump into hyperspace! Oh by the way, this is Caleb Queen.” He pointed at the screen. “Caleb, this is Vivienne.”

“Hi Vivienne!” Caleb waved. “Hope my friends didn’t give you too much of a shock.”

“Hi there,” I said shyly as I buckled the seatbelt. Once Dylan confirmed I was securely strapped in, he pushed a handle forward. The spaceship shot forward. Stars, planets, and everything else became a colorful blur. Although absolutely terrified, I was also thoroughly amazed. How could this be happening? It was like I was in Star Wars or Star Trek.

“So how long do we have until we’re at your planet?” I asked.

“About four hours. That’s why we’re talking to Caleb here. He can stream movies or shows for us to watch while we wait,” Dylan explained. “I mean I love staring at his stunningly handsome face, but I like watching Sofia Vergara in Modern Family.”

“Also I actually have work to do and I can’t get it done when Dylan’s running his mouth the entire time,” Caleb added.

“Chad would be a problem if he actually talked, ain’t that right bud?” Dylan hit his friend’s arm playfully. Chad only stared at him, obviously unamused. “See? Like I said, doesn’t talk.”

“Maybe he just doesn’t have anything to say,” I suggested.

“Oh he has a lot to say, but he only thinks it. He rarely actually says what he’s thinking. When he does, he either tells you to shut up or he’s ordering you to do something. I mean I can tell he wants me to shut up right now but he’s not going to say anything. Probably because he doesn’t want to prove me right. It’d give my ego too much of a boost.”

“Why won’t you shut up?” Caleb said.

“Because Modern Family isn’t on.”

“Allow me to change that so I can get some work done.” Caleb furiously typed away at something. All of a sudden, the screen changed from his face to the beginning of modern family. I could still see Caleb in a small square at the bottom of the screen.

“There. Enjoy. I have to go for a little bit. Esmeralda needs me. I’ll be back soon though,” Caleb said. He left the conversation but his screen was still up. I sat there awkwardly, watching Modern Family, Dylan, and Chad all at the same time. I had so many questions but right now did not seem like the right time to ask them. I was still petrified that they were going to harm me but with the exception of Chad, Dylan and Caleb seemed friendly enough. It wasn’t that Chad seemed like he was going to hurt me, I just couldn’t figure him out. He was not an easy person to read.

I wondered about Chad. Why was he so quiet? Why did he look suspicious of everyone and everything? What was his ‘power’? Was kidnapping people his job?

“Hey Viv, you hungry?” Dylan queried.

“Um, no. I’m thirsty though.”

“Follow me.” Dylan hopped up from his chair and jogged into the main part of the spaceship. He opened a large cabinet which turned out to be a fridge. It was filled to the brim with food. I mean there was enough food to last a person for weeks.

“What do you want to drink? I have soda, water, booze, you name it.”

“Just water. Please.” He tossed me a bottle and pulled out a can of soda for himself. The guy seemed naturally hyper so caffeine seemed to be the last thing he needed.

“Okay, you have questions, I can tell. So shoot.”

“Earlier you mentioned stuff about powers. What did you mean?”

“I meant this.” In the blink of an eye, Dylan’s entire head caught on fire. I screamed and threw water on him. The fire died out instantly.

“What’s going on?” Chad demanded, coming into the room. He stared at Dylan’s wet face. “What happened?”

“I showed her my power. She panicked and threw water on me,” Dylan replied. “Probably should’ve explained first that I have the ability to control fire.”

“That might’ve helped,” I agreed. “Sorry…”

“It’s fine. It was refreshing.” Dylan caught his head on fire again for a few brief seconds. When it disappeared, his face was completely dry. All the water had evaporated off his skin. “All right, next question.”

“What’s your power?” I asked Chad. He didn’t answer me. He simply walked back to the cockpit. “Why… why didn’t he respond to me?”

“He’s moody. Every day. All day. He also doesn’t really like his power. He controls Darkness. It’s a dangerous power to have to the people who don’t have the ability to control it. Chad does, he just doesn’t trust himself not to lose control.”

“Has he lost control before?”

Dylan blatantly ignored that question. It must’ve been a sensitive subject. I continued. “What’s Caleb’s power?”

“He’s doesn’t have a superpower actually. He’s a super-genius though. All the people who don’t have superpowers are a super-genius on a particular topic, in rare cases, multiple topics. Caleb always was an overachiever though so he’s brilliant when it comes to helping catch a person’s power early through their DNA, helping people learn to control their power through learning about it through science, and kind of a genius about all powers in general. Caleb’s great, you’ll love him.”

“Why’d you kidnap me and Lilly?”

“Orders.”

“From whom?”

“Would you believe me if I told you it was from a list written by a prophet ten thousand years ago?”

“I just saw you catch yourself on fire so I guess it’s not that hard to believe a prophet wrote it. I guess I don’t understand how Lilly and I are playing a part in all this. I mean why are we even needed?”

“I’m not the person to explain all this to you. There’s too much. But once we arrive, and once Lilly wakes up, you two will be briefed on everything. You’ll each have a tutor depending on what your interests are and what your power is. I mean I already have an idea about what your power is.”

“What do you think it is?”

“Vitakinesis. Otherwise known as being a Healer. It’s not a necessarily rare power. A good thing considering we’ve been at war for a shit ton of time and have a lot of injuries that need to be taken care of.”

“I guess it’d make sense with me being a nurse and all. What about Lilly? What do you think her powers are?”

“Honestly, I don’t know. Some people’s powers are really obvious. A lot of the time, they’re in a job or career that correlates with their power. You for example, I’m ninety-nine-point-ninety-nine percent sure you’re a Healer. You’re a nurse back on earth. A lot of military men, no matter what country they serve, either have supernatural endurance, strength, or weapon-wielding abilities. Caleb’s brother for example, David, he’s a master weapons wielder. He has near perfect aim with any weapon you give him. He had deadly accuracy with a bow and arrow.”

“The one that Caleb stole? Is Caleb and his brother from earth?”

“Yes, that would be the one. I mean he has multiple bows, but the one Caleb stole is his favorite because it has the most power in it. And no, they’re from Vasileia. I was just using David as an example.”

“If you had to take a guess at Lilly’s power, what would it be?”

“Personally I see her having fire powers just because she’s so feisty and I also want a pyro buddy. We don’t have many fire people. But then again, elemental abilities are uncommon. I could see her having Picnokinesis.”

“Pick-a-what?”

“Picnokinesis. Density manipulation. She could walk through walls and stuff.”

“Why don’t our powers show on earth?”

“Some do but it’s extremely rare. I think ever since the prophet’s list came out, it’s happened… three times? So that’s, on average, happening every three-thousandish years. Two of the three times, the power has been telekinetic abilities because some people on earth believe in that power so fully. The third power was super strength and I think that was a Russian guy. Or was he Canadian?”

“Do you realize how different those two countries are?” I remarked.

“Yeah, but they’re both damn cold aren’t they? I just remember he came from a freezing cold place. Anywho, it’s something to do with your atmosphere that suppresses the powers until you come to our planet. Once you come into your powers, they can manifest anywhere, even on earth. It’s weird and complicated and not the subject I’m most knowledgeable on.”

“Are you knowledgeable on any subject?” Caleb shouted from the video screen.

“I heard that you ass!” Dylan yelled back. I heard his friend snickering. “Come on, let’s go bother him and see how much longer we have.”

I followed Dylan back into the cockpit. Caleb was back on the screen in the lower left hand corner. Chad had his eyes closed but I had a sneaking suspicion he wasn’t sleeping.

“She has a lot of questions, doesn’t she?” Caleb stated, not looking at us.

“Yes, and she’s handling all this surprisingly well.” Dylan glanced at me suspiciously. “Why are you handling this so well?”

I shrugged. “I’m in the middle of space with a guy that can catch himself on fire. It’s a lot to wrap my head around and don’t get me wrong, it’s terrifying, but my curiosity is getting the better of me.”

“Either you’re a very trusting person or you’re a lunatic, but I’m going to go with the former,” Dylan admitted. “Listen we have about two hours left before we get out of hyperspace and you get your first look at Vasileia so what do you say we continue watching Modern Family?”

And that’s exactly what we did.


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