Stargazer

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Chapter 3

“The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.”
~Carl Sagan


Lilly

When I opened my eyes, I was in a place that appeared to be a hospital room. I wasn’t hooked up to any machines, but they were there. But they were strange, ones I’d never seen before, and I’d seen most considering how often I went to go visit Vivienne in the hospital.

Pushing myself into sitting position, I glanced around. The room itself was mostly dark; the only light came from the slits in the blinds. My body ached as I stood up. I peered out the window. A bustling city was below me. The buildings surrounding me were unfamiliar which meant I most certainly wasn’t in Denver anymore which led me to the question: where exactly was I?

Someone knocking on the door made me turn around. The person entered the room. It was a tall guy, probably not much older than me. He smiled kindly at me. “Hey, I saw you were up. Thought I’d come check on you. I’m Caleb. Caleb Queen.”

“Where’s Vivienne? What happened? Where am I?” I asked, trying to sound intimidating but it didn’t quite come out like that.

“Why don’t I bring you to Vivienne while I explain everything to you? I think you’d benefit from seeing your best friend,” Caleb said, motioning for me to follow him. I hesitated before doing so.

“So to answer your first question, Dylan finally convinced Vivienne to go eat something. She wouldn’t leave your side since you got here. You’ve been out for ten hours. You got here about six hours ago. You had a panic attack and Chad injected you with a substance that knocked you out in a few seconds.”

“What drug does that?”

“Nothing you have on earth. It’s a highly protected substance here. Only certain people can use it, people like Chad, Dylan, and other Searchers, and only certain people, like me, know how to make it. Right now you’re in one of the hospitals in our capital city, Alexandria.”

“As in Alexandria, Virginia? Please be Virginia,” I said.

Caleb scratched the back of his head. “Ah, no. You’re in Alexandria in Vasileia.”

“So it wasn’t a dream? Being on a spaceship? Being in space?”

“I’m afraid not. Look, I know this is a lot to take in so let’s get you to Vivienne, and when you’re ready, I’ll explain everything.” Caleb led me into a dining hall. It was rather empty for a hospital. I thought with how many people there were in the hospital, based off of how many occupied rooms I passed, that there’d be more people here for their family and friends…

“Lilly!” I heard Vivienne exclaim my name. I only saw a flash of blonde before being tackled into a hug. “You’re okay! I was so worried! You are okay right?”

“I think so. I’m freaked out. You okay?”

“Better. You’re never going to believe what people can do on this planet. It’s insane!”

“What can they do?”

“Allow me,” a guy said, stepping forward and bowing to me. I remembered him being named Dylan.

“You knocked me out,” I said.

Dylan shifted on his feet. “Yeah, sorry about that. You weren’t going easily and we kind of needed you. I really do apologize for that.”

“And the second time?”

‘That was actually Chad. You were having a panic attack and I didn’t want you to hurt yourself or one of us so I ordered him to do it. I would’ve but I was flying the ship. Sorry Lilly.”

I glared at him. “It’s not appreciated you knocking me out.”

“Lilly, you probably should eat,” Vivienne said, tactfully changing the subject. She grabbed my hand and pulled me over to the buffet line.

“Get whatever you want Lilly,” Caleb told me. “It’s on me.”

I hesitated before grabbing a plate. I got two slices of pizza, some fries, a cupcake, and water. I didn’t quite trust the other drinks they had there, even if it looked like the stuff we had on Earth. Like he said, Caleb paid for my meal. I was unable to figure out if the meal was actually expensive because I didn’t understand their currency system.

“So earlier you were saying these people could do weird things? And by weird I mean stuff other than kidnapping people?” I queried.

“You’re not going to let us live that down for a long time aren’t you?” Dylan squinted his eyes at me.

“No.”

He smiled mischievously. “You’re so blunt. I love it. We’re going to be great friend Lilly Snow. I can tell already.”

“How do you know my last name?”

“Viv here told me. We’ve been talking while we were waiting for you to wake up. Now, to answer your earlier question since we seem to keep getting off topic about it, allow me to demonstrate.” I watched as Dylan went from being a regular person to a human torch in less than a second. I stared at him with a mixture of terror, amazement, and curiosity. Then as soon as he’d caught on fire, he was done. He grinned. “At least you didn’t throw water on me.”

“I’m sorry!” Vivienne exclaimed, blushing.

I continued staring at Dylan, glanced down at my food, back at him, back at my food, and slowly pushed my plate away. Caleb slid it back in front of me, saying, “It’s not the food making you see that. I promise.”

“How on earth is that possible?” I asked.

“To be honest, no one has really been able to figure out how we can do what we do. We don’t know if we have some genetic mutation in us or if someone experimented on people and it’s become genetic, if our bodies merged with dark matter that allowed us to have powers, if there’s something in our atmosphere that allows our powers to manifest. There’s definitely something to do with atmosphere suppressing it on earth if your powers haven’t manifested before you go there, but as for developing them here, we have no idea.”

I took a bite of my pizza. “How long are we going to be here? We have family that’s going to be wondering about us back home, we have pets that need to be taken care of.”

“I’ve already managed that,” Dylan replied. “We have liaisons on your planet who are taking care of your pets and your location. I mean they’re telling your parents a lie about where you are but it won’t cause them any alarm. You can trust them to do their job well.”

“Why can’t we at least have our pets here? What about clothes? Makeup?”

“You and Vivienne think a lot alike, did you realize that?”

“There’s a reason we’re roommates.” I pushed my empty plate away from me. “So what happens now?”

“We wait for your power to come to light and Vivienne works on hers,” Caleb answered.

I turned to face my friend. “You already have your power?”

Vivienne nodded eagerly. “I’m a Healer! I can place my hand over a wound and it heals! I can apparently only do small wounds right now, like paper cuts and bruises, but they say one day I’ll be able to heal broken bones and massive wounds. It looks like my calling on Earth was my calling here! Speaking of, I kind of told Melissa I’d go see her once you’d woken up to set up a practice schedule. Will you be okay if I go see her?”

“Yeah, I’ll be fine,” I said.

“I’ll show you around if you want,” Caleb offered. “We can go to my lab. I can help you understand more about the powers here. I think you’d like it. Dylan, you’ll show Vivienne to the places she needs to go to?”

“Of course,” Dylan said.

“Good. Be nice and don’t scare her.”

“Once! I scared her once!”

“Twice,” Vivienne corrected. “Once when you kidnapped me and once when you caught yourself on fire.”

“Right… come on, let’s go! It’s a gorgeous day and the sooner you get to practicing, the sooner you can get to going outside and exploring!” Dylan exclaimed. He stood up with Vivienne, pushing in their chairs.

“Hey, Dylan, where’s Chad? He disappeared after the mission,” Caleb remarked, standing up. I followed in suit.

Finally, Dylan’s overly cheerful demeanor came to a stop. “He went to see his brother.”

“Why did he do that?”

“He’s been asking for him.”

Caleb shook his head but said nothing. Saying goodbye to my best friend, I trailed after Caleb. We headed outside. I was surprised by how warm it was outside. Upon mentioning it to Caleb, he said, “We’re experiencing our summer just like you. Our planets are actually remarkably similar. We rotate around our sun in twelve months, but we have more days in a month. We have thirty-five to thirty-seven days instead of thirty and thirty-one. February is the exception as always which only has thirty-two days but unlike Earth, we don’t celebrate leap years. Then we have four seasons and depending on what part of the planet you live in, it can range from having one to four seasons. Also, we have thirty hours in a day instead of twenty-four.”

“Why follow Earth’s seasons and calendars?”

“There’s a reason English came to your planet. It’s our language. We just kind of infiltrated your planet for a bit to spread it around so when we came to take the necessary people back, a majority of them would know the language. Make it easier on them when they came here. It sounds bad, I know, but the king at the time thought it was for the best and pretty much what the king or queen says, goes. I mean they have their advisors who, well, advise them on stuff but in the end, the king or queen makes the final decision. We typically have queens. Every time we’ve had a king, our planet has gone to war. The only reason we’re at war now is because the last ruler we had was a king and the current ruler of the enemy planet is a guy as well who just won’t listen to our current queen. It’s complicated but you’ll get the idea the longer you’re here.” Caleb led me into a different building. We walked for about five minutes before he stopped in front of a huge glass door. “Ah, here we are. My lab. My favorite place. Well, besides my room here.”

He lifted a panel and placed his face in front of it. I saw a flash of light scan his face. An automated voice said, “Welcome back, Caleb Queen. You have a guest?”

“Yes. Her name is Lilly Snow. I am giving her access to my lab.”

“Very well sir. I will require a retinal scan for security purposes.”

“Of course.” Turning to me, Caleb told me to place my eyes in front of the panel. I did as I was told. I was blinded briefly by a flash of light. The automated voice came back on announcing the retinal scan was successful and that I was now allowed to come in and out of the lab at my pleasure.

“Do you let all newcomers into your lab?” I queried, looking around at all the stuff around me. This was a chemists’ dream.

“No, but you seem responsible. I don’t even let Dylan in here really. And not just because he can catch himself on fire which could be catastrophic with some chemicals. I mean for a guy who goes on multiple stealth missions, the guy is really clumsy. He’s like Tonks in Harry Potter.”

“Y’all know about Harry Potter here?”

“Oh yeah, we have all the shows and movies on Earth here too. I mean, we kind of steal them from your planet with a very impressive server, but what your planet doesn’t know won’t kill them. Mostly.”

I sat down on a stool next to Caleb. “So what’s your power?”

“Super-intelligence. You have a question about how to control a power or what all a power entails or what power a person is going to have, I’m one of the guys you go to. It’s rare for people to specialize in multiple topics but since mine all kind of go hand in hand, it’s not too strange for me.”

“Dylan’s power is Pyrokinesis?”

“Correct. He can manipulate fire, whether that’s catching on fire himself, catching other things on fire, throwing fire, or flying with fire. He has a habit of burning Chad’s pants whenever he thinks Chad is lying to him so if you see Chad walking around in boxers or with his pants half burned off or actually on fire, don’t question it.”

“Doesn’t the fire hurt Chad?”

“Only if Dylan wills it to. Like how he can catch himself on fire and not get burned, it’s the same when he catches or people or things on fire. The fire only hurts the person or thing if he wants it to.”

“What about Chad? What’s his power?”

“Umbrakinesis. The manipulation of darkness to put it in simple terms. He can, in a sense, teleport, by travelling through shadows. There has to be a dark enough shadow or darkness around him when he wants to do it but that’s not difficult living in a city. He can take the light of small rooms, he can cloak himself with shadows where he pretty much becomes invisible. He can also solidify Darkness, which means him making a shadow become a figure that can move on places other than walls and floors and he can create tendrils or tentacles of Darkness. He also has night vision. His power is extremely rare, not to mention dangerous. It unsettles a lot of people. Most people in the past that have had that power can’t control it because the Darkness takes over them. And while I can’t go into detail, Chad hasn’t had the easiest life. His parents were killed when he was really little, and he saw all of it. He grew up with me and Dylan. My parents and brother were always off at war so Dylan, Chad, and I pretty much grew up in this building and were raised by Esmeralda. You’ll meet her later. She took care of us, kept us on the right track.”

“Dylan and Chad both have rare abilities. Are certain abilities rarer than others?”

“Yes. Any power that controls an element is rare. The element powers are Hydrokinesis, Pyrokinesis, Umbrakinesis, Aerokinesis, Geokinesis, Electrokinesis, Dynamokinesis, Cryokinesis, and Photokinesis. It’s because even though there are powers, like mind control that can be dangerous to a few people, it’s the element powers that can wreak the most havoc overall. We have researchers trying to figure out why some people get certain powers, if it’s natural selection or if it’s based on personality, but so far it seems it is natural selection for some people and personality for others.”

“What is Dynamokinesis and Photokinesis?”

“Dynamokinesis is manipulating energy itself. Photokinesis is the opposite of Umbrakinesis- it controls light. It can expel Darkness but Darkness can also expel the Light. Just depends which is stronger or has more endurance.”

I spun around in the stool, taking everything in. I couldn’t really say that none of this was real anymore because I’d seen a guy catch himself on fire, I’d seen some guy walking on a wall on the way over here, and a girl stretching her arm up to a branch fifty feet from the ground to rescue a cat. Still, it was a lot to wrap my head around so I decided my next question would be a more normal one.

“You said you had a brother?” I stated, stopping my spinning so I could look at Caleb.

“Yeah. David Queen. He has Telumkinesis which means he knows how to work any weapon there is, sword, gun, bow and arrow, you name it, he can use it. He can use any weaponized vehicle or plane as well.”

“Older or younger?”

“Older. He’s forty-five.”

I blinked in surprise. “Oh? Then how old are you, if you don’t mind me asking.”

“I’m twenty-seven.”

“You’re twenty-seven,” I began. “And your brother is forty-five?”

“Yeah. My parents were young when they had us. My mom was… two-hundred-forty and my dad was… two-hundred-forty-eight.” Caleb must’ve saw the confused expression on my face because he quickly said, “We have extremely long life spans on this planet.”

“Um, how long are we talking about?”

“Most live to be about 2000 years, give or take a few. We’re practically gods. In fact some of us are the gods from some of your religions. No need to tell the people on your planet that.”

“So your parents are now in their 280s, 290s, would you mind me asking do they look like middle aged parents or do they look younger?”

“Oh they look younger. They look our age. Pretty much when we hit twenty-one, twenty-two, we stop aging for a few hundred years. Once we hit 1000, we start looking more middle aged but it’s a very slow process.”

“With me being from earth, will I have the same lifespan as you guys or will I age like I do on Earth?”

“Your DNA is like ours. One of your parents was from here.”

“My dad. My biological one I never knew. Vivienne never knew hers either.”

“Then yeah, your biological dad was from here. That’s why you’ll have powers and a supernatural life span.”

“Why didn’t my dad and Viv’s stick around?”

“Your moms probably would’ve found it suspicious that they themselves were aging but their husbands weren’t. Your dads also did it for your safety. We’re not the only ones on your planet.”

“Of course you’re not,” I mumbled. “Okay, I’ll bite. Who are the others?”

“They come from the planet we’re fighting: Malkan. They’re having kids with people on your planet as well to increase their numbers.”

“Do they have super powers?”

“No, but they have super weapons. We are lightyears ahead of Earth when it comes to technology, but Malkan is on a completely different level. Their technology is enough to counteract our powers. I mean we have technology to do that as well but because we have so many different kinds of super powers, there’s always a good person with a super power to defeat a bad person with a super power. It’s really only us super geniuses that need the technology to defend ourselves against the rogues, but it’s why us having powers isn’t enough. All people on the planet go through a mandatory training course for six months with the exception of Healers who go through three. We can’t risk them actually going out on the field because they’re too valuable. If they do go on a mission, they typically stay on the main ship or in the main base camp the entire time and wait for the influx of injured soldiers that come back.”

“And that’s what Vivienne is doing?”

“Yeah. Her powers are already strong. She’s moving at a faster pace than most. That might be because of her determination to help people though. She has more compassion for people than most others.”

I smiled. “She’s always been compassionate about everyone and everything. Did you figure out her power?”

“I confirmed it, but it was pretty evident what it was because it’d already started manifesting once you’d been taken off Earth. Your panic attack actually helped trigger her powers.”

“How do powers manifest? Is there a certain trigger for them to happen?”

“No. It’s another thing we can’t explain. I mean for a society that’s so far ahead of Earth, there’s still a lot we can’t explain. For some people, it comes to them almost immediately after they’re born. Dylan caught on fire about five minutes after he was born. Scared the living daylights out of the nurses. He had to be put in a fire proof container until he decided to flame off. From what I heard, he learned quickly that people he’d never met didn’t expect him to catch on fire so he’d do it to surprise them. He was dropped so many times… that explains so much.” Caleb grinned. “Anyway, back on topic, my brother for example, my dad took him to a shooting range when he was ten and taught my brother how to use a bow and arrow. He pretty much hit dead center on his first try. Then some people have to be put in situations that trigger their power. Chad’s Darkness was triggered when he saw his parents killed. Then there’s people like me who don’t have powers, we’re just natural born geniuses.”

I got up from my stool and started walking around. Caleb let me but I knew he was keeping a careful eye on me. I just needed to get up and move. I had this strange feeling I couldn’t shake, although I figured it was probably just my brain still trying to process all of this.

“Listen, let’s go book you some training lessons and then why don’t I show you to your room? I think you need some rest,” Caleb said. I nodded in agreement. Caleb led me back outside and down to another massive building. Upon entering it, I was greeted by a girl landing next to me out of nowhere. I jumped back, looking up to see where she’d just come from. All that I saw was a seventy foot atrium. Had she jumped all the way from there?

“Hey! Sorry! Didn’t see you there!” the girl exclaimed.

“No problem,” I replied. “Just wasn’t expecting it.”

“You’re new here aren’t you?”

“What gave it away?”

“Most people know to look up when entering this building. Caleb, forgot to tell her that did you?”

“In my defense I didn’t see you coming down either,” he said. “I thought I’d mention it later.”

Iris shook her head. “Rule number one for the training building: whenever you enter, always look up. If you don’t, you might get squashed. I’m Iris Martin by the way. I’m one of the trainers here.”

“Nice to meet you. I’m Lilly Snow.”

“Nice to meet you. Have you discovered your power yet?”

I shook my head. “No, not yet. What’s your power?”

“Don’t worry, it’ll come when you and it are both ready. My power is Telekinesis. I can make most things levitate, including myself. It’s pretty cool. Are you here to sign up for lessons?” I nodded. “Then allow me to be one of your tutors. There’s five different sections in this building that you’ll learn: weapons training, hand-to-hand combat, stealth training, strength and endurance, and last but not least, my personal favorite because I teach it: terrain training. Caleb’s brother teaches weapons training, my brother teaches hand-to-hand combat. My friend Ella teaches stealth training, and another friend of mine, Killian, he teaches strength and endurance. Might I add that his super power is super strength. His arms are like… twice the size of my head. You’d love training with him. Of course there’s tons of people that teach each course and we try to put you with the people that will suit you best although I have to admit, I’m pretty good at telling who will work well with whom. Come with me. We’ll go sign you up.”

Iris walked over to a desk where an older man sat typing away at a computer. The resemblance between him and Iris was startling which led me to believe that he was either her much older brother, or he was her father. On this planet, it could be either.

“Lilly, this is my dad, Joe Martin. Dad, this is Lilly Snow,” Iris introduced. Joe smiled at me as he stood up. “He’s the head of security for Alexandria. He’s a bigshot around here.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you Lilly. How are you liking Alexandria?” He inquired.

“It’s really nice. Just… a lot to take in,” I confessed.

“She did only wake up about two hours ago,” Caleb added. “I’m taking her to her room once we’re done here so she can get some rest that’s not a result from being knocked out.”

“You poor thing!” Iris exclaimed, placing her hand on my shoulder. “Let’s hurry and get you signed up. I don’t want to keep you waiting. First you’ll need to come in for an assessment, just to see where you at the basics and to get an idea about your personality so we know which teachers to partner you up with. Would you be up to coming in tomorrow at ten?”

“Yes,” I agreed.

“Great! I’ll meet you down here at ten. Eat a good breakfast. We’ll be here a while. But be careful not to eat too much. We don’t want you getting sick.”

“I have a pretty strong stomach. Only time I was ever sick like that was when I had the stomach flu.”

“Good, you’re tough. All right, well get some rest and I’ll see you tomorrow. It was a pleasure meeting you Lilly!”

I waved goodbye at Iris and Joe before following Caleb back to the main building. He led me to a set of glass elevators. When we stepped into them, I stuck close to the door. This building had a 170 floors according to the elevator and my room was on floor 165. This was absolutely terrifying.

“I take it you’re not a fan of heights?” Caleb questioned, leaning against the railing with his back to the atrium.

“Not at all. Or spiders. Or space. Hence my panic attack. It was also from being brought to space by kidnappers but still.”

“You’ll get used to the space travel. I can help you with it if you want.”

“I’m not the only that was freaked out by it, right?”

“Definitely not. Trust me, it’s common for most people from Earth to be afraid of being taken into space by complete strangers. Most don’t wake up before they get to the planet though. You and Vivienne were anomalies, but that’s because your bodies reacted differently to the knock out drug. That’s all. Chad had to inject you with a different dose the second time to make sure you’d stay out.”

“Being an anomaly seems to be the norm right now.”

“You’ll be fine Lilly. Dylan and I are here to take care of you two. Whatever you need, just ask.”

“Is there any way I can get my cats and Vivienne’s dogs up here?”

“I’ll work on it.” The bell dinged, alerting us we’d reached my floor. “We’re here.”

“Wait, what happened to the atrium?” I stared at the blackness surrounding the glass elevator. I hadn’t even noticed that’d happened.

Caleb smiled. “I distracted you from focusing on the height and instead on our conversation. It happened when we passed the thirtieth floor.”

The two of us walked out of the elevator and he led me to a room at the very end of the hallway. He pulled a key out of his pocket and unlocked the door. Upon entering it, my mouth dropped open. The room was beautiful to say the least. It was also bigger than my apartment back on Earth. The kitchen and living room floor was white marble. The cabinets were a dark mahogany and the countertops were sparkling white granite. There were stainless steel appliances as well. I couldn’t cook so this place wasn’t going to get dirty but that was okay by me. I didn’t want to ruin the beautifulness of this kitchen. The living room had a flat screen TV, a bookshelf filled with books, and couches covered in a really soft fabric that I could not name for the life of me. The bedroom was even more impressive. It differed from the modern kitchen as the bedroom focused more on coziness and comfort with its queen-sized bed, fluffy white duvet cover, beige walls, and stone fireplace on the opposite the bed with a television mounted on the stone above the fireplace. The bathroom mixed the kitchen and bedroom together, using the cabinet, floor, and granite from the kitchen but the beige walls from the bedroom. It tied everything in together nicely.

“Who’s paying for all this?” I asked.

“Esmeralda. Like I said, you’ll meet her soon. She pays for it until you have the means to. For now, get some rest. There’s clothes in the drawers for you. All brand new until we can get your stuff back from Earth. There should be some basic cooking stuff in the fridge for you. You can order some online tomorrow. If you want something and it’s not in the fridge, call down to my lab. Here’s my number,” Caleb replied, handing me a slip of paper. “I’ll get you whatever food you want. If you need something else, feel free to call. I’m here to help.”

“Thank you.”

There was an awkward silence between the two of us before he said, “Look, I know you’re really freaked out right now, but I promise this will all make more sense once you talk to Esmeralda. She’s wonderful. You probably hate us for kidnapping you, too. Believe me, we’ve been trying to figure out a better way for centuries but kidnapping seems to be the most efficient. But just… remember this to help you come to terms with it: you were chosen because there’s something special about you. Truly something special. Same with Vivienne too. I know she discovered her calling sooner, but you’ll find yours as well, whatever it may be.”

“Have you found anything from the tests you ran on me?”

“No. I’m looking though. Sometimes even the most skilled DNA analyzer can’t find it.”

I smiled gratefully at him. “I don’t hate you, I don’t even hate Dylan or Chad, although I have to admit I don’t know what to make of the latter one. You’re right, I’m freaked out. Completely, totally, insanely freaked out, but you’ve helped a lot. Thank you for that.”

“Of course. I know this can’t be easy so I want to make this as smooth as possible for you. I’ll see you tomorrow. Do you want to meet me for breakfast at nine? Dylan and Vivienne will be invited too of course.”

“Yeah. That sounds good. Meet you down at the elevators?”

“You’ll be okay riding it down by yourself?”

“I have to get used to it, don’t I?”

Caleb chuckled. “All right, I’ll see you tomorrow at nine. Good day Lilly.”


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