“How is it they live in such harmony the billions of stars- when most men can barely go a minute without declaring war in their minds about someone they know.”
When I woke up, Caleb was snoring softly in the chair next to me. Iris was nowhere to be seen. I glanced at the screen. None of the shield generator shield dots were lit up; the building also wasn’t shaking anymore from the attacks so I assumed they were done. I lifted my legs off the desk to stand up, only to collapse on the floor. I let out a quiet, surprised yelp which made Caleb jerk awake.
“What’s happening?!” He exclaimed. He glanced down at me, scrunching his eyebrows. “Are you okay?”
“My legs are dead. I’m fine,” I replied, stretching out my legs and keeping them as still as possible. “When did they attack end?”
“Uh, it’s…” Caleb looked at the clock. “It’s noon so about six hours ago.’
“Wait, it’s noon?!” I exclaimed, scrambling up. Pain shot up my legs but I didn’t care.
“I have training! I need to go!” I started running out of the door as fast I could but Caleb stopped me.
“Iris gave you the day off. With what happened yesterday, the others will be going on a mission to go launch a counterattack.”
“A counterattack? You mean the Malkans are still on the planet?”
“No. They’ve left, but some of their spaceships are still orbiting our planet. We think they’re going to attack again so we need to hurt them before-”
“Before they hurt us again,” I finished. “Will I ever go on any missions?”
“Do you want to?” He asked, walking over to his regular computer in the main part of his lab.
“That’s what I’m training for isn’t it?”
“It is right now. It really depends on what your power is that will place you. Like if you have superintelligence about a certain subject, they’ll put you in a job where the power will be most useful to the planet and to you. If you have something other than super intelligence, you’ll usually be put in the military. There’s a few rare circumstances where you won’t.”
“What if you don’t want to be in the military?”
“Then you won’t be forced to. The Queen will find another place for you to go. But I think that’s only happened a couple times. Our people… we’re not warmongers but we’re not pacifists either. In our planets history, we’ve never started a war with a planet. We always let someone else start that because we’re not going to fight if we don’t have to. Our past taught us that. Like Earth, we had a lot of wars caused by our own people with each other and sooner or later, it wiped about ninety-five percent of our population. There was roughly about 350,000 of us left. Our population has grown since then. We’re up to about five hundred thousand.”
“That’s tiny for a planet this size.”
“The same thing happened to the Malkans except they’re a little more… aggressive.”
“How many years ago did this wipeout happen?”
“Long enough that even the queen doesn’t remember it and she’s pretty old.”
“I’m sure she would appreciate you hearing you call her old,” a woman remarked, entering the room. She wore a long, dark gray, lace dress that was simple yet very elegant. I found myself staring in awe at her. She smiled at me. Caleb was suddenly standing up from his chair.
“Uh, I meant that in that you’ve just seen a lot. You don’t look a day over three hundred,” Caleb said sheepishly.
The woman laughed. “Always the charmer Caleb. Are you going to introduce me to your friend? I do believe I have not met her.”
“Oh! Esmeralda, this is Lilly Snow. Lilly, this Esmeralda West, Queen of Vasileia,” Caleb introduced.
“You’re the- it’s an honor, Your Majesty,” I said, giving her an unsteady curtsy.
“Please child, there’s no need to curtsy. Not in a casual setting like this.”
“I’ve never met a queen before,” I said, cursing myself silently for how stupid that sounded.
“I’m honored to be your first. I apologize for not having met you sooner. From what I heard, you gave Dylan and Chad quite the fight before they were able to bring you here.”
“I’m curious as to what your power is going to be.”
I turned to Caleb hopefully. “Have you figured out what that might be?”
“Not yet, but I haven’t had an encounter where I couldn’t figure out a power and I don’t plan on starting now. Don’t fret okay?”
“I trust you,” I replied.
“Caleb, dear, would you mind if I stole Lilly from you for a bit?” Esmeralda inquired.
“Of course not. Also, we just woke up so maybe get her some lunch?”
“We’re having tea in the garden. Also, Caleb, please go confer with Mrs. Queen. She will inform you of a certain project she’s working on that she needs your help with. And please, despite how much I know you’re not going to like working on the project, it must be done.”
Caleb sighed. “I already have an idea about what it is. I’ll go see her once I finish this report.”
“Thank you dear. I shall join you later for an update.” I waved bye to Caleb as Esmeralda looped her arm through mine and escorted me out of the lab. People moved out of our way the moment their eyes rested on the Queen. They stared at me too, but I think it was more of a ‘what’s the new girl doing with the Queen of Vasileia’ type look.
“How are you doing Miss Snow? I hope you’re assimilating well,” Esmeralda said.
“I’m doing well. I mean after freaking out from being kidnapped, I’ve accepted all this I guess. Kind of hard not to having witnessed everything I have.”
“You’re handling it quite well. Some recruits wouldn’t even come out of their room for the first week or two. But you and Vivienne took all of this pretty well. Speaking of, Vivienne is already waiting for us in the garden. We were having trouble finding you. It was at her suggestion you might be with Caleb.”
“If I’m not in training or in my room, I’m typically bugging Caleb with questions.”
“I’ve heard of your adamant curiosity. And if you were bugging Caleb, you wouldn’t have access to his lab. He’s very picky about who he lets in there. Won’t even let his brother David in.”
I smiled. “From what I heard, David doesn’t like going in there.”
“He’s had a few mishaps when he’s been in the lab. But that’s a story for another time.” Esmeralda led me to a quaint little table in the middle of a garden I hadn’t even realized we’d entered. Vivienne was already there. Chad was sitting with her. She seemed to be doing all the talking though.
“Lilly!” Viv exclaimed when she saw me. “Where have you been?”
“I was in Caleb’s lab,” I replied. “After last night, I was given the day off from training.”
Esmeralda and I sat down. Dylan suddenly came out with a five plates: he held one each hand, one balanced on each arm, and one balanced on his head.
“All right, for the fairest Queen of them all, one order of baked salmon with goat cheese. We have a maple-lemon glazed salmon for the ever-caring Vivienne. A bourbon-glazed one for me because bourbon is awesome like me. There’s Cajun-friend salmon for the fiery Lilly, and last but not least, for Chad we have salmon, blackened, just like his soul,” Dylan said, a proud smirk on his face.
“Did you cook all this?” I asked in awe.
“My skills aren’t just lighting stuff on fire and kidnapping beautiful girls to bring them here. You’ll be happy to know I’m an amazing cook.”
“How did you know I liked Cajun flavoring?”
“We did a lot of research on you two before came here-”
“You mean kidnapped,” Vivienne corrected.
Dylan glared at her. “You’re not going to let me live that down are you? Why don’t you ever give Chad any flack for it?”
“Because you’re easier to rile up.”
Dylan stuck his tongue out at her playfully. “Anyways, what I was saying before, we did a lot of research on you, like Viv works at the hospital, you’re in sales and marketing at an up and coming business in Denver, you have four kittens, Viv has two dogs. She loves Cheesecake Factory, you love Pappadeaux, which happens to serve a lot of Cajun food. Also Caleb told me it yesterday when I asked him what you liked to eat because I knew about this meeting.”
“Thank you,” I said.
“So what’s the meeting about today Esmeralda? Battle plans? Future attacks? Gossip?” Dylan queried.
“Actually I wanted to get to know our two newcomers and explain certain things to them as to why they were brought here.”
“It was something to do with a prophecy that was written thousands of years ago right?” Vivienne remarked
“Yes. Around ten-thousand to be correct. You’ve heard?”
“Dylan mentioned it on the ride from Earth to here although he didn’t go into detail.”
“You’re not telling me we’re part of some prophecy,” I remarked dubiously. Honestly, how cliché was that? We get kidnapped to a different planet by an ‘alien’ people and are suddenly apart of a prophecy?
“Two, actually,” Esmeralda said. “One was a list written by a prophet over ten thousand years ago. Your names were the last two on the list. The second prophecy was more directly related to you.”
“Please tell me we’re not the ‘Chosen Ones’ to help save the galaxy or something,” I groaned.
“Is that hard to believe?” Chad asked.
“Hardly. I am currently on a planet by people who have powers. Being a part of a prophecy is hardly unbelievable. It’s just…” I trailed off, unable to find the right word. “I don’t get it. Why would two girls who haven’t grown up on the planet be the saviors of it?”
“You don’t have a choice.”
“I’m aware of that.” I was barely able to hold the contempt out of my voice. I knew Chad didn’t like me, and giving him attitude wouldn’t help his feelings towards me.
“So why state the obvious?”
“Because I’m hoping someone has the answer.”
“About something written over ten thousand years ago?”
“It’s why people are taking such an interest in you,” Esmeralda interrupted before I started forgetting about holding my tongue and started lashing out a Chad. I might not have powers to attack him with but I was always one with words when I was angry.
“What do you mean?” I inquired.
“You haven’t noticed?” Vivienne scrunched her brows together. “The staring, the whispering?”
“The only places I go are the training building, Caleb’s lab, the dining hall, and my room. If anyone’s staring or whispering about me, I haven’t noticed.” What I didn’t say was that I couldn’t understand why they’d be interested in me. I had no powers. I could understand them talking about Vivienne. She was a kickass Healer who was learning faster than anyone else, not to mention how strong she was at it. But why talk about a powerless person? Unless they were talking about the fact that I was powerless…
“When the time comes, you will learn the full prophecy. For now I believe you two have enough to wrap your heads around. Tell me about yourselves. I’d like to get to know the both of you.”
I let Vivienne take control of the situation. She started explaining everything from when she was a child all the way through her middle school years, her high school years, her college years, and her residency at the hospital. I said nothing. I didn’t want to, not trusting either Chad or Esmeralda. The former was too moody and suspicious, the other was too… regal and suspicious. I had problems trusting authority when it came to ruling large populations of people. I knew firsthand living in two different countries that no matter where you lived, there was always some sort of corruption. I had a feeling this planet was no exception.
I desperately wished for someone- Caleb, Iris, Killian- anyone, to come rescue me from this conversation.
“So, Lilly, what’s your story?” Dylan queried, shoveling a piece of salmon into his mouth.
“Pretty similar to Viv’s I guess. Really the only difference is that I’m an only child whereas she has her older sister, and I’m in business rather than a nurse. Honestly, there’s not much to tell.”
“Vivienne mentioned you’re a reader?” Esmeralda chimed in.
“I read anything and everything really.”
“I must show you my library. You’d absolutely love it! Books from all over the galaxy, even some from Earth. Of course some of the ones from other planets have been translated. We don’t all speak the same language.”
“What other languages are there?”
“Let’s see… there’s French, Chinese, Spanish, German, and more. Pretty much, all the languages you speak on Earth, there’s a planet in space that has that same language.”
“Even the ones that are dying out or are extinct on Earth?”
“The ones that are dying out may or may not have a planet that speaks their language. The languages that are extinct most likely do not have a planet that speaks their language as those planets were most likely destroyed.”
“Destroyed?” I repeated in bewilderment.
Esmeralda nodded sadly. “I have seen languages form. I have seen languages die. I have seen people rise from the ashes to build a new life for themselves and their people. I have seen people be wiped out by the horrors of war.”
“You mean their own wars or wars waged by other planets?”
“Our population was decimated by our own civil wars, but certain planets were wiped out by the very enemy we’re facing today.”
“You mean the Malkans?”
“Yes. They have slowly been attacking more and more planets. Most cannot resist for long. We are one of the few who can.”
“Why attack us if they know you can resist?”
“Because they underestimated us. We might be smaller in numbers but we have powers they do not. We are stronger than they know.”
“Why do they keep attacking planets?” Vivienne inquired. “What’s the point?”
“I wish all people thought like you dear. Originally they attacked the people who weren’t like them. They believed certain powers people should not possess. Once those people had been exterminated, they attacked the countries of those people, annihilating the population and decimating the planet, taking all of its resources for themselves. They started the planets closest to them that were weakest, and as their power grew, they grew bolder. They started attacking planets further away. We are lightyears away from them, but they wouldn’t be waging a war with us if they didn’t think they could win it. I believe the Malkans have a trick up their sleeve that we are not going to expect, but that is with every war I presume. Of course, we have secret weapons as well, one of those being you two. The Malkans most likely do not know that the last two names on the prophet’s list have been brought here,” Esmeralda said.
I slowly began eating my food while beginning to digest all this new information. Something bugged me about the whole situation. I mean, there should have been a lot more bugging me, but it was just one thing, and for the life of me I couldn’t place what it was.
Meanwhile, Vivienne led the conversation away from prophecies and Malkans and wars; I pretended to pay attention.
“I should’ve brought a jacket,” Vivienne mused. “It’s gotten quite cold.”
“Ah, yes. The heating has been acting up. The electrician cannot figure out for the life of him what’s going on. It’s causing havoc on my plants,” Esmeralda remarked.
“Maybe we can get one of Viv’s many friends from the hospital to come check on the plants,” Dylan suggested. It was only when he said this that it suddenly dawned on me what was bothering me. Earlier Esmeralda had mentioned that people were whispering and staring at us because of who Vivienne and I were supposed to be. What if people were also pretending to be our friends just so they could say they were friends with the people of the prophecy? I told myself I was overthinking this. I had a hard time seeing Dylan becoming friends with someone because of what they were rather than who they were, and it was even harder for me to see that with Caleb. Chad honestly just didn’t seem to care about anything, and hardly anyone with the exception of Caleb, Dylan, and possibly Esmeralda. I had a feeling he wouldn’t be at this meeting if he didn’t care for her.
But I couldn’t shake the feeling of people using me for their own personal gain. I couldn’t shake the feeling they were only befriending me because of what I was to be rather than for who I actually was.
The conversation seemed to last hours when in reality it only lasted two. Esmeralda had to excuse herself for she had to go visit Caleb about his progress with Felicity. That left me, Dylan, Viv, and Chad. I was the next to leave. I was heading straight for my room when Dylan called out my name. When I didn’t stop, he came jogging up next to me.
“Hey, why the long face?” he inquired.
“What long face?” I countered.
“You barely spoke the entire lunch except for asking some questions. Mind you they were very good questions.”
“I’m fine. Just trying to process everything is all.”
“Look, don’t sweat it. You have a ton of people watching out for you. Trust me, nothing bad is ever going to happen to you as long as me, Caleb, and Chad are around.”
He sighed. “No witty comeback? No… sassy remark? That conversation really got to you. Okay, at least tell me if my salmon was good,” he said, holding out his arms in expectance.
I couldn’t be rude to him. I gave him a genuine smile and said, “It was delicious. Maybe you can make another dinner soon some time? I’ll make a dessert.”
“Finally! Someone with some culinary skills. Caleb can do simple dishes. Chad nearly burned his apartment down last time he tried cooking something. You, me, we need to get together and share recipes. I’ll let you go because I can tell you don’t want to talk but later, we’re getting together!” Dylan clapped his hand on my shoulder and dashed off. A few moments later I heard Vivienne let out a yelp, followed by Dylan’s unmistakable laughter. Most likely, he’d flamed on and scared her.
I entered my apartment, heading straight for my bed. Caleb wouldn’t be back for a while so hanging out with him was out of the question. Vivienne would be back at the hospital so talking to her was out of the question. I wouldn’t talk to Chad about anything; he wouldn’t care. I thought about talking to Iris but decided against it. I didn’t know if I trusted her as much as I did before. I didn’t know if I trusted anyone as much as I did before the conversation with Esmeralda.
I rolled over, buried my face into my pillow, and let out a frustrated groan. Whenever I was having a bad day, I would typically grab my kittens and cuddle with them while watching a movie. But they weren’t here, so I did the next best thing. I grabbed my phone and scrolled through all the pictures and videos I had of them, missing them more and more as each photo and video passed.