“I was near death not because I had been drained excessively of magic. Instead I had been accidentally shot with this very gun, at full charge, when Traegr had only ordered a knock-out blow be passed onto me. Ironically, although they didn’t care if I was dead, they still preferred to take me alive,” Seraphine speaks clearly as Celeste and I secure Sabir to the tree.
He lolls his head back onto the trunk and keeps his eyes half closed as he watched Seraphine, interested in the details himself. She even speaks as if directly to him, un-afraid and unashamed.
“Anyone of this planet would have died from the maximum charge in that gun, it’s impossible to survive,” Sabir points out, curious to know the full story of her survival.
“I did die,” she happily answers while not breaking eye-contact with him, “all I remember is waking up, Hraken had a hand resting over my face after he had closed my eyes, thinking I was still dead. As he took his hand away, stood up and left, I had awoken to hear a space craft roaring to life. I knew the girls decided to hijack a spaceship – and I didn’t want them to leave without me. I transformed into my fire, made my way into the spaceship before it blasted out of the atmosphere. By the time I seeped in, I was un-noticed because everyone was passed out. I also decided to take the potion while I was hidden from Celeste...I didn’t want to distract her from our course to another planet. I knew if she saw me alive she might think it was worth staying on Kiyr with me as their leader. So I hid. Then we all woke up after the spaceship had delivered us to Earth. Celeste made sure everyone slept the whole ride there. She had been the one to program the computers for Earth, a planet where our powers would be suppressed. Earth had Gem stones just like ours, but they were negative versions, you could say. They hindered our magic, hence we could live new lives on Earth. 17 years passed for us and we were given new memories, in that time – 1000 years were passed on Kiyr. Space and time are funny things,” as Seraphine explains her eyes glaze over as if in deep thought.
“When you were kidnapped too, did they not realise you were more than human? That you were marked?” I ask, confused.
“They didn’t search for me on Earth because they thought I was dead, any genetic record they might have had of me was of no use. Not to mention my face was never known to many Royal Dark Gems, only a few, most of the time I had been wearing my mask,” Seraphine smirks and I know she misses her infamous disguise, “I was human to them when they arrived and abducted us. Until I escaped one of their prison camps here, most of my memories had returned anyway because I only took half of the potion Celeste had given out to the girls on the spaceship. The humans the Dark Gems stole are now being turned into slaves for Kiyr; miners, for the collection of more gemstones. Free labour, you could call it,” Seraphine now glares at Sabir, who just scoffs.
“Humans are weak, why wouldn’t we take advantage of that? We didn’t steal many from Earth, it was just a few thousand, out of curiosity. When we quickly learned how weak they were, we thought of a simple use for them,” Sabir says this like the conclusion for their use was obvious.
“At least you didn’t experiment on them like you did with that boy, Pharis, the hybrid,” I bring him up for the second time, this time to see Sabir’s reaction.
“He was an undefinable risk. His use of magic needed to be assessed,” Sabir growls low.
“Undefinable risk is a perfect description of that kid,” Seraphine mutters, rolling her eyes.
“You know, it’s rude to talk about people behind their backs,” everyone gets a fright when we hear the cocky sixteen year old voice near by.
We all turn our heads to see Pharis casually leaning against a tree, sneakily watching on behind some ferns growing around him.
“Oh great... you’re still around,” Seraphine raises an eyebrow at him, sounding sarcastic while he just grins.
“I’ve decided to accept the invitation,” he exclaims, walking forward with his arms thrown out in excitement.
“What invitation?” Seraphine asks suspiciously.
“What? – hang on. Sapphire,” Pharis pauses in his approach, looking promptly betrayed as he looks at me, “Was it an empty promise?”
“I was desperate at the time but of course not. I’m a princess, I can make anything happen that I want to happen –”
Sabir bursts out laughing and I glare at him instead. He tries to stop, but he can’t help it – and promptly starts laughing again.
“Why are you laughing?” I snap.
“Don’t listen to him,” Celeste reassures me gently, while giving Sabir a glare of her own, “Stop. You’re the prisoner,” she reminds him.
“No shit!” Sabir’s laughter quickly comes to an end
“What are you really doing here, Pharis?” Seraphine asks dead seriously now, wanting a proper explanation and ignoring Sabir.
Pharis looks to me, hoping I will explain.
“I offered him a spot in the Seraphine Rebellion Squadron...” Seraphine instantly narrows her eyes at me and I feel offended, “Hey! Don’t look at me like that! I know he is pretty much a Dark Gem... but... he is half human. He’s just a kid and he has no-where to go.”
“Well I did find that field of diamonds you told me about,” Pharis proclaims with pride at his success, reaching into a pocket on his hospital gown he wore at the laboratory, he takes out a handful of diamonds, showing us, “See?”
Sabir hisses through his teeth, his body going stiff as Pharis takes a step forward.
“Careful,” I snap at Pharis, taking a step forward I put my palm on his shoulder and push him back, “Those many diamonds will kill him if you get too close. I’m surprised they aren’t affecting you!”
“Hybrid genes are strong genes, princess,” Pharis is not sure exactly what I’m on about, but takes what I say as a boost to his confidence. He winks at me and then gives a blank look to Sabir as he takes a step back, “Why is he still alive anyway, if he is a bad guy? And do you accept me into your Squadron?”
“I think we should take him,” Celeste offers her opinion.
“Me too,” I agree.
"Fine,” Seraphine finally gives in, but not easily, “Can you promise to listen to me and follow my orders, Pharis?”
“Of course I can, besides you shouldn’t be so rude – I helped you escape that camp. I handed you over to that cute princess over there, so you should be a little more grateful,” Pharis adds, sounding a little annoyed but also trying to be polite at the same time, “So what are we doing about food? And you didn’t answer my question about why that man is still alive? Oh and what’s your name?” he directs that at Celeste.
“Celeste,” she answers happily. Seraphine sighs but does not answer any of his questions.
“Learn to talk less, your big mouth will just work against you,” she snaps at him before stalking off into the trees, “I’ll be back, don’t untie Sabir, no matter what he says.”
“Where is she going?” Pharis asks.
“I believe she is going to scout the area,” Celeste answers.
“Okay,” his eyes eventually rest on Sabir, and I turn to see Sabir focused intensely upon the half-Gem half-human teenager.
Sabir looked mildly interested in Pharis’ qualities and potential. However, I felt a vibe of possessiveness and irritation, especially when Pharis gives me a warm smile.
“Thanks again for inviting me,” he grins, innocently happy.
I smile back at him while thinking, morbidly, that Sabir better stay tied up.
Or Pharis might end up with a fight on his hands.
“Ahem...you better keep those diamonds close to you,” I suggest.
Celeste notices the tension too but she just hums a song and grows the nearby tree branches in closer until she has made a seat. She reclines on it and lets out a sigh of relief.
“Freedom is nice,” she murmurs, closing her eyes, tilting her head back and catching some rays of sunlight, “I hate cleaning.”
“Poor sweetheart,” Sabir just has to have his say in all this, “If you’d prefer other chores, you could have just found Traegr or myself– we’d keep you busy for hours if you wanted.”
I see Celeste keep her eyes closed but her cheeks slightly flush. She does not reply but mostly maintains her composure, trying to ignore his words.
Sabir then gives me an evil glance and I glare back at him.
He knew how to play this damn game but I would not give into his provocation.
“You guys are weird, man,” Pharis sits down against a tree trunk and pats down on the ground next to him, “Sit,” he offers me the space, “Can you explain to me what’s going on?”
Ah, refreshing; human graciousness and manners.
I nod and smile then decide to join him, knowing Sabir would hate it.
If I was lucky, maybe he’d learn something from it.
We didn’t have much time to dwell in-between, however, because time was running out.
The second confrontation was going to begin soon. I’d have to quickly explain as much as I could to Pharis.
Nothing would ever play out the way we’d expect it to, so we had to be on our guard and stay very alert. We were in a position of enormous influence with Traegr’s best friend as our hostage.
We had to make the most of our situation.
Justice was so close now.
The last thing we needed was the tables to turn.