Astra

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10.) Beacon

I walked down a dark corridor, shelving lines on both sides. The shelves stretch to the ceiling, each level of the shelves filled to the max with silvery cubes.

They whisper at me, it fills my head and rings. Rushed words that mean nothing, they jumble in my head and spill.

“Shhh! Shh stop I need...I need to listen!” The whispering won’t stop, if anything the words get more intense. I covered my ears, but the speaking turned into an intense ring that made my head pound.

“S-stop!” I dropped to my knees as the ringing grew to a blinding pain, I screamed with the ringing. Make it stop.

“Wake up!” My body launches upwards, I cry out and swing my arms in defense at whoever yelled at me. Beckett stares down at me from beside my bed, I can barely see him in the dark room. It’s slightly lit by the sun that is still waking up.

“What the hell, Beckett.” I muttered, rubbing my tired eyes. They’re wet, was I crying in my sleep? The whispering cubes take place at the forefront of my mind, what on earth was that?

“Rise and shine. Time to train.” His voice held no remorse for the sleep he was taking from me. I groan, my body sore from yesterday.

“C’mon. My arm and back are killing me from all the throwing you made me do yesterday. Let me rest-”, he ignores me. Instead he lifted my blinds, and bright ember rays spill over my bed.

In this orange light I can see him clearly, and my cheeks rush hot at the reminder of his closeness to me yesterday. The sparks that always rush when he is near me grow more intense, but I ignore them.

Does he feel this electricity like I do? I resist asking, for the sake of not wanting to sound stupid.

“You can rest after you defeat Parallax.” His tone was resigned, like he knew I was going to argue and had prepared for it.

“Ok, could you at least make coffee?” Beckett turned to leave my room, opening the door and stepping out quickly.

“Not your maid, see you in fifteen minutes.” Ugh, what an ass. Would it kill him to be nice at least sometimes? Any excitement I had about his touch fades quickly. Any positive emotions towards him leave, irritation itches at my neck. He knows how to get under my skin.

I get up with a huff. The nightmare stays in my mind, I try to push it down. In a zombie walk type of slumber I slipped on a clean sports bra and sweatpants. The cool water I splash on my face wakes me slightly, as does the mint from my toothpaste. Walking from my bathroom, I let out a shriek at the sight of the barefooted girl standing by my bedroom window.

“Oh! Jeez, Nova. You scared me,” I gasped out clutching my chest. She doesn’t turn from the window as she responds.

“Sorry,” she didn’t sound like it, “just came in to see if you needed clothes washed?” Oh, I usually did my laundry at home.

“You don’t have to clean up for me, Nova.” I reply, and she finally turns to look at me. Today she wears a silk long sleeve dress that is the color of the sun. She furrowed her brow at my comment, and indicated to the bed that she had already made for me.

“I do most of the housework around here, I like to feel helpful. Dad says it’s good to stay busy…” she trails off. Her voice, always low and sounding almost as if she is dazed, seems a bit sad at that comment.

“Well,” I shrug awkwardly unsure of what to say, “don’t feel like you have to.” Nova smiles at me, like I’m so confused and don’t understand. “Your dad?” I will change the topic.

“Alatar, he’s my father. Or, adoptive father I suppose. It’s his magick that makes me able to be human, you know. He says he does it because he wanted me to be able to experience life to its fullest...I just think he got bored talking to someone who couldn’t talk back.” I blink, trying to find the right thing to say.

“So he put this spell on me so I can change at will, I choose to be human more often than not. This flesh feels more real than my fur,” she smiles again, “wouldn’t you choose to be human too?” I feel the double sided question. Would I choose to be human, if I had the chance? Instead of being a weapon.

“I’m not sure,” I breathe out after a long pause. It’s the truth, I don’t know who I really am. “But I gotta,” I shimmy towards the door weirdly. I don’t want to just cut this conversation off but Beckett is waiting on me, “Beckett is waiting.” Is that blush I see on her cheeks? It’s true, her honey skin turns slightly crimson at his name.

“Enjoy, I’m sure you’ll see me around.” She winks, then she leaves by stepping out my window onto the small roof that lays beneath it; leaving me alone in the room.

Finally I left my room and met Ember in the kitchen. She, unlike her cranky brother, knows what a girl needs. In her hands is a coffee mug for me, I grinned at her widely and accepted it gratefully.

“You really know how to make a girl happy.” We laughed and sippe in silence for just a moment. “How was your errands yesterday? I never got to see you again…” I trailed off in hopes that I don’t sound weird and lonely.

She shrugs and takes another long sip, “they went fine.” Her slightly hard tone tells me I shouldn’t pry, so we leave it at that. “Well, my brother is probably waiting on you-”

“-and he’s not a very patient guy,” I finished her thought for her in a knowing tone. I’ve only known him for a few days and one thing I’ve learned is that Beckett is not the patient sibling.

“No, he’s not.” Ember replied laughing, she handed me a bottle of water and I raised a double fisted drink as I left for the training room. I finished my coffee before I’m down there, and I take a few small sips of my water to hydrate.

In the training room I’m surprised to see Alatar waiting with Beckett. They stopped conversing as I entered, and I froze in my tracks. “Ah, there she is. I hope you are ready?” Alatar said in a joyful tone, I tried to smile back.

“Erm, ready for what?” I hope he doesn’t say what I expect him to. In no way do I feel ready for that.

“To learn how to channel your energy safely, of course.” Oh, of course. Because it’s not like it’s dangerous or anything. Not like I’m a dangerous weapon that could kill us all.

Fear washed over me and brought goosebumps to my flesh. It’s like I’d forgotten until this moment how truly dangerous I am, how immensely hazardous I am. “I don’t know-, ” I start, but Alatar beckons me close with a wave of his hand so I put my drinks down and meet them on the mats.

“This is scary, right?” He asked, and I nodded. My forehead breaks out in a sweat from my anxiety, as it balls in my chest. “Well, let’s just stretch you out ok? Beck says you’re sore from yesterday.”

I looked at Beckett pointedly, but he made a show of avoiding my eyes. Did he tell Alatar this because he wanted to mock me? Or did some measly part of him pity my situation? I choose the latter.

Alatar came behind me and with warm hands he gently crossed my arms across my chest, pulling the muscles in-between my shoulder blades in a way that hurts so good.

His fingers traced down my sore arms, they glow orange as they did before when he healed Beckett. My arms twinged slightly before loosening and feeling completely better. It was as if I’d gotten a full tissue massage in just seconds.

“Better?” I nod, so much better.

“Thank you.” I mean it. Alatar had been kind enough to open his home to me, to give my aunt a nice funeral, and to answer all my questions.

“Certainly. I’m going to take the suppressor off your emotions now okay? So we can work.” His fingers are light on my forehead, and the ripping sensation all over my skin commenced. I winced, gritting my teeth. Then it’s over, and heaviness weighs on my heart once more.

It was easier to handle the anxiety of everything with the suppression, now I feel physically sick. I swallowed hard and focused on slow breathing. Trying to not blow up I force my fear down, putting up a wall between myself and those emotions. I needn’t be afraid of myself. Not when I could learn to control it now, and never have any issues again.

“Tell me about your energy, Astra. Describe it to me.” Alatars words are kind, and he took a step back to give me room. I closed my eyes, trying to ignore Beckett’s stare.

Under my bare feet, I feel the cool mats, nervous sweat beads down my back, and I could smell incense wafting off of Alatar’s skin. Doing this made my nerves slow, and my rushing heart calm.

“It’s gold, like my eyes. It makes my body feel warm, almost too warm. But it feels right, like…like I’m releasing pent-up emotions. It glows, and it comes from my palms. It...it kinda looks like the Northern lights, but in my hands.” I picture the time I released it at my aunt’s funeral, how afraid I had been.

“Are you afraid now?” I shake my head, “then release it again. Carefully.” I let out a slow breath, raising my palms upwards to the ceiling. Slowly, I took down the wall I’d put up in my mind.

As I do so, I feel the emotions push on my soul; trying to crush me. I breathe through them, not allowing the fear or sorrow or rage to suffocate me. I channel it into the push of energy through my arms.

I felt them warm, as they’d done before. This time I didn’t extinguish it. I open my eyes and amaze at the orb of golden light that I hold in my hand. It grew brighter towards the center, it shimmered and flowed outwards on the outsides.

I smile at it, the essence of the stars that I hold in myself. “I did it.” I grinned, looking at Alatar who looked back with pride.

“Don’t be afraid to let it grow,” Alatar instructed kindly. I turned my palms into each other, and the orb grew with the connection; it grew larger the further I pulled my palms apart. I don’t let it grow past what I can handle, I am in charge. Joy cresendes in my chest and I push the energy to expand, as I send it off with my hands. Thin tendrils of glowing mist swirl from my palms and explore the training room.

It flows and dances through the room, if I thought it looked like the Northern lights before…? The glowing from my energy lights up the room, it illuminated Becketts face who looks...almost impressed. The stars swirl and twirl around the boys who watch in awe, I think they too are surprised at the magnificence. My cheeks start to hurt from smiling so hard, I can’t remember that last time I felt this amount of pride in something. How can a weapon look so beautiful?

Myself as a weapon is not something to hate, my aunt knew of my powers my whole life and loved me despite that. She would not be happy if she knew I had a distaste towards myself because of my creation. Her last words to me were to be great, this power seems ethereal and great. That, more than anything, made it feel like I was doing her justice.

I pulled my energy back in, until the glimmering tendrils were all diminished and the warmth in my arm left.

“Great job, Astra!” I looked up at Alatar who beams, “great control!” Pride swells up inside me, as well as confidence. Beckett scoffs, of course, the awe on his face had been masked completely by his utter disappointment.

“She’s gonna have to do better than that if she’s going to be ready for an attack.” He said, in his usual icy tone.

“Now, Beckett-”, Alatar began to warn but it’s too late. Annoyance creeped it’s way into my chest, and I grit my teeth. Of course, he had to ruin an amazing moment for me.

“You want me to learn how to attack? Be my guest.” His eyes shone wickedly as he accepted the challenge, he went to the wall of weapons and grabbed a shield which he slipped onto his arm quickly and came back to me.

“Titanium,” he knocked on it to prove its ability. “It’ll hold off your little balls of light. Give it your best.” Beckett grinned, again it crossed my mind quickly that his grin could be handsome but it’s too cocky to be attractive.

I looked at Alatar, who looks wary but doesn’t say no. So I locked eyes with Beckett, and released the energy down my arms into my hands again. I cock an eyebrow at him, he asked for it; and it’s about time I show him I’m not some useless girl.

I throw my first ball of energy, almost like you would with a baseball, following through with it the same way he taught me to throw knives. It made a loud bang when it collided with his shield, and I watched with satisfaction as he stumbled slightly with wide eyes.

“Ok, I’ll give you that one. Again.” I glanced at Alatar who looked at me with raised eyebrows, a look that says ‘well, go on’. I shot a second and third ball that he deflected easily, I furrowed my brow and pushed all the energy I could; it beams out my palms and connects with his shield.

The force of the connection is intense, he let out a cry while trying to push the shield towards me. I pushed back harder, to show him what I’m capable of, since he felt the need to remind me constantly the last four days how much I suck. It causes him to yell stumbling and falling onto the ground, I gasp and stop the beacon of energy.

“Beck- ″, I start but Alatar is already at his side. He moved the shield to show an unconscious Beckett, with a deep gash in his forehead. Blood flows from the wound profusely, and pools on the matt. The shield had connected with his skull, and knocked him unconscious.

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