Symon slowly awoke seven hours later when 10:30 rolled around. With a yawn and a stretch, he got out of bed and walked over to his dresser. He didn’t care about how he looked today, so he put on a pair of back jeans and a white, sleeveless undershirt and called it good. He used his hands to part his long hair down the middle before opening the door to his room and stepping out.
The first thing that he noticed was the door to the guest room was wide open. A quick glance inside confirmed that both beds were empty. But considering its apparent state of disarray, it was easy to see that the bed nearest the door had only just recently become vacant.
‘Oh boy, our visitor’s up,’ Symon thought. ‘I certainly hope she feels like talking.’
He made his way to the living room, where he saw Veda staring out the window to the backyard, no doubt looking at the wreck of her craft. She wore the same brown tunic she had on the previous night, only this time the sleeves were rolled up, showing off her blue-furred arms. The longer fur on her head (Symon struggled to call it “hair”) was unkempt, sleep-tousled.
“Good morning, Symon,” she greeted without turning to face him.
Symon cocked an eyebrow confusedly. “How did you...” he started, but cut himself off. “Actually, nevermind. I’m just going to accept this and move on with my life.”
Veda let out a soft giggle and turned to face the boy. “You are strange, Symon,” she said. “But, you’re the good kind of strange.”
“Well, that’s very flattering,” Symon said awkwardly, blushing a bit.
Veda smiled at him and then turned back towards the window.
“So, you’re clearly feeling a lot better,” the boy remarked, stepping further into the living room.
“Much, much better,” Veda said. “I’m still a little sore, but it’s nothing too serious. Looks like a few hours of sleep were just what I needed.”
“Have you seen Candace at all this morning?”
“No, I think she’s still in bed.”
“She tends to sleep late,” Symon said as he walked up beside her and looked out the window to the crashed ship. After a handful of silent seconds, he said, “That ship looks like it was pretty impressive. Shame it had to crash in my backyard.”
Veda snorted and then burst out laughing, warranting Symon to cast her a confused glance. “Did I say something funny?” he asked.
“I’m sorry,” she said as she got herself under control. “It’s just that you could not have been more wrong about your assumption. The Harbinger was a flying scrap-pile. I’ve seen tug-ships with better performance than that thing down there.”
Symon let out an awkward chuckle. “Right, right. But, it’s still a bit of a shame, isn’t it? I mean, some form of interstellar travel is better than no interstellar travel, right?”
In great contrast to her mood only a few seconds ago, Veda let out a long, forlorn sigh. “Well, you’re certainly right there, Symon,” she said. “I have no idea how I’m going to get off of Earth.”
“That reminds me of my first question for you,” Symon said.
Veda sighed. “I suppose I did say I would answer your questions, didn’t I?”
Symon nodded. “You did.”
Veda turned and strode over to the couch a few feet away. She took a seat and said, “If you’re ready to ask, I’m ready to answer.”
Symon sat down next to her and locked his eyes with hers. “How do you already know so much about humanity? About this planet?” he asked. “I mean, from what I know, first contact occurred literally just a few hours ago. And yet, you know the name of this planet, have claimed to know about human physiology, you speak English--”
“You mean Basic?” Veda cut him off.
Symon paused and blinked a couple of times before saying, “No, I mean English. The language we’re speaking right now.”
“You call it English. I call it Galactic Basic,” Veda said. “This language is a lot older than you think, Symon.”
Symon tilted his head and cocked an eyebrow. “What?”
Veda shook her head and laughed. “You’re really funny, Symon.”
“I’m not trying to be.”
“We speak the same language because the Galactic Federation first discovered Earth over a thousand standard years ago,” Veda explained. “Because of humanity’s lack of technological progress and barbaric nature, they weren’t inducted into the Federation. But, the Auran Order did covertly inspire many things about human culture. Customs, traditions, language, as well as several other things. We also selected specific humans with special abilities to join our Order. Believe it or not, humans do exist beyond their homeworld. Not many, but they’re definitely there.”
It took a minute for Symon to let all of that sink in. “Okay, I can figure out what the Federation is based entirely on its namesake,” he said. “But...Auran Order?”
“An order of Knights sworn to defend the Federation and its ideals,” Veda explained. “Every member of the Order is a special type of being called an Auran.”
“Auran?” Symon asked.
“Somebody special. Somebody with great powers,” Veda said. “Throughout the galaxy, there are people who are naturally born with a special type of energy flowing through their bodies. People with enough of this energy are called Aurans. My people, the Cerinians, are all born with some degree of Auran potential. And from what the Order can gather, many humans exhibit great potential.”
“So, what you’re saying is that you have superpowers?” Symon asked. “Like, telekinesis and shit?”
Veda giggled. “I suppose that fits the bill,” she said. “Now, do you want to hear what I’ve learned in the short time that I’ve been here?”
“Oh, this is going to be good,” Symon said. “What’d you find out?”
“I found out,” she started, placing a hand on his shoulder, “that you’re an Auran. And a powerful one.”
Symon’s eyes flung open in surprise, but then he furrowed his brow. “No way. That can’t be right.”
“But it is,” Veda insisted. “I can sense it. You have great potential, Symon.”
There was a short pause in the conversation while Symon tried to think of something to say. “How do you know?”
“I could explain how I can sense your Aura with my sixth sense,” she said. “But, it’s easier if we just do this.” She unclipped the dull-gray, cylindrical device from her belt and held it up at Symon’s eye-level. “This is an aurasword, the main weapon of a Knight. These can only be activated by Aurans.” She handed the device to Symon, who accepted it somewhat reluctantly. “Go ahead, turn it on and see for yourself.”
Symon stood up from the couch and looked over the aurasword in his hands. He gripped it in both hands and thumbed the lone red button on its smooth, metal surface, expecting nothing to happen.
He was wrong.
Upon depressing the button, a meter-long shaft of glowing emerald energy extended from the aurasword. Symon’s jaw dropped in amazement at what he was seeing, almost unable to register it as reality. He slowly moved the blade from side-to-side, listening as its soft humming changed in pitch as it moved.
“Oh my God,” he said quietly. “This is incredible!”
Veda smiled at him. “See? What did I tell you?”
Symon hit the button again and the aurasword’s blade retracted back into the hilt. “Well, it looks like you proved me wrong.” He handed the hilt back to Veda. She accepted it and clipped it back onto her belt.
“I can teach you how to use your powers,” she said. “If you come with me to Corneria, I can teach you to become a Knight.”
Symon struggled, looking for something to say in response. But nothing came to mind, not immediately. The proposal was something he hadn’t anticipated, and he wasn’t sure how he felt about it.
“I-I...I don’t know what to say,” Symon finally said. “I need to--”
He was cut off when a series of loud, high-pitched, electronic chirps came from a disc-like object on Veda’s belt. She quickly pulled it from her belt and hit a button on it, ceasing its noise. She brought it up to her eye-level and said, “Veda T’mara, here.”
‘A communicator,’ Symon thought as he eyed the device.
“Veda, what the hell happened?!” came a male’s voice crackling over the communicator.
“Look, Jei, let me explain--” Veda started, but was cut off.
“You never showed up on Venausa, and I had to deal with the negotiations by myself!”
Veda slapped a hand against her face. “Jei--”
“Do you know how hard it is to settle a civil dispute like this by yourself?”
“And only after that is dealt with, I finally manage to get you on the comm, and your signal is coming from Earth! Veda, you know that place is off-limits! If the Circle finds out--”
“Jei, just shut up and listen to me!” Veda shouted, cutting off the disembodied voice. “I’m not here by choice! The Harbinger finally gave up the ghost and I crashed here! This wasn’t my fault!”
There was a short lull in the conversation. “Wait, your ship died?” the man’s voice said.
“That is what I said, isn’t it?” Veda replied with little more than a hint of irritation.
“Ah, shit,” the man said. “Then I take it you need a ride back to Corneria?”
“What do you think the answer to that is, Jei?”
Another lull, this one slightly longer than the last. “Alright, I’m only several parsecs out. I’ll come by and pick you up.”
“Hey, there’s a chance that the Circle will understand what happened. Maybe they’ll just give you a warning.”
“Nope, I’m almost certain they’ll find a way to make it look like I broke the law.”
“Jeez, is the word ‘optimistic’ even in your vocabulary?” the man groaned. “I’m plotting a course there now, but it’ll take me a little while to get there. Eleven or twelve hours at the least.”
Veda cast a quick glance over to Symon. “Well, I guess that’ll have to do,” she said.
“Alright, I’m on my way. Be ever vigilant, Veda.”
“Be ever vigilant, Jei.” She hit another button on the communicator, cutting off the call. She then clipped it back onto her belt and returned her gaze to Symon.
“Friend of yours?” he asked.
“That was Jei, he’s another Knight,” Veda said. “I was supposed to meet him on another planet to help him sort out a diplomatic dispute. Thankfully, it seems like he was able to manage without me.”
“What was all of that about Earth being off-limits? And breaking the law?”
Veda looked to the floor and sighed. “The Federation has made it illegal for anyone except high-ranking members of the Order to set foot on this planet,” she explained. “They want humanity to be left alone and progress on its own until they feel it’s ready to join the galactic community.” Her vulpine ears folded back against her head sadly. “My status as a Knight is at stake just for being here.”
She raised her head and locked her sky-blue eyes with Symon’s hazel ones. “Symon, if you come with me to Corneria to become my Disciple, then maybe, just maybe, the Order’s Grandmaster will give me another chance.”
Symon looked away from her, his lack of a response making him feel as though he couldn’t meet her gaze.
“I’m not going to force you to do anything, Symon,” she said. “But, you have about twelve hours to make your decision. Whatever you choose, I’ll respect it.”
After almost two minutes of silence, Symon finally found his voice. “I...I don’t know, I need to think about this.” He turned on his heel and made his way out of the living room.
“What’re you doing?” Veda called after him.
“I’m going out for a drive,” Symon responded as he grabbed his car keys off of the kitchen counter. “I’ll be back in a bit. Maybe an hour or so.”
If there was one thing that Symon liked about the old Dodge Intrepid he drove, it was the sound of its engine. The purr it made helped Symon relax, and made it easier for him to think. He wasn’t quite sure where he was going, but at this point, he didn’t really care. The road ahead of him was completely free of traffic, and he was able to focus less on driving the car, and more on the difficult decision he had to make.
He had no idea what to think of the offer Veda had made him. If he accepted, he would be willingly leaving behind everything he had ever known. His home, his family, his friends--he might never see them again. The idea of being separated from them permanently pained him to think about.
But, on the other hand, this was the opportunity of a lifetime. He had always claimed that if he could go into space at some point in his life, he would be able to die with no regrets. And along comes the chance to not only leave Earth’s atmosphere, but to see what exists out there in the galaxy. And then, there was what Veda had said about him being an Auran, a person with incredible powers. He desperately wanted to learn more about what he was and how to use his powers. If he stayed behind, he would never get the answers that he needed.
‘But is it worth it?’ he thought to himself. ‘Can I really live the rest of my life without ever seeing my family again?’
Suddenly, Symon pulled over to the side of the road and stopped the car. He shifted into park and took the key out of the ignition. With a long, low sigh, he unbuckled his seatbelt, opened up the driver’s side door, and stepped out of the car. He closed the door with a slam, walked around to the front of the vehicle and took a seat on its hood.
For the longest time, he just sat there, staring out at the view of the expansive countryside ahead of him. He didn’t move, nor did he say a single word as he let his thoughts battle it out in an epic fight to figure out which choice he would make.
'If I stay, I’ll never learn about what I am, what power I possess,’ he thought. 'If I go, I’ll be leaving everything behind.’
“If I go,” he spoke aloud for the first time since he left the house. “I’ll be able to make a difference in the universe. If I stay, I’ll be throwing away the opportunity of a lifetime.”
He let out a long, low sigh and stood up from the hood. He opened the car door and sat down in the driver’s seat again. As he closed the door, he put the key in the ignition and turned. The engine purred to life, he put the car in drive, and sped away down the road in the opposite direction from which he came.
‘I’m coming with you, Veda,’ he thought. ‘I’m not going to let this opportunity go to waste.’