Deep space travel was something that was always dreamed of but never achieved until a group of scientists discovered how to use particle theory and acceleration to push the velocity of a spacecraft well beyond the speed of light while using gravity fields and magnetism to hold the craft together at such extreme speeds in the year 3000. This allowed for intergalactic travel but as Newton’s third law states: “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction” and believe me, there was an equally negative to this positive alright. Earth’s mineral reserves were being consumed at an accelerated pace due to this discovery and the excitement that came with it, and that was what started the doomsday clock.
With the removal of such massive quantities of metallic minerals from the crust, it began to destabilize. That led to a rise in magnitude five earthquakes which led to the formation of new volcanoes and frequent eruptions of the old ones. The frequent volcanic eruptions caused the surface temperature and carbon levels of the atmosphere to rise well beyond acceptable limits and inversely cause the mantle to cool. This led to various ecological failures, the main one being the annihilation of the polar icecaps. The world government, finally realizing that we were going through an extinction event, scrambled to find a solution though it wasn’t an easy feat.
After much deliberation, they settled with migrating to another planet to live on and thus we arrive at-
“Aaron, stop your monologue and come downstairs. Breakfast is ready,” a voice belonging to a little girl called out, “Mom’s going to be upset if you’re late, and you know how she gets.”
“Alright, Katie. Tell mom that I’ll be down in a minute and whatever you do, don’t let her come upstairs!” The now named Aaron responded with a slight waver in his voice.
“Fine! But you owe me a dozen chocolate chip cookies for this… No, make that two dozen!” Katie responded with a sigh as she walked away “But you better hurry. I can’t stall her forever you know”.
Aaron heaved a sigh as he got out of bed. Taking a moment to adjust to his sudden upright position, he opened his shutters and gazed at the vast expanse of Nova Tera which is one of the four major settlements floating above the ‘surface’ of the planet of Jupiter. Moving away from the window, he entered his bathroom and looked in the mirror to brush his teeth and comb his medium-length, dark red hair. He then went down for breakfast.
Moving towards the kitchen, he hears his little sister speaking with their mother in a valiant attempt to distract her from his tardiness. Deciding to relieve her from his request, he entered the kitchen and greeted their mom.
“Hey mom, Good morning,” He said as she zeroed in on him with her silver eyes, “I hope I’m not too late” He continued with a nervous chuckle.
Emily stared at her son, silently enjoying his nervousness and fidgeting before answering. “You arrived here just in the nick of time Aaron. Any longer and I would’ve marched up there and reminded you about breakfast myself. Did you get caught up with a monologue again?”
“Hehe, I’m sorry for being late. I was going over a part of history and didn’t realize what time it was,” He replied with a nervous chuckle while thanking his sister over and over in his head.
“Oh? So history is more important than eating with your family huh?” Emily teased with a light glare.
The blood drained from Aaron’s face when he saw the glare “I- I- I didn’t say that! I promise that I won’t be late again”.
“You better not be young man. Now go sit at the table, you too Katie, your father is already there.
“Okay, mom” both teens responded as they moved towards the dining area that is connected to the kitchen.
The brother-sister pair sauntered into the dining area where they saw their father, Michael, sitting at the head of the table with his back facing the entrance, sipping from his cup while reading the daily news from his tablet. His dark brown eyes focused on the piece of technology in front of him so intently that he didn’t even notice the presence of his two children.
“Careful pops, the tablet may be reduced to cinders with the glare you’re giving it,” Aaron jested causing his father to look up through his equally dark red hair that was hanging before his brown eyes with a start.
“With how Nova’s nexus performed last night in the space hockey match, it’s lucky I didn’t punt it the next block over,” the father of two replied with a grin, “You’re quite late this morning, how did you survive your mother’s wrath?” He went on to query.
Aaron grimaced at the reminder before replying in a hushed voice, “I bribed Katie with two dozen of the good stuff to keep mom’s attention off me for a few minutes while I hurried down”.
Michael opened his mouth to reply to his son before another voice from behind them beat him to it.
“Oh? Is that so my dear Aaron?” Emily asked while she gave him a sickeningly sweet smile, “You and I are going to have a little chat about punctuality and accountability after breakfast young man. Is that clear?”
Aaron shuddered at the smile while Katie and Michael sent him looks of pity, “Loud and clear ma’am. I’ll make sure to report to your office after breakfast!” He said while sending her a military salute. Nodding her head in satisfaction, Emily set a tray filled with enough pancakes for the small family in the center of the table.
“Bon appétit,” she said with a soft smile on her porcelain face, “Sylphia came by earlier Aaron, she said that she wanted to speak with you about something”.
“Ah… Okay. I’ll go talk to her after breakfast then,” Aaron said.
“Ensure that you do, wouldn’t do to keep a girl waiting,” Emily replied, “Though we’re still going to have that talk before you go. You’re not escaping this time,” she said as she went back in the kitchen for something she left.
Aaron groaned in despair while Katie snickers at his misfortune, “And remember that you still owe me 24 of the good stuff,” she added. Aaron groaned again, remembering that he indeed owed his sister and if he didn’t pay up he would get another scolding from his mother. “Fine, I’ll get you the 24 cookies soon,” he groused out, lamenting the fact that he still has to buy the sweet treats for his sister.
Nodding in satisfaction, Katie took her usual seat at the table, one chair from her father on his right side while Aaron took his seat mirroring her on the left side just in time for Emily to return and place a pitcher of orange juice at the table. Taking her seat on Michael’s immediate right, Emily addressed her children, “Alright kids, eat up. You have a long day ahead of you and you can’t tackle it with an empty stomach”. Needing no further confirmation, the two children loaded their plates with pancakes and dove in with much gusto.
After breakfast, Emily ushered Aaron into the small office she had on the second floor of their house while Michael and Katie took care of the dishes.
“Sit,” she said as she gestured to the chair that is against the wall, “How are holding up? Are you breathing okay? Are the respiratory nanites functioning properly?” she fired off as she began to fuss over his heath.
Respiratory nano-machines aka nanites, tiny machines created using advanced scientific and technological research with the sole purpose of altering the biology of the cells that make up the lining of the lungs to allow the safe intake, filtration, and use of any non-toxic gases to power bodily function to compensate for the lack of oxygen in the atmosphere. These machines cannot repair genetic illnesses of the lungs such as asthma which means that having an asthma attack is still very much possible.
“Yes mom,” He replied placatingly “I’m feeling okay and the nanites are functioning as always. It was just an isolated incident”.
“Well, that ‘isolated incident’ almost cost you your life,” she countered with a roll of her eyes, “And I am not too keen on having a repeat of that incident, I don’t want to lose my son”.
Feeling bashful, Aaron glanced around his mother’s office. He took special notice of what seemed to be military medals and the three bookcases that were at least 10 feet tall and packed with all sorts of books, flush against the far wall. Making a mental note to ask about the medals later, he turned his back attention to his mother who was currently eyeing him keenly, trying to spot signs of deceit.
“I’m fine mom, really,” He said as he approached her with the intent of hugging her, “It’ll take much more than that to do me in. Don’t worry”.
Accepting the hug, Emily replied with a sigh, “You’re as hardy as I am and as stubborn as your father. Fine, I’ll drop the issue for now. Now go speak with Sylphia, it may be important”.
Sending off a mock salute, Aaron spun on his heel and made for the door when he felt a swat on the rear of his head that drove him a couple of paces forward.
“That’s for showing up late to breakfast and bribing your sister,” Emily said in a smug tone, “Now go, before I deliver the rest of your punishment. Oh, and if you see Katie on your way out, tell her that I’d like to speak with her in my office”.
Hearing the promise of pain and suffering in her voice, Aaron sprinted out of the office as if Cerberus itself was chasing him. Descending the stairs, he made for the front exit of the house.
“Katie!” He hollered, “Mom wants to speak to you in her office”.
“Why?” She asked while exiting the living room.
He shrugged, “Don’t know, I have an idea though. Anyways, let dad know that I’m out. Later”.
Stepping through the door, he held a hand in front of his burning eyes as they adjusted to the brightness. Muttering a few curses, he walked down the street towards Sylphia, who lived a few houses away, with a steady gait. Arriving at her house, Aaron rang the doorbell and waited patiently for someone to open the door. After 2 minutes, he heard the lock of the door turn and saw a woman in her early thirties with raven hair, slightly tanned skin, and gray eyes standing at the doorway wearing a snow-white sundress that had a sakura tree branch on the bottom left stretching from the hem.
“Aaron, good morning. How are you doing this morning?” She greeting.
“Good morning Mrs. Yamamoto. I’m doing well, thank you for asking,” Aaron replied “How are you doing on this fine day?”
“Oh you know, as well as I can be. I take it that you’re here for my daughter?”
“Yes,” He confirmed, “Is she here?”
“Yes. She’s upstairs, in her room. I take it that you remember where that is?”
“I do,” He responded with a chuckle, “Kinda hard to forget when I’ve been visiting for years”.
“Yet you still dress me in such a stiff manner. My name is Kyoko, not Mrs. Yamamoto,” the now-named Kyoko lightly scolded with a huff.
“Fine, fine. I’ll address you as Kyoko from now on Mrs. Yamamoto,” Aaron replied with a chuckle.
She sent him an annoyed glare, “Now you’re just trolling me”.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” He said while looking away innocently, “I’ll go see what princess moody wants to discuss with me. Have a nice day Mrs. Yamamoto”.
Walking away with a snicker, Aaron approached the stairs that led to the upper portion of the house, and subsequently, his best friend’s room. He proceeded up the stairs and proceeded to knock on the pink monstrosity Sylphia called a door.
“It’s open, come in” a voice that was as soft as silk called from within the confines of the room.
He twisted the ornate handle of the door and entered into what can only be described as a girl’s wonderland. Her room had lavender walls and a dark purple roof with lighting that gave the illusion that the roof was the night’s sky littered with numerous stars. A veritable mountain of stuffed animals of all sizes occupied a corner of the room with the largest one being 5 feet tall. Sitting in front of a vanity mirror perched atop a pearly while dresser was Sylphia. She peered into the mirror as she brushed her waist-length raven hair with silver ends. Her blue eyes shone with happiness as she took extra care of the locks she has been nurturing since childhood. Hearing the door open, she tore her attention from her hair and turned it towards the entrance of her room.
“Well, well. Look who finally decided to show up,” Sylphia taunted, “Had enough time to put on our make-up princess?”
Aaron deadpanned, “How can your voice be so beautiful and menacing at the same time? Teach me your ways!”
Sylphia blushed and looked away, “Shut up moron! Why did you take so long to get here? Don’t you know that it’s rude to keep a lady waiting?”
“Yeah, well mom wanted to talk to me about something so that delayed me a bit” He replied.
“Suuuure, blame Emily for your tardiness. I’m sure that your lazy ass woke up late and spent forever leaving your room,” came her retort as she rolled her eyes.
Unable to refute her claim, Aaron grumbled about mean pretty girls and flopped onto her bed. Seeing as she was victorious, Sylphia sent Aaron a smug smirk which made him grumble some more before moving unto the reason why she requested to speak to him.
“So,” She began as she tried to organize her thoughts and formulate her words, “I have decided that I’ll be moving to Militum in a few months”.
She looked at Aaron to gauge his reaction. She noticed that his constant grin wilted slightly and that he looked a lot tenser than when he entered, causing her to furrow her brow at his distress. Meanwhile, on the receiving end of the declaration, Aaron was in a state of frozen disbelief, he didn’t believe that he heard her correctly.
“Sorry?” He forced out, “Can you repeat that for me please?”
“I’ll be moving to Militum in a few months, please don’t be upset,” she pleaded.
“Why are you going to Militum?” he questioned with consternation.
“I’m going there to join the armed forces.”
Shock permeated Aaron’s being as he digested what she said. Here was the kindest, to everyone except him; the most soft-spoken girl he knows, not that he knows many; saying that she wants to go join the armed forces. He would have collapsed from disbelief if he weren’t already lying on her bed.
He only managed to sputter a single word, “Why?”
“Because I want to make a difference and improve myself. I want to be more confident in myself, to be able to make decisions and stand by them whether they’re right or wrong. I can’t keep depending on you to protect me,” she responded in a firm way that was unlike her.
Aaron’s eyes softened when he heard her reasons as he understood where she was coming from. Her soft-spoken nature negatively impacted her confidence when they were children. He was the one who always saved her from children who envied her delicate appearance. He stood by here when everyone was against her and, by proxy, him. Now, when they were both 18, she has decided to regain what she has lost
“Alright. I can’t say that I am happy with your decision, I mean, my best friend will be leaving me all by my lonesome for who knows how long, but I will support you and your decision 100% if it is something you want to do.”
“It is and thank you,” Sylphia replied with a watery smile.
Rising from his position on the bed, Aaron approached her and gave her a quick, reassuring hug before releasing her and backing off.
“Just know that I won’t give you any additional respect little fairy,” he jokingly stated.
Her face burned when she heard what he called her, “Don’t call me that jackass! We aren’t children anymore!”
“Aww, is the little fairy embarrassed?” He continued to taunt her.
Sylphia gave him the most scathing glare she could muster while blushing and refused to respond. Seeing as he wasn’t going to get a rise out of her, Aaron gave one last chuckle before proposing their activities for the day.
“Why don’t you and I head over to the movie theater? I hear that they’re showing the Nightmare of the Storm.”
Sylphia gasped and replied, “I’ve always wanted to watch that movie! Give me a second while I change”.
“Sure, I’ll wait for you downstairs” Aaron replied as he walked out of the room.
Heading downstairs, Aaron went to the bathroom to ensure that he was still tidy and presentable. Standing in front of the full-length mirror, he straightened the collar of the while semi-formal shirt he was wearing and brushed off specks of dust off his black, slim-fit jeans. Feeling satisfied, he exited the bathroom and approached the living room to wait for Sylphia to exit Narnia. When he entered, he saw Sylphia’s father sitting in a black leather armchair blankly staring at the television.
“Hey there Mr. Yamamoto,” Aaron greeted, “How’s it hanging?”
“Ah, Aaron my boy, just gathering dust while this piece of machine drones on and on. How are you today?” Mr. Yamamoto responded jovially.
“I’m fine, thank you for asking. Just received some shaking news,” Aaron replied.
“Ah, I take it that little Sylphia told you about her decision to join the armed forces?”
“That she did. I’m surprised that you and Mrs. Yamamoto agreed to it.”
“We didn’t necessarily agree per se, but Sylphia is now an adult and we can no longer make choices for her. All we can do is offer her our guidance as her parents and pray for her safety.”
Aaron nodded in response to what was said as he agreed. Just then, Sylphia entered the room wearing a cream off-the-shoulder blouse, a navy blue knee-length skirt, and a pair of black knee-high heeled boots. Her hair was done in a flowing braid and there was a silver fairy-shaped clip in the left side of her hair holding those bangs in place.
Mr. Yamamoto preened at the sight of his daughter. He was proud of the woman she had become, though he couldn’t resist teasing her.
“Oh? What’s this? Are you two going out on a date?” he teased
Sylphia’s face went scarlet as Aaron choked on his saliva. Not wanting to dignify her guffawing father with a response, she pulled Aaron out of the living room and towards the exit. After putting on his white sneakers, Aaron bid Sylphia’s parents goodbye and he and Sylphia went on their merry way.
As they disembarked the bus that carried them into the town center, they heard a shrill voice call out “Well, well, if it isn’t Sylphia and her guard dog Aaron. How are you little mouse? Still need your boy toy over there to speak for you?”
Aaron groaned as Sylphia flinched.
“Why don’t you go kick rocks and leave us alone Stephanie?” Aaron responded tersely
“Now, now. Don’t be like that. We’re all friends here aren’t we?” she responded with a sickening grin.
Aaron scoffed and gently led Sylphia, who was frozen, away by the hand. When they were ten steps away, Aaron paused and looked to the sky as he heard a strange humming sound. The empty sky and what looked like stars streaking across the sky towards a single focal point greeted him. Alarm set in when he was forced to look away as that focal point began to shine with the brightness of a thousand suns. Suddenly the brightness vanished, and there was a blinding, encompassing flash of light then there was an eerie silence followed by a deafening boom. Then, Aaron knew no more.
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