Never before had sailing her small boat on the Pacific ocean made Reya feel so tense. She simply sat at the bow and stared sadly at the stern, where Natalie stood, watching the wind toss the waves below. The mood between them was far from happy. They were both terrified.
This time, their trip out onto the ocean wasn’t for pleasure. The two were hiding – and at Sharon’s urgent suggestion, they left land quickly for their own safety…for Natalie’s safety…while their friend did some reconnaissance.
Between the two of them, Sharon was the weaker – which worried Reya – but she also knew that Sharon was very adept at gathering information while keeping a low profile…or in short, spying. It was how she safely kept tabs on nearly every being living on Earth who wasn’t native to the planet, and chronicled each.
“I feel like we’ve been out here forever,” Natalie said, almost in a humorous manner. Reya had to smile in spite of her own mood. Natalie was like that – always the one to use humor to break a melancholy mood. It was one of her Terran-like traits.
“It’s only for a couple of hours. Sharon will call when she thinks it’s safe–”
As if to punctuate Reya’s words, the phone rang, causing her to jump suddenly. She almost dropped her cell phone into the water as she answered it. “Yes?”
Natalie watched her mom’s face change quickly from hopeful to sadness. She nodded slowly as she talked on the phone, each time bowing her head further so her long hair would hide her reaction from Natalie.
“What?” Natalie asked, as soon as her mom put the phone down.
Reya sighed. “Sharon found a Messenger. It turns out that the Arions do know about you, and they want to–”
“They want to capture me, right? Or kill me?” Natalie stood up and walked across the length of the boat, kneeling beside her mom. Reya was shaking with fear…terrified that she would lose Natalie. “Mom, I won’t let that happen. I promise.”
“How?” Reya placed her face in her hands and rubbed her eyes slowly. “How will you stop them? Natalie, you’re only barely stronger than a Terran, and just as Earth-bound–”
Reya watched in amazement as Natalie slowly rose from the deck of the boat, until her feet were a yard above the deck. She even did a quick mid-air somersault, and laughed about it as well. “How…when…?”
“I don’t know. It happened after I left school.” Natalie dropped back to the deck gently, trying her best not to jar the boat too much. “I was running…faster than cars on the street. I leapt to avoid something and…”
“…And you went airborne.” Reya nodded. “It was the stress. It forced you to use abilities you’ve never had to before.”
“That’s nothing, mom. Watch this!”
Natalie rose from the deck of the small boat once again, this time more slowly, and to a much higher level. The wind whipped through her dark hair as she twisted around and headed out over the waves of the ocean. The wind seemed to follow her as she went, tossing her hair and clothing as she passed a few yards above the water.
Reya gasped as she watched Natalie’s flight go from simple beauty to utter amazement. A wake formed in the water below her, as if she was dragging an invisible boat along the water with her. Reya could feel a breeze moving away from Natalie as she made a small circle, the wake below her tossing the boat mercilessly atop waves generated by forces usually only available in nature.
That’s when it occurred to her – her daughter was able to project energy outward much more efficiently now. Natalie not only could will herself fly…but she herself could become a force of nature if she so desired. All of a sudden, Natalie’s limited power reserve seemed like a trivial effect of nature.
Once Natalie returned gently to the boat, she smiled as she watched her mom breathing quickly, looking up at her daughter with surprise. “I know, I know. It’s a little weird, isn’t it?”
“No, absolutely not.” Reya shook her head as she stood quickly to hug her daughter. “It’s wonderful. It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”
Natalie smiled. “I learned something cool. I can control all of it with my mind. The size of the wake, the air around me…”
“Oh my God.” Reya sat down again quickly and ran her hands through her hair. “That’s what they meant.”
“That’s what who meant?” Natalie sat down next to Reya, looking a little worried.
“The creators of the Velorian race. Our bodies were given to us as gifts…but our minds are ours to develop. But all through school, we’re taught that there is a tradeoff. I never understood what that meant…until now.”
“So…What I’m missing physically is more than made up for?”
Reya nodded. “You’re the next step, Natalie. You use the energy you tap much more efficiently than I can, which is why you don’t need as much.”
“So…” Natalie sat down on a bench along the port side of the boat. “…Maybe I could visit where you grew up one day? Meet my grandpa for the first time, ever?”
“I really don’t know, now.” Reya sighed and looked behind her at the setting sun. She glanced at her cell phone again, wishing Sharon would call already. “Anything’s possible, I guess. I just woudn’t want to risk it until we’re sure.”
“Mom, I’m just a teenager.” Natalie smiled and leaned back against the edge of the boat. “I have plenty of time.”
Reya smiled. “I sure hope so, Natalie.”
Natalie’s smile disappeared as she saw fear cross her mom’s eyes. She slid over next to Reya, and hugged her as best as she could. “Everything will be okay, mom. I promise.”
“I can’t promise anything, Reya.” Sharon’s voice sounded a little panicked as she spoke to her friend over the phone.
She had just given Reya some very bad news – that the Arion she was shadowing had managed to attract the attention of the Los Angeles Police and FBI, and were currently holding an evacuated hotel downtown hostage.
But that’s not what frightened Sharon. Normally, an Arion would simply plow its way through the police barricade and continue on its way. This one was cunning, and very methodical. She had a plan – she wasn’t killing just for sport.
“Reya, if the cops go in, they’ll be killed. You have to help.”
At the other end of the phone line, Reya held her cell phone with two shaking hands, looking up at Natalie. She spoke half into the phone, and half to Natalie. “But…what about Natalie? What if I don’t make it through this alive? You know I’m out of practice.”
Natalie frowned and walked away from Reya, toward the other end of the boat. She sat down and folded her arms, staring across at her mother, making no secret of the anger she was trying to express.
Reya eyed her daughter feeling worried as she clung to the small cell phone with both hands, only half-listening to Sharon. The last words she remembered Sharon say were, ‘You wanted your daughter to grow up in a place like this…now you have to fight for it.’
“Mom–” Natalie’s first word sounded like an accusation as she stood and gave Reya a frustrated sigh. “Sharon’s right. You have to protect Earth before you protect me. It’s your destiny.”
“No.” Reya shook her head. “You mean everything to me, Natalie. If you were hurt–”
“Then why am I here?” Natalie picked up a soft drink can she had left nearby, hurtling it out over the ocean, watching it sail through the air until it disappeared from view. “Why did you bring me into this world, only to watch everything you’ve ever wanted be destroyed?”
“If I’m the cause of this world’s destruction–” Natalie sat back down, curling into a ball as she turned away from her mom to do her best to hide the tears she was trying hard to hold back. “–I don’t want to live anymore.”
Reya stood, her mouth hanging open, as she watched her daughter rocking gently at the opposite end of the boat. As Natalie’s words echoed in her mind, she began to feel numb all over. Where could she have gone wrong? But then it was clear to her…she hadn’t gone wrong. She taught Natalie to stand up for herself and fight for her beliefs. The thought of her mom violating those beliefs, considering running and hiding, seemed wrong to Natalie.
And she was right.
Reya hovered high above the Five Star Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, as of yet unnoticed by the police and SWAT team surrounding the building on the streets below. She took a deep breath – and immediately felt a little constricted.
For the first time in years, she wore a form-fitting silvery outfit made of metallic fabric – it was the same one she had arrived on Earth wearing over sixteen years ago…and she was surprised that it still fit. Having lived a mostly civilian life on Earth, it never occurred to her to wear the outfit…until now.
She watched the hotel from above as the wind blew through her hair. It seemed so…normal. From the outside, it was hard to tell that a creature capable of reducing the building to rubble in mere seconds was within. For all it seemed, it could have simply been a single human being with a gun keeping police at bay.
But when she spotted Sharon standing on the curb across the street, she realized that it was no false alarm. Inside that hotel was destruction incarnate…and Reya was the only one who could stop her.
She descended to the roof slowly, trying as best as she could to land without a sound, racing to the stairway door quickly as she heard a police helicopter approach. It was best, at this point, to remain undetected to prevent the officers from deciding unwisely to race into the building to rescue her.
It was a stroke of luck, however, that the helicopter happened to fly overhead. It appeared to be circling a suite at one corner of the hotel – which saved Reya the trouble of having to search for the room where the Arion hid.
Her hands began shaking now as she tiptoed down the carpeted hallway, trying her best not to alert the woman she was stalking of her presence. She had to move silently, her soulless silvery boots making soft impressions in the plush red carpet with each step. She considered flying, but she realized that it would cause wind to rush down the narrow hall, alerting the Arion for sure.
She stopped suddenly and stared at a blue painted door, noting light oozing from beneath it, shivering from head to toe as she reached back her fist to punch through the gold chrome door lock. She stared at the white wall next to the door for a moment, noting the small torch lamp hanging alongside the door. Reya’s memory rushed back to her police training – never, ever rush through a door. A perpetrator would always be expecting that.
Reya smiled as she pondered that thought, and stared at the wall. Luckily, she had one trick up her sleeve that wasn’t in any police handbook.
A quick leap sent her to the room next door, a slight bit of pressure against its door admitting her to the room with little more than a muffled ‘crunch’. She raced in, and looked around – empty, lucky for her. She walked backwards between the twin beds, aiming herself directly at the television set on the opposite wall.
Confidence finally began to dominate her thoughts, and adrenaline gave her the strength she needed, emotionally, and physically, to break through her fears and do what needed to be done. She raised her arms in front of her, and launched herself at the television…and in an instant, she crashed through into the next room.
Reya only caught a glimpse of a dark-haired blue-eyed woman in blue jeans and a white sweater before the room became entirely filled with a cloud of plaster dust. She tried to reach for the last place she saw the woman…but no one was there any longer.
It didn’t take Reya long to find her, though…in a manner of seconds, she found herself in a headlock, her face forced down to the surface of the bed. She heard a female voice speak a language she didn’t understand, and felt paralyzed…it was some kind of immobilizing hold used by a seasoned warrior. At that moment, Reya knew she was in serious trouble.
“Where is she? Where’s mom?”
Sharon didn’t even bother to turn around as she heard Natalie behind her. She simply pointed up at the top floor of the hotel, toward a room on one corner…and almost on cue, glass from one of the windows rained down to the street below, causing police to run for cover.
But that was when Sharon realized something was amiss. “Natalie, what are you doing here? You’re supposed to stay out of sight!”
Natalie scoffed. “I’m supposed to stay home while mom’s being killed by some alien? I don’t think so.”
“I don’t think it’s that bad. Maybe Reya’s winning.” Sharon frowned and looked up at the hotel room, and shivered at the sudden silence. A real fight should be doing a lot more damage. She looked at Natalie, unwittingly revealing the fear she felt in her eyes. “Or…maybe not.”
“I’m going up there.” Natalie stepped toward the street, but found herself stopped quickly by Sharon. “I have to help her, Sharon.”
Sharon shook her head slowly. “You have no idea what you’re up against, Natalie. Your mom is a lot stronger than you are…a LOT. If she’s losing to this alien, you don’t have a chance.”
“But maybe the two of us together–”
“No!” Sharon gripped Natalie’s shoulder even tighter. Her eyes seemed desperate to try and convince Natalie. “You’ll die…she’ll kill you almost instantly, Natalie. I promised Reya I’d look after you…I can’t let you go into certain death.”
Natalie took a deep breath, her eyes never wavering as she stared at Sharon. She grabbed Sharon’s hand, seeming almost like she was going to peel it off of her shoulder…but instead, she held it in her own smaller hands tightly. “Sharon…we both know what we have to do.”
Sharon closed her eyes and turned away. Natalie was right…and she knew it. She was simply trying to deny what seemed to be destiny. When her eyes reopened, Natalie was still staring at her, waiting…demanding an answer as if she already knew what it would be. Sharon sighed…she knew as well. Her hand tightened around Natalie’s as she looked up at the hotel room above.
“Are you sure this is the place?”
A blonde woman dressed in head to toe in a silvery form-fitting costume, complete with a cape and boots, turned to face a man who was suspended from one of her arms, as she held him airborne by his belt. They hovered in the clouds several hundred stories above the Five Star Hotel…but the blonde woman was unaware of the reason why there were so many police around the building – it was merely convenient that she could snatch one of the officers and raise him high above.
He nodded quickly…and that was all she needed to drop quickly – faster than the fastest elevator on Earth – and deposit him on the roof of the hotel, before rebounding quickly back to the clouds.
She had only arrived on Earth a few minutes ago, her mission simple. She had been pulled from duty as Protector of a quiet nearby planet, sent by the Velorian Council to retrieve the Protector assigned to Earth, Reya’ann, and her rumored daughter.
The only information she had was that Reya’ann lived in Los Angeles, and she was a police officer. It was simply luck that police officers happened to gather at the one place where she had managed to track an Arion using local news reports as a guide. It was simple enough to guess, given the level of destruction and death noted by the reports.
And her luck didn’t run out there. She watched from above as a tall blonde woman and a dark haired teen entered through the front door of the hotel. A minute or two later, chunks of the hotel flew from the upper corner room – a battle was in progress, most likely between the planet’s protector and the Arion.
She turned upside down quickly, and aimed herself at the roof above the corner room like a missile, accelerating purposely to try and enter and hit the Arion before she had a chance to even make a move to protect herself.
As plaster, concrete and steel rained down around the seasoned Protector, she inverted her flight quickly and aimed herself directly at a pair of blue eyes shining at her from behind black hair and clouds of dust. She slammed into the Arion, embedding her into a concrete dividing wall.
She turned her attention to a blonde woman in the room, who was lying motionless on the floor, surrounded by shattered glass and wood. The woman was unconscious – and the Protector had arrived just in time to prevent her death.
But then came her first unlucky moment. Just as the Arion freed herself, the blonde and the teen from downstairs entered the room. She recognized the blonde as Shara’lynn, a Scribe – no match for an Arion warrior. Reya’ann was still unconscious – which meant that the Scribe and the teen were extremely vulnerable. There was only one Protector now between them and death.
And almost as if she were able to sense the Protector’s thoughts, the Arion immediately homed in on the weakest of the four people in the room – the dark haired teen. The Protector moved quickly to try and intercept…but not quick enough.
Then came a surprise. She watched as the Arion charged the teen…but seemed to freeze in mid-stride before she managed to reach her. The teen stared at her intently, one hand in front of her as if she were conducting some kind of force. The Arion seemed angry as she tried to fight something, and cursed in her native language…yet she couldn’t budge.
That’s when the Protector realized…the teen was Reya’ann’s daughter. And just as the Velorian Council’s genetic computers predicted, her power was indeed focused by her mind more than her body. She was very efficient in focusing energy from across the Rift.
“Scribe Shara’lynn, I am Protector Kara’shar, sent by Council. I demand to know what is going on.”
Sharon shook her head as she circled around Natalie and the Arion, still trapped in suspended animation. Natalie didn’t acknowledge either Sharon or Kara’shar, she seemed to be in deep concentration. “I’m as confused as you are.”
The Protector stared for a few seconds, watching the Arion struggle. She did her best not to laugh – she most likely never had to deal with anything like this during Arion warrior training. “Who is she?”
“Her name is Natalie. And I’m sorry, but I won’t tell you anything else about her. I’m bound by a promise.”
Kara’shar stared at Natalie for a few seconds before finally barking an order. “Release the Arion, Natalie.”
“No.” Natalie barely acknowledged the Protector as she remained completely motionless, her eyes remaining fixed on the Arion she held in mid-air a few feet in front of her.
“She can’t,” Sharon volunteered, “If she releases the Arion she’ll die…unless someone’s holding the Arion back.”
“No–” Natalie tried to shake her head slowly without breaking her concentration. “Mom…Get mom out of here.”
Without another word, Sharon nodded and raced over to where Reya was still lying on the floor, unconscious. She had very little energy stored within her – she felt heavy as Sharon lifted her and carried her into the hallway, over her shoulder like a firefighter.
She ran straight down the hall, and kicked in the door of a room as far from ground zero as possible, almost throwing Reya onto the bed. There wasn’t time to be gentle – she had to return to the Arion’s room quickly, and snatch Natalie out of there before whatever power she was using to hold the Arion gave out.
But when Sharon returned, she found something else instead – the Arion had already been released…but she wasn’t attacking Natalie or the Kara’shar. She was calmly sitting on the floor, looking from the Protector to Natalie, and then to Sharon.
The Arion seemed rather childlike and lost sitting there. It was as if she were a runaway just trying to find her way home, rather than one of the most violent and destructive killing machines in the universe.
“Natalie, what’s going on…?” Sharon looked at Kara’shar, hoping for an explanation.
“The power of irony,” Natalie replied, as she turned to face Sharon. “She’s my age. And get this…her name is Terra.”
Sharon looked down at the Arion, who stared back up with determined eyes. “Why did you release her?”
“Because she asked nicely.” Natalie smiled, and almost laughed, as she grabbed Sharon’s arm and pulled her closer. “Come here…Don’t worry, she promised to stop fighting.”
“And you trust her…?” Sharon’s voice trailed off as she leaned closer to the Arion, looking up at Sharon with a hint of fear and contempt in her eyes. “Terra…why are you here?”
“I was…sent to…” The young Arion stopped in mid-sentence, finally giving up trying to make her point in broken English. Instead, she pointed at Natalie. “Her. My people want–”
“–To kill her?” Sharon attempted to finish the sentence for Terra, noting that the Arion seemed to bow her head as she nodded. She looked at the rather fancy, yet torn suit that Terra wore. It was most likely stolen from the first store which the Arion encountered immediately after arriving on Earth.
Natalie smiled and folded her arms. “Fat chance of that happening. She’s one of their elite warriors, and even she couldn’t come near me.”
“I failed.” Terra kept her head bowed as she spoke softly and stared at the floor. “My people will…kill–”
Sharon and Natalie looked at each other almost simultaneously. It would be just like the Arions to kill one of their best-bred warriors because she failed to complete one objective. Sharon watched as Natalie stepped closer to the Arion, and sat on the floor in front of her. She tried to stop Natalie – but was immediately waved away by the teen.
“You didn’t fail.” Natalie spoke softly as she sat only a foot from Terra. “You learned. And you don’t have to die, Terra. You can stay here.”
“Natalie!” Sharon shared a frightened look with Kara’shar. The idea of an Arion warrior living on Earth was terrifying. Natalie obviously had no idea what she was getting into. “We can’t, Natalie. We simply can’t–”
“Yes, we can!” Natalie’s voice was forceful, angry, as she turned her head to look at Sharon with her determined blue eyes. “She has as much right to be here as you do, Sharon. We don’t belong here, either. If there’s one thing mom has always taught me about this place…it’s a haven.”
“This, Sharon–” Natalie pointed at Terra and rose to her feet quickly, facing Sharon. “–Is your huddled mass yearning to be free. What’s she going to do…go home and face death? Or maybe you’re prepared to go against everything you believe in and kill her?”
With those last two words, Natalie briefly cast a threatening glance in Kara’shar’s direction, almost daring her to move a muscle and take that challenge. But not even the seasoned Protector could break her conditioning to do just what her title implied – protect, not murder.
“So–” Sharon looked at Kara’shar, and then at the Arion and Natalie. “What do we do?”
Reya awoke with a blinding headache, opening her eyes to a room spinning out of control. She sat up quickly, blinking a few times to try and stabilize herself before slowly rising and balancing herself on her feet. Once she began moving, slowly, she began to feel a little bit better – except for the pounding headache. Having such quick healing ability was a big bonus to being born Velorian.
She stepped out into the hallway, and began to home in on distant voices she heard echoing down the hallway. She recognized two of them – Sharon, and her own daughter Natalie. But there was another female voice, and another speaking in broken English. Either one of the other two could be the Arion.
A twinge of fear burned down her spine as that last thought crossed her mind. An Arion, in the same room with Natalie. That couldn’t be a good thing. Natalie could be–
She shook her head to dismiss that thought, and mustered all of her strength to race down the hallway toward the voices. She couldn’t move at her top speed yet – her muscles and bones were much too sore, and she felt her energy level waning quickly.
But as she rounded one last corner and headed into the corner hotel room blindly, she found exactly the opposite of what she expected.
A teen with black hair and blue eyes, wearing a torn, expensive dark blue suit, sat cross-legged on the floor in the center of the room – Reya recognized her as the Arion who had attacked her earlier. Natalie stood above her, looking angry…but not at the Arion. Sharon stood in front of Natalie, looking at Reya as she entered. And there was another tall, well-tanned blonde with blue eyes in the room – a Protector sent by Velor, no doubt.
Reya took a step back toward the hallway as the Protector moved toward her. She instinctively knew that the Velorian had been sent by Council to retrieve her and Natalie. It was something she knew would happen for a while…it was only a matter of time.
“Hold it right there, Kara’shar,” Natalie threatened the Protector. This time, however, Natalie wasn’t fast enough to stop her before she snatched Reya by the throat, lifting her several inches off of the ground.
Natalie wrapped her arm around the Protector’s neck from behind, and tried, in vain, to force her to release her mom. She tried biting into Kara’shar’s shoulder…but the Velorian’s skin was too tough even for her teeth. “Let her go, or I’ll kill you!”
Sharon almost laughed at Natalie’s threat as she tried to intervene – but the seasoned Protector was stronger than both Reya and Sharon put together. Sharon found herself easily shoved across the room into an opposite wall. Natalie was then tossed across the room like a stuffed toy, bouncing off of the far edge of the bed and knocking over the nightstand.
“You hurt my friend.”
Sharon froze as she watched Terra slowly rise to her feet and approach Kara’shar. The Arion gripped the Protector’s left arm and began twisting. Sharon could hear tendons and muscles stretching to their limit, some tearing…and then the Arion drew back a fist, aimed directly at Kara’shar’s face.
Terra froze and turned to look at Natalie, who had just risen from the corner she had collapsed into seconds earlier. She was still unharmed.
“Enough. No more killing.”
“You must be reasonable. It is my job to bring Reya and Natalie back with me.” Kara’shar winced as Terra responded to her by twisting her arm even further.
“Look who’s talking about reasonable?” Natalie vaulted over the bed and stood in front of Kara’shar, who showed pain on her face. Her eyes met Terra’s, and she nodded, signalling Terra to loosen her grip on the Protector. “Did you think about how you’d get me to Velor? Fact is, I’d never survive the trip.”
Kara’shar looked lost for a moment as her eyes tried to verify the truth of Natalie’s words with Sharon, who responded by nodding slowly. Her confidence suddenly seemed lost as she sighed deeply frowned at Reya, who stood at the opposite end of the room. “What am I to do? I…I can’t just ignore–”
“Yes, you can,” Sharon volunteered. “I’m a Scribe, a first-hand witness to everything that goes on around me. Let me tell you…Velor’s information about Reya and Natalie is seriously outdated.”
For the first time since she arrived, Kara’shar laughed. Natalie smiled, too – she seemed amused that a seasoned protector, someone who she pictured as a walking destructive force, would even have a sense of humor. She looked at Terra, who still appeared sad as she still held onto the Protector’s arm, yet only barely. She seemed to be losing concentration, as if her mind was elsewhere.
“Sharon, do you think we can set Terra up someplace so she can get used to living here?”
Both Sharon and Kara’shar seemed upset by Natalie’s suggestion. They both simply froze for a moment before turning to look at each other. The mere thought of an Arion living on such a fragile planet went against everything they had ever been taught. Reya, on the other hand, simple smiled in a self-satisfied way. Her daughter had indeed learned from this planet’s peaceful nature.
Perhaps Natalie was right, Sharon thought. Unfortunately, in the Arion quest for better breeding of warriors, they let some intelligence slip through – enough so their young missionary, sent to destroy and maim, seemed more like a homesick and lonely kid than an angry and destructive cyborg.
And Sharon, for one, wondered just what Natalie did to cause the Arion to stop fighting. “Natalie, what did you say to Terra to get her to stop?”
Natalie smiled as she gently took Terra’s arm in her hand, and led her out toward the hallway. She shrugged as Sharon followed. “I just asked her if she wanted to go home.”
Getting an Arion warrior past a police line was never easier. Since none of the cops had gotten close enough to her to identify her, their description came out of legend more than reality. They were seeking a six-foot, 150-pound dark haired thirty-something woman in a blue suit.
So, of course, they did nothing when a police officer they all knew, Reya Prince, walked right through the police line in civilian clothing – supplied by Sharon – with her daughter, and a fairly small dark-haired teenager, now wearing blue jeans and a tee-shirt ‘borrowed’ from the hotel’s first-floor gift shop. Following them was a woman the officers also knew well enough as Reya’s best friend Sharon.
For effect, Reya grabbed a blanket from a nearby rescue unit and tossed it over Terra’s shoulders. To anyone watching, Reya seemed like a hero, as she emerged from a building under siege by some virtually unknown person, with a rescued teenager under her wing. It worked all too well – as she headed through the crowd of police officers, some began cheering, and offering her handshakes.
Natalie kept one hand tightly on Terra’s left arm. She was becoming a little concerned, as the Arion teen seemed frightened by all of the attention. Natalie’s tight grip would give the Arion both a little warning, and a little reassurance.
Once they cleared the crowd and disappeared around a corner, the four formed a chain and headed for the skies. And just as she promised, they spotted Kara’shar bolting from the roof of the hotel, providing a much needed distraction. The cops would be watching that for a while.
By the time they reached Reya’s home, it was almost midnight. The streets were completely silent, enough so the sounds of their various types of sneakers contacting the sidewalk upon their landing echoed off of the neighboring houses and cars parked on the street.
Reya headed inside first, and for some unknown reason, Terra followed quickly. Sharon started to wonder if she had a fear of open space – it was possible, since Arions often raised the level of paranoia of their warriors to make them more dangerous.
“Natalie–” Sharon grabbed her shoulder to stop her before she entered the house. Natalie turned around, her smile disappearing when she realized that Sharon was about to ask her a very serious question. “You do know that she killed Allen, don’t you?”
“I know.” Natalie sighed deeply, looking down for a moment as she paused in thought. “But…revenge has to stop somewhere, you know? Or pretty soon…everyone ends up dead.”
Sharon stood on the front lawn of Reya’s home, dazed, as she watched Natalie head inside and turn on a lamp next to the door. ‘Revenge has to stop somewhere’. She bit her lip as memory of all of the journal entries she sent back to Velor flooded back to her. Death, destruction, hate, dominated most of them.
She remembered lovers, friends, people she cared deeply about dying – and then her tears, which soaked the paper she wrote on as she struggled to clear her thoughts enough to make a record of what had happened. It was only then that she fully appreciated the true role of a Velorian Scribe – to immortalize those who had died before their prime, those who had fought for a greater cause…and lost.
After all she had lost, it seemed ironic that Natalie, a teen who lived her life on such a peaceful planet, knew so much truth. Revenge was indeed an endless, violent cycle, a constant of the universe which would never stop…until everyone ended up dead.
In a moment of inspiration stronger than any she had in a long time, she slipped a small paper pad and a pen out of her pocket, tapping the end of the pen against her chin as she decided what to write. She had so much swimming through her mind…but after some thought, it seemed to boil down to only a few words:
‘There is hope after all.’