Trolling The Galaxy, Part 2

He felt so lost, so small. His destiny was unknown, and all he knew was about to be left him behind forever. As he stared up at the setting twin suns of his desert wasteland home, he instinctively knew he would never return.

For some reason, that image of Luke Skywalker in ‘Star Wars’ haunted Renee since she saw the movie during her first week on Earth. She could relate to it so well, having left her beautiful home and all she cared about to take up residence on some strange planet where she too felt lost, and small. She remembered crying the first time she saw that one scene. It felt so real to her.

But as Renee slept, her eyes and mind closed to the world around her, she found one clear difference between herself and Luke…in the end, he proved himself to be strong, someone who was in control of his destiny. Renee, on the other hand…proved herself only to be a victim, someone who found herself hopelessly tossed by the currents of fate.

“Reya?” She heard a soft voice calling her name, from far, far away. She closed her eyes tighter and turned away from it. She didn’t want to see the world again. As far as she was concerned, it was gone…and she was happy to see it go.

She felt a soft touch on one arm, instantly bringing her senses to life. She silently cursed the one who brought her back. Renee wanted to drift away, to keep herself in a place where she wouldn’t have to relive her humiliation again…


Her eyes slowly opened, giving her a blurry view of someone very familiar to her, a pair of blue eyes and strands of blonde hair hovering over her. She unconsciously smiled – her only true friend had found her. Renee turned her head away as tears began to flow from her eyes…and she began sobbing as memory of her harsh reality flooded her senses again. “No…I don’t want to…”

“Reya, it’s me.” Sharon leaned closer, gripping Renee’s hand tightly. “I’m here for you. Everything’s going to be fine.”

“Not…fine.” Renee kept her eyes away from Sharon. But her hands could feel a warmth, a power…almost as if she were touching pure energy. It filled her with feelings of euphoria, like a drug…but she still resisted.

“I have to restore you, or you’ll die,” Sharon whispered softly as she held Renee’s hands tighter within her own. “Your energy is low–”

“No…I…I want to die–”

Sharon suddenly let go of Renee’s hands and took a step back, leaving Renee suddenly feeling cold and drained. Renee’s words echoed in her mind as she watched a pair of blue eyes turn to her from the hospital bed. Those eyes…the looked empty, cold…they were missing the energy which was usually behind them.

“My God, Reya…You’re…you’re willing yourself to death? What happened to you? Please, talk to me.”

Renee frowned and slowly began propping herself up in the bed. She could feel every muscle cry out to her with pain…not from injury, but rather from…disuse? She felt something burn in her arm…it was an needle inserted by the hospital, to feed her nutrients – and it was pierced through her skin. That man…he must have known what she was…and he stole her energy as well as her dignity.

“I–” Renee took a deep breath, trying to slow the dizziness she found herself which was her reward for speaking too quickly. “I was attacked. I…I–”

“The police told me about that. But…God, Reya–” Sharon walked over to the bed slowly and held Renee’s hand, careful not to try and flood her with energy this time. “You’ve been out for almost two weeks.”

“Huh? Two–” Renee nearly sat upright, but more dizziness prevented it. She began feeling…terrified. Two weeks? She began to understand why she felt so confused and weak – a Velorian could not survive on the simple sustenance provided by the needle in her arm for any length of time. Velorians needed pure energy as well. But she still didn’t understand how she could have used all of her remaining energy while dormant. “What happened to me?”

Sharon continued to hold Renee’s hand gently and sat down on the edge of the bed. She seemed a little concerned as she took a deep breath and began to explain. “You were attacked by an Arion, Reya. He was on a rampage and you…well, you just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“An…Arion?” Renee suddenly gasped and sat upright, her breathing speeding up suddenly to compensate for the sudden dizziness. “He raped me! Am I…?”

A few seconds of silence prevailed before Sharon closed her eyes and nodded slowly. “Yes, you’re pregnant. That’s why all of your energy has been drained. But you don’t have to suffer through this…I can take you back to Velor, and–”

“No…I want this to happen.” Renee suddenly tore the needle from her arm and slid out of bed, stumbling into Sharon’s arms as she struggled to steady herself. “I will not be a victim any longer.”

Sharon laughed as she caught Renee, her amazing strength propping her friend to her feet quickly. She felt better as she noticed Renee trying to stand under her own power. It was a sign…a good sign, that her friend Reya had not given up yet.

“Are you sure about this, Reya?”

The smile which formed on Renee’s face gave Sharon inner warmth. It felt like she had given life to the lifeless…or given her friend a second chance at life. “I’ve never been more sure of anything, Sharon. What happened to me is in the past…”

Renee placed both of her hands on her stomach, her eyes reflecting a little contentment…and a little hope…as she looked at Sharon. “This is the future. I want it to be a future where no one ever has to fear as I did.”

Sharon nodded and let go of Renee slowly, smiling as she noticed that her friend was now retaining her own energy, standing steadily on her own two feet. “That’s the Reya I know.”

‘That’s the Reya I know.’ Reya smiled at the words floating in her mind. For some reason, they stuck with her since that day in the hospital…that day when Renee permanently changed her name to the one she had been born with, and decided to embrace her lost heritage.

Humans were a fragile species. Yet they walk the Earth, totally oblivious to the fact that they had such sort life spans, and a frailty that most conquering species in the galaxy would love to prey upon if given the chance. They were fairly fragile beings, both physically, and in their tendencies to become so dependent on one another.

But it was those same traits which made them stronger, more powerful, and much more resilient than any other species. They tended to bond together, to find comfort in numbers…and then they would defend their numbers with a vengeance.

Earth…a backwards, primitive place torn by war, hunger, and battles between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’. Or so it would seem to an outside force. But a closer look reveals a hidden power, potential beyond imagination. And admittedly…the all-powerful Velorian race was one always flirting with extinction, the Ancient Ones were gone forever…and even the Arions wouldn’t survive long with their tendencies toward self-destruction.

In the end, it would be the backwards species…like humans…which would ultimately inherit the universe. And with them, they would bring peace. It was almost humorous to consider – but when looked at closely…it made perfect sense.

As Reya lay back on her small sailboat off the coast of southern California, watching the sunset, her mind filled with philosophical thoughts. Earth was a majestic place, a world hidden away from the unthinkable terror and chaos which filled most of the universe. It was almost as if…some God intended it that way. Almost like some higher intelligence meant Earth for greater things.

She could tell those greater things were far off into the future…but not too far. The months she spent with a child growing inside her were evidence of that. Reya knew she would raise her daughter to be not a protector of Earth…but its guardian. Someone who would look after the sweet backwards little planet.

Since Reya was a child, she remembered reading about Earth, how its technology was feeble compared to that of the simplest Arion weapons. And how the Velorians must prevent Arions from destroying the place at all costs. She always wondered…if the Arions were so capable, so bent on destroying Earth…why didn’t they?

As she grew up, she learned that no one else knew that answer, either. Sure, the Arions have tried…but some little glitch always managed to cause them to fail. There was always something – as if an invisible, higher power were making it impossible for them to do so. Or perhaps it was simply…fate?

Reya laughed at her own thoughts as she stood and unfurled the small sail on her boat, preparing to head back to shore. Fate. That was such a human concept…and yet, the proof was there. In a matter of weeks, fate would become reality – a child would be born…and Earth would never be the same.

“Relax, mom, I know what I’m doing.”

Reya sighed as she watched the brunette, blue eyed teen tug at the rope which pulled a giant sail up along its mast, to unfurl it to its full potential…as both a large decorative symbol and the sole method of propulsion for the small boat as it bobbed along the waves of the Pacific Ocean, dyed orange by the setting sun over the horizon. The symbol on the sail meant nothing…but to Reya it meant everything.

She couldn’t believe it was sixteen years ago when she used to go out in a smaller boat for solitude, and to commune with natural forces which dwarf the power of even the heartiest of Velorian protectors – none would be a match for the relentlessness of the oceans.

“I know, Natalie,” Reya said as she watched her daughter quickly reel in the rope, hand over hand as she’d been taught, with the skill of a career fisherman, even though she had only been shown how to do it once. “Frankly, I’m more worried about the boat, and the sail.”

A splash of water hit Reya, just as she began laughing. The two discovered, something interesting during the last few years, something which Reya feared telling anyone, especially other Velorians, including Sharon.

Natalie had the ability to project small amounts of energy outside of her body. She had yet to master the ability, and could do little more than throw small objects or splash water without any physical contact. It was something which made Reya feel very proud – though Velor didn’t know, Natalie was the next evolution of Velorian.

But Natalie’s ‘advancement’ left her at a disadvantage. She was shorter than most of her kind, almost fully grown at only five foot six. Her own mother looked like an amazon next to her. Her reduced size meant she had a lower threshold for energy storage, meaning two things – she needed to eat more often, almost as often as humans, and she could never store enough power to visit Velor on her own. She may be the next stage of Velorian…but one who is doomed to exile from Velor.

Reya was not saddened by that fact, however. In fact, she was relieved – upon finding out about her pregnancy, the Velorian council had ordered her home several times. She refused, knowing full well that it meant she could never return home without facing a harsh judgement from the Velorian council.

But that was a moot point now. Earth was her home, because it was her daughter’s home. If before by choice, now it was from necessity…and no one could take her or her daughter away.

“Mom, why are you always so lonely?”

Thinking that Natalie was kidding, Reya looked up smiling – only to notice that Natalie wasn’t. She sighed deeply – she had pretty much dedicated the last sixteen years to raising and protecting Natalie…but hadn’t really thought much about herself. “I…I don’t know, Natalie. I guess I never really made the time for anything besides work and us.”

“You know, I can help you–” Natalie smiled and walked across the small sailboat, sitting down next to her mom. She knew that her mom saw her as a success – she was thoroughly entrenched in the ways of Earth. She went to school just as a normal teen did, had a boyfriend at one point…her blood was not of Earth, but her mind sure was. “I know, it sounds stupid…”

“No, no. It’s not stupid at all.” Reya smiled at her daughter, hugging her gently with one arm. “I’ve always tried to make you a better person than I was. I want you to experience everything I’ve missed, and never feel the pain I had to feel.”

“I remember. It’s so sad, your having to leave everyone behind to come here alone.” Natalie smiled again, her bright eyes easily giving away a sudden thought which burned behind them. “Hey…maybe you should write a book about it.”

Reya laughed…only there was a little seriousness in that laugh, as if she too wished she could. “It’s not something that’s safe to write about, Natalie. Velor has scribes like Sharon for that purpose…they are trained to know what they can safely write without arousing suspicion.”

“So? Maybe Sharon can help you.” Natalie turned around to look behind her, noticing that the shore was approaching slowly. They were almost home. “Your story is too good not to tell! You can’t just let it fade away into nothingness.”

“Natalie–” Reya paused and smiled in spite of herself. She knew that Natalie was pushing her relentlessly, but with good reason. Her daughter was a creative type, she hated watching good material go to waste – whether it be physical material, ideas, or history. “I’ll think about it…all right? In the mean time, give it a rest.”

Natalie laughed. “Okay, mom.”

Not another word was spoken between the two until the boat finally struck land. They didn’t need words at that point – both simply enjoyed the cool Pacific air, and the glow of the vanishing sun from the horizon. It was a rare moment, meant to be shared in silence.

“I saw, it.”

Reya swallowed hard as she looked across the living room at her friend, Sharon. Or so she thought, for the past eighteen years. Now Sharon stood before her, accusing Reya of hiding something from her. The worst part was that she was right. “I’m so sorry, Sharon. I couldn’t tell you–”

“Why? Why couldn’t you tell me?” Sharon folded her arms, her eyes firey with anger.

“Because–” Reya leaned forward and dropped her face into her hands, allowing her hair to hang down dangerously close to the floor. She wished she could hide herself between her own hair strands, slide down, and gradually vanish into the floorboards. “It’s your job to report everything you see and hear back to the Velorian council. I couldn’t ask you to keep this from them.”

“Don’t you think they deserve to know?” Sharon sighed, her anger dissolving as she watched her friend Reya hiding her eyes, most likely close to tears. She had such a difficult life, and most of the time she made the best of it. Yet she still remained as sensitive as the day she arrived from Velor.

Sharon glanced toward the kitchen as she sat down next to her friend, rubbing her back reassuringly. Natalie was in the kitchen, attempting to make chocolate chip cookies after briefly mentioning that she needed sugar. “Natalie is very special, Reya. She shouldn’t have to be hidden away, she may be the next evolution of us. She may be the future.”

Reya nodded slowly. “I thought about that. Maybe she is what the Ancient Ones had in mind. Maybe the reason they vanished was because the constant war between Velor and Aria meant their failure–”

“Maybe you should have become a philosopher instead of a protector.” Sharon smiled at Reya for a few seconds before Reya finally burst out laughing. “Don’t worry, Reya. If Velor is to find out about Natalie, it will be in an appropriate way.”

“It’s not that I don’t trust you, Sharon. I do.” Reya stood and swept her hair back nervously, looking at the floor rather than at Sharon. “I’m…just afraid you’ll underestimate them. You might think everything will be fine, when it’s–”

She paused and smiled as she watched Natalie enter the living room from the kitchen, carrying a plate full of hot chocolate chip cookies, straight from the oven. Natalie walked around the couch carefully, placing the plate onto the coffee table before sitting down.

“You guys are talking about me, aren’t you? Don’t forget, I can hear every word.” Natalie sat down, grabbing a cookie and taking a bite out of it as she smiled at Sharon and Reya. Both noticed that the cookies were fresh out of the oven, far from being cool enough for normal humans to eat without being scalded.

“Nothing you need to worry about, Natalie.” Reya glanced over at Sharon for a moment, giving her a half-smile, half warning.

“I think you should tell them about me.” Natalie shrugged, ignoring Reya’s horrified expression. “I don’t care. There’s not a lot they can do about it.”

Sharon laughed out loud as she reached forward to grab a cookie. Reya seemed less than amused. “She has a point, Reya. They can’t take her back to Velor, after all.”

Natalie nodded. “Besides, I can defend myself. I took Karate last year in high school.”

“What?” The question came in unison from both Sharon and Reya. The two looked at each other, before realizing that Natalie had neglected to tell either one.

“How did you get a signature for that, young lady?” Reya folded her arms, giving an almost mock gaze of anger to Natalie.

Natalie bit her lip, trying not to laugh as she answered. “I forged it. Same as when I took archery two years ago.”

Sharon began laughing out loud again as Reya covered her face and shook her head slowly. “I love this kid, Reya. I really do.”

Natalie cursed to herself as she parked her small electric motor scooter in front of her high school. She could hear the warning bell ringing as she entered the parking lot – meaning she had about five minutes to grab her books and get to class.

As soon as she removed the key, the wheels locked and raised off the ground, activating its built-in security system. Earth technology may not even be close to what her mom described on her home planet, but it was pretty impressive.

She pulled her backpack free from the cargo net, and raced for the front doors of the school. Most of the people who were loitering outside as she drove up had already gone inside to head to class, with the exception of a few who had no plans to do so.

“Runnin’ late again, Nat?”

Natalie smiled as she heard a familiar voice, pausing to turn and greet the source of it – her boyfriend. Actually, they were more like best friends – they spent most of their time together just hanging around each other and talking. “Hey, Allen. What’s new?”

“Nothing much.”

She gave him a quick hug, ignoring the sound of the second bell as it echoed through the halls, officially marking both her and Allen late – that meant they would be unable to go to class without a pink slip, which wasted further time. “Looks like I have to go to the office again. Want to come along?”

Allen smiled and held up his hands in an exaggerated shrug, his backpack nearly sliding off of his shoulder to add to the drama. “Do I have a choice? You made me late.”

Natalie laughed and shoved him gently before grabbing his forearm and leading him down the hall. She walked backwards as she talked loudly in a dramatic voice. “It’s off to the principal’s office for you, Allen! Let’s go!”

The two were laughing by the time they both entered the school administration office, earning them both a stern look from the older woman sitting behind a tall desk. “Shouldn’t you two be in class?”

“We were late.” Natalie leaned her elbows on the counter, smiling across the linoleum border at the woman, trying her best to raise her to the same mood she felt. “We need pink slips.”

The woman frowned further, resisting Natalie’s attempts to cheer her up, even adding a shake of the head. “Natalie, that’s six times this quarter alone. I can’t possibly excuse this absence.”

“So…make it unexcused?” Natalie shrugged. “I don’t care, I just need to get to class.”

“And you, young man,” The woman continued, “Have four unexcused absences of your own.”

Allen shrugged as well, but decided against commenting. The woman rewarded him by handing him a signed pink slip. He took it and patted Natalie’s shoulder as he left the office. “See you in class.”

Natalie sighed, her smile disappearing as she watched the woman behind the desk – quickly becoming her nemesis – motion for the vice principal to come over. The two began discussing something behind the desk – and Natalie started to concentrate, trying to tune her hearing into what they were saying. They spoke of giving her detention, or even suspending her–

“What? That’s not fair!”

She didn’t realize that she had been eavesdropping beyond the capability of humans until both the nemesis behind the desk and the vice principal looked at her in shock.

“Young lady,” The vice principal quickly admonished, “It’s extremely rude to eavesdrop. For your effort, you’ve earned yourself a three day suspension, effective immediately.”

Natalie restrained her enthusiasm as she left the office, purposely shuffling her feet as she headed out into the hallway. As soon as she was clear of the door, she raced for a classroom at the end of the hall, her feet barely touching the floor.

“Nat, wait up!”

She stopped quickly, her shows squealing against the polished floor as she realized that Allen had been waiting outside the office on a bench the entire time. She turned around and headed back, slowly.

“Geez, you can run fast!” Allen laughed as he spoke, seeming a little surprised that Natalie didn’t seem the least bit tired or winded. “You should try out for the olympics or something. Did you get a pink slip?”

“No.” Natalie shook her head quickly, the smile never leaving her face. “They gave me three days off.”

“They suspended you?” Allen shook his head slowly. “But you’re already so far behind…how are you supposed to catch up now?”

“I can always join the olympics.” Natalie bit her lip as she started laughing.

Allen joined in as he gave her a quick good bye hug. “I’ll see you later, Nat. Good luck…uh…lounging around at home. Don’t fall off the couch or anything.”

“See you when you get home from school…sucker.” Natalie shoved him a little and laughed again as she turned to head out of the exit doors at the end of the hall. Allen didn’t even realize that it was a fire exit, and would set off an alarm – but Natalie did. It was to be a last bit of revenge before she went home for her mini-vacation.

But as she headed for that door, something stood in her way. A tall woman with jet black hair and blue eyes stepped out of a doorway to stop her by grabbing her shoulder. She wore an expensive dark blue jacket and matching slacks, which sort offset between her eye and hair color. She looked too young to be a teacher…but why else would she even be wearing such an outfit?

“I’m not wandering the halls, I’ve been suspended,” Natalie said, a little contempt in her voice. “Ask the vice principal.”

The well-dressed tall woman said nothing – she simply grabbed Natalie by her throat and threw her, sending her sliding quickly down the polished hallway floor until she crashed into a set of lockers nestled in a corner of an intersection.

“Hey!” Natalie stood quickly, not even noticing that the lockers behind her looked like a small truck had plowed into them. The doors were bent in, and its frame was severely twisted. “You’re gonna pay for that!”

Before Natalie had time to react, she watched the woman in the blue suit approach Allen quickly. She stood in front of him for what seemed like an eternity, staring at him with interest. Allen froze, either paralyzed by fear or from assuming that the woman had to be on the school’s staff. Or maybe both.

But it was that pause which cost him dearly. The woman placed one hand on his chin, and one on his shoulder. He simply looked up at her, confused by what she was doing…and then, in the blink of an eye, she violently pushed down on his shoulder and up on his chin…

…and Natalie screamed as she watched Allen’s head detach from his body, and fall to the floor. A fountain of blood shot up from what was left of his neck, drenching the woman’s clothing and covering her face with a thick layer of red. She began shaking her head as the woman’s attention turned to her…it had to be a dream. It couldn’t be real.

Natalie screamed again as she turned and burst through the doors at the end of the hall, ignoring the sirens which went off inside the building as the bar marked ‘Emergency Exit Only’ went flying into the schoolyard. Her screams turned into sobs as she cleared the stairway with a single leap, not even pausing as her feet finally touched the sidewalk.

She kept running until she reached her small electric scooter, parked at the edge of the lot – she knew the woman was still chasing her, even though she couldn’t see it.

Natalie was crying hysterically by the time she stepped onto her scooter and raced its small motor beyond its tolerances – it screamed as she tore through the center lane of heavy traffic at nearly fifty miles per hour. A traffic light changed to red, but she wasn’t stopping. She spotted a truck, too late…

As her eyes closed, and she screamed once again, the small scooter slammed into the side of the truck hard enough to cause it to shake. The truck stopped almost immediately – the driver realized something was wrong.

She stood up and looked at what was left of her destroyed scooter, now trapped under the truck’s tires. The side of the truck’s fuel tank was crushed, and fuel spilled onto the pavement. The driver was outside, yelling something…but she didn’t pay attention. She had to get somewhere safe.

Now lacking her electric scooter, she began running alongside the street. At first, it seemed difficult, her lungs burned and her muscles protested…but after a while, she felt herself settling into a sort of rhythm. Her breathing began to slow, and she actually picked up speed as her muscles began to relax. She smiled as she watched the other pedestrians jump out of her way as she easily breezed past them, dodging a few who couldn’t move fast enough, even leaping over a baby in a stroller.

Natalie just happened to glance to her left as she ran, noticing that she was moving much faster than the surrounding car traffic. At first, she figured that maybe there was a traffic jam, and the old joke about walking to get there faster rang true once again…but after a quick comparison, she realized that the cars were moving along just fine – but she was moving faster!

Exhilarated, she purposely started taking longer strides, trying to push her legs and lungs past some imaginary limit which she had obviously shattered a while ago. She didn’t even blink as she approached an intersection where cars had begun driving over the crosswalk – she simply paused her running long enough to drive both of her feet against the sidewalk, launching her into the air, and hopefully across to the other side of the crossing.

She miscalculated her leap – only instead of crashing to the ground and causing a multi-car pileup, she launched herself with blinding speed high above the familiar sidewalk, into what was, to her, another world. Suddenly, she found herself looking down at rooftops – the ground below, the people walking, and the cars on the street all became smaller and smaller as she kept ascending.

Then she suddenly felt terrified – still ascending? Just when she wondered how she could stop, she held her arms out to her sides, and simply willed herself not to climb any higher. She could feel the air in her lungs shift rapidly as she came to a sudden stop, hovering high in the air.

Once she regained her senses, her memory reminded her with horrific graphic reality that she had to go home. Her new discovery would have to wait until another time…until she was safe.

But she wasn’t ready to return to the ground just yet. It only took her a little more effort to learn that she could control her travel – just as she willed herself to stop climbing, she found that she could will herself to travel forward or turn as well. It was like swimming, only without having to tread water.

By air, she made it home in mere minutes. Not having mastered landings yet, her feet slammed into the concrete sidewalk outside her house, causing it to spilt and part of it to sink – but she had more important worries at the moment. Natalie burst into the living room, slamming the door behind her as she headed into the study.

“Mom–” Before Natalie even got the rest of the sentence out, she was already sobbing. She ran over to the overstuffed chair where Reya sat and buried her head in her mother’s lap. “Mom…it was horrible. A strange woman showed up and killed Allen…she tried to kill me too–”

Reya wasn’t sure at first if Natalie was making up some creative excuse for why she returned from school so early…but the fact that her daughter couldn’t stop crying, and she was in shock – pale and shaking – quickly changed her mind. A wave of panic rushed through Reya as she grabbed the television remote and turned on the local news.

“No…Oh my God, no.”

Reya and Natalie sat silent as they watched the high school which Natalie had left less than an hour ago. Police, fire engines, and ambulances surrounded the building, and dozens of bodies were lying on the lawn, covered completely by dark sheets. Blood covered rescue workers as they struggled to save those that they could.

According to the latest report, scrolling across the bottom of the screen, there were forty five reported dead. No explosion was detected, no weapons were reported. Each of the teachers and students killed were simply butchered by what looked like extraordinarily strong human hands.

After an evacuation, A police search of the entire building turned up no one…whoever had committed these atrocities was long gone.

“If it weren’t for the quick thinking of someone who managed to set off the fire alarm,” The school principal was quoted as saying, “The other students may not have had a chance to escape.”

Reya and Natalie shared a look for a moment, one which required no words. Reya just knew it was her daughter who had set off the alarm during her escape – while she was raised as any other child on Earth, she was still a Protector at heart. She hugged her daughter tightly, as she began to shed tears of her own – tears of thankfulness that, above all, her daughter found the power to save herself.

“I love you so much, Natalie…”

After watching an hour of local news footage, it was Natalie’s turn to hold a sobbing Reya instead. She didn’t understand why her mom was crying – she knew very little of the history behind it. Her mom did tell her about a violent, conquering race of enormous power called the Arions, and that one had attacked and beaten her viciously. But Natalie always thought of these Arions as something distant, or rare. She never thought she would see one.

Reya wasn’t sure, either – and once she got over her moment of terror, she called Sharon. As soon as she told Sharon that Natalie had seen one close up, Sharon cut the conversation short.

“I’ll be right over”, she said. It wasn’t so much the words which scared Reya…it was the slight quiver in Sharon’s voice, as if every nightmare she had ever dreamed or written was coming true at that moment. Sharon wasn’t nearly as upset when she heard about the male Arion who attacked Reya – but the woman Natalie described seem to terrify her.

“Natalie, this is very important,” Sharon slowly spoke, her voice a little condescending. “What did she look like? What did she say?”

Natalie shrugged. “She was tall, jet black hair, blue eyes. And she didn’t say anything, she just threw me into some lockers and then attacked Allen.”

“I don’t get it.” Reya shook her head slowly and sat up slowly in her chair, trying to dry her tears. She was far from completely calm, but she didn’t want to be left out of the conversation. “Sharon, you told me that Arion scouts visit here all the time. Why is this one so much more destructive?”

Sharon frowned, her eyes telling the story before she even spoke a word. “Because she’s not a scout. She’s a warrior. They don’t bother to try to keep a low profile.”

“But–” Natalie sat up suddenly, looking between Sharon and the television. She already knew the answer to her next question…but she couldn’t believe it until she heard it from someone else. “Why here? Why my school?”

Reya looked at Sharon with fearful eyes, as she began to put together the mystery as well.

“I fear,” Sharon said, “That she’s come here for you.”

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