Copyright © Sarah Kuska and Demetrius Brown 2007
For nearly four years now, I was lost in space. Now look at me, lost on a meteoroid with little more than a few more hours of breath, Fire-eye had said we could be free, but completely went back on his word and killed Jeff, and we had failed our mission dismally. What was left of the Legacy was either burnt to a crisp that it was nothing but ash or was confiscated by the aliens on this freezing meteor that they called home.
Escape plans raced through my mind. It was what I was trained for in the six years of training for the NASA space mission, in case we did meet alien life forms. Justin said that it was a useless talent to be able to figure escape plans in a mere three minutes, but I thought it was a useful talent to have. If only Josh listened to me when I told him of the lasers hidden in that cave…
I shook my head and looked back at reality. Our hands were bound with laser beams of some sort and any move to break them without the combination code on the wrists would make them flare into life, burning away the skin with searing pain. Justin lay next to me, blood seeping down from a wound in his forehead, completely unconscious.
I didn't know if he was dead.
"Major General Justin?" I asked. He didn't answer. I tried to move closer to him, but the chain that connected me to the rocky wall was already at its limit. "Major General? JUSTIN!" My screams were heard, but not by the Major General. Fire-eye himself stepped into the caves.
"Hello, Brigadier General Koloman," he said. His voice was like a cat's purr, soft but if angered, dangerous and even fatal. I glared at him. His skin was bright red, like the lasers that held my comrades and myself hostage, with no hair and bulging black eyes that protruded from his abnormally large skull that rested on his teeny tiny body. "Enjoying your stay?"
"No more than I should, Fire-eye," I growled in response. "Why are you doing this? We are humans. Simple. Insignificant. Why would you want to deal with anything so puny as us?" Something I used to read when I was little. Aliens liked feeling powerful, superior to all races. He smiled a toothless grin, except for the two fangs that protruded from his black gums.
"Because you are more than just a puny race. You are nosy, annoying little brats who leave their own solar system to take more planets and solar systems into your greedy little hands." I sat there, listening to his words. It wasn't like I was going to do anything else. "But to watch you sit and suffer as you run out of air would be more than just enjoyable, it would be revengeful for all of the Crestaran lives you have stolen."
"Keep telling yourself those stories, Fire-eye," I growled. "Humans aren't anything worthwhile, and we haven't killed any of your kind. We have only been in space for the past 40 years, if that!" He chuckled, his silky voice soothing, if it wasn't for the fact that he was murderous.
"No," he snarled in return, clenching his clawed fist so tightly that violet blood oozed out of the wounds in his palm. "That is a lie! We are on this meteorite because of you humans!"
"It is true, Fire-eye! You have to believe me!" I was instantly answered. A heavy blow to the back of the head knocked me unconscious.
"Six…five…four…three…two…one… we have take-off!" The announcer called over the grounds. The rockets and the couple thousand gallons of fuel to launch off this rock began to burn. I looked at Justin sitting next to me, looking as serious as ever. The thought of this mission ending with a bang not a few minutes into it was nerve racking. I felt the G's sinking into my flesh as the ship fought against the gravity holding it down.
"You are clear for barrel roll."
"Clear for barrel roll," I repeated to Justin as my training told me to do. He nodded and repeated what I had said. Josh yelled and whooped, obviously unaffected by the weight pressing down on our lungs. Jeff chuckled, but the blood rushing to his face showed his true emotion. George sitting in the back was just sitting there, staring at the clouds and the blue sky as we passed it by.
"You are all go for complete launch," said Huston below. I repeated it to Justin who repeated it again for clarifications and pushed the necessary buttons. This is it…do or die…the ship began to lurch, vibrate more, and whine in protest. Everyone including myself gasped, holding our breath for our upcoming deaths.
What would happen?
Would we die now?
I closed my eyes, repeated everything that was coming from the speaker, but still held my breath. Things ran past my eyes: my life, my family, my friends, and the ship…the sounds began to quiet. The vibration slowed to nothing more than a settle hum. I opened my eyes, seeing nothing but darkness with small little pinpoints dotted throughout the vision.
We had made it.
Jeff and Josh burst into cheers, George made a perfectly audible sigh even from way up front, and Justin and I unlatched our facemasks. The two clowns in the back continued to cheer, and I smiled. "Get ready for a sudden jolt," I told them. By the time I finished my sentence, Justin let a little thrust come, which knocked Jeff and Josh off of their feet. I turned to the leader of this mission to distant stars and planets, who had a small smile pulling at his lips. George, our communist friend, growled at the two American cowboys but didn't say anything, as normal.
Justin was never the one to smile at simple things. But to see him smiling out here was nice. It was good to see him relax a bit. He had made the past couple of trips up to the satellite and I could see his heart was in space. "Come on, you two," he ordered, "let's go." The others chuckled but followed their orders.
This trip I knew things were about to change…I knew it in my blood.
It was years later, about three or four, and the mission had gone by quite nicely. A few things went wrong here and there, but nothing we couldn't handle. Jeff, our electrician was up to his eyes in work when we first left and I think he hates us now because of our teasing.
"Oh shut up," he growled, working on the mainframe. "If it wasn't for me we would still be in total blackout." Sadly enough, he was right. We all had training in technology, but Jeff had the major and all of the other degrees in it. Josh smiled but shrugged.
"Yes of course. All hail Prince Jeff…our savior!" We all did mock bows in front of him and Jeff burst into laughter. "Hey, BG, where is our King and his Princess?" I scowled at him. Josh had always thought George acted like a girl. They called me BG because of my rank, Brigadier General.
"I believe he is in the Common Room," I answered. It was the room where we ate, had our meetings, and chatted on other things. "Don't bother him, though, Jeff," I ordered when I saw him leaving the room. "He and George have some issues from back on Earth to settle. Give them time."
"Alright," Jeff said, backing down. "So, what do you miss most of all back on Earth?" He nodded towards the training mat and cocked an eyebrow.
"Is that a challenge?" I asked. He nodded and pulled off his shirt. I smiled and quickly pulled on a simple tank top and a pair of shorts. At least those boys were decent enough not to stare. I walked onto the mat, feeling my body float about slightly from the lack of gravity.
We began to circle each other.
"The most I miss," I started, stepping back as Jeff threw a punch and I grabbed his wrist, twisting dangerously hard, "would probably be," I kicked behind his knee, making him fall forward nose-first on my own knee, "hmm…" I took my time thinking about what I missed and threw his body off of my knee and rested my foot on his chest. "I don't know. Maybe," he caught me off guard, locking his legs in between mine and twisting, marking my one mistake. My back hit the ceiling hard and my hands slipped on the pads. I hated it when I floated about without anything to grip. Propping myself on the ceiling, I threw myself down at him. "Gravity!" I spat in his face. He looked at me with a confused look. I put my hand at the back of his neck and used my weight and what little gravity there was to push him down to the ground. This time, I pulled out the knife I kept on me and held it at his neck.
"You cheated," he growled.
"You enjoy the weightless feeling," I panted, "this is your ground. So who cares if I do it right or not?" He smiled, and I helped him up, sheathing my blade. "You ok?"
"I've never been better," he answered. Josh burst into a laughing fit and applause at the "performance".
"We have a problem."
"What is it, sir?"
"Meteor field and a big one too," Justin answered. "Go call Jeff and Josh." I hit a button and my voice echoed throughout the ship.
"Jeff, Josh! Get up here now; meteor field and a big one too. Hurry up!" They were up in a matter of minutes, dressed in their space suit, dripping with sweat. They later told me they were training. "Get ready. It's going to get bumpy," I ordered.
"Can you navigate?" Justin asked.
"What are you going to do?"
"Find out when and where this thing came from," he barked, unbuckling his seat harness. "Keep it steady, please," he asked. I nodded and took the stick, hitting buttons to activate the manual control. I heard rustling behind me as he left the cockpit for the computer mainframe.
"We are going to die," I heard Jeff pant.
"Shut up or I will crash this plane, got it Jeff?" I barked over my shoulder, glaring at them. He nodded. I could understand his fear. My strength was manual flying but training under these circumstances wasn't really a big topic they covered during training.
To the left…
Roll and pitch…
What in the world was that? On a meteor was something that looked like an abandoned city. It mesmerized me and I couldn't take my eyes off of it. It looked like Cinderella's castle, just much, much bigger and made of what looked like glass. "Koloman, look out!" A meteorite, the size of maybe a basketball, just barely missed us. I could hear the others grunt behind me as I tried to level back out the Legacy. "What is your problem?" It was George who was screaming at me.
"Sorry," I answered, hurtling the ship in a roll to miss a large boulder heading directly our way…or was it a boulder? "I thought I saw something."
"GET US OUT OF HERE!" Justin came screaming in. "NAOMI! GET US OUT!" He came storming into the cockpit, a look of sheer fear and torture painted on his face. I did as I was told, putting the ship in full throttle.
"Hold on," I growled and nearly closed my eyes as the Gs pushed against my body. It was hard to work under these conditions but the rough training of the past had helped me for this. "Almost there…" I could see the end from where I was. Justin was still panting heavily.
Then the engines failed…
"No, no, no, no!" Justin growled. "Jeff, can you fix that?" But Jeff didn't answer. He pointed out of the cockpit windows at a large ship that was heading our way. "Holy-," he cut himself off. Pounding attacked the hull of the ship and hushed orders in some strange clicking noises reached my ears. My heart thumped in my chest.
Then I saw them…
There were five of them. They were tall and red skinned with bulging black eyes. These things weren't human in any way, shape, or form. These…things…had three fingers, three legs each with two toes on them, and no eyelids. They clicked towards each other and pointed at me. "Major General," I began in an almost whispered voice, "what did you do below?" He told me to hush.
"Hello," he called out, his voice not wavering one bit, "we come from Earth," that got some response, "Do any of you speak English?" They all looked at each other and the one in the far back, with a large cut bleeding purple blood on his forehead, stepped forward.
"I do," he said. His voice was misty and it scared the living daylights out of me. "You are trespassing on our territory," he growled. He clenched his three fingered fist at his side and shook it at us. "You are not allowed to live if that happens. It has been our law for thousands of years. But since you come from that lovely planet," he said while looking at me and Justin, his eyes flickering between us, "we shall spare your lives for information, yes?" I looked at Justin. He didn't seem nervous.
"Only certain information," he said his voice completely perfect. "We have an accord." Oh yes, leave it to the man born and raised in England to make an accord. "Major General Justin Hankock," he said.
"Fire-eye. This is Mist-claw, Forest-moon, Moon-gazer, and my wife, Crystal-claw," He pointed each one out. I was easily lost. They all looked the same to me. "Follow us and we will lead you to safety." He clicked some more at the others and we got up, following him.
"You see, our planet was blown up nearly 40 years ago. This is all that is left our world." Fire-eye told us as we walked along the surface of the meteor where I saw the crystal castle. Caves found their waves into craters, and I had to pull Josh and Jeff out of more than one hole. "You see, someone thought it would be funny to blow up a planet with nuclear missiles. They never did think of the consequences." I nodded. Justin was on the other side of Fire-eye, taking everything he said like me.
"What are these caves?" I asked, pointing to them.
"First dibs!" Josh called.
"Josh get back here! That is an order!" I called out. He didn't listen. For a man that was nearly 24 years old, he was such a child at times. "Josh!" He stood at the entrance of the cave. I saw a glint of light reflected off of the barrel of a gun, unmistakable even from this distance from him and in space. "JOSH! THERE ARE LASERS OR BULLETS OR SOMETHING DANGEROUS IN THERE!" I screamed. He ignored me and took a step in…it all happened so fast.
Lasers cut through him like a hot knife through butter. His arms and legs detached themselves from his torso and his blood fell everywhere. The lights in his suit went out instantly. When I tried to run to his side, one of the original five that had bordered the Legacy grabbed me and held on with a vice like grip. They did with all of the others. Fire-eye held Jeff in front of his, his fingers grew like snakes around his neck.
"You have trespassed on our lands and he goes into a trap for food. He deserved his death. Do not go and meet the same feat as he did." He sounded so calm.
"You allowed us passage!" Justin called out.
"That I did. But my people won't allow too many of your kind into the city. They'll enjoy the performance." He looked up to the night sky.
"What performance?" I asked. I just had to ask. Above, where our ship was hovering because of a beam from their ship, lights began to flash. The first one, which was bright green, hit the glass and reflected off. It evaporated in space. The second one, bright blue, hit the glass and did the same thing. The final laser, a thick red one, hit the ship and it exploded in front of our eyes. "Hey!" I screamed.
"Do not try to escape," Fire-eye ordered. "Or he will die." He squeezed his hand around his neck. I felt the same thing slither about my neck.
"Do or die, huh?" I asked, and nodded at Jeff. He nodded and cocked an eyebrow. He swept his legs underneath Fire-eye's own, which caused the alien to fall backwards onto his back. I was about to do the same thing when Jeff's head snapped clean off his body. "Jeff! Jeff! JEFF!" Quickly and smoothly, Fire-eye was back on his three legs, glaring at the three of us remaining.
"I see that it will have to go the hard way," he said. He clicked in his own language towards the others, and they knocked the others unconscious around me.
That was when I woke up in this cave. My hands were bound by lasers, each time I thrashed against them; they would burn into my skin. Justin lay unconscious next to me, his hands limp in their captive cuffs. Fire-eye still stood before me, huffing and puffing with rage.
"Please," I whispered, "let me go. Let me take my friends and leave!" I looked around, suddenly realizing that George was missing. "Where is the other?" I saw a glint of pain thrash through Fire-eye's eyes.
"He let himself die. He suffocated himself. We had nothing to do with his death," he said. "You will find yourself executed when we reach Earth." He said. I gasped.
"I am leading the attack on your planet today. You and your Major General Justin Hankock are coming with me," he hissed. He strode from the hall just like that, leaving me in tears in the cavern.
They came for us later that day. Justin awoke shortly after Fire-eye left and I told him everything that happened when he was out. He told me that I had been unconscious for days and he had already found that information out. Another piece of startling news: he hadn't killed George. The man did suffocate himself.
We planned for the counterattack while we waited.
The journey to Earth was a measly ten minutes my internal clock. I saw the blue planet come from a small tiny speck to a large planet. Fire-eye purred that sounded like a chuckle to me, and launched his single little ship forward.
It was time…
Justin launched himself at Fire-eye, wrapping his own fingers around the alien's neck and squeezing tight. I grabbed the knife tucked tightly at my side and launched it through what would be his heart. He screamed and thrashed, waving his arms like a frat boy at a party. His fingers found my neck and squeezed. I gasped for breath. I became light headed, my vision narrowing, when the snake was instantly released. I looked down.
Justin had cut out the heart of Fire-eye.
"It's over," he said and sighed. I did the same as him. A vision of another alien appeared on the screen before us. "You better release your attack on us," he growled, caring or not that the creature before us understood. "I killed your leader. If you don't want what happened to your planet happen to your body individually to each and every one of your soldiers, turn back now."
The creature looked terrified. The screen clicked off instantly and when I looked out the window, I saw each and every one of the ships pull away. All couple hundred thousand of them.
Earth was safe.
I told my story as Naomi Koloman from southern Texas side-by-side with Justin Hankock from England. Jeff and Josh Craymond, both brothers in arms, and George Seamore, were given the highest Medal of Honor from the United States of America for their bravery in an enemy field.
Justin sighed when he heard of this after the Ceremony of the Legacy.
"What?" I asked. "Sir?"
"I lost a bet."
"On the ship, George and I didn't have a feud, oh no," he smiled to himself, "we had a bet, which one would receive the Medal or the Promotion first. That lucky little-," he stopped himself and smiled. "Cheeky guy." I smiled and brushed a tear off of my cheek.
"Well, you have the Legacy to thank for that, don't you?"
"No," he said, turning to face me. He was in dress uniform the only thing that was a remembrance of the fight was a nasty scar across his forehead. Mine was what looked like a cut around my throat from the struggle with Fire-eye. "We have the Russians to thank. With the race to space."
I smiled and followed him out of the room, turning off the lights as I left…
6Copyright © Sarah Kuska and Demetrius Brown 2007