Written In The Stars © Copyright 2009, Victoria Yee

Written In The Stars

{The secret of the world, is written in the stars.}

He told it to her then, without any remorse or hesitation. "I am leaving."

Something in her stilled, even as she knew this day would come. After all, not many would deny the promise of glory, power and gold that came with the position of being Admiral of the Republic's fleet. Promoted. She could laugh. The Republic against the Outworlders: a desperate war followed by the power struggle that ensued. The Outworlders were a barbaric bunch, and if they were in control of the Republic's known galaxy, all planets and living beings would suffer under their reign of terror.

"Understandably. Being a mere Captain does not provide by gold or glory, does it?" Her heart was burning. Not like when he kissed her, that burning was more of a sensual ravage of fire. This burning was like a twisting, angry column of fire, gnawing and biting. She was burning. Like a star should be.

Jasper easily saw through her nonchalant veneer. He had hurt her. Now she'd shut him out, and that hurt him, too. It was just as well. He did no want her to harbour any hopes that he would return. "Adara," he grated roughly.

It was a plea. A plea to let him speak, to let him hold her, to let him in – to understand. Her heart's burning grew, and ran down her fiery veins. She could feel small sparks ignite at her fingertips. "Don't beg me to understand, because I never will." That escaped in an angry breath, and she ploughed on. "I just can't believe… I am such a fool. A man I love would never be able to do what you did."

That stung. As much as a dagger plunged deep in his bloody heart. She knew it would. And she was viciously glad it did.

"What I did?" He laughed harshly, his chest feeling like it was about to shatter under the pressure. "I am leaving because, as an Admiral, I would have the power to save more lives than if I were to remain a Captain onboard Starstruck – onboard this vessel. I would have the power to stop this war. Would you want it to continue for another decade?"

"It is for the people then? Then what about the people on this ship? Do their lives mean anything to you? What if they die without you… What-what if I die? Do you care about that?"

He ignored the way his stomach twisted nauseously at the mention of her death. "It's a war, Ada. People die in wars all the time. After all, some things have to be sacrificed for a greater good." Jasper purposely neglected to mention that when he became the Admiral, the only missions Starstruck was ever getting were the ones that involved cleaning up when the battles were over. She would be allowed to aid the injured, but there was no way Adara, as the new Captain of Starstruck, was going into direct confrontation with any Outworlders.

Blanching, the fire that ran in her veins cooled, icing over as her heart trembled with despair. "Leave."

Jasper hesitated for a moment, then conceded to her command. "I will be leaving for the flagship in two days. After that, Starstruck is yours to command."

When he left, she made sure the doors to her cabin were firmly sealed shut before she collapsed the ice around her heart, and cried.

Forever, he had whispered to her sweetly. Made heady promises of passion and love and desire in the dark. Forever. That pretty word was nothing but an enticing lie.

-

The war between the Republic and the Outworlders was inevitable. The Outworlders were humanoid in appearance, but they were brutal and power-hungry, wanting control over all the known galaxies. They had gained supporters from the more violent members of the Republic, those who had always enjoyed maiming and murdering. Over the course of time, it turned into a full-fledged war.

Naturally, the Republic was uncertain of a victory. They knew the Outworlders would do whatever it took to gain a victory. The Republic had no one to turn to and just as everyone thought they were doomed to death, a beautiful shining woman appeared and offered the voluntary assistance of thousands of stars.

The Republic was hesitant at first – they knew of countless of alien species, and lived peacefully alongside these creatures. But stars? No one even suspected they had more to them than being a mass of hydrogen. Having no other choice but death, the Republic promised their safety from everyone but the enemies. They would be treated like members of the Republic, honoured and respected. Ten thousand of them came down, trained and fought alongside the Republic soldiers. They turned the tides of the war against the Outworlders and soon made themselves the most admired species on the galaxy.

At the same time, ten thousand of stars in the sky dimmed, hollow and empty. Each time a star died, the grey shell of it would combust in the sky, gone forever.

As the decade drew to a close, the sky was considerably emptier compared to before the war. For even as the stars were known for their magic and prowess in battle, the Outworlders begun training soldiers specifically for the capture of the stars. They devised a terrible method of execution for the ethereal beings: the victim would be tied down, and her flesh devoured alive. Initially, they thought they would be able to absorb their magic through the consumption of their flesh. This theory was soon proven wrong. Despite that, the specialised soldiers – hunters, as they liked to call themselves – continued in their brutal ways, simply taking pleasure in eating the luscious flesh of a star. There were even some wealthy Outworlders who did not consume anything but the flesh of a star, some who devoted their lives to finding and capturing the most delectable star.

Needless to say, the Republic lost strength, and their favour over the Outworlders dwindled to an even fight. Only a handful of stars remain, desperately fighting and hiding from the hunters. No other stars volunteered their help again; none could bear the thought of being eaten alive. The ones in the skies mourned for their sisters, and turned their backs on the whole galaxy. They still remained in the sky, yes, but sorrow and fear dimmed them.

None had dared risk their lives, to shed their appearance and take on a human form.

When the second brightest star in all the vast galaxies did just that, all were numb with horror. But they turned their faces to the galaxies once more, hoping that the Fates would allow the remaining stars to live. Already they had lost so many, and the death of one of their brightest stars would have them mourning for eternity.

-

[seven years ago]

When she had first fallen from the skies, her first thought was how bright the world below was. In the sky, the only light there was came from her sisters and herself. Down below, the buildings were brightly lit and colourful, buzzing with sights and sounds.

She also discovered that she could drown. Perhaps it might have been luck that she fell into a lake. Falling on a building or the road would have resulted in a painful and timely death – and without accomplishing anything she came to do. Thankfully, a young human jumped in to save her, and managed to retrieve her from the bottom of the lake.

He dragged her sodden body out of the water and pressed his fingers against the pulse of her delicate neck. It beat, faintly so. Relieved, he wrapped his jacket around the dazed woman and carried her to his quarters. As he walked through the ship with her in his arms, many fellow recruits jeered and teased, for it was the first time they had seen him ever show an inclination for a woman. He ignored them, and after accessing the doors to his quarters, he gently lowered her onto his bed. Just as he was considering what to do next, she coughed, spluttering out water. At once, he smoothed her brown hair away from her face, stifling a gasp when her eyes parted to reveal honest brown orbs he could get lost in. As he stared, her beautiful eyes widened into panic.

"Everything is fine," he said soothingly. "You're safe now."

"Where am I?" She asked shakily.

"Fearless. The training ship for recruits."

Her brown eyes focused on him then, slowing roving down to his uniform with his nametag on it "J. Claxton." The name rolled off her tongue smoothly, and she smiled at him. "Claxton," she repeated, testing out the syllables. "J. Claxton."

"Jasper, actually," he corrected. "Jasper Claxton."

"I am Adara." She had observed human beings long enough to know they had long names, so she endeavoured to add something to hers. "Adara Starr."

"Pleasure to meet you," he said formally, and for the first time in a long time, she laughed.

They ended up sharing his meagre rations, and stories about their lives. Adara tried her best not to give anything away, as well as not to lie too much. For some reason, she did not like lying to the black haired man beside her. His mysterious pale eyes intrigued her, and she found herself getting drawn to everything he said. Eventually, she asked him about Fearless, and how one could possible get recruited aboard it.

"You want to join the war?" Jasper was astounded, his grey eyes probing hers.

"I am already dragged into it whether I like it or not," she replied honestly. "I came in search of my sisters. You see, they are very dear to me, and being sympathetic towards the plight of the Republic, they joined the military forces in war and have gone missing. I intend to find them."

"Are we so doomed that the women have to aid our cause in this wearying war?" He murmured lowly, more to himself than to her. Then he turned to her and said, "You've made up your mind then? And no amount of my persuasion would convince you otherwise?" At her assent, he sighed, "You will have to consider the obstacles – say, the training, the risks of injury…"

"I have thought about it and I am not changing my mind," she said gently but firmly. Inwardly, she was touched by his concern for her but tried not to let it show.

God, was she stubborn. All the many women he'd met were so easily persuaded, even as they tried to charm him with their feminine wiles and flirty smiles. They were delicate, deferring, polite – so unlike this headstrong beauty before him. "Well then, I will help you."

Adara never knew how he did it, but he was true to his word. She was enlisted the very next day and spent the whole of it trying to explore the ship without being gawked at. There were women in the military before but they were rare. The next few months she spent training hard. Having come in late, she had to learn in months what the rest did in years. It was lucky then, she was more magic and fire than science and bullets – or she would have found everything impossible. Jasper helped her along the way as well, and all that she missed out on, he took it upon himself to teach it to her.

The weeks had flown by quickly, and she had completed her training just a day before they would be designated to their respective units. Her specialty was stealth. Even without the stealth generators, she was capable of sneaking into an enemy's assault ship and disarming them. With the stealth generators, she was a ghost. Moreover, she was not too bad in the physical department as well; even if she could never outdo the rest in strength, she made up for it with speed and skill.

She hated to think that would happen next. Things had been going by so fast she lost track of time. If Jasper and her were separated, she was unsure of what she was going to do with everything. He was the one that got her through everything in Fearless and if he were gone… She stopped her thoughts there and then.

The graduation party was indoors. She should be inside, toasting at her completion of her training, but she could not bring herself to care about her rank promotion. Mere human frivolities, if you asked her. Fearless was docked on Kain, a planet well known for its lush forests and waterfalls. Adara had needed to see the night sky so she had escaped outside. It soothed her. The grass she was lying on was soft and she was lulled into a dreaming state. Perhaps she should not have drunk all those glasses of champagne offered to her…

"Watching the stars again?" A familiar voice called out, and he settled on the grass next to her.

Her eyes fluttered opened. "There used to be so many…"

Jasper downed the rest of his champagne in one gulp. "If there's one thing I have learned, it'd be that everyone loses in a war. No one really wins."

"That's true…" She yawned softly, unconsciously reaching out to brush his arm. "Aren't you needed back there? All the ladies would be distraught at your absence."

"They don't mean anything to me, Adara," Jasper said, a little testily. He felt the slightly brush of her fingers on his skin, and warmth spread to the very core of his being.

She only giggled dreamily, half asleep. "I know. I just like seeing you get irritated." Adara yawned again, and she could not help but ask, "Will I see you again? After the designation, I mean? I would hate for this to be our last conversation."

"Well… it seems like you are stuck with me. The Committee has me promoted to Captain, requesting that I pilot Hyades. They also designated you to be in my team, seeing how well we have worked together." Jasper tried to contain his excitement over the news – and it was the very thing he had sought her out to tell her about. Placing the empty glass of champagne on the grass, he laid down, watching the stars come into view.

"That's great!" Adara was awake now. "I was so worried the whole time, being unsure of where I was going to end up, or where you were going to end up…"

He chuckled. "You didn't think I was going to leave you, did you? After all, I have yet to teach you everything…"

"You mean there's more?"

Her look of confusion had him laughing jovially. "Do you know how to swim, Adara?"

At that, they both dissolved into laughter. As she chortled, her heart soared, and she could barely contain the starlight seeping at the edge of her fingertips. Above, the watching stars quivered too, as though laughing. She did not know where their mission was heading them, but as long as she had him, she knew all would be fine.

-

Adara knew there was no point in crying in the dark forever. She still had a life, a mission to carry through. At least she had experienced happiness – however briefly it lasted. From the skies, she had observed countless situations like hers before, and like others, she could go on. She knew she would go on. At the very least, she loved. Not many were that lucky.

Finally she found the sleep she sought, and fell into a dreamless slumber.

When she awoke the next morning, no signs of the day's pain could be seen on her face. Her face was smoothly serene and her smiles were as lovely as ever. During breakfast, when Jasper broke the news to the rest of the crew, she was the calmest one in the midst of the outrage and shock. It was then she realised she found it in her heart to let him go. She had been drunk on his love, sipped and savoured it and because she loved him, she had the courage to let him be free of her.

She could tell how lost Jasper was in the midst of the chaos his news had brought. He stood stiffly at the doorway, as though unsure of staying to defuse the situation, or escaping to a safer place.

Before she knew it, she was on her feet, the most charming smile lighting up her face. "Gentlemen, please." At once, the rampage ceased, and the whole crew turned to her. "How long have we known Captain Claxton for? How long have we fought alongside him and shared blood and sweat? How many of us owe our lives to him?" Adara paused, and while her heart trembled slightly as she glanced at his impassive expression, she went on, "Now all he asks for is our understanding, our support in his courageous endeavour to end all these years of war – and this is what we give him?

"All I ask, as the future Captain of Starstruck, is not to love or respect Captain Claxton any less for his decision. You may not agree with it, as do I, but that is his decision to make, and not ours. What is ours is the responsibility we now are given to support our new Admiral in his future endeavours.

"I will admit, I may not be the best Captain. But I promise I will do my best to ensure everyone of you comes out of this war safely – even if it means giving up my life. Now, the crew of Starstruck, my brothers, would you be willing to fight to the end of this war with me, whereupon we will regain ours lives and freedom that we deserve?"

There was a slight pause. And then, the cabin burst out in a loud, rousing chorus of cheer. Her eardrums threatened to burst and her heart lifted at the sign of her crew's support and encouragement. When she sneaked a glance at the doorway, he was already gone. It did not surprise her. In all the years she had known him, he had always appeared and disappeared without explanation.

Dax, the first mate, stood up and the crew quietened down almost immediately. He turned to Adara, and inclined his head respectfully, "Captain Starr, it would be an honour."

After the speech she made, she was on her way to the pilot room when the second mate approached her. "You always had my respect, even before you made Captain."

She smiled at him. "Thanks, Nate."

Nate was the closest friend she had in the crew, and was the only one that knew about her love with Jasper. "If you want to talk or anything, my quarters are always open to you." His voice was rich with deeper meaning, and Adara caught onto it.

"I know."

The pilot room was empty, save for the figure facing the panel of screens and buttons. Jasper did not give any indication that he'd heard the conversation outside, even though she suspected he did.

Adara strolled into the room, refusing to be intimidated by his silent presence. He did not stir, neither did he acknowledge her. Sitting down in the seat next to his, she eyed the blinking screen of coordinates, colourful dots that identified their position in the vast galaxies.

"You know," she said casually. "If we jumped to hyperspace now, we could get you to the flagship now instead of tomorrow."

"That eager for me to leave?"

She could not stifle the wild laugh that bubbled out of her, pitying, consoling. "If that were true, you would be galaxies away from Starstruck, much less sulking in the pilot room, darling."

-

When my sister scoffed at me for wanting to help the galaxy, I was enraged. She said the galaxies were not worth our lives, and certainly not worth her life, as the brightest star of the galaxies. She laughed and mocked at my foolish notions. But now I see.

I see them watching me from the safety of the sky. I see clouds embracing my grey husk in the sky. I am a star. I am the second brightest star in all of the vast galaxies. I am one of the oldest to grace the skies. But I do not know the secrets of the worlds. I do not know the secrets of the heart.

If I were to die, my husk will explode in a conflagration of colours and light, the greatest explosion ever to be soon. It is funny. My heart is dying, slowly. It is with considerably less grandeur and colours than if I were to die. If I were to die. But my heart, it is dying before me. Slowly. Quietly.

-

[five years ago]

Starstruck, he had renamed it, for reasons unknown to her. He said Hyades was a terrible name, a name for Hell itself. 'Starstruck' was more hopeful, more apt than the depths of purgatory. Adara had went along with it, inwardly laughing at the irony.

"What?" He asked, when she was caught giggling as he repainted the name on the side of the ship. They had just completed their first few missions and were stopping at Haane for a few days break.

"Nothing," she snickered. Elation from escaping death evidently still ran high.

Jasper only cast her a dark look while she sauntered away, still in a fit of giggles. However, she paid for it later that night.

Watching the stars from the balcony of Haane's finest hotels, she had no idea she was being snuck up on till he grabbed her at the waist and heaved her into his arms, kicking and screaming. Adara managed to slip out of his grasp and tugged on his ankle, bringing him down. They wrestled for a few minutes on the plush carpet flooring, tumbling and yelling like children.

Then the tides changed, and pushing and tugging turned to caresses. He kissed her, and liquid fire ran in her blood, pulsing a heady flame at her fingertips. Her heated touch burnt a trail on his skin, but there was no pain, no injury and only sweet desire.

He broke off suddenly, panting heavily. "Do you like hearts?"

"…What?"

Jasper reached into the pocket in his pants, bringing out a silvery metal object. Before she could say anything, he slid the necklace around her neck. He fingered the intricately carved heart, and the sparking stone inside tinkled quietly. "It won't break or rust. And if you are in trouble, it will help me find you."

She watched the diamond shimmer in the golden light. It sent sprays of tiny light glitter around the room. Almost like what the stars did in the sky.

"Do you like it?" He was watching her carefully with a nervous expression on her face, waiting for a reaction from her.

"It is exquisite," she breathed. "It must have been expensive, you shouldn't have spent so much gold."

"I had been saving up," he shrugged, secretly elated that she liked it. The necklace hung just below her collarbone and it looked as though it was made for her.

Adara leaned close to his ear. "Thank you, Jasper." Brushing kisses from his jaw line to his chin, she pressed a kiss to the corner of his mouth.

He sighed at her touch. She smiled. And the fire flickered.

-

It was time.

Starstruck was already docked in the flagship's hangar. The ceremony was about to take place. The whole crew was invited.

Adara stood in the shadows of the hangar, wondering if she should attend the ceremony. There was no one in the hangar but her, the rest already being in the ceremonial room waiting. Nate had tried to stay with her; she ended up forcing him to go. There was still time, she knew, to join the rest of them – if she chose to.

As soon as she thought that, the hangar doors slid open and a disgruntled Jasper stormed in. Instinctively, she shrank further back into the shadows but he caught sight of her easily and was towering over her in seconds.

"Take it," he snapped angrily, pulling her hand roughly and forcing the necklace into it. "It was a gift. You don't have to leave it with the rest of my belongings just because you don't love me anymore. I want you to keep it."

"I want you to take it," she said evenly, though her hands were still trapped in his rough, enforcing ones. "Now that you're leaving, it rightfully belongs to you."

Jasper seemed to grow angrier. His eyes had darkened to black, thunderous and raging. "It was a gift to you," he snarled furiously. "It was meant for you and you are not at all obliged to return it."

Adara had never seen this side of him before: so wild, and so livid. Her eyes widened at his sudden show of anger, and he felt a tinge of guilt for frightening her. He was furious she didn't want the necklace anymore. It was as though she had already moved on, wanted to move on and had already easily done so – leaving him still yearning for her like a whimpering puppy. It was as if their love was so easily blotted out, he was so effortlessly cast aside from her life.

Her lips hovered close suddenly, parting.

Instinct had him moving like lightning to capture them with his own, pressing her taut against the hangar walls. It was unlike any other kisses they shared. This was changed with ferocity and a gasping desperation that had everything engulfed in fire. It spoke of everything they had shared, everything they could have, everything they were leaving behind. It was of sorrow, regret and goodbyes.

They both knew it was the once in a lifetime, life or death goodbye kiss.

Jasper went through the ceremony in a daze, his mind viciously recalling flashes of the moments they spent together. He could barely hold himself together, and nameless faces congratulated him in murmuring voices he could not understand. He was drowning in an ocean of regret, love and memories.

He held up till he reached his new quarters. Then he collapsed on the bed. She was probably light-years away now.

With a pained groan, he threw of his requisite combatant suit. With a tinkle, something silvery bounced on the carpeted floorings. His heart almost stopped, and he turned to the edge of the bed, praying he had heard wrongly.

He had not. Lying there innocently sparkling, was the necklace she must have snuck into his pocket before he left. He was torn between laughing or raging at her ingenuity.

Emotions churned and burned in his chest. Jasper howled with desperate laughter, his harsh cries ringing in the room. Then they turned into racking, convulsive sobs and he was too tired to hold it in any longer.

-

[one year later]

Admiral Claxton paced through the hallway of his Victorious taking his daily rounds of his flagship. Through the viewing glass of the hangars, he watched various mechanics repair one of the assault ships that required assistance. He passed through the different hangars swiftly, making sure everything was in order. At the last hangar, however, he halted suddenly.

Was it his wild imagination, or was that truly her? He had been through this countless times: he would notice a brunette that looked like her, but when he took a closer look, it was nothing but a letdown. Still, his heart skipped a beat each time it happened. His eyes roved about the woman's back, and he examined every subtle nuance about her. She turned, hair dancing in the hair and framing her face.

Jasper forgot how to breathe.

It was her! After so long… Heart beating wildly, he had to restrain himself from plastering his face to the glass and pounding on the wall till she turned and saw him. His eyes devoured her beautiful features, her slight sway to her hips as she walked… and the arm around her shoulders. Nate. He was starting to regret saving Nate's life years before. Then he noted her stiff posture and the tinge of flame starting at her fingertips. Nate bent closer, saying something he could not hear. She smiled weakly. Jasper's heart clenched. He noticed the fire at her fingertips receded.

Full of hope and agony, he watched the light of his light board the ship. He did not move from his spot till he saw Starstruck blink into hyperspace.

When Jasper returned to the command station, his first reaction was to seek out his assistant. "Why wasn't I informed of Starstruck's arrival?" He demanded, as the man visibly paled under his dark gaze.

"Sir, I do apologise. You once mentioned not to ask permission for requests from our recruits. Your only instruction was to aid them to the best of our ability."

That he did instruct, and regretting his hasty actions, he placed his hand on the man's shoulder. "No need to apologise, Smith. It was my mistake. Just tell me, what did Starstruck request for? Did they require aid?"

"No, sir. Captain Starr simply came over to request for more… 'missions worthy of her time and skills', as she aptly put it. As you have previously instructed, only low-risk missions will be assigned to Starstruck. We have promised the Captain we would look into the matter, though I don't think she was pleased with the reply."

"I would imagine." Jasper could not help but chuckle. That explained the fire.

Smith went on, "She was quite persuasive even right till the very end. We would have given in, had it not been for your strict instructions."

"Thank you, Smith."

He inwardly laughed at her frustration now. It must have been a boring year for her, with only patients to aid and Nate… for company. He wondered if she had thought of him even once. There was not a day that went by when he did not think of her.

That day, she had thought he'd become an Admiral for the glory and the power. Nothing was further from the truth. He had left them because he wanted to protect her, and to do so, he needed knowledge and power. For a long time, he had known of what exactly she was, having guessed from her conversations and the way she glowed when happy or simmered when upset. An Admiral would have access to the information about the sisters she sought, as well as the power to destroy any hunters that even thought about capturing her.

Jasper had found out she was the second brightest star in the galaxies, and he could only imagine how much courage it took for her to descend from the safe skies to risk her life for her sisters. It was all fate, he realised. She fell into the very same lake he had been spending the day thinking by. The very day he was pondering his loneliness in his life. The moment she opened her russet eyes, he knew it was fate.

Just like how it was fate for him to love her, but for her to forget him. For him to think of her, and dream of her always. For him to always be incomplete and yearning without her.

-

[two years later]

"Dax, I am almost inside the prisoner cages. Ready Starstruck to leave and jump to hyperspace immediately."

Her communicator buzzed quietly. "Yes, Captain. Be careful."

Adara silently crept across the pressure sensitive floors. She approached the metal door bravely, and located the panel at the side. The metal slid open to reveal numerous buttons. She almost sighed in relief. Nothing she could not handle. Without a sound, she disabled the security system on the door, and when she pushed a button, the doors to the prisoner cages glided open. Inside, there were at least five force field protected cages, each containing a slumped woman – what was left of the decimated population of stars that came down to help the Republic.

Inwardly, she gave a whoop of joy. After almost a decade of trying to seek them out, she had finally found what she came looking for. Her sources had been right then. She knew she had been right to defy the missions assigned to her, as well as the ridiculous regulations of the Republic. Now the only task left was to get them to safety.

Typing quickly on the command panel, she worked on disabling the force field. It took her several tense minutes, but when she got through, she immediately lifted the cages imprisoning her sisters.

At once, she ran forward, helping the groggy ones to stand and explaining the situation the best she could. The seven stars smiled at her, faces lined with years of worry and pain.

"You shouldn't have came for us," said one of them. "The Leader of the Outworlders, Nish, his birthday is today, and they are celebrating it by feasting on the seven of us – why do you think they kept all of us alive for so long?"

"They were saving us for his birthday ceremony." Another spat.

"Do you realise what you are risking by doing this? Leave us now and save yourself, sister."

"I will not come down from the skies for nothing, sisters. Sirasa told me not to, but I could not stand by and watch such atrocities happen without trying to stop it. If I can save all your lives, it will be worth one of mine. Now come." Adara commanded firmly.

"Sirasa?" The blonde star frowned.

They paused and stared at her, examining her from head to toe. "Oh, by the Stars."

"What is it?" Another asked.

"Look at her," moaned the blonde star, shaking her head with horror. "Please tell me you are not Adara."

"I am." Adara said shortly, grabbing hold of one of them. "Will you listen to me now?"

"Oh, by the Stars…" All of them groaned at once, expressions contorted in dismay and terror. "The brightest of us all, coming down to this filth, risking her life to save our miserable ones. We should be ashamed of ourselves."

"You should be ashamed only if you refuse to listen to me and get all of us captured again." She snapped, losing her patience. "Now listen, I have a ship waiting back at the hangar of this flagship. Take these camouflage foils – I don't think I have enough for all of you so you'd have to share – and follow me. I will be using my stealth generator. Obey every instruction I issue and if I say run and don't look back, by the Stars, do not argue with me and run. Am I understood?"

They took the camouflage foils from her and nodded sadly. "Yes, my lady."

She scowled at the title, but otherwise did not say anything else. This was hardly the time to argue about anything at all. Switching on her stealth generator, she led the way out of the prisoner's block. Other than a few guards she easily disabled with a slit to the throat, there were not many other obstacles and she found herself facing the door to the hangar.

Something was wrong. The door could not be locked if she had unlocked it herself just now. Taking a quick glance around, she saw no one. As swiftly as she could, she set about disabling the security systems on the door. She sighed in relief as they slid open, and just as she pushed all seven of them towards the waiting Starstruck, a violent tremor occurred throughout the whole ship. They had to leave. Now.

She motioned for the seven of them to run up into Starstruck, thanking the stars when they obeyed without question. Just as Adara moved towards her ship, something hard grabbed her along the waist and hauled her backwards.

Her communicator fell to the floor, and at that moment, it buzzed. "Captain, we have to leave. Now."

"No! Let go of me, you filthy scum!" She screamed against the arms restraining her. Instantly, the fire ignited in her. "Take off now, Dax!"

"But what about –"

"This is an order!" She snarled, just as a heavy boot smashed the communicator into metal shards.

Starstruck took off quickly, despite the soldiers attempting to shoot it down. From a distance, she concentrated on the guns in their hands, and within seconds they exploded in a torrent of fire, instantly killing them. Instead of tamping down on the flame like she normally did, she focused, and made it grow, till the imprisoning arms around her arms shrieked and fell to the ground, burning.

She grabbed the dying man's gun and took down a couple of soldiers, making a run for the other ships in the hangar. Adara was almost there when a chill descended on the heated room, and she could see wisps of frost gathering. More soldiers jumped out with guns aimed at her, and walking through the mist was a man with the cruellest face she had seen.

"No need for the fire, darling. Our temperature regulators have got it all under control." His voice was smooth velvet, and it sent chills down her spine. As he said that, soldiers grabbed at her from behind, imprisoning her arms and dragging her towards the man. She tried to ignite the fire, but it was difficult with the cold air blowing past.

The man was handsome, albeit in a harsh, cruel way. The lines on his face spoke of untold malice and she held her breath despite herself. He took her chin in his hands, rubbing at her cheek. It was the first time Adara felt nauseous at a mere touch. "Well, well, well… What do we have here?"

When she did not answer, he went on, "You must have left the skies just to save them, since our records have shown that those seven stars were the last of your kind that descended. I suppose the rest were too scared and you ended being the only one brave enough to do something about it?"

"Flattery will get you nowhere, you hideous monster." She growled. "Get your filthy hands off me."

He gave a maniacal laugh then, only holding onto her tighter. "Such fire, such spirit. It is just as well you thought to save them. One of you is worth more than seven of them. Lord Nish will be pleased. He might even want to speak to you before eating you. Shall we?"

He snapped his fingers, and soldiers enclosed her hands with icy manacles. "Don't bother trying to start a fire. It won't work."

Grinning disgustingly, they dragged her through the hallways and down more corridors till she had no idea where she was. Finally, they stopped at an ornate door, and knocking, the man bid them enter.

They threw her before the seated man, who was a shadow in dim lights.

"Lord Nish, I thought you would like to see your star before it becomes dinner."

Nish stood up, and walked towards her, into the light. Likewise, he had the aquiline features that would have entranced anyone, tinged with a certain madness and brutality. "Is this her then?" He asked, seemingly unconcerned. "I thought there was to be seven?"

"She helped them escape, at the risk of her life. All the better for us. Look at the fire in her eyes. She is worth more than the seven of them together."

Nish looked at her then, and she stiffened at the pure malice in his hard black eyes. There was no hint of conscience in them. Only thirst and anger and hate. "Yes," he murmured. "You are right. She has more fire than all of them. Perhaps you are one of the brightest in the galaxies?" He asked, this time addressing her.

"Even if I were, it would be none of your bloody business." Adara replied with forced calm.

"See? I told you! Such spirit!"

Just then, another tremor shuddered the room. Followed by another, and another, till it suddenly stopped.

"Something is wrong." Nish muttered to himself.

"I will see to it, my Lord," the man nodded, and motioned for the guards to bring her forward.

Then the tremors started again, and this time, the ship trembled violently. There was a loud whining in the air, and she recognised to it be the ship's alarm systems.

Nish was furious. "Our shields are down. How is that possible?"

"I will take care of it. There is no –"

"Get to the command centre now. And see to it that all my Commanders are present."

"What about the star?" The man asked as they made a hasty exit.

Before she knew it, she was dragged across the floor by Nish, and her manacles were chained to his bed. "Leave her here, she won't be going anywhere. And perhaps when we return, she would provide me with something more satisfying than just a meal." He leered at her evilly, slamming the door shut.

She shuddered, inching her way out of the bed. In the darkness of the room, she spotted several lighted buttons. Curiosity getting the better of her, she crept forward slowly, stretching her bonds as far as they could go, careful not to stumble throughout the increasing violent shuddering of the ship. She studied the buttons the best she could in the dark, hoping that somehow, she might find a way out of this disaster. Strangely enough, the buttons looked like those that were attached to bombs, the ones that detonated at a certain time. She was not too sure, not having studied bombs in detail during her training. Adara frowned. Judging from the marked spots on the map of the ship, it seemed to her that this button would set off bombs throughout the ship. Why Nish would have something like that in his quarters, she had no idea. Fear of betrayal, she surmised. The Outworlders were brutal and often had vicious disagreements amongst themselves. Or perhaps, it was to be the very last alternative. Nish did strike her as a man too proud to die by the hands of his enemies.

Footsteps echoed outside the doorway. Her heart pounded. She did not know they'd be back so soon. Now she'd be subject to Nish's repulsive fancies, but she was not going down without a fight. Just as the doors slid open, she slipped under the bed, hoping they would think she had escaped.

As she peeked from under the bed, a pair of boots greeted her. Briskly, they moved towards Nish's chair, towards her hiding place. She closed her eyes for a moment, steadying her erratic breathing. The man fumbled for something in Nish's desk. And then, so quietly she wasn't sure if she imagined it, something buzzed.

"Four minutes thirty-six seconds, Admiral."

Then an all too memorable voice responded. "Got that." It was the voice she only heard at night, deep in her dreams.

Was it some kind of trick? Whatever it was, she was sure it was worth her life to find out. She knew she would regret it for life if she didn't find the courage to inch her way out of the bed and take a better look at that man.

She crept up behind him, placing the bed between them for safety. His back was facing her, and when he tilted his head to take a better look at the buttons she had been examining herself a few minutes ago, she almost choked in shock.

"What the hell are you doing here?"

He whirled around, a gun pointed straight at her. "What?"

"You didn't answer my question," Adara said stiffly.

"Ada?" Horror was evident in his voice.

"By the Stars," she muttered to herself, stifling the urge to suffocate herself with one of Nish's pillows. "This isn't happening. I am not supposed to see you again."

"Regardless of whether you want to see me or not, I am your only way out of here, so I suggest you had better start giving me the information I want." His tone brooked no argument, even though he was dying to take her in his arms to make sure nothing had harmed her.

Jasper was right. Always the logical one. "I was caught while rescuing my sisters. They got away. I did not." She informed him dryly, hiding her wounded heart behind layers and layers of pride and nonchalance. "Also, I think what you are looking at is a bomb connected to the whole ship. Press it and the ship's going to blow."

He wanted to kick something. After all those years of trying to protect her, she ran headlong into danger anyway. Taking a deep breath, he decided to concentrate at the most important thing at the moment: survival. He checked it again. It was indeed a bomb. Immediately, he hacked into the system. It took some time for him to override the security systems but he succeeded eventually. Behind him, Adara was completely silent. The machine lit up and hummed in the dark. Jasper quickly overrode everything system and set the bomb for three minutes.

He reached into this pocket, and grabbing the manacles, he shot at them, releasing her from her bonds.

"They would have heard the gunshot." She whispered, staring into the dark doorway.

"Then it's best if we get going, am I right?" Not giving her a chance to respond, he grabbed her arm, and hurried her out of Lord Nish's quarters. "Is there anyone else in the prisoner's block?"

Adara shook her head. "The Outworlder's don't keep prisoners. I only managed to find my sisters because they were kept for Nish's birthday ceremony." She paused, and then, "You probably know what I am by now, right?"

He flicked a look at her. "I always knew from the beginning."

She was aghast. "How? I never revealed anything."

"Your eyes, I guess…" He shrugged. "Your fire. When you are happy or angry. It shows."

For a while, she was silent, unsure of what to say. "The hangar's that way."

He only nodded, following her lead. Shouts were heard behind them, and exchanging glances, they quickened their pace.

There was another shudder, and Adara gasped, "What was that?"

"Our fleet is firing on them as we speak. Their shields will not be holding up for much longer." Jasper glanced at his watch as they ran. "We have one minute thirty seconds to get out of here."

"Great," she panted, pulling him aside and hastily started to work on the hangar door's security system. It slid open, and they ran forward to the waiting ship. Adara accessed the system quickly, sliding the gangway close. "Pilot the ship. I'll handle everything here."

He nodded and disappeared into the pilot room. She did a quick check of the sensors. As soon as everything was in place, she was making her way to join Jasper when pain erupted in her shoulder. Adara choked back a scream. Instinctively, she let the flames rage, and whirled around to set the intruder on fire so quickly he did not have time to scream. Dimly, she was aware of a charred corpse with a blackened weapon in his hand.

Each breath she took was agony. Her clouded eyes roved about the ship, and she detected nothing else out of the ordinary. It was a lone soldier then, hiding out in this ship. She stumbled towards the pilot room, steadying herself against the walls as the ship took off smoothly. Jasper was busy at work piloting the plane, so she took a seat behind him, clutching her chest. It was all right. The pain was already receding so it could not have been that bad. She supposed it was normal to have such difficulty breathing when injured.

"I heard something back there. Is everything all right?" He concentrated on avoiding the missiles and the various assault ships.

"Yes. Just a lone soldier. I took care of him." Her voice was faint, weak. Already her strength was dimming.

Jasper twisted around to get a better look at her, panic clutching his insides when he spotted the red stain seeping through her fingers. He swore violently. Fighting the urge to go to her, he did what he thought would have a better chance of saving her life: getting to Victorious as soon as possible.

Behind them, the enemy's flagship gave a last shudder and exploded. The debris flew everywhere.

"Fuck." He swore, trying to stabilise the ship as the tremor of the explosion shuddered through them. "Hang in there, Ada. I am going to get you to the medics."

Missiles and fire came at them, but he swerved to avoid them all. It was funny how he was flying his best flight in his life, when he was focused on nothing but the fading Ada behind him. Even in the midst of the explosion and shuddering of the ship, he was firmly attuned to every sigh and soft breath she took. Jasper zipped in and out of way of ships and missiles, finally approaching the hangar of Victorious.

He grabbed the intercom, punching in the codes. "Admiral Claxton speaking. Open the hangar doors for boarding. And get me the best medic we have. Immediately."

The intercom buzzed to life. "Yes, Admiral. Hangar doors are open to you. The medic is on the way."

Smoothly, he guided the ship into Victorious' hangar, and landed it effortlessly. He flicked the switches to open the gangplank and took Adara in his arms, briskly making his way to the medic as fast as he could without jostling her too much. She moaned in his arms, and he heaved a sigh of relief.

Storming through the hangar, he rushed in the direction of the medical facilities. At once, several officers and medics came running, bringing all sorts of medical equipment.

"Where the fuck is the medic?" He roared at them, even as they helped to lay Adara on the stretcher.

The young officer stammered, "Awaiting us, sir. He is setting up the operation table as we speak."

Gruffly, he moved the officer aside, concentrating on getting Adara to the medic. Faces past in a blur, and he did not think of anything else but the fragile life in his hands. Upon reaching the medic, he professionally attached sensors and machines to the unconscious star, checking her wound and her vitals.

"She has lost a lot of blood," he told Jasper, eyeing the messy bloodstains on his combatant suit. "We will need to infuse more blood in her and hope that her body accepts it. At this point in time, we have no way of trying to find a suitable blood match. I can only help but injecting her with a stimulant to help her body better accept the foreign blood type."

Without hesitating, Jasper ripped his suit from wrist to the elbow and offered his arm to the medic. "Take whatever she needs."

-

A few months went by swiftly. There were so many things to oversee; the Admiral barely had time for anything else. With their Lord killed, and their flagship destroyed, the Outworlders broke ranks and ran. The scattered armies of the Outworlders were to be hunted down, their weaponry destroyed – and what free time he had after that, Jasper spent it watching the stars.

Or rather, just one grey husk in particular.

Understandably, she never called for him. And so, he didn't intrude. He was content just to watch her sleep from the viewing glass of her room. With a punctured left lung and a grazed heart, he thanked the stars that she made it. He would ask for nothing more than her well-being.

She was healing well. He always went in when she was asleep, to check on her injuries and to… find relief in her presence. Sometimes, he would sit by her bedside and watch her dream, tucking her under her blankets when she kicked them away. On those nights, he wouldn't be able to resist touching her. Brushing her hair away from her face, or simply holding her hand and feeling her pulse beat a steady thrum under the delicate skin of her wrist.

Soon enough, she was ready to walk. And by the time the Republic decided to hold a victory ceremony for to mark the end of decades of war, Adara was well enough to be walking about, and even, to attend the victory party if she wanted to. She did, in the end. Like all the other veterans in the war, she was recognised for her contributions and was awarded the highest honour a soldier could receive. Unlike all the other ladies attending the ceremony, she had not bothered to dress up and was wearing her standard military uniform.

For Jasper, it was nothing much, and as soon as he received recognition for his services to the Republic, he escaped to a balcony hidden behind the curtains. The night was especially bright, and he supposed even the stars too, were glad that the war was finally over. The seven stars that Adara had rescued left for the skies – but one of them had chose to stay behind. He could not help but smile slightly at the six additional stars in the sky.

Just then, the curtains behind him parted, and the footsteps stopped.

"I heard I owe you my life."

"You don't."

Adara ignored him. "I just wanted to thank you. For everything. I understand now, why you left."

Her tone held a sense of finality, and he knew the time had come for her to go. "You are welcome." He replied shortly. "When are you leaving? Perhaps you can convince your friend to join you. I am sure your sisters up there would be happier."

"My sisters are happy so long as we are happy." She retorted. "And Atrasis is not going anywhere without Nate."

"Nate?" He laughed. He had to hand it to that man. First Adara and now her sister?

"Yeah… it's funny, I know." She chuckled, and paused, "I miss you."

"You should go back to the skies," said Jasper, blatantly ignoring her. He didn't think he could take any more disappointments.

"Why?" She demanded.

"Because it's safer there. And because… immortals should stay away from mortals."

She tried to control the fire rising in her. It was hard. These few months had been difficult, and all she wanted was his arms around her. When she was still bedridden, in her hazy delusions, she had wanted him, but then she would remember that Jasper was hard and cold and he didn't want her and he left her. "Is this what this is about? Me being a star? I'm sorry I thought you only wanted the power and status. I was hurt, and scared to be alone without you. And then, as the years went by, I would think about you – about us – and I finally realised you did what you did because you wanted to end the war for me. And I wanted to end the war for you, as well, that's why I defied everything and went onto the Outworlders' flagship. Do you think I would have been brave enough if I didn't have you to think about when everything was dark and frightening?"

He groaned, finally turning around to face her. "It won't work out, anyway. What are you going to do when I die?"

"It won't work out or you don't want it to work out – make your decision."

"It's not that I don't want it to work out…" He fumbled awkwardly, not wanting to be rejected.

"Just answer my question truthfully: do you want me?" Adara was tired of all the dancing around the issue. She was going to have her answer now, and even if the answer broke her heart, she could take it. After all, she had years in the skies to watch over him from above, and centuries to mourn for love.

Jasper could not comprehend anything. "I-I…" At her fallen expression, he hastened to explain everything before she could walk away from him, and perhaps forever.

"Ada, I don't think you understand. I need you so badly, it's like this burning fire is eating and gnawing away at me until I get to touch you. I know I have never been good at showing or expressing my feelings, but… I love you, Adara, so much that I know I will never be complete without you, and I can only hope you know how much you mean to me."

Thankfully, Jasper was a man of quick reflexes, for at that moment, she flew into his arms, almost knocking the both of them over the balcony. Adara was clutching onto him like she would never let him go, and he relished the feeling.

"Oh hell…" She bawled into his uniform, sniffing uncontrollably. "I thought you didn't love me anymore."

"Don't be silly." He muttered gruffly, more than happy to cling onto her. "I wouldn't have risked everyone's life to save your sisters if I didn't love you. Do you know how much risk was involved in ambushing Nish's flagship and obliterating it? We could have had thousands killed and lost the war for good – and yet, I did it because it was what you wanted."

When she continued crying, he went on helplessly, "Don't cry, please. You know I hate to see you cry. I love you and you happiness means more to me than the lives of the entire Republic."

"Don't say that!" She chided, sniffing.

"I know. Which is why I am stepping down from being an Admiral. I figured they would be better off without me. I am going to get on my ship and fly to different planets – you know, see things, experience things… I am tired of war."

"I am going with you."

"What about the skies?"

"I don't think I could ever go anywhere without you. And besides, you are the star in my life, I don't need any more." And there it was, her heart on a platter for him to see.

Jasper only held her tighter. "I love you."

"I love you too. Oh, and you know, about what you said, stars are not immortal in human form… I can grow old and die one day…"

"Then –"

"I would rather live my decades with you than have centuries without you." She said resolutely.

He sighed. "You've made up your mind then? And no amount of my persuasion would convince you otherwise? What about illness… or injury…?"

"I have thought about it and I am not changing my mind."

He rolled his eyes. "Stubborn is thy name, woman."

"There is something I want to ask you, though… I hope you would be much obliged to satisfy my… desire…" She whispered, lips brushing his ear tantalisingly. "Can you teach me how to swim?"

Grinning, he pulled her in the direction of the lakes outside. The night was cool and dark, trees swaying in time to the breeze. He had his arm around her waist, holding her close. Taking a look in her dark, shining eyes, he knew it was meant to be.

Above them, the rejoicing stars twinkled brighter, diamonds in the night sky.

Stars lasted millions of years, but only love lasted forever.


A/N: What was supposed to be a 2,000 - 3,000 words story turned into this 10,000 words long story. Heh. I have not written in a long time, so I think this heavy dosage of writing all these in about 4 days is the cure for it. Okay, enough statistics. Basically, my idea for this story came from a dream I had. When I woke up the next morning, I was at my desk immediately, scribbling everything down. Hehe.

My dream was about this girl, who had the ability to control fire. And then, her love was leaving her for some noble cause, and she was upset. There was a war, so she took control and did all sorts of dangerous things, eventually resulting in them meeting again and getting back together. Argh. I don't usually remember my dreams that well - just the basic images, feelings, that sort of thing.

I didn't want her to be so needy so I made her more independent after he told her he was leaving. I mean, she was upset over his desertion, but it wasn't like she was going to kill herself about it. It was more of she was being sad, but she picked herself up and get on with like sort of thing.

Yes, so. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I have enjoyed writing it! Thanks, and please do leave a review if you have any comments at all! I would like to hear them! :)