I had never really fancied going out on an adventure. I was perfectly fine staying where I was, working in the apothecary as the apprentice. I had been asked, several times, if I wanted something more than to spend my days rising before dawn to take inventory, crushing and mixing a few herbs together, and delivering them. I thought that my life was perfectly fine. I enjoyed the routine.

"Already up and manning the shop, Ander?"

I turned to face my Master, nodding once to answer his question. He was a good man, a lot nicer than most. He was getting older in years, but I still saw him as the younger, somewhat charming young man with blonde hair and light blue eyes that sparkled with some hidden knowledge. His blonde hair had turned white and wrinkles had formed heavily on his face. He no longer walked upright, but almost as if there was a weight on his shoulders he couldn't get off. But his eyes still sparkled with that hidden knowledge, and I didn't find his old age sad. I had known the man for all but one year of my life, and the twenty years was still counting.

I didn't expect him to go any time soon, and I don't think he was planning to go any time soon. He nodded back at me and took the stool on my right. No customers had arrived, but it was rare that they arrived before the sun was fully up. Not many people were up at that hour. I didn't really talk much, and I had never really been one to do so. The silence between Master and I was comfortable.

At least it was until something violently shook the building. The apothecary was on the docks, and it was not the first time that the sound of a cannon had gone off and rattled the shops that lined the harbor. There was routine for that. Just like there was routine for everything else. Master got off the stool and tossed me the keys, to which I promptly started locking all of the medicines in the cabin so the glass would not fall and break. Master entered the code and the money vault sealed itself.

"As soon as you lock the front door, go to the safety room."

"Yes sir." I made my way quickly to the front and slipped outside, shutting the door just as another explosion rattled the building. I turned the keys quickly and stuffed them in my pocket. The only thing I had a complaint about was that the door only locked from the outside.

I started the dash to the back, where I would have the enter the vault code to get in the safety room. I was halfway there when the loudest boom I had ever heard in my entire life shook everything, and I dropped to my knees, clasping my hands to my ears. They rang with the force of the sound, and my balance was off far more than I had hoped it wouldn't. I raised my head as soon as the ringing stopped and jumped up.

"You know why we're here. Waste no time otherwise. Do nothing unnecessary."

I pressed myself against the wall, realizing that voice was coming from a less than desirable. I had no wishes to run into a pirate, certainly not one on a mission. There was a response of "Aye Aye" and the sound of people going in different directions. I listened, hard, and when I heard no footsteps in my direction I decided to make a break for it. The apothecary wasn't a large shop, but it would take a second or two of running to reach the back. I braced myself, and then made the decision to go for it.

Apparently that was the wrong decision. I ran one or two steps before I crashed into someone, knocking both of us back. I hit the ground, more winded than I should have been, and heard someone else hit the ground as well. I prayed that I had not just assigned myself the death sentence. I didn't move, for a delirious moment thinking that if I stayed completely still they would forget I was there. The other person got up and walked over. I squeezed my eyes shut, trying to steady my breathing. Don't move was the only thought that ran through my head as I forced myself to be completely still.

"I know you're not dead. You know what? I think you might be exactly what we're looking for. Well, minus the specific thing."

I was holding my breath and I still hadn't opened my eyes, so the only thing I could go by was that stranger's voice. It was deep, deeper than anything I had really ever heard, and my mind started providing mental images of a hulking man, big enough to crush me with his foot. I was not a particularly big person, and it would be easy for someone of his build to defeat me. I was still thinking that if I didn't move, if I didn't respond that he would leave me alone. That was foolish.

I felt the sensation of being lifted into the air, and my eyes flew open. The ground got smaller beneath me and my heart beat faster than I thought possible. It occurred to me that maybe I should fight back, provide some resistance, but everything was getting foggy and my vision was starting to turn black.

When I came to I didn't recognize where I was. The ceiling above me was strange to me, certainly not the familiar dark green of the apothecary, and I felt as though I was moving, which I was not. I tried to sit up, but the room spun and there was such a sharp pain in the back of my head I thought I was going to be sick. I decided that it was best to lay back down.

"Finally awake, are you? I don't know why Jamisson decided that you would be a good addition. Better hope that there is actually something in you, or the Captain won't hesitate to get rid of you."

I turned my head to see a man, his arms crossed. The muscles bulged from his arms, and the way he held himself told me not to step on his pride. He wore a sleeveless shirt, more like a vest really, and looked down at me like I was dirt under his fingernails. I said nothing, but studied the way the tan skinned man moved, the way he kept himself oriented at me but focused his attention on other things as well.

"I'm going to alert the Captain you're awake. Don't move from that spot. Of course you're not in any condition to do so."

He was right. I was in no way fit to be trying to run off, and I felt that even I did try I wouldn't make it much farther than out of the room. I settled with trying to calm myself with breathing exercises. If I needed to impress the Captain just to stay alive then I needed to at least look like I was somewhat held together. I wondered how ruthless the Captain was going to be. If the man who had picked him up - That must be Jamisson - wasn't the Captain the man had to be something fierce to get someone like that under his control.

"I see you're still breathing. Good."

I turned my attention to the man who stood just inside the room, leaning casually against the wall with one foot propped upon it. He was young, dressed in a black coat with gold details. He wore black boots that went up to his knees, with a loose white shirt and tighter pants. Around his waist he wore a gold sash and belt. On the belt was a few bags, a sword, and two pistols. I studied his features. He didn't look big or bulky, but lean. He had windswept back hair that seemed unruly and wild but tame at the same time. The same look was in his sea green eyes, and something in them reminded me of Master. It took me a few seconds, but I placed it as that glint of hidden knowledge.

I couldn't decide if this was the Captain or not. He had to be, from the way he leaned so casually against the wall. He had one hand rest on his sword and the other in a pocket. His eyes were slightly narrowed, and I realized that as much as I was studying him, he was studying me as well. I didn't know if I was supposed to respond or not, so I said nothing. He pushed himself off the wall with his foot and walked with an easy gait to the side of the bed I was staying on. He looked down at me, his eyes searching my face for something. I didn't know what it was, but he must have found it because the corner of his mouth twitched up in a smile.

"Right then. I am Captain Deagen, and you are aboard the galaxy ship Star Collector. Welcome aboard. Now tell me your name."

Captain Deagen added a little bow at the end of his introduction, a kind of flourish to it. I had no desire to tell him my name. I really had no desire to be aboard the Star Collector but my options were somewhat limited. I only wanted to be back home.


"Pleasant name, Ander." Captain Deagen smiled. "Tell me Ander, do you have any special skills? Sword fighting, perhaps? Or maybe you're an excellent marksman. Do you know your way around the stars? Maybe you know your way around a ship instead? Anything?"

I shook my head. I had never even touched a sword in my life, much less a gun. I knew as little about the stars as one could, and never before I had been captured set even a toe on a ship. Maybe my uselessness would make Captain Deagen take me home. After all, one couldn't have a freeloader aboard a ship.

"Nothing at all then. Alright, we just have to find your natural talent. Everyone's got one, and I'm sure you do too."

Captain Deagen was more optimistic than I thought he would have been. And he was a lot younger than I would have thought. And smaller. And not as rude, or mean, or anything that I thought he might have been to be completely honest. Captain Deagen had taken me by surprise, and as much as I wanted to get off of the ship I was curious about how exactly he had gotten to be Captain at such a young age.

"Sit up then. By now your headache should be gone. The world might spin a little bit at first when you stand up but it'll go away quickly. There is something you need to experience."

I sat up first, finding that my headache really was gone. Standing up was just as Captain Deagen had said as well, and I was getting somewhat annoyed at how much he had been right in the short amount of time I had been in his presence. I followed him up the stairs with no real choice, and I will admit the sight I was greeted with was something that I did not ever really get over.

We were sailing in space, which I had expected from the fact that I was aboard a galaxy ship. What I had not expected was how beautiful everything was going to be. We moved at a steady speed, parting star dust as we made a path. I felt myself drawn to the railings of the ship, where I stood and reached my hand out. I needed to see if it was real. The particles felt softer than silk as they went through my fingers and separated, only to join back together a bit further down. I could see so many stars, many more than I had ever seen even on the clearest of nights. Space was not all black, as one might expect, but filled with vibrant colors. Pinks and purples swirled together, pillars of what looked like clouds formed gates, and billions of stars shone in the distance, some yellow, some blue, some red. I found it a hard time to turn my attention away from it all.

"I have seen so much of this. I've seen it hundreds of times. It's not the same though, not really. Every time I see the same place, something has changed, even if only by a little bit. It never gets old, it never gets boring. It still takes my breath away without fail. It's something really beautiful, I think, that opens up your eyes when you see it. You realize that the world you lived in isn't so big, not after you see all of this, and there's more than just you. We each live our own lives, in our own little worlds, and sometimes we just need to take a steps back and realize that each and every single person has their own life, their own world. I think that's just as beautiful as this."

I think it was at that exact moment that I started admiring Captain Deagen, that a deep respect and slight awe settled inside me somewhere. I no longer felt the need to ask how he had become Captain at such a young age because he had just explained it himself. He had an old soul, a respect for all things, and a way of viewing things that I would not have thought of myself if I had not heard them spoken from Captain Deagen. I understood why his crew respected him, how they trusted him to lead them without fail. I barely knew him, yet he had won my respect within moments.

"I am sorry for dragging you along like this. Maybe I just wanted to share this with someone ordinary, I don't know. If you want, I can take you back to your home at the apothecary. Surely someone must be worrying about you."

I didn't know how, but something had changed. Something had clicked within the few minutes that I had seen the stars, since Captain Deagen had made his speech, that made me want to stay. I wanted to see more of this, more of the stars and galaxies. I wanted to see it, with my own eyes, and become as wise as the man before me. I felt like I needed it, like I needed it so badly that there was no way I could go back home without seeing a little more of the miraculous thing before me. I leaned against the railing and stuck my hand out again, feeling the movement of space around my hand. Captain Deagen didn't force me for an answer, but waited patiently for my response, his hands resting once again on his sword and pocket.

"I think I would like to see just a little bit more."