“I’m a leaf in the wind. I’m a leaf in the wind…” Andrew muttered under his breath.
“Saying it doesn’t make it true!” I snapped as our ship approached the much large Star Cult ship.
“I don’t even think there is wind in space,” Daniel added.
“There is solar wind…”
“Shh… none of that matter right now. We’re about to pass through the shield.” Andrew responded.
An instant later, the entire ship shuttered as we passed through an invisible barrier. I waited for the ship in front of us to suddenly start firing, but as the seconds became minutes without being attacked, I allowed myself a deep breath.
The ship thumped again as we landed on the side of the other ship. They actually hadn’t fled once they took Ryan. I figured they must have been trying to break Ryan at that very moment so that they could take over the weapons. That meant they needed to stay in orbit. They had all but ignored the approach of our ship, so they must not have considered it a threat. Well, Allan and the rest were already heading to the moon. They had their job, we had our own duty.
“Alright; beaming up.” Andrew touched the wristband that Allan had previously been wearing.
The familiar stretching feeling occurred and a moment I snapped into place on a ship with far roomier hallways. With the chair gone, I fell back with Rune, landing between his legs with some force.
“Ah! My balls! Get off, Jane!”
“Hey, I thought you said I was light!”
“Light has nothing to do with it when your booty slams me between the legs!”
“Hmph.” I angrily got off of Rune and turned away as he grimaced and rolled up into a fetal position.
“As much as I enjoy seeing Rune in pain, perhaps it’d be better if we all raised our hands?” Andrew said.
“Huh?” I looked up to see two guards pointing guns at us.
I growled. “Damn it, Christopher.”
“Actually, I’ll have to take the credit for that one. I couldn’t remember the exact coordinates Allan gave me.” Andrew responded sheepishly. “I’m actually a bit happy we didn’t transport into a wall or somewhere in the vacuum of space.”
“Who are you guys and what are you doing aboard our STAR Wars Destroyer?” One of the men demanded, waving his gun at us.”
I moved up front next to Andrew with my hands up as Rune joined us a few moments later, still wearing a grimace on his face.
“Hey, um… actually, you see…” I tried to work my way through any kind of lie that wouldn’t result in us being killed on the spot, but I suddenly found myself drawing a complete blank.
“Wait, a second.” One of the guards spoke up. “I know you, don’t I?”
“Huh?” While these guys looked human, they were probably some kind of alien species. I certainly only knew the one alien.
“Jane? Oh, my God, it’s Jane!” The guard waved his gun excitedly, nearly jumping on the spot.
“The Jane? You don’t mean the Jane, do you?”
“What other Jane is there? It’s her! She looks a bit the cover arts a little whitewashed, but that’s not unusual. It’s absolutely Jane!”
“I’m sorry… do I know you?” I asked cautiously.
“Ah, no, sorry.” The guard suddenly saluted. “My name is Craig, First Class STAR Wars Division.”
“And I’m Frienz, Second Class STAR Wars Division.”
“We’ve heard all about your exploits. Is it true you spit in the face of death himself when he offered you immortality?” Craig asked excitedly.
“Ask her about the werewolf!” Frienz insisted, nodding between me and Craig in awe.
“Is it true you can fight werewolves barehanded?”
“Jane’s been fighting my kin?” Daniel asked.
“Again; what? No, Daniel, I mean, there was that thing in the past, but that’s not important.” I said, utterly confused.
“It’s true, look. He’s a werewolf, but he’s totally subservient to her.” Frienz pointed out.
Daniel sniffed. “It’s only right that I serve my mate.”
“Wasn’t Jane dating a rockstar?” Craig asked.
“Oh, come on, no single man is enough for someone like Jane, am I right?” Frienz winked at me.
“I’m not even going to comment.” I shake my head. “Wait, where are you getting all this from? I was fighting the Star Cult back then, how do you even know all this.”
“Correction, you were fighting a splinter cell of the Star Cult,” Craig said, “and you sent death itself to those who dared defy you. It’s all in your book.”
“What book?” I demanded.
It didn’t even take a second before one of the men pulled out the book and handed it to me. I looked down at it with confusion. The cover had a picture of some strange white girl who was way more attractive than me.
“Jane of Fairmont High,” I mumbled the name of the cover as I flipped through the pages.
“That’s just book one. I own all of your books. C-could you sign it for me?” he asked hopefully.
He handed me a pen and so I signed the back of the cover. The author’s name was Tim Dalton, which made no sense to me. I didn’t know anyone with that name. When I handed him back the signed book, he looked like he was about to skip.
“So, you’re saying these books are being spread all around the galaxy?” I asked slowly.
“Yes, yes! You’re absolutely famous to any space-faring civilization.” Frienz stated.
I looked back at the three guys. Why were they all looking at me with respect and envy! This was hardly the kind of thing to get excited about. Someone had been writing embellished lies about me and spreading them all over the galaxy. Who could do that? Who would do that?
“So… since you guys are fans…” I swallowed hard at the words. “Then, would you be willing to do us a solid and take us to our friend, Ryan?”
“Ryan? Ah, the robot! You must have been the people we took him from! I can’t believe it! We just ran into Jane when she’s performing one her famous rescue missions!” Craig said excitedly.
“Hey, can I take a picture?” Frienz asks, positioning himself next to me. “The guys are never going to believe this. Say Racht!”
“Uh… Racht!” There is a flash as I hold up my hand in a Vulcan salute.
“Alright, let’s go!”
“You’re taking us?” I asked in surprise.
“Of course! You’re Jane!”
The boys and I look at each other, but I finally shrug and start following the two guards, who cheerfully ask me questions as we walk down the expansive halls. The questions are mostly harmless; things like what my favorite food is or what is Earth-like.
“Yeah,” Frienz was saying. “You know I’ve been stationed on Mars for the last five years and I’ve never managed a visit to Earth. Since it’s so close, it’s silly I never went.”
“Wait, there is life on Mars?”
The two men laugh. “Of course, there is life on Mars, why would you think differently?”
“Well, it’s just that… we never saw any proof of manmade structures.”
Frienz snaps. “What about the canals? You can’t tell me you don’t see the canals.”
“The canals! We see them… we just… thought they were… I don’t know, natural?”
“What? That’s crazy! Of course, they’re man-made. Next, you’re going to tell me UFOs are swamp gas from weather balloons trapped in a thermal pocket reflecting the light from Venus.”
“Aliens, every one of them.”
“And the rednecks?”
“Well, if you’re going to abduct somebody, you might as well abduct the least believable person, am I right?”
“Oh, my God. They were right all along. My entire worldview has been shattered. Every day, I’ll wake up no longer understanding my place in the world. I’m merely a speck of dust on the wind of destiny… Oh, hey Ryan.”
We had walked into a room and Ryan was sitting there in the middle of it. There were a few others and he was hooked up to a few cables, but he otherwise seemed fine.
“Jane… you came…” Ryan’s eyes widened in surprise.
“Of course.” I straightened my back. “I may not always keep my promises, but if you need me, I’ll always be there. That’s what friends are for.”
Ryan cocked his head, and then a slight smile formed on his lips. It looked surprisingly charming on his rather delicate features. “Friends? Yes… I’d like that. Jane’s friend.”
“What are we, chop liver?” Rune replied grumpily, pushing into the room with the rest.
“What are all these people doing here?” One of the men that appeared to be tinkering with a nearby computer console demanded.
“Hey, you; unplug our friend,” Andrew demanded.
“Andrew?” The voice came from the doorway we just entered, and we all turned to see Andrew’s uncle, Gabriel. “What are you doing here? I thought I told you to go home.”
“You…” Andrew’s voice darkened as he glared at his uncle. “You took our friend just like that. You’d think we’d leave so easily.”
“How did they even get this close?” Gabriel turned to the two men who had escorted us.
“Well, ah, as to that…” The two guards became flustered and pointed at each other. “It’s Jane! She came on the ship …”
They stopped speaking as Gabriel glowered at them. “Don’t believe everything you read. Lock them up. We’ll dump them off once we’ve broken into this stupid robot. He’s proving more difficult than I anticipated.”
“That’s it?!” I asked angrily. “You’re just going to ignore us?”
“You should be lucky I’m his uncle.” Gabriel frowned, turning away. “If it was someone else, they’d probably just toss you out an airlock.”
Andrew lowered his head, a pained look on his face. My heart felt for him and I couldn’t just let him sit there in pain. I took a step forward and grabbed Gabriel’s arm. The man turned back, looking down at my arm with a fierce expression. For a second, I thought he might actually toss me out of an airlock, but I pushed forward anyway.
“You owe your nephew an explanation. You may not believe everything, but you know that I was there during the signing of the treaty. Why are you trying to destroy the peace your brother fought to create?!”
Gabriel turned back and glared. “Is that what you think this is? You think Michael wants peace? That’s just wishful thinking. When the first shot is fired, it won’t come from the demon side, but our own.”
“It doesn’t have to be that way!” Rune suddenly stepped forward, causing Andrew to look over in shock. “My father and the Demon King are close. I can talk to them.”
“You. I thought you smelled of a demon.” Gabriel pointed. “However, I’m shocked to see Andrew around your kind.”
Rune suddenly looked at Andrew. “Andrew, I… I’ll fight you on a lot of things, and if you want a challenge, I’ll take you on any day. But… I don’t…. I don’t want to kill you. You’re not… I mean…”
As Rune lowered his head, unable to say anything more, Andrew raised his. “Rune… I get it. However, just because you don’t want to start a war doesn’t mean you can stop a thousand-year feud.”
“Why not?” I demanded. “Because it’s hard? Is that all it takes from Andrew to give up? To roll over and let countless lives die?”
“Jane…” Andrew stepped back like he had taken a physical blow, but when he looked at my face, he suddenly grew somber and nodded resolutely. “No. You’re right. We’re the future. One day, I’ll be Heaven’s Keeper and if I let these old prejudices soak in, then I’d have already failed.”
“What are you saying, boy?” Gabriel asked, watching Andrew cautiously.
“I’m saying that even if I defy you or dad, I won’t let that war happen. These satellites; they won’t be the angels’ power. They won’t be the demons’ either. Or the humans. They’ll be here to keep the peace; to defend this planet.”
“And you’d give the power to this robot?” Gabriel asked, just the slightest tug at the edge of his lips giving him the essence of a smirk.
Andrew’s eyes flashed over to Ryan and then back and, after a few seconds of thinking, he shook his head. “No… this kind of power, it’s too dangerous in the hands of someone that can be broken into or manipulated. No offense, Ryan.”
“None taken,” Ryan responded.
“Then who?” Gabriel continued to grill, a slight glimmer in his eyes.
Andrew glanced over at Rune, and the two boys nodded in unison like they had just come to a conclusion.
“It’d have to be here, right?” Rune said.
“Huh? Who?” I asked.
“Huh?” my eyes almost went cross-eyed. “What? Me? Wh-wh-why? I’m human! You can’t expect me to be trusted with that power!”
“She’s not simply human though…” Gabriel muttered, rubbing his chin as if he was considering it. “Yes… I see it. Perhaps the stories… aren’t entirely lies.”
“See it? See what?” I demanded. “I don’t even know what you guys are talking about! I don’t want this power! Power corrupts!”
“It’s exactly because you don’t want the power that you’re the right person for it.” Andrew failed to reassure me. “Power doesn’t corrupt, it merely attracts those easily corrupted. For you, Jane… I think you are the only one.”
“It’s in agreement then. Robot, please encrypt the satellite grid to this lady.” Gabriel said.
“Ryan! Don’t do it!” I commanded.
Ryan gave me a sweet smile that made my stomach sink. “Jane ordered me to act how I wish. I think Jane is the best person to control the satellite grid.”
“You damn nerf herder!” I cried out.
“It’s done. The satellite grid is in standby mode. It’ll only respond to Jane using a 21-point verification process that will be near impossible to counterfeit.”
“Just… freaking… great…”