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“So, we’re in space jail now.” 

“That would appear to be the case,” Ryan responded.  

“Soon, the entire planet will be invaded and the entire human race enslaved.”  

“While we do not know the true purposes of the cult, it would seem that the imminent destruction of Earth would be a logical conclusion.”  

“Well,” Andrew interjected, “It seems to be the cult’s desire to acquire new weaponry. I imagine they might use those satellites to initiate a war between my people and the demons.” 

“Well, there is a bright side. Our planet might not be invaded. Instead, it will be thrown into the middle of a magical world war,” I added sarcastically, turning to Rune and Andrew. “How did you guys get caught?”

“We chased after the guys who ambushed us,” Andrew said darkly. “Then Rune thought it was a bright idea to start shooting fireballs everywhere. He revealed he was a demon. It came out I was an angel. It didn’t take long for them to start accusing us of being cultists too.”

“Hey! That wasn’t my fault!” Rune defended.

“Then whose was it!”

“Guys!” I interrupted them before it could turn into yelling. “Can’t you guys cut through the walls or shoot a fireball or something?”  

“No,” Rune’s mouth twisted. “My power comes from the demon realm. I can only replenish my powers when I’m close to its connection point, located on Earth. When I’m not on Earth, my power weakens quickly. Even in orbit, I felt like I could barely pull any power. On the moon? Forget it. Trying to open that door drained me completely. That’s why I went to you guys.”  

I glanced over at Andrew and he shrugged, nodded, and sighed. “So, basically, you wasted all your mana. That’s just great. You guys could have told me you were shooting blanks before we got to this point. What about you, Ryan?”  

“My systems have returned to a fully operational condition. However, this cell has no access ports for me to hack. I can punch the wall, but I calculate it would take three months, two weeks, three days, 4 hours, 23 minutes, and 52 seconds of continuous punching to break through this door. Should I begin?”  

“A guard will come within a minute. Don’t worry about it.” Andrew stated.  

I sighed, leaning back and thinking about the conversations with the aliens. “Space… angels… demons… you know I saw demons and angels on the station.”

“I didn’t see the angel, but he probably belongs to another planet,” Andrew responded simply with a sigh.

“How do you guys rectify the whole magic and technology thing? Not a single alien seems surprised by necromancers, or magic fireballs, or anything!

“Some say when technology reaches a certain point, it becomes indistinguishable from magic.”

“Are you saying angels and demons are just really technologically advanced?”

“Is it so hard to believe? We connect to a ton of different planets with all kinds of technological development. Since we frequently deal with both worlds lacking in technology and worlds full of it, our weapons took on the forms of your myths.”

I shook my head, realizing that this conversation was going nowhere and certainly wouldn’t help us escape from this prison. At least my sickness was starting to go away, but that didn’t make me feel any better. We had failed and there was nothing we could do except wait until the very end. As if to add insult to injury, the door slid open and Prince Skyp, complete with two armed guards, stepped into the cell.  

“Well, well; the Princess of Nefriti, a traitor to the galactic council. Who would have thought?” The Prince’s voice sounded throaty and raw.  

I stayed silent for the moment. He apparently still thought I was the Princess. That might give me some advantage in this conversation.  

“So, Princess, you are part of the Cult of the Stellar Trust Against Radical Wars? I knew they sought any military technology at any cost, but I am shocked they are out here on this little third-world planet.”  

“Our planet’s not a third-world planet; your planet’s a third-world planet!” Rune snapped.

“Technically speaking, our planet is the third planet from the sun,” Ryan interjected.

“We’re not part of the cult; I was trying to stop them.” I ignored the two boys and pleaded with Prince Skyp.

The Prince frowned a bit as he considered my words, but then shook his head. “Nice excuse, I suppose, but I am not so dumb as to believe-”  

The Prince sneezed and then sneezed again. He reached his hand out to his side, and one of the guards put a handkerchief in it. The alien wiped his nose and tossed the cloth back at the guard.  

“I apologize; there seems to be a bit of a bug going around. As I was saying, you cannot trick me. You are a member of the STAR Wars Cult and a traitor. Soon, we will track down your rebel friends. We already managed to damage their engines before they got out of range. At their current speed, it will take them a day to reach the satellite grid. By then, we will have found and executed them.”  

“If you destroyed their engines, how are they moving then?” Rune demanded.

Prince Skyf rolled his eyes in annoyance. “It’s called momentum. Look it up! Oh wait, you can’t!”

“You can’t possibly hope to defeat the Star Cult; they are simply too powerful,” Andrew responded.  

“It’s the STAR Wars Cult, actually.”  

“Yeah, we’re not calling it that.”  

The Prince let out another sneeze. “Either way, I will wipe them out no matter what it takes. However, Princess Nefriti, you do not need to follow the same fate as them. If you marry me and ensure my race’s entry into the council, I can sweep this whole thing under the rug.”  

“No!” I snapped. “we will never join you!”

“Soon, you will see the true power of my battle force. Then you will change your mind.” He turned his head towards Ryan. “You’re her servant, aren’t you? Convince her this is the best choice.”

“I am not technically her servant.” Ryan responded.

“Dude, Ryan?!” I exclaimed, exasperated.

“What? Who are you then?” Skyp demanded.

“I’m a robot pretending to be her servant to hide our true identity.”

“Shut up, Ryan!” I said angrily.

“As a Prince, I order you to tell me the truth, what are your true identities then?”

“I’m a robot who works under my Mistress and Jane is a human girl from earth. Rune is a demon, and Andrew is an angel.

I turned towards Ryan. “Why, Ryan? Why would you tell him that?”  

The General’s smug appearance was quickly overshadowed by a look of abject horror. 

“I apologize Jane; I am programmed to be incapable of lying unless ordered to do otherwise.”  

“Then lie!”  

“Very well. Prince Skyp, I was initially in error. She is, in fact, a Princess.” 

“A human?” Prince Skyp’s lips twisted. “I marked and began a mating ceremony with a human?”  

“You did what to my what now?” I asked. 

“The information downloaded by Allan suggests the Riptari shoot pheromones at a mating companion to mark her as their territory,” Ryan explained. “I suspect this Riptari marked you. It’s akin to a dog urinating on a-” 

“That’ll be enough, Ryan, thank you.” I snapped; that was information I did not need to know.  

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one to share in the thought. The Prince also had a disgusted expression on his face, but not exactly for the same reason.  

“You … filthy animals!” Skyp snapped. “You will not survive my humiliation. I will kill you and your STAR Wars Cult; and your little droid too!”  

“We said we’re not part of the cult!” Andrew interjected. 

“I don’t really care what he says, he spread his funk all over Jane without asking and that’s enough reason to kick his ass!” Rune growled.  

Skyp backed up warily from Rune as his guards waved their guns menacingly.  

He covered his mouth as he coughed some more. “Close the door. We’ll take care of these damn dirty apes later.”  

The door slammed shut, leaving the four of us back in the relative seclusion within our cell. After a moment, I let out a prolonged sigh, leaning back.  

“Well, that went well,” I muttered.  

“I apologize, but I think you interpreted the results incorrectly. I think we are in more trouble than previously established.” Ryan explained.  

“I was being sarcastic!” I snapped.  

Ryan’s eyes went big for a second, but he nodded in acknowledgment and lowered his head. Well, now I felt bad. Why did he have to seem so sad all the time? 

After that, the four of us waited in silence. Andrew and Rune certainly weren’t going to strike up a conversation with each other. Ryan seemed just as content to stay in his own self-prescribed solitude. For me, I was worried about Earth.  

How would my friends back on Earth handle the coming alien invasion? Samantha would undoubtedly write three fan fictions before they fired the first shot. Daniel might end up fighting them to the death. Stephan would probably try to negotiate with them and end up in a lab being probed. Alex would … oh what was the point of going on with this? 

The clock continued to beat. It seemed like they were taking quite a long time to get back to us. It had been half a day; were they going to starve us? Perhaps the Prince was a lot crueler than I had given him credit.  

The door clicked and swung open. Perhaps the aliens finally had come back to finish the job. I took a deep breath, ready to meet my maker.  My life had been far too short. I hadn’t done enough, hadn’t seen enough; I wanted to live.  

It took me a few seconds to realize who was standing in the doorway; Allan. He was carrying a massive gun that looked ridiculously oversized in his thin hands. Then again, it looked incredibly sexy. Except for the glasses, he almost looked like an action hero busting into the prison to free his comrades. He had smears of dirt on his face and one gash above his eye. He wore what looked like a slimline spacesuit, although there was no helmet in sight. It looked heavily beaten and damaged. Did he fight his way in here?  

“Allan! I can’t believe how glad I am to see you,” Rune cried out.  

Allan nodded. “I am relieved to see you four are alright. I have not seen any resistance thus far, but it would be best if we moved at once.”  

The four of us didn’t need any motivation. We moved cautiously out into the hallway, following behind Allan.  

“I am glad you came for us, but how did you manage to get in here? Don’t tell me you fought your way in.”  Andrew said.

“Ridiculous.” Allan shook his head. “They increased their patrol parties. One of them found my ship and shot me down. I ended up crash landing on the moon. I got into a spacesuit and walked here. Fortunately, in the entire expanse of the moon, I crashed within walking distance of this base.”  

“Wait,” Andrew stopped, “if your ship crash-landed, then-” 

“Then we have no escape now. I am working on that part as we go. We are heading to the hanger right now. Perhaps we can steal one of the dignitary’s ships.”  

“You didn’t see any resistance?” Rune asked.  

“Perhaps they are too busy looking for the cult or preparing for the invasion. Between the airlock and your prison cell, I have yet to see a single soul.”  

The idea of that seemed incredibly suspicious, but my desire to be off this moon base propelled me forward, nonetheless. I suspected the others were just as eager, as they didn’t ask any more questions. A few more turns and we were in the hanger. Allan was right; there was absolutely no one in sight.  

“The Prince says that the cult’s ship was damaged. If we can catch up to them, we could still stop the invasion,” I suggested.  

“I was planning on taking something a little inconspicuous, but if we need speed, it would be that ship.” Allan pointed to the largest ship in the bay.  

My eyes bulged. It was easily three times the size of Allan’s ship. It had several guns and canon’s mounted all across it.  

“What is this ship?” I asked incredulously.  

“It would be the Prince’s personal flagship. I imagine he plans to lead the invasion with it. It will draw the attention of every ship in his fleet, but they would be unlikely to fire on it right away. It may give us the time we need.”  

“It’s so big!” I exclaimed, looking it up and down.  

“It is not the size that matters; it is the power of the engine, Jane.”  

“The little Prince is probably just compensating for something,” Rune laughed. 

I chuckled with him. “Let’s take it then; that’ll teach that alien a lesson for what he did to me! Nobody sprays their junk all over me and gets away with it!”  

“I am glad you are a lady of principle,” Allan responded wryly. “Let’s hurry.”  

Allan accessed a console, causing a door to open on the side of the ship. The group rushed in, following behind Allan. He worked his way through the hallways. Unlike his ship, the halls were a lot larger and infinitely more comfortable. Now, this was a spaceship! I rammed into Allan as he suddenly stopped in midstride.  

“What? Why did you stop?”  

Allan pointed down at the ground in front of him. I looked over his shoulder and gasped. Lying on the floor in the hallway, his head up against a side wall, was Prince Skyf. He seemed to be breathing shallowly, the sound of phlegm and congestion heard with each gasp. His eyes snapped open as we approached, turning towards me.  

“What have you … done … to us? You’ve poisoned … my army. Already, half my fleet have collapsed from exhaustion. What is this?”  

Allan kneeled down, putting his hand over the Prince’s forehead before looking back at us. “It would appear he has a cold.”  

“What … in the universe … is a cold?” The Prince gasped.  

“And thus the aliens were defeated.” Rune lowered his head. “Not by some weapon or ingenuity of man, but by Jane, whose poor hygiene and bad handwashing techniques led them all to become infected with bacteria their immune systems weren’t used to fighting.”  

“My hygiene is fine! And I always wash my hands!”  

“For one minute, with soap, making sure to clean under the nails thirty seconds each hand per recommended FDA regulations?” Allan asked.  

“Of course!” The group all looked at me. “Basically … For the most part … Come on, who’s going to sit there for a whole minute? Plus, sometimes the soap’s out. That isn’t important right now. At least they are being wiped out by a bug and not something stupid like an allergy to water.”  

“Yeah, that would be pretty stupid,” Andrew nodded in my defense. 

“Exactly, like if we just poured water on him he’d start-”  

“I’m so hot right now; I’m melting,” Prince Skyf moaned.  

I sighed. “Alright, Darth Elphaba, let’s take you with us. At worst, we could use you as collateral if we need it.”  

Ryan nodded, bending over and picking up the pitiful creature. The group continued forward, making it to the bridge in relatively short order while stepping over the bodies of other collapsed aliens. Allan moved up to a head console and began typing random keys. Once Ryan put the ailing Prince up against a wall, Allan sent him to a control panel, whispering in his ear for a bit. Ryan nodded as he acknowledged whatever Allan was saying. Allan grabbed Rune and dragged him over to another console to do the same thing. Finally, he grabbed Andrew and repeated the process.  

“This is a far larger ship than mine. I’ll need all of you to pilot this thing. Jane, since you were already sick, would you mind caretaking the ailing Prince?”  

I shivered but nodded. Someone had to keep him alive, I supposed. I went over to the sick alien and began wetting a rag to put on his forehead. The alien protested at first, but he seemed pretty delirious and out of it so, after a short amount of bullying, he accepted my ministrations.   

The ship began vibrating and churning. There was a loud pop and then the ship started to gain momentum. The flagship moved forward down a really long corridor leading out of the hanger. As we approached the end, a giant blast door opened, revealing the open space beyond. We blasted out, leaving the moon and the base behind us. I let out a sigh of relief at that, feeling just a slight tug of inertia as we went from 0 to exceeding terminal velocity in seconds.  

“I’m getting some communication from the other ships. They’re asking for orders. I guess the sickness has spread to most of the ships now and they are functioning on a skeleton crew. They have located the cult’s ship on route towards the satellite control station, but none of the ships are able to head there.” Andrew spoke up.  

Allan nodded. “Get the coordinates. Tell them to stand by. We will be setting out to intercept the ship. Navigator Ryan, as soon as we have those coordinates, lay a course.”  

I smirked up at Allan. “You really do seem like a ship captain.”  

Allan’s expression didn’t change, but the hint of a blush appeared on his cheeks. “I … used to be a first mate. My captain kept breaking the rules and sleeping with space aliens. Eventually, he was dishonorably discharged and I was sent to Earth on a data gathering mission. In reflection, he was really an awful captain. However, I did learn a few things about running a larger ship.”  

I gave him an encouraging smile. “You’ll do great. We can still stop the cult.” 

Allan pushed his glasses back up on his nose. “Of course. I’d accept nothing less. Ensign Ryan. Engage!”  

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