Astra Inclinant

I am Isabel Santoro. I'm twenty-five. I am a mass murderer. And I'm sitting in prison. I'm being forced to write my story. Here is Book 1.

Seventeen-year-old me is getting ready to graduate from high school. But I'm not like other kids my age. In fact, I am not like most humans. I have a super power. The twist? I don't want it. That is, until I learn that there are others like me in the universe. When I am at the end of her rope, ready to give up on this world, I am suddenly confronted by a mysterious agent for an agency called Gold Star Rising. He tells me that I need to be trained in their academy with other Gifteds, (humans and aliens with powers) to become a force to fight evil in the galaxy. Then he tells me that my father, who I haven't heard from in years, is in danger, and that I am the only one who can help to save him.

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1. Prologue

Arys Evillive, the GSR's best Mental Spec, stalked down the long corridor, his numerous assistants trailing him, clamoring for his attention.
"Sir, is there really wisdom in..."
"Arys, sir, what makes you think..."
"General Evillive, is there a possibility that you are making a horrible..."
He tuned them out. He had worked hard to get this far, and these new cadets weren't going to change his mind. Beside him, a young girl in the standard Gold Star Rising student's uniform squirmed uncomfortably. She was nervous. It was understandable.
"Do not be alarmed when you see...the subject." Arys uttered the two last words distastefully. Nothing about this situation was pleasant. "Try to remain calm. Don't let her get to you. She has a certain effect..."
She nodded, chewing the end of a dark lock of hair.
"What if they're right?" She nodded her head at the orderlies that were milling about around the pair. "You said you've tried using a Persuasion Spec on her before. Shouldn't that have worked?" Her words were colored with worry.
"I have. Avery Chanders. She's our best Persuasion Spec. Its the fact that her powers worked too well. When she commanded the subject to tell us what happened on Doomsday, the subject..." Arys and one of his other cadets exchanged grim glances. "She tried to bite off her tongue. She almost died on her own blood. When we told her to write everything down, she broke all of her fingers."
"She really is guarding something," the girl gulped.

"I am confident that we have finally found the solution. You."

"What if I can't do it?" She lowered her voice and Arys slowed a bit to keep their conversation more subdued.
"With me manipulating her emotions, you should be able to handle it. I know her weaknesses."
"Thanks," she mumbled sarcastically. "What is the subject's weakness?"
Arys shot her an annoyed glance. "Didn't they tell you anything before they sent you to me?"
"No, they really didn't." She shot back defiantly. Arys sighed.
"Her weakness is her strength," he answered cryptically.
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
"Sometimes, when people have gotten very good at protecting something that has been attacked over and over, they forget to protect the things that are easily attacked."
The girl only shook her head and didn't bother to ask him to clarify that.
"So what do I need to do?" Butterflies were stampeding in her stomach.
"You won't be able to convince her of anything. That is what we tried with Chanders. Don't ask her to tell you anything. It won't work. You need to trick her. I will be helping you. Once your in her nervous system, it should be smooth sailing. I will do the rest."
Arys pulled up short. A white door with a tinted window stood in front of them. He turned to the girl. He held her a pen and a thick notebook.
"If we succeed, this will be the most important book in history. The future of this dimension depends on it."
"Alright." She took a deep breath and stepped up to the door, flashing her access card at its small green scanner. "Here I go." And then the door opened.

 

The girl was afraid of what she would see. She had heard stories, rumors really, of the subject. The most notorious killer in history. They said she had eyes like fire that could melt your soul. They said that this criminal faced no remorse for what she had done.
The girl's first sight of the subject was from the back. She sat electro-cuffed to a metal chair facing away from the door. Her fiery red hair tumbled down its back in a thin and tangled mess. She didn't bother to turn when the girl came in.
"My name," the girl started, forcing her voice to sound confident and commanding, "is Skyler. I've come here today to know your story." She let the power inside of her stir ever so slightly. The subject didn't speak. She didn't even move. Skyler hid the notebook and pen inside of the pack at her side.
She made her way purposefully to the desk situated directly in front of the subject. She sat down without looking at the subject. Placing her hands on the cool metal desk, Skyler let her eyes climb to meet the subject's face. What she saw surprised her.
The subject was young. She was definitely human. She had caramel colored eyes, a dusting of freckles over her nose, and full lips. Skyler tried not to gape. She had never seen a real Earthling. The subject didn't have the face of a killer. She was beautiful in a hard way, but that didn't make sense to Skyler. A killer wasn't meant to be attractive. She met Skyler's even gaze with a disorienting glare, one thin eyebrow lifted. Suddenly, she broke out in laughter. It was a strangely pleasant sound. It wasn't a tinkling little laugh like they always describe in books. It was more akin to wind blowing through leaves and making them rustle. A rough, airy sound.
"What's so funny?" Skyler demanded.
"You are." The subject spoke. "You're all so anal." She smiled deviously. "What are you, fourteen? Fifteen?"
"Fifteen." Skyler found herself saying. Why am I letting her control the conversation? She looked up at Arys. She had nearly forgotten that he was in the room. He merely stared back at her.
"Good age, that." The subject nodded. "But certainly not old enough to know what you're doing. First of all, if you had wanted to intimidate me, you wouldn't have let your mom do your hair in pigtails like that." She indicated Skyler's hair with her eyes, pointedly lifting her eyebrows as high as they would go. Skyler self consciously felt her hair, which was done in what was a traditional style on her planet. "Secondly, if you wanted to look confident, you wouldn't let your hands show. Even the most unobservant idiot would notice the way yours are shaking and sweating." She wrinkled her nose at this last part. Skyler hid her hands in her lap and ignored the young woman in front of her, going for a different approach.
"What is your name?" she asked.
"As if you don't know." The subject had closed her eyes, as if bored. "Arys, are you just going to sit and watch from behind me. It's a bit creepy."

Arys sighed and moved to stand beside Skyler.
"Actually, I don't know your name," Skyler admitted honestly. "I wasn't really given your biography. You're somewhat of a mystery. The GSR has made sure of that." The subject cracked open one eye.
"I'll tell you if you undo these cuffs." She closed that eye again.
"You can't be serious." Skyler was incredulous.
"Why not?" she shrugged. "It's not like I can do anything to you. If you would have done your research, you would know that I have a sub-dermal suppressor inside me. I can't Merge unless you cut it out of me. I'm just kind of sore. I've been sitting here for fifteen minutes already at least. You were late."
Skyler just stared at her in disbelief. She didn't know what to think. She knew that what the subject was saying was true. There was a suppressor chip implanted in her. She could only harm Skyler with physical force, which wasn't a big threat with Arys' seven foot tall form looming over them.
"Will you cooperate if I let you out?" She asked, hoping that Arys would be able to detect a lie.
"As much as I can." It was an odd choice of words, but Arys said nothing. She looked up at him. He shrugged. Skyler shook her head and pulled her access card out of her breast-pocket. Immediately after the slight blip sounded, meaning the electro-cuffs were unlocked, the red-headed subject shook them free and twisted in her seat so that her legs were hanging over one arm of the chair and her elbows were hooked over the other. It didn't look like a much better position than the one she had been in before, but the simple change must have been enough to cause an alleviation of discomfort. Letting her long hair brush the floor, the subject sighed.
"Isabel," she said casually. Once again Skyler was taken aback.
"That's your name?" she clarified.
"Yeah. But my friends call me Bella." She put a finger to her chin thoughtfully. "Well I guess I have to use past tense on that one. They called me Bella. Most of them are either dead or want my head on a plate." For a split second, Skyler felt an odd sense of sympathy for Isabel. How lonely it must be. The woman had been in solitary confinement for five years. But then Skyler remembered the crime.
"Do you blame them for hating you? You did what is unforgivable, and no one knows why." Skyler let a bit of anger seep into her words. Who cared if Isabel knew that her actions caused anger in every morally sane being?
The criminal merely smiled, showing a row of even white teeth. "I know why." She was like a child taunting another child with a secret.
"And you're going to tell me." Skyler commanded, throwing charged power into each word as she attempted to take over Isabel's nervous system. Usually, this worked like a charm, but Skyler was met by a wall. Isabel only stared at Skyler looking unimpressed.
"That's it?" She yawned and stood, stretching casually. Skyler felt a small amount of panic.  Not many could resist her power when she tried to hijack the nervous system. She looked to Arys. He gave a serious smile. She relaxed a bit. He wanted her to keep going. He needed to get in her head before Skyler could hijack her.
"If you don't tell us why you did what you did, another planet will be destroyed. Don't you want to atone for what you did by preventing it from happening to more planets? Eventually the universe will be destroyed. And you hold the key." Skyler let the words hang their with extra Spec energy just for extra measure.
"Don't care." Isabel was now doing what looked like an advanced form of yoga, her eyes closed and her body balanced in a strange position.
"What is the matter with you?" Skyler wondered in horror. Once again, Isabel cracked open one eye.
"Everything." She smiled amiably and then continued her stretching. A heavy silence followed. Then, Isabel spoke again.
"It's been five years since I did what I did. I haven't once given away anything about that crime. What makes you think I feel guilt about it?" She sounded legitimately curious.
"Because I refuse to believe that someone who used to be a hero could become a cold-hearted killer."

At this, Isabel laughed.
"You're naive, kid. Go home," she looked up at Arys like a child complaining about their sibling to a parent. "Get her out of here, Arys."
"Sit down!" Arys thundered so abruptly and with so much force that it must have taken Isabel off guard. She started (so did Skyler) a surprisingly hurt expression on her fox-like features.
"You never yell at me, A." She said in a wounded voice.
"You murdered six billion people." Arys replied harshly. "And I know you feel something about it. You can't hide everything from me."
"There is no way you can get me to talk." She sneered, true anger appearing for the first time. Skyler considered that a small victory. Arys was good.
"Maybe I can't get you to talk willingly. I think we've realized that not Avery, Ereden, nor I get a word out of you."
"Don't forget about the times you sent Jon in here to torture it out of me," Isabel added in a sing-song voice.
"You think that we're out of options," Arys started.
Isabel tilted her head to the side, stuck out her lips, and held her hands up in a gesture that said, Well, yeah.
"That's where you're wrong." Arys braced himself on the desk.
"And what is that? You've tried everything."
"The pen is mightier than...well, the spoken word, I suppose." Arys brought out the book and slammed it onto the table, tossing the pen onto it.
"Oh, come on. This is getting boring," Isabel stood.

"No. Sit." Arys held out a hand for me to be quiet. "I know that there is sadness still in you. We were close friends, Bella. I know you."

"Please, no. No therapy sessions. You've tried this before, Arys," Isabel rolled her eyes. "It doesn't get either of us anywhere. You always get me to cry or shout, but I never reveal anything you don't already know. It's pointless."

"Which route should we take today?" Arys asked gently. "Vasily? Your mother? Marlina?"

Isabel looked down at her lap, and Skyler could tell that the mere mention of those names was already releasing emotions in her.

"Riven? Or what about Reginleif?" Arys kept digging. His power was Surging now. Skyler could feel the force of it, and the intense sadness coming from Isabel. Isabel put her face in her hands. "Stop manipulating me, Arys," she said quietly.

"I'm not doing anything but allowing you to feel all you're emotions surrounding those names in their strongest form. All this guilt? It's coming from you and you know that."

"Stop." Isabel let out a sob. Skyler was impressed with the effectiveness of Arys' gift.

"Or should we talk about-"

"No!" Isabel shouted, tears streaming down her face. Arys looked to Skyler. Now, he mouthed.

Skyler Surged as hard as she could and felt the tendrils of her hijacking power gripping Isabel's vulnerable body.

She watched in satisfaction as the young woman's beautiful brown eyes widened and stared at her in horror. Skyler reached forward, and so did Isabel. Their bodies were linked. Isabel was trapped in Skyler's movements, but still had her own mind and emotions. It was working.
"No." Isabel cried as Skyler used her hand to shakily pick up the pen, every muscle straining against the motion.
"You don't know what you are doing!" She got out between labored breaths.
"It's working." Skyler said in awe, ignoring Isabel's words. Arys nodded.
"Stop this now!" Isabel screamed in outrage, the independent light fading out of her eyes, her movements growing more fluid. Skyler's Gift had taken over. She merely stared in victory at Isabel's hunched form, which was writing furiously and quickly.

"Start from the beginning, Bella," Arys informed gently. "Every detail." Isabel let out a groan, but didn't stop writing.

"She's trapped in the intentions of your movement," Arys remarked in awe. "I've never seen anything like it."

"What if she just refuses to write what we want?" Skyler was a bit confused as to how they were going to get the story.

"She's going to write whatever she is thinking. It's a little hard to not to think about something when you tell yourself not too. I'm confident that this will last until we have gotten our information. I will just tell her what to think about. She'll try not to, but she'll think about it. And then she'll write it."

"You're a genius," Skyler said, but Arys just looked solemnly at Isabel.

"Now we wait," he finally said quietly.


"We' ve just solved the worst crime in history." Skyler gasped.

 

 

 

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