Twelve Years Before (prequel to Journey of the Star Bearers)

Fantasy story about a girl who lives on a planet called Starre. This is her life before the War...

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20. Tomorrow Will be Better

AS SOON AS I WOKE UP I NEW SOMETHING WAS WRONG. There was a strange feeling over the house so I decided to go and investigate. Once downstairs, I heard a rustling in the kitchen so I crept over and looked in. Inside there were two men looking through the store cupboards and filling a sack. This seemed strange as everyone knew who lived here and nobody robbed anyway. Therefore, they couldn’t be from round here but, if so, where had they come from?

Quietly, I snuck up behind them, grabbed a saucepan and thumped them over the head; they both fell down unconscious. Next thing, I called Zeeva to me to watch them and keep them from escaping if they woke up. I gave the command, guard, and then ran upstairs to wake Danny up. Soon, everyone was in the kitchen, my Master included, looking at the robbers lying moaning on the floor.

“Well,” My Master stated “They’re not from round here that’s for sure.”

We all looked sideways at him and he put his hands up in defence. “I’m just saying!”

“Anyway,” I continued swiftly “We do need to find out where they did come from. Anyone any ideas?”

No one did.

“Ok, so I guess we’ll just have to question them.”

After about half an hour, they stirred and tried to move, only to find that they were tied up with a snarling dog in their faces. They yelped and I called Zeeva down.

“Right” I said in a commanding tone, taking control of the situation “Tell me what I want to know or I’ll set the dog on you”

I soon as I said that, they started blubbing like babies. Criminals are all tough when they have the power but as soon as you turn the tables, they become useless. I rolled my eyes and started to question them. They gave me all the answers willingly, not to keen on the idea of being torn to shreds by an angry dog. It turned out that they weren’t from any planet, they were what we called ‘lone wanderers’ and was quite common for them to become thieves to get by. They’d got into the planet by asking for shelter for the night and, as one the inhabitants had agreed to it, been allowed to cross the barrier undetected. As soon as my Master heard this part of the tale, he went to find out who had let them through and lecture them on why we couldn’t trust anyone at the moment. They were going to rob a few of the houses then leave under the cover of night, allowed out the same way they were allowed in.

Once I had heard the whole story I backed down. I gave them a stale loaf and told them to leave the planet and never come back, which they did gladly. After that was done with, I went back upstairs, collapsed on the bed and fell into an unconscious, dreamless state until my Master stirred me in time to get ready for school.

Zeeva leapt off my bed and proceeded to ‘help’ me get ready for school. I put on a simple black ¾ length sleeved top that hung off my body and tight jeans then pulled my hair up into a messy bun, not really caring about my appearance. With fifteen minutes left until I had to go, I got an old brush and brushed Zeeva’s fur, taking care not to hurt her and making sure she was properly cared for. She sighed and laid her head on the floor. After I’d done that, I gave her breakfast and told her to stay. She whined gently in protest at me going off unprotected but did as she was told.

I arrived at school just before the bell went and hurried into the classroom. I sat down and took my coat off just in time to answer my name on the register. My Master looked at me pointedly but other than that ignored the fact that I was late. Danny, spotting the look, giggled at me and I looked at her. ‘Zip it’ the look said and she did but was still holding it in. I let it pass by this time, recognising that it was actually quite funny so my point was moot.

Getting out my books, I saw Danny writing a note and dropped my pencil case by her chair. She picked it up and passed it to me. Opening it up, I saw the note nestled inside. I rolled my eyes, opened it up and read it, snorting at what she had written. I wrote a reply and passed it back to her. She giggled at my reply and put it in her bag so we didn’t get caught. As my Master walked past and handed me the work we were doing, I sighed in exasperation as I saw it was maths. It wasn’t that I didn’t like maths; it was just that I wasn’t very good at it. I just had to get through an hour of equations and then it was fire control, the best subject in the world in my opinion. One hour. I looked at the paper and my head span. I closed my eyes and shook my head to refocus but when I opened them again it was to the same result. What was happening? I didn’t have much time to think before the world slipped away…

Images and words spun through my head, getting louder and faster, the voices screaming at me over and over until I couldn’t cope any more and let out a scream. The voices faded but the pictures stayed, spinning faster and faster, making me dizzier and dizzier…

Terrifying images flashed in front of my eyes, of fire, ice and storm meeting and tearing the world apart, of the world burning and all the stars going out. They circled round and round becoming more and more vivid until I woke up with a flash but I wasn’t in school.

I was in the place where I had seen Sergius but there was no sign of him anywhere. I went inside the clay hut that was standing there but the only sign of residence was a cold pot of broth over the long since dead hearth. There was no bedding on the beds and no clothes in the dresser but where were they? Hearing something outside, I hid underneath the bed to see an elderly man come in, look around then move a threadbare rug to reveal a trapdoor. He opened it up and climbed down faster than I would’ve anticipated possible from someone of his age.

I waited five minutes then followed him down the ladder, trying to stay as quiet as possible. When I reached the bottom of the ladder, I saw that it lead onto a long corridor and, at the end, there was a doorway, surrounded by a halo of light. Moving swiftly and quietly, I made my way down the corridor and peeked into the room. Inside there was a small wooden table with four wooden chairs tucked neatly underneath it, a small fireplace with a pot hanging over it similar to the one upstairs and two beds tucked away in the corner. Sitting on one of the beds was Sergius, watching the elderly man and a woman I presumed to be his wife talk.

“…can’t continue to go up anymore, it’s too risky!” She was saying to the man while ferociously stirring whatever was in the pot.

“Yes, but we must eat and the supply here is dwindling. Plus I am extremely cautious every time I go out. There is no way they will find us here.”

“I know you are the most cautious man I have ever met but the resistance is all but nonexistent here. It is their strongest base. Besides, I’m sure they know that we are the ones harbouring the boy and they will do anything to get his hands on him. So, no more raids until we completely run out of stock. I don’t want anyone I love getting killed, do you hear me?” The lady turned on him, thrusting the spoon in his face.

I was starting to like this woman and her loyalties even more as it was obvious that she could sense a person’s nature just by looking at them. I giggled at the defeated look on the man’s face and froze as they both spun around to face the door, the alarm on their faces imminent. Together they grabbed the nearest thing and started edging towards the door. Luckily for me, Sergius had recognised my voice and raced to stop them.

“It’s ok.” He said cautiously to both me and the elderly couple “They’re a friend.”

Warily, I opened the door, not wanting to alarm them further. Just as carefully, I stepped into the room and closed the door behind me softly. The couple visibly relaxed slightly but still did not let go of the frying and sauce pan each were holding. I realised that the dagger at my hip was probably not doing anything to help convince them that I was friend rather than foe.

“Come and take it if it would make you feel safer.” I called softly, orientating myself so that my hip was prominent.

The lady crept forward; frying pan still clutched tightly in her right fist, to gently ease the knife out of its sheath and dropped it on the table behind her. She sighed gently; the frying pan went smacking down beside the dagger. All I knew was that as soon as I soon that one piece of hostility evaporate, I couldn’t contain myself any longer. I went flying across the room, straight into Sergius’ arms. In that moment the whole world melted away and it was just me and him, his strong arms encircling me, protecting me from harm. The moment was over all too soon, but even once we had pulled away, he still kept holding onto me, touching me in some way even if it was just having his hand brushing against mine, just to make sure I was still there.

When we broke apart we found the elderly couple standing there smirking slightly. The lady stepped forward to bring me into a hug. When she stood, back she looked me up and down and said “You must be Kara, we’ve heard a lot about you my dear.”

After that, she must have sensed that we wanted some alone time as she grabbed the man’s hand and dragged him out of the room. Once they were out of the room and we were truly alone, Sergius took me over to the bed and we sat together while he told me what had happened after I sent him off. Before he had finished his story, I felt the presence of the sun washing over and could tell that my time with him would soon be over so I leaned over and kissed him, long and sweet, once more for who knew how long. With that, the feeling of his body melted away and was replaced with a feeling of loneliness and, as my face was lit by a different sun, tears caught in the light.

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