Project Galatea

Centuries ago, the faery courts engineered 12 weapons with the aid of their pixie cousins. These weapons would help them survive the modern age of man and they have now been honed and tested. The weapons are ready for use, but they are proving to be more rebellious than the two founding kings had ever anticipated. But a little rebellion is always expected from teenagers. In a world where a secret anti-faery organisation known as the Paladins exist, Terri, Ariel and Zib must fight for their right to live and love freely and avoid being used as tools by either Fey or Paladin. Terri, "the ordinary girl", Ariel, "the Prince", and Zib "the rogue" must detangle the secrecy and lies surrounding Project Galatea if they are to save themselves or risk being nothing more than being a failed experiment.

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9. Another Kind of Hospitality

Ariel parked the car and turned off the music but made no move to open the door. He tensed his hands around the steering wheel, looking straight ahead through the front window.

                “What’s wrong?” Terri asked. She didn’t understand what he was so agitated. If he hadn’t wanted to attend the party in the first place, then he didn’t have to bring her there. “You know I would have been happier to spending the rest of the night with you, don’t you?”

                “Terri…” He stared at her intently with furrowed brows, as if he had something on his mind he desperately had to come out with. Then his face softened and delight smile broke out. “Live a little. Where’s your sense of adventure?” Then he opened his door and stepped out. Terri sat there for a moment, rather perplexed.

                Terri’s door was opened and you saw Ariel offer his hand.

                “Milady, might I have the pleasure of accompanying you to this party?” He asked.

                Terri giggled as she took his hand and left the car. She stopped momentarily as he closed the door and locked the car, gazing intently at his nicely black jeans. His ensemble was finished with a fitted black shirt and leather jacket — real leather, and not that budget faux leather. Although she would have expected to see something a little bit flashier, Terri had to admit that the dark palette gave him an edgier look.

                Ariel took her arm, and they made their way to the party. It wasn’t a very difficult house to find — they just had to follow the house with the most noise.

               

Terri rang the doorbell, and after a few minutes of waiting, a cheerful redhead opened the door.

                "Hi Heather,” Terri greeted.

                "Oh hey!" Heather hugged Terri tightly, followed by Ariel. Looking less than comfortable, Ariel patted her back gently like a puppy. “I heard that Len invited a few year 12’s. Surprising considering how snobby he can be.” She let them inside, where she directed them to a coat closet where Terri hung her sailor style dress. “Oh my gawd, that is so cute,” Heather chirped. “Isn’t that so cute?” she asked Ariel.

                “Very,” he replied.

                “This girl right here is a keeper. Terri and I go way back to first day of school last month to when she warned me that my pants were showing and I had toilet roll stuck on my shoe so don’t you dare,” she jabbed him several times in the chest with her talon tipped nail, “hurt her.”

                “I wouldn’t dream of it,” Ariel responded.

                The door to the coat closet opened and Mark O’Brien revealed himself. “Oh, there you are,” he exclaimed.

                “I think she’s a little drunk,” Terri said.

                “I warned her to stop playing, but no, when Heather gets into a drinking game, she can’t be stopped.”

                “Oh, stop your moaning, Mark. I’m fine. Don’t I look fine to you?”

                “Come on, Heather. Let’s get you some water. You two can follow me as well. Knowing Len, he’ll want to greet you both.”  

*Terri and Ariel followed Heather and Mark to the living area. It was buzzing with writhing bodies, and the air was pulsating with wild energy emanating from all the hormonal teenagers. The sound system belted out some form of electronic music.

“Dub step,” Ariel stated. “The death of music.”

“Don’t be so harsh!" Heather yelled. “Sometimes it makes good make out music.” She grabbed it marks chin, and gave what should have been a passionate kiss besides didn’t disturb Terri so much. Of course, Mark wasn’t one to protest. “

“Len is over there,” Mark said, whilst never taking his eyes from Heather. He pointed towards the back of the room, near the porch door where the rest of the party revelled outside. Beside the door however, a group of people played what appeared to be a drinking game. “If he asks for me, tell him I’m attending to Heather.” And without even a backward glance, he left that to new guests to find some privacy.

“I’ve never seen her so drunk,” Terri said as they headed towards Len’s group. “She normally seems so… Together.”

“You know what alcohol does to people,” Ariel replied.

When they reached the group huddled around the table, Terri had one of them shout, “All drink!” But some giggles and some half’s of protest, they’ll complied.

“Ariel! Terri! I was wondering when you two would appear,” Len greeted them with a smirk. “I was afraid I had not done all within my power to convince you.”

“Believe me, I was quite convinced.” Ariel said, his voice flat and somewhat bored.

“Honestly Ariel, bitterness does not become you. I barely even broke it. And even if I did, that’s nothing in comparison to what you have planned.”

“What is he talking about?” Terri asked.

“Okay, all the guys have to drink now,” one of the guys at the table stated. After everyone took a swig of their cups, the same guy I’d Ariel up and down, asking, “Well, are you playing?”

“Of course he is,” Len answered.

“Actually, I don’t really drink.”

“Bullshit. I know you’re a party animal.”

"He doesn’t want to drink, Len,” Terri stated firmly. “Just leave it alone."

“No,” he snapped. In that moment, Terri could have sworn that his eyes flashed white. Terri blinked couple of times, but they only glowed brighter. “This is my home, and you’re playing by my rules."

“Your eyes," Terri said. “What happened to your eyes?”

“Nothing. Why?” Len tilted his chin slightly, giving a lopsided grin.

“I…” Terri was unable to finish her sentence because at that precise moment, there was a loud smash.

“Was that my vase?” Len roared. He stood abruptly, heading towards the kitchen.

“Terri,” Ariel said. “We need to talk." The words filled Terri with dread, but before she could protest, Ariel took her hand and fled the living room.

They headed outside, and found a reasonably deserted corner in the dark.

“You’ve been acting strangely as of late. First was that time a few weeks ago when we were studying at the library and you became panicked when the librarian approached us." Terri bit her lip as she recalled the way the librarians eyes had changed into the slitted pupils of a reptile. “And then there was that time when you decided all of a sudden that you didn’t really want to watch that insufferable romantic comedy only just as the adverts were about to start."

“I told you, I really had to go.”

“Only the other day you looked like you were going to have a panic attack at break time and back then he looked terrified of Len. What is it that you are hiding from me?"

“You want to talk to me about hiding things? What about you?”

“What about me?" Ariel replied.

“You’ve been walking around school all week like a lost year seven student. You’ve forgotten your phone pass code twice, my birthday, and even handing in assignments late. You always do you work early."

“So I haven’t been feeling myself lately,” Ariel stated. “Look, I don’t mean to be playing the blame game. I just wish you would trust me enough to tell me what is going on. Maybe I can help you somehow, or maybe I can’t, but letting it out has to be better than bottling up whatever emotions you’re keeping from me.” Ariel clasped his hands around Terri’s, stepping closer to her. “You can tell me anything. I won’t think you’re crazy.”

Terri took a sharp breath in as her eyes began to sting. “I’ve been seeing… Things… Creatures. They can’t possibly exist but it seems that everywhere you turn, there is one in front of me. I think Len might be one of them.”

Terri gazed in Ariel’s eyes to see if there was even a hint of doubt. She half expected him to laugh, or least tell her that she was being ridiculous.

“How long have you been seeing these… creatures?"

“About a month," she replied. Her voice hitched and Ariel took her in his arms. “Please don’t tell me I’m crazy. Please.”

“You’re not crazy,” he stated. “But you’re in terrible danger. The creatures you see are real. I see them too.”

“What?” Terri asked. “How?”

“Same way you do. I have the Sight. When he looked at Len, were his eyes glowing white? Did his hair seemed to grow, twisting around like shadowy vines?”

“No. But his eyes did blow.”

“Interesting. It was a mistake to bring you here. We have to leave."

Ariel grabbed Terri’s hand and led them around the house through the garden door. Though it was locked, Ariel brought out what appeared to be a pick, but then the device glowed and he twisted it like a key and the lock opened.

“How did you…"

“Questions later."

As they headed towards Ariel’s car, Terri noticed a dark haired man waiting in front of it — arms crossed with a slight smirk on his face.

“Leaving so soon? The party was only just beginning.” He raised his head and Terri saw that his eyes were like empty black pits, devoid of any life or amusement, despite his smirk.

“You have got to be kidding me,” Ariel stated.

“Actually, he’s quite serious,” a voice called out from behind. Terri turned to see the silver eyed, shadowy creature from her nightmares. “See, you and I had a sort of arrangement. You let me feed from you a little, and I won’t drain the life force from your little toy here."

“How about we make a new deal?” Ariel asked. “You let us go, and I will let you live.”

“Cute,” the creature laughed. “I will make a morsel out of her.”

 

 

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