Up There so High

What do you get when you have a space fanatic, a runaway princess and a bunch of miscreants? Well, you get the three E's; Explosions, Expletives and Enemies.
You may not laugh along with this story but you may sing (because the main space man is very much fond of that).

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34. The Jellyfish Problem

 

~The Jellyfish Problem~

~Everett~

 

When Reese finally let go of Fitz he turned the Forty 1000 off and jokily commanded them back to the cockpit.

“The ship is all fixed and ready to go,” Fitz told them as he strapped himself back in, “So where do you want to go?”

All three of them had blank faces. Everett knew next to nothing about the Supernova Galaxy. Reese didn’t really care. Skylar hadn't factored any interstellar trips into her plan.

“Really?” Fitz asked, raising an eyebrow in his disbelief. 

“I didn’t really think this far?” Skylar tried to say as she sat heavily into a seat.

“Well if you don’t have any objections, we’re going to Cael, at least they have Interstellar Drag Races.” The end of the sentence tapered off into mutterings as Fitz tucked his head closer to his overalls.

“I’m all for that,” Everett agreed as the girls shared a common nod of the exasperated statement ‘boys’. They all strapped themselves in and prepared for the fast travel again.

This time Fitz drove since he knew where he was going and Everett found that being in the passenger seat offered a different perspective to driving the Aglaia. Going fast through space, onwards and not upwards, was something that Everett could get used to. His face felt like it was going to melt off but in an exhilarating way.

Cael was a blue planet, something much more similar to Uranus. When Everett made that observation the group had laughed at the funny name for the planet.

Apparently names like Cael and Zeld weren’t funny enough for them.

“We have to pass the water barrier,” Fitz remarked, “which means we're going to speed up.” At least this was a warning and they braced themselves as a button was pressed.

“Cael is an underwater planet?” Everett gasped as he felt his lungs stop working for just a moment. Then they clicked back on, painfully, and Everett was sure that he wouldn't be able to speak for the rest of the journey. 

Fitz nodded because he was incapable of speech also. If Everett remembered correctly Skylar had mentioned that Cael was the last planet in the solar system around Octavius, if the size was similar to Earth’s solar system then they were probably travelling the distance all the way to Pluto, in about half an hour. Now that was fast.

The Aglaia broke the water barrier and soon the ship was a submarine.

Cael was what Everett imagined Atlantis would look like. Instead of clouds there were floating rocks where algae and organisms lived. As they travelled farther down, Fitz pressing a button so the oxygen dispensers inside the Aglaia would work efficiently, and briefly Everett knew that his voice wouldn't be stolen by the trip. 

"The Welcome Office is close.” Fitz almost cheered and continued to drive straight. This way Everett got the chance to see roads, paved with pebbles with a white stripe down the middle. It reminded him horribly of Earth. 

Everett didn’t properly register Fitz’s words. Maybe it was because he was underwater, in a spaceship underwater to be specific. Maybe it was the way that Skylar unbuckled herself from her chair, allowing herself to breathe and drape herself over Everett’s chair. Her hair touched the back of his neck and he went awfully still. He hadn't a female this close to him since university. 

Did she know what she was doing? Definitely not. 

There was no ulterior motive, at least on her end, she just wanted to see out of the windshield better. And she wanted to be daring, she didn’t like to be locked into a chair if she didn’t have to be.

It was then that if Everett hadn't been strapped into the Aglaia he would sure that he was dreaming, or stuck in a novel. 

 It all seemed too fictional to be real. But it was real. Very real. 

Fitz opened up a glove box that was under the dashboard and rifled in it for a few moments. He pulled out documents and what looked like a passport. It was different to what Earth passports looked like, for one thing it was bright purple and it was a horizontal rectangle.

They soon approached a building in the shape of a dome. Everett was in awe. Not because of the building but because actual mermen paraded around it.

“Mermen?” he gasped out as his jaw went slack and he angled the Aglaia down to the short queue of vehicles.

“They’ll be offended if you call them that,” Fitz griped as he positioned the passport up against the windshield. In the reflection of the glass Everett could just about see a photograph; a younger Fitz with blue hair tipped with silver. “They are the Squonk and if you call them anything else you’ll be getting fish slapped by their tails.”

Everett was so shocked that a brief explosion of laughter left his lips before it was tamed by his sudden shutting of lips. The look that Fitz gave him was enough to shut him up.

He was going to ask about the blue hair but soon a Squonk was nearing their ship and looking at the passport in the windshield. He inhaled a deep breath, something that made his nostrils flare and then he tapped the glass and nodded. He procured a bottle from a net bag from around his waist and Fitz nodded back at him. A button was pressed and soon the bottle materialized inside the ship.

Ah teleportation of objects, how sweet technology was in space. Maybe he could bring something back to Earth with him? 

“What are these for?” Everett asked, the bottle smelled like the ocean if the ocean was like sweet and salty popcorn. It was blue and within it were a bunch of pills.

“To allow us to breathe in the water,” Fitz said without looking at him, popping open the latch and swallowing two dry. “You don’t want to drown do you?”

Everett did not want to drown, no, so he followed Fitz’s example and swallowed two dry. They tasted like they smelled; popcorn but with a slightly burned edge.

Then he was sure that his head folded six times. It was a peculiar feeling, something that made Everett’s lungs feel shrivelled and raw. Then it was over. His face was still intact. He took a deep breath and choked. The air did not agree with him, it tasted like he had swallowed sand instead of oxygen.

He held his breath, slapping his hands against the seat belt of the chair. God he must look like a desperate seal. Fitz leaned one arm on Everett’s shoulder as he handed the bottle over to the girls. The other man was having the same difficulty, his face turner peachier than it normally would.

That was what suffocation looked like on a Zeldian? Like their skin had just become like a humans?

Everett looked like a tomato, correction, a grilled tomato.

The girls swallowed the pills in quick succession and Skylar’s face pinched like she ate something sour. As soon as Reese’s eyes rolled for a short second, Fitz pressed a button and the Aglaia filled with water. It was so quick, like a tsunami coming in at the speed of Usain Bolt.

And that was no exaggeration these days, since Usain had so many technological and biological advancements that he was pretty much Superman with metal infused legs.

It was only when the ship was covered entirely in water that Everett felt his lungs unravel and actually work again. He hazarded taking a breath and was surprised to find that inhaling a mouthful of water did not kill him. Clearly the pills worked like Gillyweed in Harry Potter because he could suddenly breathe and live underwater.

“What are in those pills?” he questioned, his voice rough as he tried to figure out how his vocal chords could work underwater.

“Bits of this and that,” Fitz answered, rubbing his neck as he unbuckled himself from the chair, “This is gonna be a bitch to clean once we get back out into orbit.”

“Earth has drugs and that doesn’t it?” Reese questioned and Everett blanched.

“That’s a drug?” he gaped at her and she nodded along like he was stupid.

“Chromatol, it makes you adapt to your environment. In our case it puts gills on our lungs. People use it on Zeld to blend in,” she said it so nonchalantly and even Skylar was nodding along.

“Yeah, it places chloroplasts in your blood so that your skin goes green, got to be careful in the sun though,” she was moving away from Everett’s chair and moving her limbs like she was swimming. Well they were under water after all.

“We have drugs just not –“ Everett didn’t know how to phrase it. He didn’t think that these people would comprehend that Earth’s drugs didn’t do much beside illusions and making people feel like rubber and unicorns.

“Never mind.” Fitz echoed as he slung a hand through the dissipated windshield, checking if the glass was still there, before driving on. Everett hadn’t even noticed that they had parked and that the Squonk had moved on.

Behind the building was a multi storey car park except instead of going up like on Earth, it went down. They parked in the first space he saw, on the same level they were on, and watched as Fitz kissed the dash of his ship.

“I’ll be back for you soon,” he whispered to it (or her according to Fitz?) and Everett was astounded. Fitz caught the weirded-out look Everett was throwing at him and he glared, “What? I built this thing from scrap yard metal when I was eighteen.”

That was reason enough Everett supposed.

Then a stray thought dragged him down; how old were his companions? Perhaps age worked differently out in space.

In the distance they could see a city, something rocky and beautiful. That’s what they were going towards but they left the spaceship there and they swam towards it.

The air changed subtly as they swam through the water. It was sweet then briny then sweet all over again. This was not what swimming in the sea was like on Earth.

Vaguely Everett remembered a trip to the beach when he was in university. All of his dorm mates had went as their final outing together before graduation. There had been volleyball and a fire pit. Morton had brought a book. Everett had got sunburned like a shrimp. There was laughter and tears as one of the girl’s slapped sunscreen onto a tearful Everett.

While his thoughts were silent, Skylar's were not. 

This was not what beaches felt like, not to Skylar. She had only been to one beach, but here the water was everywhere, not just pooling over her feet. Her head was submerged in it and the feeling of being in a balloon was missing. Instead Skylar felt like she was in a bath, a cold bath that didn’t bite at her skin, and she had dunked her head under the water just to feel her ears pop and the world go quiet. A sound loud enough to be heard would force her out of the water and she would emerge bleary eyed and wet haired, her ears adjusting to the chaos.

Her cheeks lost their silvery, almost transparent, sheen when she realised her thoughts were spoken and Everett found that bashful was a look she could pull of. 

“What’s the plan here?” Reese asked moving leisurely forward, looking rather like a turtle.

Skylar furrowed her eyebrows as everyone looked at her once more, “We lay low for a while, go undercover, and find out more about the Miracle if we can.”

Fitz only kicked his legs allowing his arms to float in front of him as he looked at the runaway princess. “There’s the Beings of Sentience in Bavalon we’ll have to wait but they should have some information to give us,” he said in reply.

“The Beings of Sentience? The ones that cut off all ties with the entire solar system?” Skylar asked more shocked than intrigued.

“Those are the ones.”

The reply was flippant and Everett was confused. Reese explained that all of the planets orbiting around Octavius had an alliance with one another except Cael who cut off all ties with every planet under the rights of violation. They never said what made them so violated but Cael was on its own.

It was this fact that made them feel relatively safe when it came to escaping the Miracle Goons.

~

It was if Bavalon had been pulled from the works of Disney and his imagination because merpeople - Squonk, ahem – were everywhere. Their tails were works of art, scales glittering against the reflections of light. Everett's eyes were saucers and several times Fitz had to drag him away from nearly touching a tail.

“Are you looking to get fish slapped?” he questioned.

“Maybe.”

Reese rolled her eyes and Skylar just kept her eyes focussed on the directions Fitz were providing for her.

“You’ve been here before haven’t you?” Reese asked.

“Of course, I have dual citizenship,” he said this matter-of-factly and Skylar turned to face him a puzzled expression.

Gerald was a puzzle to be sure.

Fitz directed them towards what looked like the Town Hall, a building with pillars and stones inscribed with patterns and a language Everett couldn’t decipher.

They had to wait in a queue and then apply to actually see the Beings of Sentience. Everett was getting impatient, and hungry. Several times Reese slapped his chest just to get him to pay attention.

“You look like you’re drunk,” she muttered, “Man up and stop spacing out.”

Everett giggled at the phrase since it was something he thought was Earth exclusive, maybe it was and Reese had learned it from one of her visions. The giggle turned into a full blown laughing fit and attention was drawn to them. This time Skylar punched him, the air escaping his lungs as he kneeled over.

“You’ve got a mean punch,” he hissed.

Skylar just flipped her hair and smiled.

It turned out that the Beings of Sentience were giant jellyfish. Bright orange floating jellyfish. Everett had to make sure that he wasn’t daydreaming. But no, they were there right in front of him.

A pentagon of five jellyfish floated right there and they looked foreboding as hell. The tentacles flashing around the bulbous oral arm in the middle of each one. Everett had to keep blinking just to assure himself that what he was seeing was real.

“What brings you to us?” They asked together with deep voices. Great, now the jellyfish could talk.

“We seek knowledge on a being called The Miracle,” Fitz began walking forward just a little.

Skylar took over, quirking her lips as she stepped further forward, “I believe that there are certain links between beings like yourselves and the being we speak of.”

Everett winced, believing that Skylar had offended them.

But then one of the jellyfish started to laugh, something that resembled a seagulls cackle and it was bizarre. After a few beats the jellyfish stopped, “The being you speak of descends from our ancestors but not of our species.”

“Will this information bring danger to us?” Reese interjected, not moving from her spot.

“Cael is remote from all influences, self-sufficient in every capability, no danger will come of this unveiling.” One of the jellyfish muttered.

“Our ancestors came in many forms,” another said, “They were the great Beings, the ones who ruled the universe, the ones who crept and fed from the very darkness of the cosmos.”

“Some factions wanted to create life, and so they created planets and creatures, gave birth to their own children and blessed powers on them if need be. They were named the Creators, the Beings of Peace.”

“But there were some who wanted to destroy, to feed even more, and so black holes that swallowed worlds were born, creatures with eyes and tails, greed that swallowed hearts and minds. These were the Destroyers, the Beings of Chaos.”

The Jellyfish weren’t painting a pretty picture here and they sure loved their names.

“We believe that the Being you speak of is a descendent of the Beings of Chaos, a renegade looking for revenge for the purge of the Beings.”

“I’m sorry for interrupting but the purge of the Beings – what now?” Everett was so confused that he had to speak up and it was only then that the jellyfish properly noticed him.

“You are human,” they gasped, trembling as they came closer to Everett. Their orange bodies seemed to glow.

“Now you’ve done it,” Reese murmured to the left of him and she slapped her forehead with a hand, “Now we’ll never get them back on track.”

“From our sister planet, the planet who hides and remains a mystery.” The jellyfish seemed to be excited and one of them was so close to Everett it very nearly touched him. Everett did not want to be touched by giant jellyfish, even if they were sentient beings.

“Earth is a secret around here?” Everett questioned.

“The Protectors had it that way when they sacrificed themselves. The Sole Protector knows it still.” One of them uttered at the back. The jellyfish vibrated in place as they all tried to get around him.

“What?” Everett questioned further.

“The purge of Beings happened millennia’s ago Everett it’s argued to be the second creation.” Skylar interrupted and ignored now the jellyfish looked at her. Who knew that Jellyfish could look affronted?

“How dare you interrupt us child of Pantheon –“

“It’s when the Beings went to war with themselves, the factions of Destroyers and Creators fighting one another. It’s a horror story told in history books now but the Creators won and beat the Destroyers into a tiny square of the universe, warding it with its defenders so none of them could get out. Are you telling me that The Miracle escaped from the Wards?” Skylar interrupted the Beings further and stood next to Everett to try and distract them.

“The Miracle did not escape.”

“Then how did it get out?” Skylar asked folding her arms and trying not to offend.

“It just happened.”

“You’re the Beings of Sentience and you’re telling me that a Being of Chaos, a Destroyer, got out from a warded and defended prison that is sometimes referred to the Hell of the Universe?” Fitz said in disbelief. It was hard to believe that Beings of such power, the power to literally know everything, the immortal beings who had lived for millennials could come up with such a stupid answer.

“The Miracle disappeared, faked its own death, and came forth once more to finally control the entire universe."

“Then why haven’t you done anything?”

“If the Miracle can order the deaths of the Protectors from afar, then it can order our deaths. We doubt the Sole Protector is even alive nevertheless that our own lives would remain forfeit in the coming Third Creation.”

“Third Creation?” Reese spoke up, looking more worried.

“The war where the Miracle destroys planets, spreads influence and eats the universe all with its power.”

“And what power is that?” Everett scoffed, “Never-ending hunger?” He passed it off as a joke, hoping that it would get someone to laugh. No one did.

“The same power that courses through the Princess’ veins,” one of them said looking straight at Skylar.

Skylar’s eyes shut and her face collapsed.

 

~

 

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