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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40. The Sacrifice and the Gain

 

~The Sacrifice and the Gain~

~Skylar~

 

There was a buzzing noise somewhere near her left ear. Skylar didn’t know what it was but it was like a bee hovering next to her eardrum and she furrowed her brow. What was it?

A sting came down on her wrists, once, twice, lighter on the third time.

Those were her parents that were being hurt. Her father had been tortured, his lips sewn shut. It would be even more painful to remove as his lips would heal over the threads. The emotional trauma of her mother alone was enough to knock her sideways since being away from the Pantheon was physically painful. The stone and the Queen were bonded and it was no wonder that she looked worse for wear, due the separation and the trauma of her husband, which was damaging enough. 

The Miracle would stop at nothing to get what they wanted. Besides universal domination and the colonisation of Earth, they wanted Skylar and so Skylar would give them what they wanted.

If they wanted her then they would have all five foot of her. It was time to stick her middle fingers up at The Miracle and not at the world. It was time stop running –

A sharp slap knocked the buzzing noise away. Her eyes focussed as her head snapped sideways, her vision skewing from blurs to the pant legs of Reese. Reese was standing in front of her, and as Skylar looked upwards Reese was angry. The pain registered next, besides the shock of the Broadcast, she realised that her cheek was on fire, her wrists stung and her eyes pinched.

The pinched feeling would be for the tears she was trying to holding back.

The cheek would be because Reese had just slapped her.

The wrists were…?

“What happened?” Skylar said looking around her. Everett was to her right, Fitz was in the driver’s seat and they were no longer half hovering between the tree tops and the ground of Chalice Clearing, they were high up in the air, the trees a distance below them from the view of the windscreen.

Everett looked worried and his eyes roved down to the red blotch that was forming on her skin. It was the first redness that had registered on her and the flush came crawling up his neck as she caught his eyes.

“You checked out, like utterly checked out,” Everett’s Earth vernacular shone through but Skylar understood him, “we were worried, you got this dazed look on your face and then you started to cry.”

His hand came up to her cheek and swept a stray tear away, she blinked rapidly to try and stop herself. Why was she still crying? Everett was sitting in the chair next to her now and he was close, his arm pressing against her shoulder, “Fitz got us out of there and we tried calling your name, but you didn’t respond, I tried slapping your wrist but that didn’t work either.” He looked chastised like his attempts had been for nothing and he was sorry that he had even hurt her. “Then Reese slapped you on the cheek and well, you know what happens from there.”

She looked at Reese then, still standing in front of her with her hands now folded into fists by her sides. “Don’t you scare us like that again, you hear me?” a finger was pointing at her. 

“I can’t promise that.” Skylar said looking down at her feet.

“You can’t tell me that you are giving yourself up to that thing,” Fitz said it with venom, tugging himself up from the seat to make his way over to her. He hadn’t even bothered with buckling himself in for the sharp drive upwards that occurred when she blacked out.

“Don’t you understand?” Skylar questioned perplexedly, “I have to do this, otherwise my parents die and the Pantheon will be un-bonded and it will go to me which can then be used by The Miracle. The most efficient answer is if my mother doesn’t die in the first place. I can’t have that also on my conscience.”

Her eyes shuttered and squeezed tightly so that she didn’t start crying again.

“But if you do then you –“ everyone else knew what Everett was implying. What if she died and The Miracle won? What would happen then?

“It won’t come to that,” Skylar reassured and grinned up at him to try and lighten the mood, “Don’t you trust me? I have Persuasion and the Superfluous on my side. Plus I have my awesome team mates to come rescue me.”

Something in Everett’s eyes twinkled and Skylar pressed onwards, “You’ll know exactly where I’ll be, the Zeldor Palace, I’ll even give you access to blueprints, all you have to figure out is when and how you’re going to break in and save me.”

Fitz and Reese looked at each other, “We will save you Princess Skylar.” It was the first time that Fitz had referred to her as her title and she felt humbled by it, proud that he was able to call her royalty even when the current government was calling her a criminal.

“I’ll give you the blueprints, you will drop me off just outside Zeldor and you will make your plans after I’ve gone, just in case The Miracle can influence me when I’m there.”

Fitz nodded. Everett flung his arms up.

“Are we meant to be okay with this? Are we meant to just be letting you go to face this thing where they could do anything to you?” He looked appalled that they were all willing to send her off into danger.

Skylar sighed and took Everett’s biceps in her arms. He wouldn’t understand the gesture, having not encountered it before, but she made his eyes meet hers. This gesture was one of affection but Everett would never know that.

“Yes we are. Because I have dealt with The Miracle before, I survived once and I will survive it again,” a breath of exasperated air burst in the space between them, “God, this was what I was running away from in the first place, and it’s been nearly two sun cycles of freedom. It’s time I face up to what I ran away from. It’s time I dealt with this.” She sighed and looked down, stealing a gaze at his shoes in order to give her time to breathe, “I let you go to The Beings of Sentience, now you have to let me go to The Miracle.”

“That was different,” Everett tried to say but then sighed and corrected himself, walking away and then thinking better of it as he drew her into a hug.

His arms were strong around her and she could smell the soap that he used on his hair, citrus and something not from this planet. Then he let her go, his muscles twitching as if hesitating to do even that. They nodded at each other once and they began to plan.

~

It was astounding to be back in her hometown. The Aglaia had docked a few paces away from the border and as she gazed up at the familiar sight of spires and rooftops and towering structures, Skylar allowed herself to breathe.

She was home. But this wasn’t her home anymore. She hadn’t been there for nearly two years, inhabiting the forest and open space. Maybe it had been so long that the trees brought more safety than the magnificent walls.

She made contact with a Goon on the borders and he didn’t stop her. No, he just spoke into a radio on his shoulder. They would know that she was coming.

She didn’t get stopped even when she walked further through the city; she did however, get stared at. Where ever she went, no matter what road she took to the Palace, people stared at her on her way there. There was one small child that called her name, exclaiming that he had to report her. She had just knelt down to the child’s level, a Powerless by the blueness of his eyes, and she explained how she was already on her way to the Palace and The Miracle already knew she was coming. She offered him a peach from her pack, pre-prepared to make it look like she had just walked in from the forests, and told him to tell his parents that she was going to correct the order of things. He scurried off and she remained kneeling knowing that these people, no matter how small or how young, depended on her. This was the true duty of being a Princess and it was stifling yet rewarding.

She kept walking until the gold metal and the crystallised walls of the Palace greeted her. It was a place of grandeur and of nostalgia and she was not announced at the doors like she normally would have been. There wasn't any bowing or head tilts of respect. The maids that still worked there met her with desperate and cold eyes, hands folded in their laps. They were figuratively made of concrete and not of Zeldian skin, and The Miracle had done that to them.

Finally a Goon stepped forward and took her arm, “You made the right decision by coming here Skylar Kingsley.”

“I’m doing this for my parents not for The Miracle,” Skylar adamantly declared and the grip on her arm tightened. The maids looked nervous and even the butlers that approached behind the women looked conflicted. It reassured her that although The Miracle ruled the planet, its people weren't truthfully loyal to them. They didn’t particularly agree to the treatment of the Kingsley’s and that gave Skylar some hope.

“It matters not who you are doing this for, The Miracle will deal with you accordingly,” The Goon said and ushered her to her parents private quarters, empty this time however, and down the series of doors that she knew led to the Pantheon Room. It was a room where her mother consulted the Pantheon and Skylar had only been there a handful of times since it was a private place for the stone.

She ducked on the last door and noticed that the new government had been renovating the room. Half of the room was now dominated by a pool, a semi-circle half wrapping around the podium which would normally hold the Pantheon. But the podium was unusually empty and in its place leaned a girl – a woman by definition but a girl when Skylar met her – with dark hair that would normally be bleached in green light and tied into a high bun. It was the very same girl she saw two years ago and in the light she looked different, maybe that had to do with the time that had passed.

“The traitor is here then I see Garrick,” the woman said, not looking up from the empty podium. She was one step away from the pool and leaned on the podium heavily in support. The Goon that held her was not Garrick and another man stepped forward from the back of the room, the man that had tortured her aboard The Miracle’s ship. 

“That she is, and what a lovely sight she still is.” Garrick mentioned, trailing his eyes down her body. Skylar felt disgusted and the Goon that held her tossed her onto the floor. “Careful, I’m the only one around here that gets to hurt her.” Garrick snarled.

“I am the one that delivers the orders around here Garrick not you,” The woman tutted, clicking her tongue on the corner of her lip.

The woman turned away from the podium and towards Skylar and she was graced with brown eyes that had never been seen on Zeld before. From her position on the floor Skylar was at the victim position again to this woman and she hated it.

“You’re The Miracle?” Skylar questioned, raising an eyebrow. It sounded like that was what the woman was implying but on the ship the woman had acted like she was just another Goon, the blackened eyes supporting that.

The woman smiled, moving away from the podium and taking high heeled steps towards Skylar. The ocean smell came back in full force, offending her nostrils with brine, and it was then that there was no need for denial.

“Was it that hard to figure out?” the woman laughed, “Why yes I am The Miracle darling Skylar.”

 

~

 

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