Saturday, October 13, 2007

Star Shadows

Chapter Three
It never failed to amaze him how well the Firebird handled. Every time he held the yoke in his hands he felt the thrill.
I did this…
It couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that he designed her. Well maybe adapted her was a better word. Boone used the Falcon’s sleek design as his starting point, modified the cabin to hold four comfortably into deep space travel but kept the same sleek shape that made for faster transport. To top things off he added the same red flames on the side of the ship that had been on a toy starship he had as a boy. The very toy that sat in a small indentation on the com before him.
Ruben, impressed with Boone’s design, then commissioned the ship to be built and was pleased with the results. So pleased that he gave Boone sole ownership of her when he went to Academy. His father was thinking about going into the fleet business now but Boone wasn’t sure if he liked that idea. It was a great feeling to know that he possessed and designed the best starship in the galaxy. The only Firebird in the Galaxy.
“I see Elle and Zander,” his little sister Zoey said. Her blue eyes danced with excitement as she pointed to the overhang above the bay.
“I see them too short stuff,” Boone said. She stood in between his seat and their mother’s watching everything with rapt attention. “Strap in,” he said. “We’re on final.”
She edged back into her seat and cinched the belt but still managed to sit on the edge and closely watch everything Boone did in preparation for landing. Kyp, one of Ky’s sons, sat beside her on the floor, patiently waiting until he’d be able to step out onto solid ground.
The flight from their home was just a short hop in the Firebird. They didn’t even leave the atmosphere, just skimmed over the ocean. Ruben owned a winery in the soft rolling hills above the equator over looking a cerulean sea. It seemed worlds away when one looked at a map, opposite side of the planet actually, but in the Firebird it was nominal.
He cut back the engines and the Firebird floated into the bay as if she were carried on a breeze. There wasn’t even a jolt when the gear went down and she settled into place. He felt the smooth hum of the platform as it turned the ship to be ready for takeoff.
“Perfect as usual,” Tess said with pride.
Boone grinned at her. He must have inherited his engineering talents from his biological father. And as far as he was concerned that was all of the man he wanted. He didn’t remember anything about him since he had been no more than two when he died but he knew he had been cruel to his mother. He also knew that he was a result of that cruelty.
Which made him love his mother all the more because she could have hated him when he came along. Instead she made it her purpose to make sure he was happy, even if she wasn’t.
And then Ben came along, he still thought of him as Ben, even after knowing him as Ruben. Ruben who was his father in heart and spirit and soul. Ruben who saved his mother and thus saved him.
“System shut down,” Boone instructed ELSie. Ruben still laughed every time he talked to his Encrypted Language System. Especially since Boone called it ELSie. Boone remembered talking to Eli, the one Ruben had on his first ship, The Shooting Star which his uncle Stefan now used. She had something of an attitude. A very feminine attitude.
“Hatch open,” ELSie informed him in a somewhat feminine monotone.
Zoey was gone with Kyp at her heels.
“She reminds me a lot of you at that age,” Tess said.
Boone watched as one of the guards smiled at Zoey and waved her into the tunnel that led up to the villa. “I was never that innocent,” he said. “No matter how much you pretended I was.”
“Did I do that poor of a job?” Tess asked, her eyes smiling at him.
He knew she was teasing but he kept on. There was something he was trying to work out in his mind.
“You did a good job of pretending Mema. But pretending everything is perfect isn’t always a good thing.”
“Why do I get the feeling you’re not talking about you and me,” Tess said. She looked through the plexi at Elle and Zander who had just arrived in the bay.
“They should know why they live this way,” Boone said.
“You sound like they live in a horrible prison.”
Boone shrugged. “Don’t they? It’s not right that they don’t what is out there. It’s their lives after all.”
“I don’t think Shaun and Lilly meant it to last this long. I think they just kept waiting for the right time to tell them. And the right time just never came. They wanted them to be happy and innocent a while longer. Would you have wanted to live your childhood knowing there was a death sentence on your head?”
“I remember what it was like before Mema. Even without you telling me, I knew things weren’t right. And I wanted to do something to fix it.”
“Boone, you were only six.”
“And Zander will be eighteen tomorrow. Practically a man. If they don’t tell them soon, Zander is going to do something foolish.”
“Has he said anything?” His mother seemed fearful of the notion.
“No,” Boone said. He leaned over and gave his mother a quick kiss on her forehead to reassure her. “And I wouldn’t tell you if he had.”
“I’m sorry it was so bad for you,” his mother said.
“It was worse for you. You’ve never said anything about it but I know it was horrible. If Ruben hadn’t of showed up when he did…”
Zander stuck in head in the hatch. “Can I take her out?”
“Clear it with your father,” Boone said, feeling older, wiser and more mature than his best friend. He knew he had gotten off light earlier in the day. Ruben was of the same mind he was where Elle and Boone were concerned. He didn’t think their parents had done them any favors by sheltering them for all these years. And there was no need to tempt Shaun’s wrath. Not when he needed to be in the man’s good graces.
Zander made a face. Boone knew he’d rather cut his arm off than ask his father for anything right now. He’d just have to decide which he wanted more. The temptation to fly was always greater.
“Hi Elle,” Tess said as Elle entered the craft. She gave Boone a knowing look.
“Welcome Tess,” Elle said. Her smile for Boone seemed shy.
Maybe he should work on not being so obvious. But he couldn’t help but grin when Elle stepped into the Firebird.
She slid into the seat Tess vacated and rubbed her hand across the com. “I can’t believe you’ve still got this thing,” she said, picking up the toy.
“Hey,” Boone said. “Put it back.”
“I thought you were supposed to share your toys,” Elle teased.
Boone took the ship from her and put it back on the com. “That’s not a toy. It’s an essential part of the design.”
“Oh really?” Elle asked doubtfully. “What part is that?”
“If it doesn’t move then I’m flying her right.” He grinned at her.
“Do they teach that at Academy?” Elle asked.
“It’s not exactly a part of engineering,” Boone said. “But I did get E’s in all my courses.”
“I see that they teach modesty there also,” Elle continued with her teasing.
“I’ve learned all kind of things there,” Boone said, suddenly serious. “Things I’d love to teach you.”
I burn for you Elle. I can’t stop thinking about you…
Elle’s gaze, so striking and intense because of the paleness of her eyes, turned quickly away and she turned her attention to the com as if suddenly curious about the purpose of each light that blinked reassuringly in the dim light.
You scared her. Slow down.
“So what are the plans for the celebration?” Boone asked, quickly changing the subject. “Something spectacular I guess?”
“You mean because we’re coming of age?” Elle said turning back to him. “Not that they’d notice.” She seemed anxious for an argument. Boone wasn’t sure if it was because he had come on too strong or if she felt the same frustration as Zander.
“They’re just protecting you,” Boone said. “They’re intentions are good.”
“You know what it is they’re hiding from us,” Elle said. She turned the co to face him and tentatively took his hands into hers. “I saw it...before.”
“What did you see?” Boone asked. Unconsciously he went into the litany that he knew so well. It wasn’t his place to tell them. He swore an oath to his father that he wouldn’t. He had been trusted with the secret. He didn’t agree with it but he had still promised.
“I saw that you were protecting something. I saw that you have a secret that I can’t know.”
“I’m sorry Elle. I swore on my honor not to tell.”
“It’s the Circe, isn’t it?”
Boone pulled his hand away from Elle’s and looked through the plexi. Zander and Tess had gone into the tunnels. He wondered briefly if Zander would ask his father for permission to fly the Firebird. He was also waiting to see if Elle would dare try to search his mind without his permission. He hoped she wouldn’t. It was a dishonorable thing to do. But he wouldn’t put it past her. He knew her that well.
“Where did you hear that?” he asked after a long silent moment.
“It doesn’t matter,” Elle said. “What is the Circe?”
She didn’t know anything beyond the word. If she did she would have said who are the Circe.
“Ask your parents.”
“Why would they tell us?” she exploded. “They like us not knowing anything. They like keeping us prisoners in our home.”
“Elle,” Boone said, this time taking her hands into his. He waited a moment until she calmed and her gaze fell steady upon him. “Have the two of you ever just sat down and asked them? I know Zander broods about stuff and he’s so stiff necked with pride that he wouldn’t ask for help if it meant his life, but you’re a bit more diplomatic. Why don’t you just ask them to tell you instead of moping around like a couple of spoiled brats?”
Suddenly his hands felt as if he had stuck them in a reactor coil. He jerked them away involuntarily as Elle crossed her arms and looked at him in satisfaction.
“Kind of proves my point don’t you think?” Boone said, leaning back and giving her his own green eyed perusal. “You just proved that you aren’t mature enough to know the truth.”
My mind is my own…He started the litany in his head in order to thwart any torture Elle had in mind for him.
Elle jumped from the seat with a curse. Boone was impressed. He wondered where she had heard the word since it was one that was vulgar even by Academy standards. He admired the curve of her back as she stalked through the hatch and exited the bay as if on a mission.
“You’re just mad because you know I’m right,” Boone yelled through the plexi with a certain amount of satisfaction. A very small amount of satisfaction. He might be right but it had cost him Elle’s company. He didn’t have much time before he went back to Academy. He wanted to make sure she was his before he left again. He wanted to take back the knowledge that she would not be casting those beautiful eyes of hers elsewhere.
What if you are right?
What if Shaun and Lilly told Elle and Zander about the Circe today? How much would that change things? He felt pretty confident this past year at Academy, when he thought about things, when he realized that Elle was the only one he wanted. After all every other girl he met came up lacking. None were as pretty, none as graceful, none as sweet, or driven, or any other comparison he could think of. There were none like Elle. He made sure of it.
Boone had to grin at Elle’s reaction when she saw that he had been with girls. In the physical sense. But it had all been nothing as far as he was concerned. Just physical. After all he was at Academy and he was supposed to be learning…things.
What if it was the other way and Elle was the one…making sure?
He didn’t like that idea at all.
It was easy to remember the first time he’d seen Elle. He had come to Oasis with Shaun and Lilly, along with Ky. When they arrived the twins were waiting with their grandfather in the bay and upon seeing Elle his first thought was that he had gone to the heaven that his grandfather, Joah, sometimes referred too. He had never been around other children and knowing that he could see both her and Zander every day was all the heaven he needed.
Ruben soon found a place for his new family and they had gone to their own villa to create their own vineyard, modeled after the one on Lavign. Without the addition of the scourge of Qazar of course. Boone attended a regular school and made friends but special times were reserved to spend with his father’s best friend and his family. It wasn’t until Boone reached the end of his education on Oasis that he realized that Shaun and the Sovereign Nicholas of Oasis were the same man.
Which led to his questions about why Elle and Zander never came to visit them. Why Zander could never go with him on trips with his Uncle Stefan. Why he was never allowed to speak of them or the special things Elle could do to anyone he knew.
He knew about the Circe. Lilly had tested and trained his mother when she discovered that she was from the planet. Tess did not have the great capabilities that were characterized by the strange pale gray eyes. Her eyes were a clear gray-green in color. But her mother had been one. One who apparently rebelled and ran off with an unacceptable mate. Tess’s memories were vague since they had been erased. Lilly pulled as much of them to the surface as she could. Tess did remember that her father had the same bright green eyes as Boone, and that she had a brother. She could not recall her brother’s name.
Boone knew the Circe were evil. He had seen that first hand in his own life. Yet at Academy they were referred to as great counselors to the Senate. It was as if even the scholars did not want to get on their bad side. They had spies every where. Thus the danger to Zander and Elle.
Male children were not allowed to have the power that the Circe possessed. Shaun’s mother sacrificed herself so that her son would live when the law demanded that he be killed. His powers did not come into being until after he met Lilly. The Circe would still pay anything to have him killed.
And the children of such a union would terrify the race of psychic women.
Lilly triggered Shaun’s powers…
Suddenly it was so clear, as if Boone himself had suddenly inherited the powers. He knew the story well. It as one he never tired of hearing because hearing it brought him closer to knowing Elle.
Maybe that’s why Zander isn’t like Elle. Maybe he has to have his mind triggered by a woman…and not any woman…a woman that he loves.
“Is it possible that I…” he stopped himself before he finished. Even though he had Circe blood his bright green eyes were a sign that the powers did not run inside of him. His mother’s eyes were gray-green. She had healing powers and a psychic link with Ruben and nothing more.
Only those with the pale gray eyes held the true powers. Which is why any male child born to a Circe woman possessing that eye color was killed immediately. There was no way of telling in the womb what color eyes a child had. The child had to be born. The women of Circe, who had spent generations under the rule of their men would no longer be enslaved. Now they were the power. And they would kill any threat to it.
They would consider Zander to be the biggest threat of all because he was a true Circe on both sides.
Yet Zander held no powers at all. At least none that were evident.
Was it possible that there was a Circe woman somewhere that would trigger Zander’s powers? And if there were what were the chances that she was of a good heart, like Lilly?
Boone did the final check on the Firebird and went in search of his father.
Had it ever even occurred to them?
His footsteps echoed on the stone floor of the tunnel.
Or was it a foolish and wishful thought? There was only one way to know.
The time of secrets was over.


  1. Cindy, my quote looks beautiful on there. I need to pick up a copy. Best of luck with this awesome book~

  2. Anonymous5:28 PM EDT

    I'm ready for this one, Ms. Hodge. Took me a little while to reconstruct the characters and their relationships (especially since I read Chapter 3 1st...oops). Hope the rest of the book is at least half as good as what I just finished! I know I'll enjoy it immensely.

  3. Thank you. I plan on posting some on part two in the next few weeks but was really excited about the reveiw I got this morning and decided to go ahead and put that up.
    Sorry I've been missing, my dad is sick. And yes Sue your quote looks beautiful! They're supposed to add Prism Winner to the actual book so I am excited about that.