Artemis 9: Part 9
Flaming hot cheaters
While I fixed my hair and robes, Astaria walked over to an ornate chest at the far end of the room. It seemed to be made of a dark wood that was highly polished and covered in sparkling silver stars.
They placed a silver key into the glittering, gem encrusted lock.
Astaria reached into the chest and pulled out a smaller dark box covered in more constellations, “This contains your new headwear.”
I looked at them, surprised, “Oh? No more ‘psychic cap’?”
“No. Your father insists you wear this now,” they answered as they handed me the box.
I pushed the top of the box back upon its hinges to reveal a heavy ring of shining metal belted with polished amethyst crystals resting on a purple velvet pillow.
I picked up the circlet and weighed it in my hands, “This is quite heavy for silver, isn’t it? Is it an alloy?”
“Yes. An alloy with a very special metal not found on this Earth,” Astaria said softly and gestured a request to hold the circlet.
They raised the circlet to my head, resting it gently above my third eye. I felt a strong wave of warmth and a bit of pressure. (Real pressure, not the kind of pressure that the doctor tells you is coming but it’s actually a sharp, intense pain that makes you want to assault the nearest face, usually theirs.)
“What is happening?” I asked, a bit nervous about the fact that my headwear made me feel like I was being hugged by some invisible force.
“The material is very special and it comes from a distant planet in the constellation Orion. It will protect your energy. The Amethyst helps you receive clarity in thought and will help with those awful headaches you get,” Astaria said with a smile as they adjusted the knot on my belt and handed me a pair of soft slippers to match my robe.
“Why do I feel like I’m getting ready for a hot toddy and a read by the fireplace?” I said, thinking my humor could break any awkwardness from the fact that we’d nearly ruined the robes while we were having—
“Well your father has a very special gift to give you when you meet him and it will just be easier if you’re wearing this,” Astaria said as they stepped back to examine their work, “Perfect. Your sister will be meeting him with you and will be wearing something similar.”
“This is a wild fuckin’ ride,” I said as I peered past Astaria at my reflection in the mirror.
“Let’s go. He’s waiting now,” Astaria said as they held out their hand.
As we walked down numerous corridors and through archways, Alison and Yogal approached and joined us.
“Do you feel like we’re about to meet our space dad in a bathrobe? Because that’s the vibe I’m feeling at the moment,” Alison said as she seemed to want to distance herself from Yogal’s pallid presence as quickly as possible.
“Yeah this does feel a bit light for daywear,” I said as we approached a set of double doors that seemed to be engraved with the same runes I saw at the entrance of Atlantis.
“Well,” Astaria said as they turned to face me, “You both don’t really know this yet but this is a rather special moment.”
“What’s so special about it?” I asked, afraid that this moment was where the other shoe would drop.
“Well your father had never procreated until he made you. You two are his only children and the only heirs to the Star System of Orion. He’s also the President of the Intergalactic Federation, but that’s a position that he was voted into,” Astaria said with a wink, “Everybody ready?”
“I-“ Alison began to say until the doors suddenly swung open as if on springs.
A warm glow from what appeared to be an incredibly scaled down, yet frighteningly realistic, model of the star Betelgeuse illuminated the area from high up in the endless darkness where a ceiling should have been.
The deep golden light made the pale stone walls radiate a sense of peace, calming my nerves.
Carvings of various people, all battling terrifying monstrosities, climbed the walls to greet the glowing, stained glass portraits that painted their victories.
“Holy shit this is dope,” I said, admiring the intricacies of the carvings as we walked past them.
“I like this room,” Alison said as she spotted a statue of a beautiful woman wrestling with a strange beast that appeared to be part man, part octopus, and part demon.
“I am so glad you approve, my Moon,” a deep, rolling voice rumbled from the open doorway. A tall, good looking man with radiant hair (like mine though much longer and beautifully braided) approached us graciously.
Although Alison’s robes were nearly identical to mine, this man seemed to be dressed in an outfit of similar design but seemingly much more appropriate for meeting new people. Especially since he was apparently able to wear pants and proper footwear.
“Your moon?” Alison asked, appearing a bit creeped out.
How many names are they going to give us?
“Yes, you are my Moon,” the man said to Alison, “and you are my Sun,” he said to me, “You are the two celestial bodies that run my life.”
“Then why has it taken so long for us to see you?” Alison asked flatly.
I had only just noticed it but the man’s eyes seemed a dark grey-green color, like that of an angry storm cloud on a hot summer night. I could see a great pain in them.
“Unfortunately I wasn’t able to return until this very day, my dear Moon,” the man said to her, “But I am here now. And all will be well.”
There was such an unshakable reassurance in his tone that it made me feel as if I were hearing someone speak the truth for the very first time in my life.
“So what should we call you?” I asked.
“I am called many names depending on where I am and who is calling,” the man said with a grin.
“Right. Well, Celestial Sire? ‘President of the Universe’? ‘Mr Sparkle Pants’?” I rattled off playfully.
“How about ‘asshole’?” Alison said as her eyes shot daggers towards our adorable Space Daddy, “Considering you left us here on a strange planet with people who clearly had no clue how to properly care for us.”
“It would seem that my Moon wishes to show us her dark side this day,” the man said with a calm smile, “My dearest Moon, I assure you that was never my intent. When I arrived today I was immediately informed of the lives you had lived here so far. I was assured, before I left and returned, that your mental and physical health would be properly upkept. I understand that the primary experiences of both of your upbringings have been far from satisfactory.”
“Yeah ‘far from satisfactory’ is an understatement wouldn’t you say?” I said with a laugh.
“I understand that this has not been a pleasant experience so far. I assure you that I have a plan to make it up to both of you,” the Star Sovereign said as he reached into his robe and pulled out two small pods.
He looked at the pods a moment and then handed Alison and I each one, “My children, these cases hold the strongest and most advanced body armor in the universe. It has been tailored physically and energetically to fit you and you alone.”
“That’s pretty cool,” I said to Alison. She smirked.
We both looked at the cases in confusion as there were no buttons, latches, locks or anything on the cases to indicate a way to open them.
“Oh! You must place it on your crown before it can activate itself,” the man said, “But first you will need to remove your robes. Yogal, the celestial curtains, please.”
The pale, gangly woman approached Alison and I with what appeared to be a thin sheet of a dark cloth. Yogal flipped the sheet into the air and pulled it down in front of us. Instead of coming down on top of us (as would be expected of any sheet of cloth thrown over one’s head) the dark cloth formed a pod like barrier around us.
The cloth appeared to be sheer, as I could see everyone rather clearly except for Alison. In the place where Alison had been standing was now a solid pod-like thing slightly taller than she was.
“All you have to do is disrobe and place the case to the circlet. The armor will do the rest,” Planet Poppa said.
I untied the knot on my belt and I could hear my heart pounding.
Wait…is that my heart?
I held the case up to my ear to listen.
The case is making the thumping sound, not my heart.
As I came to this realization, the case brushed against the circlet and exploded into millions of tiny specks that proceeded to crawl over my body.
I gasped in horror as the bug-like creatures covered me entirely.
“They’re not going to harm you, my moon,” the man tried to reassure her.
Once the tiny, crawling specks covered my body they quickly linked together and formed a smooth, thin material. Then, they vanished.
I was naked again.
“When it has bonded to you, you may put on your robes again,” the man said, “and then just lift the barrier.”
I looked at my body, searching for any sign of the specks. But there was nothing.
I dressed quickly and lifted the veil, “What the hell was that?”
Alison lifted her veil, walked over to the Intergalactic President, and slapped him right across the face.
He placed his hand upon his reddening cheek, stunned. He snapped out of it and smiled, “My most sincere apologies, my moon. I would have warned you, except that the armor needs to know how you react to danger so it can respond appropriately. A bit like a test run.”
“So what is it made of?” I asked, “It looked like insects.”
“They’re not insects. It’s a highly intelligent armor consisting of millions of particle units that function with a single purpose. It can see, hear, and engage with everyone and everything around you,” the man said, looking proud of himself.
“What do you mean by ‘engage’?” I asked, “You mean it can fight people?”
“No. It is not a weapon. It is a defense. By ‘engage’ I mean the armor can absorb and then redirect any danger back to its source,” The man said.
“You mean if I get shot it will just redirect the bullet to whoever shot it?” I asked.
“Among other things,” the man said softly, “Oh, my dear Yogal, would you be so kind as to make your way to the infirmary? Please inform Dr Sylvanus that you need a bath.”
Yogal nodded, bowed, and left.
Alison’s mouth gaped at the comment, “What the hell, man?”
The man’s face fell solemn, “It would seem our dear Yogal has fallen victim to a rare form of mind control called ‘Puppetry’. I noticed it as soon as she entered the room. A special bath is what she needs.”
“I knew something was weird with her,” Alison said as she crossed her arms.
“What is ‘puppetry’?” I asked.
“Puppetry is where a very powerful manipulator uses the body of another person in order to achieve a goal,” the man said calmly, “The manipulator takes what the person fears and uses it to gain control. When the manipulation takes hold well enough to control the body’s actions, it becomes visible. They begin to look quite ill and they behave out of character. It is forbidden in the Intergalactic Federation and the fact that one of our own has fallen prey to it, tells me that Earth is infested, heavily.”
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