Chapter 1: The Merciful Scream
Nobody can hear a scream in the vacuum of space, or so they say. However, they weren’t passenger 6327, Magellanic Maffei, on interstellar flight 393 headed to the binary system M51-ULS-1. Magellanic heard the scream and was relieved. That traumatic call broke the monotony of his trip, so with gleeful rejoicing he went to investigate.
First, Mag, as he preferred to be called, went to check the passengers. Maybe they were having nightmares and he could have peak in. Maybe someone was finally willing to move around, and they could show him how to use the oddities on board. Maybe he could talk to them. Well, maybe, depending on how interesting they were. He tipped toed in excited by the new possibilities.
Rows and rows of humans lay in tubes of frozen goo with hoses sticking in their orifices. Mag had tried to mimic this odd behavior after his mirror broke. After all, when in Rome, but he found it very uncomfortable. It was unbearably cold, and the tubes kept doing untoward things to him, and they would not cease even when he put a curse on them. In the first few weeks of boredom, he had tried to pull a human out and ask them why they were not milling about the other large spaces, but the human died, so he was left to speculate on his own. Even then not a one has arisen from their catatonic state, and he dare not pull another one out.
Realizing the scream had not come from the human’s quarters Mag padded back to the area labeled kitchen where he spent most of his days researching. Why it was labeled kitchen alluded him. He had never found anything edible in its recesses, but he had found ingredients that worked for making minor potions and items of equivalent exchange for producing his meals. Before he could reach the kitchen that scream came again.
The wizard inclined his head trying to figure out where the sound was coming from. It echoed all around making it impossible to pinpoint so Mag drew out his wand. He thought hard on the scream as he unuttered, “Invenio.”
With a clap Mag was transported to the source of the distress. He was outside the rapidly retreating ship in a nebula of glowing light. He saw nothing that could have produced the scream and his ride was quickly leaving him. If it did, he would surely be stranded for the rest of his days. Without a mirror he could not travers the universe on his own. He simply was not powerful enough. He had hoped the new world the humans were bound for would have the resources to repair the mirror he snuck on board. That mirror was careening away with the ship he had been on.
Panic swelled in Mag. He had to stop it before he was lost forever. He pointed his wand at the ship, now only a dot on the horizon. “Concesso!” He bellowed. The ship stopped its jet-propelled egress across the cosmos, but the physics of space itself let the ship continue in the direction it was pointed.
Sweat beaded on the wrinkly brows of the wizard. He gritted his teeth and conjured the power he had honed for centuries and cried out again “Concesso!” this time the ship held it place. The wizard sighed, “That was close.” He was getting rusty alone on that ship.
Trouble averted; Mag looked again for the producer of the scream. At a glance there seemed to be nothing. He peered harder past the twinkling ethereal glow of the cosmic particles. Nothing. The scream came again. Unable to see anything with his eyes he began to move about the nebula patch. He moved through the particulates the way a swimmer would move through water still searching for what manufactured a cry so far out in space.
Giggles erupted as Mag brushed past the glowing debris, as if they were sentient. He took the time to marvel at the discovery. He rummaged around in his never-ending pocket to find a notebook he could use to document this new discovery. His purpose on this endeavor had been research after all. Even if it was supposed to only be binary system M51-ULS-1. This was just as important, and Mag was grateful to find purpose in his accidental stranding on human space barge.
The wizard was etching a picture to accompany his notes when the scream came again. This time at his back. He whirled to again find nothing. “Hmmm, curious,” He uttered out loud. An idea forming in his head.
“Revelare,” he whispered to his notepad. Then he pretended to continue writing as the pages projected what was going on behind him.
A rounded ear poked out from a dense cloud, followed by a bone white horn and a pure blue eye set into a furry grey face. Mag traced the image on the pages so that it was documented. Something in him speculated this was not a unicorn. Still his heart raced as he imagined the likelihood of finding one here. Mythical creatures did not just preside on earth and earth like bodies. They swam through the cosmos as mysteriously as magic and life itself.
Those blue eyes watched the wizard with cautious curiosity. The old wizard took this as a sign the creature was not dangerous, so he slowly tried to wiggle his way backwards without spooking the creature. When he got close the scream rang out again. This time Mag was so close his head rang at the shriek. It sounded just like a destressed woman screaming.
“What in a magicians name is that about?” Mag complained as he whipped around to get a better look at the noisy bugger, but it was gone. He leaned behind the cloud and broke it apart looking for the, maybe, unicorn.
He pulled up his notebook again and saw the creature 30 meters behind him. He couldn’t help it he had to look behind him. “How..” He cut off by the thing screaming again.
As it screamed it disappeared. “Awwww,” the wizard purred realizing how the beast was moving. The wizard used his book again to look behind him. When he spotted the creature, he raised his wand. He saw the creature opening its mouth for another cry when he called out, “Tacitus!”
The creature’s scream lodged in its throat. The beast realizing it could not teleport emerged from its cover. A full horse body came into view, but it was no unicorn. It had a mane of fire and a tale of sharp spikes. It pawed at space like it was gravel and pointed its horn at the wizard, who it had decided was a threat.
“Oh dear,” Mag whispered to himself. He put his hands up in surrender and the cosmic beast snorted at the wand still held in Mag’s hand. The wizard winnowed it from their presence and took a pleading stance, “My name is Magellanic Maffei, but my friends call me Mag. I only was curious about you. I am sorry if I startled you.”
The creature tilted its head a bit in understanding then reared up like it was saying something back. Mag nodded in understanding, “I will give you your voice back, but first can I ask you a question.”
The animal snorted and Mag laughed, “Thank you. Its dreadfully boring on that ship do you think you could give me a ride to a solar system right outside the milky way?”
The horse like creature peeled back its lips and if it had its voice it would have been braying out a laugh. Mag’s heart sunk at the news that the creature could not live outside of the galaxy. “Well, would you be willing to ride with us to the edge then. I am awful lonely, and the humans are poor company.”
The horse shrugged and the wizard joyously lifted the silencing spell on the beast. “I think you and I are going to have a lot of fun. I can’t wait to show you the monstrosity these humans have built. I don’t understand it all myself, but I think between you and me can pull it apart and see how it works.” The wizard prattled on as the pair drifted back to the ship.
It was the start of a beautiful friendship and the beginning of an epic adventure.
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