Polaris wakes up early in the morning, before the sun has even risen. Her nausea has been replaced by ravenous hunger. She opens the fridge door, but is quickly overwhelmed by the smell of rotten food—some leftovers have gone bad. She spins around and rushes to the bathroom.
When’s the last time I’ve cleaned this thing, Polaris wonders as she rests against the toilet. She’s feeling too faint to stand up. I’ll have to go to the corner store and get a test, she decides, I need to make sure before I tell Crux. She is certain she's pregnant, though she half-hopes the test confirms otherwise.
“Good, you’re awake,” the creature—male, it seems, and slender—turns around.
“I do not recall falling asleep.”
“It’d be more accurate to say you were in stasis. What would be the verb for that—you unstasised?” the man looks thoughtful for a moment, “how do you feel?”
“How rude, Crux. I thought we could chat. I’ve been looking forward to meeting you.”
“Chat?” Crux shakes his head a little. It feels fuzzy, unclear, “You seem familiar, but I cannot seem to recall why.”
“You were in the cell next to Lyra,” Crux remembers. He had hardly paid attention to the other captives at that time—his focus had solely been on Polaris.
“Yes, the belligerent one. After she knocked out the brute, I was able to escape since you had inadvertently unlocked all the cells.”
“How lucky for you,” Crux’s response is snide. He doesn't like being reminded of mistakes, even if that mistake turned out to be fortunate.
“I wasn’t counting on luck. Eni had planned it that way,” the creature shrugs.
“Eni—that woman who materialized in my quarters and encouraged me to help Polaris,” his mind is starting to focus.
“Yes, and helping your Polaris helped me. I escaped, just as Eni wanted. She was worried about Polly, too—she’s taken a shine to her—but I was her priority.”
“I was under the impression her motives were selfless.”
“What creature in the universe is truly selfless,” he laughs. It’s a cruel, hollow laugh, and it reverberates through the cavernous room.
“So I was a pawn,” Crux feels slighted, “Why did she not help you herself?”
“Pesky non-interference policies,” he scoffs, “makes it difficult if one of us is caught by an opposing force, or if one of us wants to actually do something. I had to cut through a jungle of red tape to be able to even speak to you.”
“Why is she so invested in Polaris? And why are you so interested in speaking to me?”
“Crux,” he sighs, “This is not as pleasant as I thought it would be. My name is Xharor, by the way, thank you for asking. You really need to learn the art of polite conversation--you’re not the only person here.”
“You will have to forgive me. I am still learning the nuances of social interaction,” his response is dry.
“Let’s cut to the chase then. You saved me, whether you meant to or not, and so I have some information for you, a fair exchange. And maybe some words of advice. You’ve been worried. You do an admirable job of keeping cool around the others, but I can see you’re anxious.”
“So you have been observing me.” It’s a statement, not a question.
“It’s my duty,” he shrugs, “We observe, but we don’t intervene—usually.”
“And what makes my case worthy of your intervention?”
“Your case isn’t noteworthy, you narcissist; I merely want to thank you for saving me. And with that, I bring you good news: You’re worried about Commander Eridanus, but he’s inconsequential. In fact, it seems like you jumped ship just in time. Alcyone is in a downward spiral.”
“Meaning?” Crux tries to maintain his cool, but he wishes his captor would hurry up and make his point clear.
“I mean that Eridanus is likely dead, or at least incapable of finding you. Eni monitors his communications and has heard nothing of him recently. She has widened her search and found that the Alcyonian government is crumbling. Apparently, in their search for resources, they’ve overextended themselves. There’s infighting and possibly a civil war. There’s violence in the streets, murder, mayhem, bombings, et cetera. All the typical revolutionary behavior. I’ve come to the conclusion, based on the evidence or lack thereof, that you and yours are safe. So, good news for a worry-wart like you.”
“Hmm, yes. That bit is a little unfortunate. But,” Xharor pauses, “I have noticed you also seem to have had a confrontation with humans?”
“A human,” Crux corrects, “and it was hardly a confrontation. Polaris said she and Lyra handled it.”
“And what did she say?”
“So Polaris doesn’t tell you everything? How interesting.”
“I feel as if you are trying to get a rise out of me,” Crux remains calm, “And it will not work. What happened with that human is of no importance. I have been monitoring various conspiracy websites, and we have not been revealed since. If what you say about Eridanus is true, we are safe and our identities remain uncompromised.”
“That brings me to my advice: I would recommend making your presence public,” Xharor says, “Fae, lycanthropes, and vampires have done so in places like Moonlight Falls and Bridgeport, and human sims have accepted them with open arms. It may be easier for you in the long run if you just admit you’re extraterrestrial.”
Crux scoffs, “Yes, they have. That is why there are a higher rate of hate groups in such areas.”
“Those groups represent fringe beliefs, Crux. Most sims are good, accepting creatures.”
“What is it about your people that makes you feel so superior,” Xharor raises his voice a little, “You’re hardly the pinnacle of evolution.”
“In this particular area, we are superior,” Crux shrugs.
“What grudge?” Crux snorts, “He is of no significance to me.”
Before Crux can respond, a phone rings. Xharor stands, “You’ll have to excuse me from this utterly delightful conversation, but I must take this.” Xharor answers the phone and speaks quietly into it as Crux silently seethes.
“Well, it appears my time with you has run out, thank the maker. I’ll be sending you back now,” Xharor snaps his fingers and everything goes white.
She wonders how the kids will take it. Solaris is sensible; he’ll respond appropriately. She’s unsure about Elysia and Luna. They’re much closer to their father, and she hasn’t even told them about Crux. She has awhile to decide—she shouldn’t start showing anytime soon.
“Ever since you told Connie that Brian likes Lydia, Connie and her friends have been picking on Lydia,” Luna tries to sound urgent, but Elysia is only half paying attention to her.
“So! They’ve started sticking her head in the toilet. Lydia’s my only friend and now she’s afraid to come to school. Why do you feel the need to spread everyone’s secrets?”
“Ugh! That’s not the point, goody-two-shoes,” Luna snaps, “Don’t you feel the least bit guilty, Elly?”
“No,” Elysia lies, “not at all. She shouldn’t try to keep secrets from me.” Guilt washes over her.
“You’re pregnant?!” she screeches. Luna gasps.
Author’s Note: The next chapter will be more entertaining (maybe). I kind of regret including Crux's abduction because I found it difficult to fit in. I’m actually feeling meh about the abduction scene, but it allowed me to get some exposition out of the way. Really, I think the best thing about this chapter is the title (I don't care if it doesn't make sense I LOVE IT).
I fulfilled the property mogul goal. Polly is a partner in the grocery store, bookstore, and (I think) the diner. It was actually easy-peasy since collecting can be very lucrative. I also expanded the house so the triplets have separate rooms, though obviously that’s going to change soon. I began building a legacy house, but it currently costs ~200k, so there's no way they'll be able to afford it soon unless Polly robs a bank (say...that's a good idea).