Starbirth by Steph T

The only way to explain how I met Milo Pulsar- how our partnership began, how we started traveling the galaxy together, having arcane adventures and delving into astral mysteries- the only way to begin that story is to tell you about the worst day of my life.

So I guess that’s where I’ll start.

It was the day of my youngest sister’s birth. My family and I were in orbit around our home star, singing together. The birth of a starbeing is an incredible event- the family will sing a song, and each crystal note calls a piece of the child into existence. Every trill, every  harmony, every voice winding together helps to form the very nature of the child; and as such births are a very private affair, usually only family and occasionally very close friends.

Mine was a difficult birth; my mother and father sang for seven standard days to draw me forth from our homestar. My sister, thankfully, was much less difficult; between my mother and father, my six brothers and four sisters, and myself, her form was coalescing in hours. Our voices wound around each other, echoing through our shared atmosphere and rippling through the black towards her tiny, perfect form.

She was so beautiful.

We almost didn’t notice when our home star began to change. So focused on our task, striving so hard to keep our tones perfect, it wasn’t until my father’s song faded that we pulled our eyes away and saw.

Our star- so fierce and bright and blue- was rippling and changing. The light grew brighter and hotter. Something started to pulse, huge and slow and silent. And a slow murmur began to build inside my head; our star, gentle and patient and ancient, home to our family for generations, began to weep, then to beg us for help; and finally, to scream.

Everything happened so fast. My mother leaped for my not-quite-born sister, trying desperately to wrap her in a corner of our atmosphere. My father wrapped  his wings around us, cradling us tight to shield us.

And our home went nova.

To call the explosion cataclysmic would not begin to describe it. I watched my mother incinerated in less than a second, torn to molecules before my eyes. My father’s barrier shields were up; I watched them burning, sizzling all around us as the blast sent us hurtling through space, head over heels, a tumbling mess of fear and pain.

I watched my brother slip out of my father’s grasp, fall through the shields. I watched his face as he realized he was slipping. He did not scream, my brother; he just closed his eyes, and his mouth shaped a word; and then he was gone. So serene as he went to his death; the word was Love.

My father’s shields were falling. Best on the market, it was a miracle they’d lasted even a second. He sang out the word that brought up our personal shields; then with one massive flare of starforce he sent us flying, scattered into the black, less than a light-second ahead of the blast.

Call it chance, call it luck, call it whatever you like, but I was flung the farthest. I watched their lights wink out, one by one. I felt my shields flutter and tremble. I closed my eyes then; tried to reach for my brother’s serenity. Love. I tried, but my lips would not form the word.

A second passed. And then another. And then I realized I was not dead.

I opened my eyes and the world rushed back into being.

I was sitting on the back of a huge red pteradon, its wings etched with glowing runic sigils and its body banded with rocketry. And standing over me, arms outstretched, silver spellbook floating before him, screaming out an arcane chant through his etheral mask, was Milo.

Don’t let anyone tell you that the Paragon Order is weaker than the Order of Sparta, or Nogg. I have known many Space Wizards in my life, and only one of them could have held that shield up as everything around us went to hell and then some.

I couldn’t tell you how long it lasted. It did end, though. I remember Milo sinking to his knees, arms shaking, skin bone-white. We floated there in silence among the nebula skeleton of my home.

I broke the silence first, I think. “They’re all gone,” I said. My voice was hoarse from screaming.

He just looked at me, and even through the mask I could see the sorrow in his eyes.

“Please,” I said. “Please, I have to see.” I gestured at the empty space behind us. “If any of them. If any of them.” I couldn’t finish.

He just nodded, and laid his hands on the dinorocket’s shoulders, and spoke a few soft words. The pteradon made a sound of acknowledgement and turned us back.

We wandered among the dust and gas for hours, but my family was gone. But in what was once the heart of our star, we found something else. Someone else, more precisely.

I felt it the moment he touched the heart crystal. At the core of every star that has grown old enough and wise enough to speak lies a starcrystal; and it is a powerful magical artifact. It is a rare event that a dying star might bequeath its crystal to another being; aside from that, the only way to attain one is to use a powerful spell to rip the star apart.

I am told that stars that host a family of starbeings have crystals that are even more powerful and magical. I am told this, as though it can explain the depths to which a wizard will sink for power.

He was dressed in black, with a shining metal skullcap. In one hand he held a twisted wizard’s staff; in the other, the shining blue starcrystal of my home.

His hand on the crystal was like a burning iron band around my body. I screamed; I thrashed; I thought I was dying all over. Breathless and panicked, I gabbled out what I was seeing, through the crystal’s eyes. “Order of Nogg,” Milo said, and his voice was flat and hard and cold as black space.

The Nogg wizard raised his head suddenly, as though he’d heard us. I saw him begin to murmur a spell, and then my vision was obscured as he placed the crystal in a pocket; and then with a sensation like a bone snapping he was gone, gone too far away for my being to resonate in time with the starcrystal.

I wept.

Helpless and alone, my family gone, my home star’s very heart plundered, I folded my astral wings around myself and just let myself go. I wept for hours, I slept, I woke and wept more. Milo took me away from the wreckage of my home; took me to a doctor on Sargas IV. I think he was going to leave me there; it’s not often the a space wizard travels with anyone else. But I was so alone; and, I found out later, he’d lost his parents as well. So we were orphans together, and then friends, and then partners.

I asked him once why he’d even been there to catch me, that day. His Order had gotten word of a magical disturbance so deep it set time to rippling; their Temporal Sorceror had asked Milo to investigate.

I watched my family die, but thanks to Milo, I lived. It took me a long time to forgive him for that. I never said anything about it, but I think he may have known. But I put that bitterness aside; these days, I just do what I can to be worthy of what was lost. To carry this last light for us all.

Someday, I’ll find that Nogg wizard. And when I do, the retribution I visit on him will shake the stars. But in the meantime, I do what I do, day by day, to help. To make this galaxy a little bit safer, a little bit better.

Some days… not all days, but some…

…some days, it’s enough.

(C) Stephanie Tyll 2010

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