Disclaimer: i do not own Twilight. i don't even want to. i do own some awesome store bought cupcakes. what can i say? i've been busy (see the chapter below this disclaimer)
This isn't were I meant to lay down
But you dug this grave
Fits me perfectly
"You're not concentrating."
I breathe deeply through my nose, taking in my mentor's solemn remark and center my mind on the task before me. Truthfully, I wasn't concentrating as vigilantly as I should have been; it is very dangerous what I am trying to do. Pushing myself like this.
Always pushing myself.
The thick sheet of steel hovering four feet off the white polymerize floor wavers, drooping down a few inches as I refocus my mind on raising it higher. Steel was a particular challenge for me; it is one of the heavier metals, harder to manipulate and seemingly tenacious to my abilities. In the past, I had never raised steel past three and half feet. Even raising it the last six inches was a struggle. My head began to ache, a throbbing in the center of my brain that radiated out to my forehead in short, pulsing bursts.
"Breathe," Yvette tells me in a soft command.
I fill my lungs again, gritting my teeth as the steel rises another inch or two but seems to become stuck between my improvised gravity and Earth's gravity pushing against mine. A rush of liquid slides down from my left nostril – a nosebleed brought on by the pressure in my head.
"That's enough for today," she says firmly, touching my shoulder in an unfamiliar motherly way as I slowly lower both the steel to the ground and my arms to my side.
As my connection to the metal breaks, my nose begins to bleed more heavily. The throbbing of my brain rises in one stunningly hard burst before it fades into a small ache that I can barely detect. Yvette passes me a small cloth, motioning me to press it under my nose.
"You did very well," she praises warmly, soft toffee colored eyes smiling at me. Yvette has long since filled the void my mother left when she passed away from a rare disease our doctors were unable to cure.
"I was hoping for four and a half."
"Small steps, Bella." Yvette reminds me, gazing past my shoulder as her eyes cloud over for a moment. She forces herself out of her vision, patting my shoulder and informing me that I could remove the cloth from my face. She walks to the hidden entrance, the sliding door automatically opening for her, leading her into the main training room.
This room in the testing and training facility is only in the knowledge of Yvette and I. As soon as she had discovered my ability to move any metal object, she had initiated extra training under the conditions that I tell nobody of my second gift.
As rare as psychics were now, psychics with two formidable talents were even more rare – dangerous even.
I follow Yvette and seat myself on a tall cubic cushion, rolling my shoulders to ease the tension crawling up my backs from maintaining the hold and hover on the steel for so long.
Lately, a sense of urgency had been filling my gut to the extent that I was inclined to ask Yvette about training that is more frequent. Something monumental was about to change in my life though I was at a loss as to what it could possibly be.
As if reaffirming my thoughts, Yvette grins at me, the smile full of promises and secrets. "There will be very big changes in your future."
I wasn't a seer – I didn't know exactly how visions worked but Yvette had once taken the time to plainly tell me that the future, the immediate future, was always definite. She saw the outcome of many choices and was confident that no matter what choice any one person made, their near future would always remain the same.
"What will happen?"
"I cannot tell you. You know that, Bella."
I furrow my brows. "Why not? I understand that whatever you tell me will not change the future."
"But it would take the surprise out of the future. You are far too young to be ruining your own surprises." Yvette admonishes, her nurturing side coming out in her voice.
I am young – sixteen – but I'd never liked surprises of any kind. I liked knowing what was going to happen. I liked being prepared. In my experience, surprises led to unanticipated loss.
However, I relent to Yvette's will; I would find out soon enough and I didn't have time to linger.
My father was expecting me.
It was a rare night that Charlie Swan was home, on Earth, from his heavily guarded space station. I'd only seen him three times in the past year. Father was practically a stranger.
"Will I see you tomorrow?"
Yvette smiles sadly. "No. You will be busy. I will see you the day after."
I do not hover with my goodbyes as they make me exceedingly uncomfortable. I shuffle through the thick crowd of pedestrians dressed in sleek, simple clothing as they make their way to their homes.
It had been centuries since homes were above ground; instead, the only part of the home that was above ground was the curved alcove that sheltered the coded doorway.
My own home's alcove was rather large, made of smooth white and grey marble, the sliding double door made of heavy steel reinforced wood from the last century. Carefully, I type the nine-digit code into the doors keypad, stepping into the warmth of the slanted foyer.
A steep set of marble stairs leads down to the living quarters, the decoration minimal and impersonal with cubic furniture that was in time with today's style. A long hallway off the living room leads to a disk-library, a waste-room, the kitchen and another set of stairs. The level underneath this floor is my own room and is protected by a code only I know. Below my floor is my father's level, which can be accessed through a secret entry. My home is much larger than most are these days and, in part, that is due to my father's job as the Grand President.
I make my way into the kitchen, opening the sliding pantry hidden in the white walls and pick out three thin canisters; a seared chicken breast, salad and white-sauce pasta. Taking out a plate and a bowl, I place a small round pill from the chicken canister and an inch-long white rectangle onto the plate; I shake a few green shreds from the salad canister into the bowl. The plate is set in the hydrating micro-oven while the bowl is placed in the hydrating cooler. Soon, I am eating three perfect proportions of food, the chicken moist and hot, the pasta creamy and the salad cool and refreshing. With advances in technology, it was no longer necessary to stand in front of archaic stoves to cook meals and time could be devoted to other tasks.
I set me dishes in the dish-steamer and go to sit in the living room, patiently waiting for my father to arrive.
He was supposed to have been waiting for me but as rare as it was for him to be home, it was even more rare for him to be on time.
I entertain myself by juggling several light metals above my head – trinkets of small decorations from around the living room like a set of hollow iron balls and a copper figurine. Compared to steel, these metals are mere paper clips and I easily suspend them in the air, swirling them around the room. I no longer need to move my hands to guide the metals around the room; I'd grown out of that when I was much younger.
Small, short beeps carry down the stairs, alerting me to my father's arrival, which gives me enough time to return the trinkets to their spots before he can discover that particular talent. It wasn't a stretch of the imagination to think he would exploit it the first chance he got.
I see his body guards first – two burly men dressed in pristine black suits and solid glares. They are familiar to me as much as my father is though I see them – or their associates – more than I see the man who helped in my creation.
"Bella," Father greets, fake warmth slithering from his mouth. There was something distinctly cunning about my father; a certain slickness that all politicians have. I held no delusions that my father was more than a mask that could transform based on the situation. Whatever it is he wanted to talk to me about would surely be designed to benefit him.
"How have you been?"
I struggle to keep my face neutral, my first reaction being disbelief. As far as I knew, the communications on his space station were made to contact anyone anywhere at anytime – and yet, I heard from Father once every couple of months and even then, his interest was primarily on my progress at the Psychic Training and Testing Facility.
"Fine," I say instead, holding in the heavy sigh that weighs on my chest. Already, I was growing tired of his formalities.
"I've brought you something," Father says gently, motioning to the guard on his left to hand be a silver-wrapped package.
Immediately, suspicion spikes in my gut though I make no outward sign of it and push it away ruthlessly. The last gift Father had given me was the summer before Mother died. I was seven.
Unwrapping the package, I am shocked to find a small kit of essential space-travel supplies. Of course, I hadn't expected anything that wasn't practical but I'd never been in space.
I'd never even wanted to entertain the thought.
"Do you like it?" Father inquires as he stiffly sits far away on the other side of the room.
Having no words to describe the absolute confusion filling the forefront of my mind, I nod. Father wasn't one to linger either – I would soon find out what all of this nonsense was about.
"As you know, the Republic has signed treaties with the Seven," Father begins.
I did know – everyone on Earth and the seven life sustaining planets that had been in contact with Earth knew about the treaties between the planets. A cold war of intelligence and fear had just been fought between the planets, a century-long battle of wits between alien life and human arrogance. The war had ended with a complex government called the Republic and, as Father had said, the Republic had recently finalized treaties between the Seven planets.
Peace, it seemed, was a universal need.
"Yes." I answer as he had paused for a rather long time. Did he doubt my interest in the peace of the Seven and the Republic? Or did he not think that I followed that type of topic? In truth, Father hadn't been around enough to know how I behaved or what I liked and disliked. I wasn't sure he particularly cared, either.
"I'm sure you are aware that the populations of the planets have begun to mingle." Father's tone is so condescending that I have to bite my tongue – I nod once, centering myself as I feel the center of my brain begin to flicker with built up energy. "I would like to send you to a planet to visit."
The way in which Father said visit alluded to so much more that a brief travel to absorb the culture of the planet. In that one word, I heard that I would have no choice in going and that it was very much possible that I would not be returning.
"A visit." I say darkly, pursing my lips together and shifting on the cubical couch I sat on. My body grew more and more tense the longer I remained sitting – the longer my father looked at me with calculating eyes.
"Yes. It has come to the Republic's attention that the son of King Niall of Leumin is of age to take on a wife – err, mate. Human DNA is compatible with the Leumian race."
The words sink in slowly, unraveling and processing in every way – I try, in vain, to see another angle of Father's implications but my mind repeatedly comes to the same conclusion.
"Arranged marriage?" I choke out, rising off the couch and fisting my hands at my side. I can feel my face heat with anger and, surprisingly, tears. As the water leaks out of my eyes, I touch my face in shock.
I can't remember the last time I cried.
"The Leumian's do not call it marriage," Father says flatly, rising from his seat to stroll over to the stairs. Already he is leaving, cementing his disinterest in my life. "You will do this Bella."
"Why? Why should I?" I demand angrily, feeling my fingers twitch. If I could get close enough, I would be sure to wipe the confident expression off his face.
"If you refuse, I will have you locked in a correctional facility for that abnormal second ability you've been hiding."
My stomach drops to my feet and I gasp as more tears run down my face. How is this man my father?
I work to contain my emotions, embarrassed by showing such weakness in front of others; I'd worked too hard to build up my own mask to let it crumble so soon.
Father ignores me, stepping up on the stairs leading outside before he suddenly stops, turns and glares menacingly at me. His eyes are so shrewd and cold that I can almost feel them pass through my soul. "I trust you will not to anything desperate while Samuel is here. Your shuttle leaves the day after tomorrow. Do not miss it."
With those final words, Father disappears, a solid clang of wood and metal signing his departure.
Samuel stoically stands near the stairs, practically in front of them, careful not to make eye contact with me. He is the more burly of the two guards that had come in with Father with long dark hair and russet skin.
I press my lips together and storm down the steps to my floor, jamming the code into the keypad and locking my door from the inside. I don't miss the solid steps of Samuel as he follows me down the steps at a much slower pace.
He is smart to leave me alone.
I sit numbly on my bed as I process the day's events.
When I'd gotten up this morning to a video message on my lap-pad from my Father, I'd never imagined this as the outcome.
How archaic was arranged marriage? At least on this planet. For all I knew, it was a common occurrence on Leumin.
But I had no feasible way to avoid this. Father would be able to find me if I ran. And I did not intend to be locked up in a mental facility – a place that had somehow remained in fashion for eccentric family members through the centuries though the "treatment" there was legendarily horrible.
I had no choice in this.
I had to do what I could to survive.
Sleep did not come easy as my mind was racing with thoughts. I'd never felt so completely out of control in my life. I would doze off and wake up with various metal parts of my room floating above my head – and the shock of waking to that would cause the objects to crash against the walls and the floor.
After one particularly loud crash, Samuel had begun to bang on my door, threatening to kick down the entrance if I did not answer his alarmed inquires. I had been tempted to dare him to try to attack the reinforced titanium polymerize door; I'm sure it would have been very entertaining to witness a man of that size losing to an inanimate object designed to keep him out.
But he would surely report the incident – his failure – to my father and that wouldn't do me any favors. So I relented, peeking my head out to assure my father's lackey that I was unharmed and packing.
Samuel, it turns out, isn't the smartest byte in the computer. He was easily satisfied, nodding resolutely before slumping against the wall beside my door and falling asleep on the spot.
I continued to toss and turn, stare up at the ceiling and try to learn more about Leumian's on my lap-pad through the night. There was virtually no information about the Leumian's or their planet on any database I hacked into.
It seemed that my new residence was fairly secretive.
Which made me even more suspicious of Father's motivations – was he sending me to Leumin to gather intelligence? And what were the Leumian's hiding? All of the other Seven had every morsel of history stored in inter-universal databases.
Not the Leumian's.
The only information I could find by myself was the planet's climate, which appeared to be far more erratic than Earth's. Apparently, due to a more dense oxygen, the clouds on Leumin stored other gases, electricity and fluids that made for very torrential rainstorms. The two moons orbiting the planet also pulled at the vast oceans, creating more rifts in the weather patterns.
I close the program I was reading from, place the lap-pad on the floor and turn to my side, sighing heavily in the darkness of my room.
I didn't appreciate the threats my father had lain before me – and I certainly didn't like being forced into some sort of political-based marriage. I also didn't like that my father seemed to know more about the Leumian's than the databases had.
He'd said that the Leumian's didn't call the arrangement a marriage; he'd said mate, not wife. I didn't know what to make of that.
Too many questions were swirling around in my brain. It was making me jumpy to the sudden snores Samuel emitted in his sleep from my hallway.
I didn't like to feel this on edge.
Rolling out of my foam-based mattress, I go into my washroom and dig around in the sliding cabinet above my sink until I find the small spray-canister that I very rarely used. The contents of the spray were supposed to induce sleep.
I open my mouth and pump three quick sprays onto my tongue, swallowing several times as the honey sweetness slides down my throat, instantly making me drowsy.
I stumble into my bed and welcome the complete peace sleep brings me. I do not wake until the afternoon the next day. I don't bother to fix myself a meal through my stomach protests with loud grumblings. Instead, I begin packing the shimmering, soft fabrics of my clothes and other necessities into a travel bag along with the kit Father had given me last night.
I should have been more suspicious when he gave me a present.
It still wouldn't have made a difference.
Using my lap-pad, I try to open a communication with Yvette but she is unavailable. I recall her telling me that I would not see her today; that should have been another reason to be suspicious.
Having nothing else to do, I continue to search for information on Leumin and the Leumian's – my mind is greedy for anything I can find but every source is as dry as the night before.
Father had said that it was King Niall who agreed to this arranged marriage. Did the government on Leumin operate like a monarchy? Earth hadn't supported a monarchy since the tectonic plates of Europe had clashed with Northern America. And would that mean that my intended husband would be a Prince of his planet?
Why would a Prince bow to an arranged marriage?
The questions popping through my head are only bringing on a headache as everything that is left unanswered only increased my curiosity.
Eager to escape from my own mind, I spray more of the sleep inducing medication into my mouth, deciding to stash the canister in my travel bag. I am sure I will need it sometime during my travels through space.
The next time I wake, it is morning and Samuel is banging on my door, demanding I wake up and begin preparing to leave. He stops making noise when he hears my movement through the walls.
I take my time in the washroom, scrubbing every inch of my smooth skin until it is pink from friction and heat. Air vents dry my body and hair with a subtle scent much like the body sprays of the past. In the full-length mirror of my washroom, I study my body with a critical eye, seeing faults that had not previously bothered me. It seems like this arrangement is making me self-conscious of my body; a feeling I am very uncomfortable with.
My height is on the shorter side of the scale, my body mass barely over one hundred pounds. My limbs are long for my short stature and thin, giving my body a willowy appearance, which is emphasized by the nearly non-existent curve of my hips and chest. Translucent creamy skin covers my body, the result of endless hours spent honing my talents indoors, in secret. Dark mahogany, almost ebony, hair covers my head, bangs cut bluntly high on my forehead and the tips of layers resting just under my chin. My face was interesting with a smooth jaw, a nose curving up at the end, high-defined cheekbones and wide icy blue eyes under straight dark brows.
I don't think I am particularly attractive in the current sense – it seemed than human men never grew out of craving blond women with ample chests – but I know that I am pleasing enough to look at. Otherwise, I'm sure Father wouldn't have offered up my life to an arranged marriage to a far away alien race. I didn't require the face enhancement paint that women are so fond of, at least.
I brush through the minor tangles of my hair until it dries straight and pull on slick black rayon tights and a silky soft white layered dress that hems at mid-thigh with thick black straps. My boots are chunky and black with several decorative zips and ties running up the length of the shoes until the final zipper ends just under my knee. Unlike many girls my age, I only wore one piece of jewelry – an ancient tourmaline pendent that hangs to my belly button on a platinum chain. The color-changing gem once belonged to my mother and was one of the only keepsakes I cared to take with me to Leumin.
I do not linger in my home but I do demand that Samuel stops at Yvette's home on our way out of the city.
Yvette is not surprised at the turn of events – she'd already seen it happen, after all - and she is not quick to offer any glimpses of the future, though I am close to begging. I know she is right and I find myself marveling at her infinite wisdom.
"I will miss you," she tells me sadly, touching the side of my face.
I allow myself to embrace Yvette, the woman who had walked me through puberty and comforted me the nights that Father had missed the milestones of my life. I wasn't sure how to deal with the loss of her companionship and, before I'd even left her house, I began to bury those confusing feelings deep inside my heart.
I am more quiet that usual as Samuel drives out of the city and to the secluded spaceport that houses the shuttles that depart from Earth and venture into the universe.
Shuttles are made from several materials that withstand the abuse space puts on the spacecrafts. The technology inside of the shuttle is nearly as impenetrable as the shuttle itself, holding the secrets of shields, space grids and a type of warp speed that shames science fictions writers of the past.
Samuel leaves me at the mouth of the shuttle, handing me off to an equally burly assistant captain of the shuttle who's eyes dissected my being with barely disguised interest. I would have to keep an eye on Assistant Captain Jared.
The captain of the shuttle was a different story entirely – Paul was extremely pleased to have the daughter of the Grand President of Earth as a passenger of his spacecraft. Too pleased. He insisted that my sleeping quarters be no more than ten feet from his.
Paul's wife, a happy pregnant woman named Rebeka, gave me a proud tour of the shuttle. To my surprise, I found that the shuttle carried more than human passengers – there were at least one or two citizens of each of the other seven planets on board, though they were wary of my presence.
I couldn't blame them; I was being treated specially though I was sure some of them were ambassadors from the Seven.
Even some of the human passengers were rather standoffish with me – several women openly glaring at me for one reason or another.
I'd never been particularly popular with people, greatly preferring my own company to that of other people. For whatever reason, I had never clicked with someone who was not a gifted psychic – but maybe that was because I could relate on some level to other psychics.
Then again, some psychics sensed something off about me though none had ever guessed a second ability. The ability that everyone knew about was more off putting than the hidden one and I suppose that also had much to do with the relative isolation that had always surrounded me.
Still, I hadn't anticipated the reaction other passengers had to me and knew that the travel to Leumin, no matter how short, would not likely be a pleasant one.
Rebeka noticed the reaction other passengers had to me, patting my shoulder in what I assumed was a reassuring gesture. "Don't worry about them," she smiles, leading me back to my quarters. "You'll be in Leumin before you realize it."
Rebeka starts at my abrupt question, faltering for a moment. "Oh, a little under three days, I think. The shuttle is under orders to deliver you first."
I frown, thinking that this could be another reason why the other passengers seemed to instantly dislike me. "Surely that's unfair," I begin, making a plan in my head to talk to the Captain.
Rebeka shakes her head. "No, Leumin is the closest planet to Earth. You would have been the first stop anyway." She pauses, seeming to think for a moment. "In fact, there is a Leumian girl around your age on this trip. I'll have to introduce you after zero-gravity." Rebeka motions to the flashing light above the doorway of my quarters. "You best buckle up. Zero-gravity comes fast and leaves even quicker."
Rebeka leaves for her quarters and I hurriedly secure my travel bag, and myself to the foam-cushioned chair attached to an alcove of the walls.
Take off is as smooth as it can be, I suppose, as the shuttle is breaking through Earth's atmosphere. The jolting of the shuttle suddenly stops as the shuttle enters the zero gravity fields around the Earth.
Though I am firmly strapped into my seat, I feel my internal organs flip at the weightlessness of my body. I feel a rush as lightheadedness is replaced by the internal gravity of the shuttle.
Slowly, I unhook the buckles securing me to the alcove and stand on wobbly feet, using the wall beside me as support as my body grows accustomed the new gravity.
As I regain my mental and physical centers, three quick raps and Rebeka's voice through the door signal that my very brief time alone is over.
And as quick as that, my last day on Earth ends while my first day in space begins.
A/N: welcome to Magnetic. i will confess, right here, right now, that i have never done a Sci-Fi anything before. but i am a science nerd - i love the SyFy channel, the movies from the 80's, Captain Kirk references and the astrological studies happening as we speak. that said, most of everything you will see in this story will be logical for the most part. at least, i'll try.
Bella will not have long hair in this story. she just won't. her eyes won't be brown either. she will also not be one to run away - i wanted to make this Bella stronger, more stubborn than my Bella from Gods.
speaking of Gods, i know that there are readers who wanted a sequel. but...this particular plot has been haunting my sleep so this will come first. i make no promises to make any sequel of any story i write. it depends on a lot of stuff.
as always, be brutally honest. i can take it.