45 - Release

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When Stella sighs, the bed shifts beneath us. "I came from Earth. But I'm sure you're searching for elaboration, am I correct?"

I nod, anxious for her story.

"Thought so. Well, I was an only child and grew up in New York. My father was some corporate guy with a super good job, and my mom was a part-time receptionist," she pauses. "Do you really want to hear this? It's sort of a mood killer, honestly."

"Yes. Please." I take her hand to encourage her to continue.

"It gets a little dreary, but... Anyway, overtime, my father became quite controlling, to the point of becoming abusive. He uh, he um...would get on my mom a lot for stupid things. And when hurting her wasn't enough, he came after me. I have a few hidden scars."

An unintentional pop emerges from my mouth. "Stella I—"Automatically I strive to console her.

"It's fine. I've learned to cope with it all. So anyway, I ran away from home when I was sixteen and never looked back. I found other people on the street, and we sort of formed our own family. Brink thinks we were hippies, but we weren't. We were homeless kids with nothing better to do than cover walls with graffiti, promote peace, and listen to music that made life easier. I didn't engage in a lot of the hardcore drugs, but I won't say I'm drug-free. It was a hard life."

Absolute silence, before, "Wow, I wasn't really expecting that at all. You're so optimistic all the time. How did you wind up to be the happiest person I've ever met?"

Her infectious smile spreads across her face. "Well thanks, but I wasn't always. I guess I got some of it from my mom. She was always trying to see the light in the dark, you know?"

I nod, and lead her down another tunnel. "How'd you end up here then?"

She folds both of her hands together in her lap. "Well, like you in a way. Brink found me. I won't lie, I was under the influence at the time, so my perceptions and memory are a little off. We traveled to Etherea after my capture. It didn't take much convincing for me to stay; it was better than any life I was having. So here I am, living and breathing on Mars of all places."

Her story is incredible. She's so much more fragile now when I look at her. Fragile, and yet so strong. To live through a hardship like that must've been horrible.

I give her a quick hug that she willingly accepts, and when we pull apart, I ask her something else. "There's one thing that I still can't quite grasp after all of my time being here--our purpose. Can you explain it to me?"

She huffs. "Purpose means different things to different people, Aurora."

"Well...what do you think it is?"

She inhales slowly and releases. "To me, our purpose is to better the world. We have the opportunity to do great things. We have heroic capabilities, if we were allowed to utilize them for something positive."

I grimace. "What do you mean by that?"

"If we weren't ruled by a greedy jackass, we could be great people. Sorry, but that's the truth," she whispers into my head. Clearly she's trying to avoid the camera picking up on her comment.

Our conversation has turned up exactly where I wanted. "Damon?"

She nods.

"Stella if I tell you something, can you promise not to share?" She takes my hand and waits, a clear sign to trust her. And I do. Out of any of the Five, she is the person I can confide in most. "I have really bad feelings about this place, and who we are."

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