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A/N I am not that good at making covers nor am i great at writing conversations but i tried all the same. Forgive any typos or grammatical errors pls.

I went to sleep with an unease in heart. The actions I had just committed was wrong at many levels but unfortunately it was the only way I could've avoided suspicion at such a short notice. Not only was it expensive but it was also morally and ethically wrong, maybe even illegal. I had convinced myself for doing this only because there was no other alternate. I even googled up the side effects before using it. There was barely enough money in my pockets which was unfortunately almost equal to half my savings from the monthly allowance.

Tonight, I did not have to wait for long or even pretend to sleep because my family was just too tired to check on me. Nonetheless, as I closed the door behind me, I got to work slipping pillows beneath the sheet and making it seem like I was sleeping soundly. Checking the clock which showed that I had barely ten minutes left, I threw open my closet, hastily putting back the clothes that had tumbled out and dug in for my favorite cargo shorts. Pairing it with a comfortable Nike t-shirt, I ran out with unlaced sneakers reaching the rooftop terrace on dot timing. I was exited yet nervous as I boarded the spaceship. This one not as luxurious as Ken's. The woman behind the wheel gave me a curt nod and fired up the engine. During the short journey, I tried to sort out my emotions and calm down; unsuccessfully. My knee wouldn't stop bobbing up and down as I impatiently waited for us to reach the docks. The view once again held me enchanted as we soared through space. And the darkness held my gaze captive. I wondered if I'll ever be able to get used to this hair-raising journey.

At the docks, no one payed any attention to us unlike what had happened when I was with Ken. Instead the woman who had not yet uttered a word during the whole journey set off in a brisk pace towards the door. Expecting me to follow. She could speak though, I realized as she passed greetings to the men guarding the dock doors from the palace side. A solider, I discerned. There was not much to see in the way as I was once again trying to concentrate on not losing her sight in the surprisingly crowded corridors. Last time I had come here, the corridors were almost empty, but today, there were people gliding here and there, some in the same uniform I had seen Ken in. Just in varying colors of cloth. While some wore the attire I had seen the soldiers in. Most of the crowd seemed to be headed in the same direction we were headed in. As we took the hallways leading us toward the virtual center of the palace, I guessed that our destination was the great room. Turning around a corner I almost bumped into my nameless guide who I had decided on calling Kelly as she jerked to a sudden stop. We were standing in a short queue in front of an indistinct door. Two guards were doing the job of security personnel, checking each person for weapons, I guess, before letting them into the room beyond.

As a reflex, I touched my chest where the mark was. I consciously knew that it was the only thing which made me a part of this strange world and related me to these unknown people from faraway places. I gaped in wonder as we entered the great room. It was more than great; it was magnificent. I looked around drinking it all in as I struggled to follow Kelly who had not reduced her pace by a single notch. We had entered through a small doorway to the side. Similar to several others. Kelly led me to special cordoned off area in the front row right behind the grand thrones and motioned me to sit in the only vacant seat at the end, then she spun on her heels and walked off. As I settled, I craned my neck to inspect the room.

The curved ceiling was impossibly high and made of colored glasses from which clear sunlight filtered through. Though not the only illumination in the room. A red carpet wide enough to accommodate two elephants' side by side ran at the center, parallel to the length of the room. It ended in front of grand semicircular steps leading to the two main thrones. The steps were small and less in number. More for show than purpose. The first throne was placed on the third step towards the right but faced slightly towards the left. The other throne was another three steps higher up placed at an almost circular platform towards the left angled slightly towards the right or, towards us. Behind them, a huge white banner hung from the ceiling with golden and silver trimming, bearing a sign which looked like the structure of an atom minus the nucleus and electrons. A ring of yellow stars surrounded it with a thick blue stripe running in the middle crossed by red and blue ones at regular intervals.

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