8: Stella, The Octopus

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"She's with us, Stella," said Novus taking a seat next to the octopus. "I'll catch you up to speed when we are far enough away from Earth." The ship's engine roared to life. The whole room began to shake. Novus turned to me. "Hey you best be buckling yourself in. It's going to be a rough launch."

I found a seat nearby and strapped myself in. An electronic voice echoed in the room.

"Initiating launch sequence. 10, 9, 8..." I bit my bottom lip again. This must have been what my parents felt each time they went to space. It was exciting and scary at the same time. "7,6, 5, 4..." I stared out the front window. The spaceship was tiling up in the air. I could see the blue sky and the clouds drifting slowly by. My heart jumped in my chest. "3, 2, 1... Engage lift off!" My seat shook and my body sunk into the cushion. In a flash, the sky outside turned from blue to black. The stars glittered brighter than I had ever seen from my little attic room. My arms and hair began to rise and soon my whole body was floating above my seat. I was in space.

"Woah!" I cried out undoing the seat belt. My legs kicked off the cushion and before I could place my feelings into words I was hovering around the room doing twists and somersaults. "Look, Novus, I'm flying!"

"You're in zero gravity," he said floating into the room. "Don't get used to it too much." He reached out and flipped a switch on the wall. A green glow filled the room. Weight returned to my body and I fell hard against the floor.

"Ouch," I said, lifting my head up. "What'd you do that for?"

"To teach you that space isn't all fun and games."

"Rude!" I sat up and brushed the dirt off my shirt. "So far the worst thing about space is your attitude."

"Hmph, get used to it, Eddie." He turned on a holographic screen. Down near the left corner was the words, Universe News. A lady dressed in a bright blue and pink striped latex suit sat next to a flying mini TV on propellers. On the mini TV's screen was a picture of my aunt's house. Novus turned up the volume.

"You heard it here first, Universe. It seems the wish fell on none other than our favorite entertainment planet, Earth. Sources say that the great Djinn sent a Wish-hunter to retrieve the wish, but was attacked by Star Hounds from a rogue assailant who later kidnapped the child. We interviewed the Wish-Hunter command center and they had this to say." The screen shifted to a man in a green suit walking down a long hallway with news reporters jamming strange microphones in his face.

"Sir, do you have any leads as to who this mystery assailant is? Can you confirm that the use of Star Hounds was outlawed during the last Interstellar Conference? Was your Wish-Hunter injured?"

The man stopped walking. "We don't have any confirmation as of yet on who this assailant is and yes, the use of Star Hounds is strictly forbidden."

"And what of the Wish-Hunter?" asked the reporters.

"I assure you we have the best of the best on the case now. This has become a rescue mission. Imagine what that Earth child is experiencing right now. We must retrieve the child and Galaxion's wish."

Novus switched off the screen. "Of course they've twisted the truth," he said, sighing. "Celeste was definitely sent by the command center. I bet this is skyrocketing EvoEarth's ratings. Thankfully they never got my face."

"What did the guy mean by Galaxion's wish?" I asked.

Novus shrugged. "Don't worry about it." He ran his fingers through his hair. "Stella, take us to Sector 297Q. And fast."

"Ooola," replied the octopus. Novus pressed a button on the ceiling and a couch unfolded out of the floor. He collapsed on top of it.

"So what's next," I said joining him on the couch.

"Step one. Get as far away from Earth as possible. Step two. Find us some food. Hungry?"

"Yeah!"

"Alright. I know the perfect place."

Stella floated in from the front on little jetpacks. The octopus landed on the couch's armrest and pointed three angry tentacles at me.

"Oolalala!"

"Calm down, Stella. I can explain."

"You speak octopus," I said looking at Novus.

"No, I speak Cephalopodian." Novus flicked Stella's rabbit headphones. "Stella's from a very wet world that a nearby planet started polluting with their trash. I found her one day while searching the trash for things to salvage and sell. She was attempting to build her own spaceship out of trash so escape the sludge. I took her in and now she is my finest pilot." Novus smiled. "She is not very trusting of strangers."

"I mean you no harm," I told Stella. The octopus shut her eyes and turned away.

"Stella, be nice. This is Eddie. She is only going to be traveling with us for two weeks. Then I'm going to drop her off back on Earth."

"Ooolalllla."

"She's jealous." Novus petted Stella behind her headphones.

The spaceship made a sudden jerk causing my backpack to fall open and the glowing rock to roll out. Stella's eyes lit up. I reached down and picked up the glowing orb.

"I think it's also time you tell what this thing is all about," I said. "You called it a wish. Is it really just that?"

"Well," Novus and Stella exchanged a weary glance. "The universe you are aware of is not quite the universe that exists. There is a story that they don't tell Earth kids."

"Oh, a story!" I wrapped my legs close to my chest. "I love stories."

"Stella," said Novus. "Why not grab that holo-book off the shelf?" Stella rose to the shelf in the corner and removed a folded tablet. She handed it to Novus. He blew the dust off of it and wiped the screen clean.

"Wow. It's been many years since I read this story." Novus rubbed his hands tenderly over the cover. The title said, The Origin of Wishes, and at the bottom were the words, For My Darling Luna. Novus opened the tablet and instantly it came to life sending a hologram of stars across the room. "Alright, pay attention, Eddie. This is the story of where wishes come from."

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