17: The Comet Festival (Editing)

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As we descended onto the planet, I saw the Esalas's many buildings glittering with lights. The architecture was strange unlike anything I had seen on Earth. Large round domes with spikes poking out of the tops dotted the landscape. They reminded me of giant porcupines sniffing about the lesser buildings for scraps of food. Stella activated the ship's landing gear. She hooted with excitement. In a loud hiss of steam and smoke we landed not far from the city's edge.

I pressed my nose to the window. A band of light stretched across the horizon acting like a forever sunset. There were no clouds in the sky, just an endless view of space. Similar to living in a big city full of lights, the stars were not so bright as I had come to love them from space. The sound of many unique languages bombarded my ears. A host of odd looking creatures many looking human with a couple added features bounced around joyously.

We stepped out of the ship dressed in our coats. The air here was chilly due to the lack of sun but not terribly cold for me to see my breath. Children ran about the streets waving flags on poles. The flags were in the shape of a comet with a round globe at one end and two tails flapping behind it. A street merchant was stelling glass jars with a moving replica of the comet within as well as some delicious looking snacks in the shape of comets.

"Welcome to the Comet Festival, Eddie," said Novus, leaning in to ear. "Esalas's most celebrated holiday."

"Why is the comet so special?" I asked.

"It comes once every forty-two Earth years. It symbolizes light, revelation, and happiness. The Esalasians make it out to be like an Earth Christmas. They exchange gifts, eat a lot of tasty food, and have a good old time popping fireworks."

A group of kids brushed passed us laughing and kicking a glowing ball. I guess because most of the city was covered in eternal night it was normal for most items and clothing to have some luminous qualities. Coats had glowing collars, people wore illuminated jewelry, and there was even a man who had glowing white teeth.

"This place is amazing," I said, spinning around to look at all the neon signs and colorful shops.

Novus led the way through the crowds.

"Stay close, Eddie. I don't want you to get lost."

"Where are we going?" I asked, tripping over a rise in the road.

"I'm taking you to a safe place for you to explore while I go to hunt for supplies." We walked by a wall with animated wanted posters of intergalactic criminals. An image of Novus moved in one of them. He covered his head with his coat's hood. "Definitely not my best look," he said, ripping the poster off the wall. "Don't get too comfortable. We can't stay here for long."

We took a turn down another bustling street and finally under a carved archway. The street opened up to a series of tents and booths. Kids and their parents ran around all over the place. Much like a circus, the many tents held all manner of interesting things from animal performances, to puppet shows, to a 3D film of the comet's history. Novus stopped and crouched down until he was eye to eye with me. He held my shoulders and chose his next words very carefully.

"Listen to me, Eddie. This is very important." He looked over his shoulder. "I'm going to go in that building over there. A friend of mine sells star gear there. I want you to stay in the confines of the carnival. Have fun but don't go wandering off. Here, take Stella with you."

Stella floated to my shoulder.

"Oollalala," she responded jubilantly.

"If you do get lost, Stella can bring you back to the ship. I'll only be a couple of hours. That should be enough time for you to see the Comet Show. Are we clear?"

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