20: A False Imprisonment

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Somewhere under the Djinn's spire in a dungeon of steam and metal, Novus twisted uncomfortably in his cell. The bars that confined him crackled like lightning. Supercharged with high volts of electricity any unsuspecting bug passing by would be drawn to the light only to be met with swift zap and a sizzling thorax.

"That's five now," said Novus counting the five smoking, dead bugs by his feet. A man in the cell next to him raised his head. A loud zap popped from his cell.

"Seven for me," said Jupiter. "Looks like I'm winning."

"So are we gonna talk about how the Djinn took over your body?"

"Nope," said Jupiter. "You try taking the backseat and watch yourself do such evil things. Poor Eddie. She has no idea."

"She's probably up there now," said Novus looking up at the cracked ceiling. "She either hates my guts or she is so enthralled in the Djinn's smooth words that she has lost all sense of herself."

"Eddie is a smart girl," said Jupiter. "I'm sure the Djinn will have a hard time getting to her."

"She thinks I killed her parents," said Novus. "I knew she lived with her aunts. I didn't even think to consider her parents. I figured it was rude."

"You remember it though," said Jupiter turning to look into Novus's cell. "It made news all across the universe."

"Yeah, everyone always gets excited with the Earthlings attempt space travel. That tragedy should have never happened."

"Bad things happen all the time," said Jupiter.

"I know," said Novus angrily punching the ground. "But Eddie needs to know that I wasn't involved, that it was just an unfortunate accident. She needs to know so she can move on."

"So do you," added Jupiter. He stood up and leaned against the back wall of his cell. "I know why you left the federation and went rogue. I know why you made a deal with Eddie to get Galaxion. Your daughter is dead, Novus, and no wish no matter how powerful can bring back the dead. That explosion she was in just like Eddie's parents was an accident."

"I caused that explosion!" cried Novus, his voice cracking. "I killed my daughter. If... if I had not gone to that planet to steal that wish for the Djinn, she would have never been caught in that losing fight. I told her to stay on the ship. I fled so fast not realizing she had been left behind. Then those rogue Wish-Hunters broke the wish during their brawl. The whole planet was vaporized in an instant."

"Don't blame yourself for the actions of others," said Jupiter. "You thought she was onboard. You didn't know those ruffians were gonna break the wish. We all know the power wishes hold. The heart of a star is no joke; it can make beautiful things but it can also destroy."

"Luna," whispered Novus, his hands dripping in tears. "I wish I could bring you back."

Suddenly something stirred across the chamber. Boxes fell alerting Novus and Jupiter.

"Who's there?" cried Jupiter.

"It might be a guard," said Novus wiping his face.

"If it is, he's a clumsy one."

A faint, "Oollla," echoed from across the room. Novus jumped to his feet.

"Stella!" he cried out. "Stella is that you?"

The octopus crawled her way across the floor. Her eyes lit up as she saw Novus.

"OOOLA!" she screamed.

"Shh, not so loud," hushed Novus. "It's so good to see you girl. How did you know where to find me or better yet, how did you get here?"

"Ollollooo olllooola ooolalla," said Stella.

"What did she say," said Jupiter.

"She said," translated Novus, "she followed a safe distance behind us to Atamanaa and stayed close to Eddie where she overheard a guard say we were down here. What happened then?"

"Ooolalla ooooll lala ooo."

"Then she found a drain pipe and slithered down." Novus smiled at Stella. "Stella these are not locks you can pick. They require a wish to open. But instead of helping me right now I need you to find Eddie and give her a message. Tell her the truth and then when you're done with Eddie, find an Alcemator and bring it here. Can you do that?"

Stella saluted.

"Ooola," she said.

"Good girl," cried Novus. "All our hopes lie with you now."

"Novus, you can't be serious," said Jupiter. "If the Djinn or a Wish-Hunter spots her, they won't lock her up. They will kill her."

"Oooolallllalloo," cried Stella wiggling her many tentacles angrily.

"She says she is more capable than you know."

"I stand corrected," said Jupiter, raising his hands. "I don't have much of a choice but to trust in your abilities, Stella."

"Ooo," said Stella crossing her tentacles and nodding her head.

"'That's right,' she said," translated Novus. He gave the octopus a thumbs up. "One more thing, Stella. In Eddie's bag is a picture of her parents. Make sure she gets it."

"Ooola!" Stella slithered back down the hall and back to where she exited the wall. She gave Novus a final salute before vanishing up the pipe.

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