22: Wish Battle (Editing)

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My heart leapt as Stella wrapped her tentacles around my face and Leo hugged my waist. Sure it was difficult to breathe but having them embrace me made all the fear dissolve from my mind. I didn't know how but I loved every moment of that long hug.

"Leo," I cried as Stella released her grip, "I didn't know you were on Atamanaa."

"Yeah, my parents were passing through for supplies. They don't know I'm here. They think I'm out playing at the skatepark. When I saw you on the news I had to come see you."

"How did you guys find me here?" I looked over the edge of the balcony. It was a far way down. "And how did you get up here?"

"Well you have Stella to thank for that," said Leo pointing to the joyful octopus. Stella puffed her squishy belly with pride. "She's been scoping out the place ever since you arrived. She's quite the spy."

"Ooloo!" she cheered.

"She found me at the market with my parents and told me everything that happened."

"Yeah," I said, turning away with my head down. "So you know about Novus."

"Eddie, the Djinn is lying to you."

"I've noticed," I said, recalling his actions only minutes before.

"No, really," said Leo grabbing my hands. He looked deep into my eyes. "He's lying to you about everything. Novus never killed your parents. It's all a big misunderstanding."

"Leo, I saw the footage. Novus sideswiped my parent's shuttle causing it to explode. And when I went to see him I heard him admit it."

"What you heard is what the Djinn wanted you to hear. The explosion Novus was referring to was not the one that killed your parents but the one that killed his daughter." Leo showed me his watch. A news article hologram formed in the air. "See," he read. "Mission to retrieve wish ends with an explosion. At 32 quark Star Date 573, The Planet Goro was vaporized when a wish on retrieval by Wish-Hunters was accidentally harmed by bandits. Millions of lives were lost. The Federation sends its deepest sympathies for the families affected by the tragedy. Be this a warning to all citizens of the danger of wishing on stars." Leo sighed and turned off his watch.

"Stella told me what happened that day. Novus was on a mission to retrieve a wish when he was attacked by bandits also seeking to take the wish. Outnumbered he fled the planet unable to successfully complete his mission. His daughter Luna had overheard the commotion and left the ship to find her father. She was accidentally left behind. And by the time Novus noticed and attempted to turn the ship around, the bandits injured the wish. It exploded destroying the whole planet and everyone on it. Don't you see, Eddie, Novus left the Wish-Hunters because he blamed himself for what happened to his daughter. He's been searching the universe all this time to find a wish powerful enough to bring his daughter back."

"He's like me," I said, my jaw opened in astonishment. "That means." I looked at Stella. She nodded. "He believes Galaxion is powerful enough to bring his daughter back to life."

"His daughter loved watching EvoEarth," said Leo. "That's why he was always no more than a light years away from Earth and why he was the first to find you after Galaxion fell. Earth reminds him of his lost Luna."

I remembered all the pictures of flowers and trees in Luna's bedroom, and Novus's refusal to enter it. It all made sense. Like me he had lost someone he loved and could never let go of the reminders of the past. Even though he knew wishes could never bring back the dead he hoped that one day one might be powerful enough to turn back time. I chuckled uncomfortably.

"I'm so silly," I said. "All this time I thought Novus and I had nothing in common and now I see otherwise. His wish was the same as my wish, to see those lost just one last time." My heart jumped in my chest. "Novus," I whispered as tears filled my eyes. "What have I done?"

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