The Truth Of It All
Brian stared up at Angel, almost unbelieving. His eyes were still watery and her and Nick could tell he was holding down another sob. Nick sighed and sat upon the ground beside Angel. Guilt started up again and all he wanted to do was shove it away but he couldn’t. He acted rash again, his biggest fault. It was what had gotten him into his entire disaster to begin with when he ran off rashly from Earth. His sapphire eyes watched Brian with concern, wincing at the marks he himself had made. Part of him wanted to deny what Brian had said. That he was just trying to get sympathy so he could keep the plot going, but Nick knew at some point he had to trust the young man, and he knew deep down no one could fake this. The emotion was too raw, too real.
Angel didn’t let go of him. She knew he was Zenok’s son. All her instincts should have long ago told her to get information from him and ditch him before they were found. They said the opposite, that this young man needed her, needed a friend, and needed someone who actually cared about him. That he was nothing like his father, and she trusted her feelings, knowing they wouldn’t lead her wrong.
“Brian, its ok, talk to us.” She said softly, after he didn’t answer.
They were sitting in the soft mossy canary yellow grass. The fog along the ground was still there however, and a bit stifling. Tall flowers surrounded them, up to four feet fight, with bright turquoise, violet, and orange blossoms. The leafy red trees gave them the privacy and shade they needed right then, shielding them from any obvious view, and making them harder to find. Angel smiled just a little as she heard familiar creatures fly across the sky, Tankras, small yellow dragon-like creatures with two sets of wings, and have soft melodic voices. They were common on Standara.
Brian stared at the ground for a few moments before he finally spoke up hoarsely. “Ever since I was little, He wanted me to be like him. I couldn’t be that. I liked music, and he beat me for it, calling it weak, and destroyed anything musical of mine. I’d get beat for any reason you could think of. He forced me to watch things in the torture room….th-things so bad I blacked them out. He said it would make me tougher, and all I did was cry…he -he wanted me to be–powerful like him. I couldn’t be cruel like him, not heartless, but he’s my father, and I wanted him to love me…Me, the one who likes music and doesn’t want to rule the galaxy. How can you grow up with no love, no one who even cares? I did and I’m not even sure how. Do you know how it feels to never be good enough? To be despised when you never did anything to deserve it but be born?” He sighed here and pulled out of Angel’s embrace, knowing he had to say it all.
“I never knew my mother, something in me, tells me she was killed right after I was born, by a disease….or my father. More than likely Zenok. I never knew. I asked but he never talked of her. I don’t think I wanted to know, cause I didn’t want to hear he did it. I always felt lost and alone. All I wanted was love, and I ran off, thinking if I found what he wanted most he would…” he trailed off, as he traced his finger in the muddy ground. Brian finally let his eyes meet theirs; his eyes were huge and were like a stormy ocean, filled with sadness.
“He might love me for once. So I ran into two people he wanted. Two who saved me from harm. A rogue woman who fought against Zenok, and….a ring bearer. I had heard you mention something to Angel when you thought I wasn’t listening and I knew then that’s what you were Nick. He would be happy with me if I had betrayed you and brought you back. But I couldn’t do it. Because you two actually cared enough about me to save my life…I’ve never had that before. I‘m never going back home, I cried everyday there. Even on the run things seem better. I can‘t go back to that. I can‘t! I‘m sick of being loathed for being born, for being things I can‘t control.”
Angel stared at him with sympathy. She couldn’t hate him. God knows she had reason to with the original plan to betray her, but she couldn’t. He had been through so much. How could anyone stand to grow up with Zenok? Her heart went out to him. Her original instincts about Brian were right, he wouldn’t betray them, she had known it from when they first saved him and she was right.
“I know how that can feel.” she commented softly. Nick had his arm around Angel now, letting her lean against him. For once, she let him hold her for comfort with the subtle admittance that she needed it. Her face was caring, and streaked with the mauve mud and was covered with scratches from her fight with Fyliza. A long shallow cut was above her right eye, but nothing serious.
“You do?” Brian asked, looking at her with surprise as he wiped his eyes. His body ached in pain that he didn’t mention, unsure if Angel had a medical kit with her. He didn’t want to remind her of what Fyliza did if it was still on her stolen ship. And he didn’t want to remind Nick of what he did either, knowing it was done out of hurt and anger, not hate.
“Not in the same way, but yeah. I was adopted and my new parents loved me, but, it wasn’t my real parents. I never knew them, well I was told I did but I can never remember it. I always felt alone. I loved my parents, really…I just felt like I needed more. I had and still have no idea where I come from, where I belong. All I was ever told was that I was born in a planet on the edge of the Tricuzian galaxy, a couple galaxies away from Starsras galaxy, my old home galaxy. I grew up on Standara but I knew I didn’t belong there, there was only one other human family there. I wanted to know who I was, where I came from. I wanted a sense of peace I never got. I know very well how it feels to be alone. For being myself people did everything they could to ruin my life, to stop me from being me, from being a pilot, from joining the white angels. I got accepted to one of the best pilot schools around and I couldn’t be happy because everyone, including mom and dad urged me not to go and I did anyway. I wanted someone to understand and no one did. And the one person I trusted…”
She looked down, shutting her eyes tight at the memory. “Was a Glacar named Tarkansay, who was my best friend. I grew up with him having always been a part of my life. He found out I was AC-Free, and tried to kill me for Zenok. He betrayed me to be loyal to the man who killed my birth parents. Zenok killed them and I still don’t know why. All I know is that my real parents knew it was coming and made sure I was adopted so I wouldn’t be killed as well. But Tarkansay was willing to kill me, someone he had been friends with since I was only a baby when I had been adopted and moved to Standara. All for that bastard, that cruel emperor who made growing up as a female harder than ever. The only time I feel at peace is when I’m flying…the stars having always been home to me. Where I’m in control, and where being female doesn’t matter. So I know what it is to feel lost, betrayed, and alone.”
Nick nodded, feeling it was time he said something as well. He couldn’t look at Brian because of how he’d hurt him, and not knowing his story. Or even giving him a chance to tell it. All this time he had judged the boy wrongly, when he was running for a free kind of life the same as he and Angel were. So he stared at the ground as well, not wanting to embarrass Angel by staring at her.
“Being a ring bearer, ain’t a great thing either. I was raised on Earth by a watcher. Demitrius. He kept me isolated from everyone so I could be trained, because all I was told was the prophecy of the three realms, and that my entire family was murdered. I was born a triplet, so my two brothers were supposed to help me battle, but they were killed with my parents. So I was told. Demitrius was the closest thing I had to a father, and now he’s dead because I ran and Zenok discovered I had been on Earth. I just found out my brothers have been alive all this time. But I always felt incomplete, that part of me was missing. To be the one who has to save the universe?” He ran a hand through his hair, taking a breath.
“To know every member of my family was killed…or thought they were, or just don’t have a damn clue where they are? That’s being alone. It’s lonely being a decedent forced to live up to some ancestral hero. All my life I was only studying the history of the realms, and learning how to fight. That’s a damn messed up way to live. Every part of my life was chosen for me, and the one fucking time I thought I was choosing something? I end up tripping into my role as a bearer and I hate it.” His eyes blazed with frustration. “More than anything. I have no home because of who I am, I will always be on the run. I can never just live. I don‘t even know what that‘s like, it‘s only a fucking fantasy to me.”
Angel glanced up at Nick with understanding eyes. She felt incomplete growing up as well; she just said everything but that. Someone understood for the first time. Brian sat up more, as he watched his two friends. Friends, it was such a new word to him. But even after what happened and how hurt emotionally, and physically, he was feeling, he felt better. Better than he had in a long time. He wasn’t sure why either, but he liked it. Nick gazed around at Angel and Brian. He had to trust at some point. Just as Angel had after her friend betrayed her. Now was a good time to start, he could be himself, and not have to live up to heroic expectations just because of who he was related to. It was nice.
The three stayed silent for a few moments, everything was sinking in. It was really the first time they had all been truly honest. Not just about who they were, but about how they felt, all three having had to hide their feelings all their lives. This was the first release. Brian’s eyes skipped around at the nature of the planet and saw a small butterfly settling on a bright magenta flower. It saw Brian and its tiny head turned toward him.
“This is a good thing.” It said and flew off, and Brian smiled.
Angel turned suddenly and the two boys immediately looked at her wondering what she was doing.
“What is it?” Nick asked.
She ignored them. For a moment she could have sworn she heard someone walking towards them. But that couldn’t be right because it was just them three and no one could be seen walking near there.
“Nothing.” She replied after a few moments. “Thought I heard something.”
Nick stood, taking Angel’s hand and helping her up. “We should move since Fyliza is gonna lead Zenok here.” He held out a hand to Brian and his eyes looked kinder than they had before to the young teen since he had met up with the two of them. He took it and stood.
Angel sighed and pulled out her small computer. “This can lead us but we need a plan.”
Nick frowned and grunted in frustration. “We’re stranded, what can we do?”
The young man grinned as a soft wind ruffled his reddish gold curls. Brian turns to look at his two companions. “I have an idea.”
Before Brian could explain his plan however, he turned to see a young man a tad older than them at twenty-four, approaching them, his face hidden in a brown cloak. He walked through the jungle with ease and seemed to know his way around as he came to them. Nick and Angel turned to see him and their eyes widened.
“Howard!?” Nick asked in surprise.
He nodded, taking his hood off and the brown curls cascading out to reach the base of his shoulders. “It’s time you knew everything.”
She looked at him odd as she grabbed a large leaf almost as tall as her from a tree. She used the rainwater it had caught to pour water on her hair and easily get the mud out. She shook her hair then and smirked as Nick and Brian cried out a bit playfully when they got hit with the stray water drops. Then she retied long her dishwater blond hair back into its typical braid. “About time.”
The watcher shook his head. “It should been later but we have run out of time.”
Nick glared at him. “Where are my brothers?! Why did you lead us into a trap!?”
“All in good time Nickolas, patience.” His coffee eyes went to Brian then. “You’re Brian, the one raised by the Emperor.”
He nodded but not terribly impressed. “Yeah, but most of the galaxies know that.”
Howard smirked. “Do they know you keep a hidden guitar in your room where Zenok could never find it so you could keep in tune with music?”
Brian’s eyes widened and shook his head. “How did you know that?”
“I’m a Watcher. I can see and know many things. We must go to the temple now. Before we are discovered, for we will not be alone long. Zenok‘s power is growing, along with the number of planets he controls. More and more are taken over by his fleets as we speak. There are few places where we are safe. This is one of the few. Follow me.” He turned and started leading them back further into the jungle. The three followed, knowing they didn’t have many other options at this point. What could they do? None of them knew the planet, only what Angel’s computer and scanner told them. They were stranded thanks to the assassin. They had to follow in hopes of him having a way off of the exotic and bright jungle planet.
“Is this the temple where the stories said the Gods and Goddesses came soon after the first bearer put up the barriers?”
“Yes, and Demitrius did teach you something. That’s good to know.”
Nick frowned. “He taught me a lot.”
“Ahh perhaps but it is hard to tell when you see a young one rarely use the knowledge.”
Nick huffed, Brian chuckled, and even Angel couldn’t help but giggle. Nick soon took her hand and her hand then reached for Brian’s. They soon saw there was a hidden path Howard was following which was why they had no trouble getting to the ancient temple. It was crumbling with time, and had statues of the different Gods and Goddesses. Foreign markings to them adorned the walls and Angel, Nick, and Brian stared at them, all curious and yearning to understand their meaning. Unknown to them, it called out to each of them the same way and none of them knew why. He lead them into the center of the temple, which was lit with torches, but the main light came from the ceiling where they could see it ended in a diamond point at the top, similar to a pyramid. The sun came through and the diamond stones made the light shine throughout the center room. He gestured for them to sit and they did, with Angel between Nick and Brian, and Howie sat across from her, facing them.
“There is a lot you do not know.” He said softly, watching them with caring eyes. “All you have felt something was missing all your lives, even when you do not admit that feeling. I am here to explain that reason to you.” His gaze skipped over to Nick. “Even you Nickolas, for although you know much, you do not know it all.”
Nick stared at him impatiently and silently.
“Nickolas, I have led you to believe you have two identical brothers but you do not. They–”
Nick’s eyes blazed with fury. “YOU SAID THEY WERE ALIVE!” Tears stung his crystal blue eyes.
“Your siblings are alive. But they are not identical brothers.”
“What do you mean?” Angel asked softly, squeezing Nick’s hand to keep him from doing something he’d regret.
“I mean that he has only one brother, and a sister.”
Nick looks at him completely confused. “Only one brother? A sister? Demitrius always said-”
“For your protection. But no fears, for you have found them.”
“Where?! When!? You’re lying! You fucking bastard! You’re lying aren’t you?!” He raged, going to lunge at him, but Angel pulled him back down to sit.
Brian listened quietly, having felt it wrong to interrupt since this mainly involved only Nick.
“Nick calm down.” Angel chastised, her eyes showing the disapproval.
“NO! He tricked me! He’s probably working for Brian’s bastard of a father! HE-”
“Nickolas, have you not guessed?” Howie questioned, still in the calm voice he had had since the beginning.
“Guessed WHAT!? That you lied!? That you are working against us!? That you want to use me or Angel or even Brian just like everyone else in this damn universe!? Or-”
Howard interrupted then, speaking loudly for once to catch the young hot-headed teen’s attention. “For the protection of the three bearers, you were separated as you know. Your two siblings were adopted on opposite ends of the universe, all three taken to different galaxies. You of course, taken to the Milky Way Galaxy and although your name was never changed, your parents had often called you Nickoli, which was never said to you again. One had been adopted far differently than planned but beyond our control. Names had been altered to keep them hidden before their adoptions. But right now your fraternal triplet sister, Angelique Rosalyn Carter, and your fraternal triplet brother, Brianian Thomas Carter, are sitting right beside you.”
Zenok stormed into the medical room where Tarkansay had been resting all this time. The only reason he had let that blue bastard stay alive was because he knew something about AC-Free. They had found him nearby when they had found her with Nick when they were trying to capture him. He had had the strength to crawl out of the ship, miraculously staying alive, but then collapsed without waking even once, until now. His men had told him they had been trying to save a girl who had died in the ship Tarkansay had crashed in, having not had the chance to start his mission against AC-Free yet. If he knew nothing, he would die this day for he didn’t have patience for failures.
There lay the creature, its blue face still pale but regaining some color, it’s three eyes a mix of blue and violet. He made a few unintelligible noises as he pushed himself up and stared at Zenok. Tarkansay’s mind went back to all that happened. His search for the rogue, discovering it was his friend Angel, then trying to kill them both so he could complete the mission, her fighting back against him, and then darkness. He was told they did crash, and that a girl in the ship with him had died but he had only been badly hurt and been in a coma for quite some time. What was Zenok here for then? His AC-Free had been killed right? Because she was Angel and he and Angel had been the only ones in the ship. So the girl who died had to be her. He stared up at Zenok, the Emperor’s cold onyx eyes staring hardly upon him, the raven black hair falling about his face a little, and a mean grimace was the only look he wore.
“You had failed me. You are only alive because you might know something I do not. Your family is only alive because you have something valuable. Tell me you know the identity of that whore AC-Free. Because the bitch is still alive. ”
The Glacar frowned with confusion. “Alive? N-No Sir…she died with me in the crash.”
“I guarantee she did not, because SHE IS STILL MEDDLING WITH MY PLANS!” He roared, slamming his fist down on a nearby metal table, leaving a large noticeable dent behind.
“I-I was told the girl with me in the ship had died…”
“YET AC-FREE STILL ROAMS THE GALAXIES?!?!”
“NO! She had confessed before we crashed! Th-th-the girl you say died…did you find a body?! What was her name!?”
Zenok stares at him, stroking his chin thoughtfully as he tried to control his temper. This blue creature knew something, he could sense it. How to get it out of him? Perhaps he is being truthful. Something to go into right now. He had no other option till word from Fyliza came.
“HAZLIN!” He yelled, wanting his assistant immediately.
The meek man rushed in, skidding to a stop before Zenok. “Yes sir?”
“Find the records of the Glacar’s crash. Tell me the name of the girl who died!”
Hazlin fumbled for his hand held which held all the personal files of the Emperor. He quickly entered the passwords to get around its high level security systems and started going through to the crash where they had hoped AC-Free had died but had immediately discovered she did not. Soon the records of the incident came up and he looked to his leader. “Angel Rose Cantrell sir. It says they found fragments of her clothing and other items, and strands of hair of which the DNA lead to her identity. They said they assumed the cause of death was disintegration from the power center which had toppled over upon impact.”
Tarkansay rose up immediately, his tall frame evident when he did. “That’s her! She must have set that up so you thought she had been killed.” He pushed the guilt of what he was doing to what was once his closest friend away. This was for this family; they were so poor, always suffering. He knew Angel, she had made them think she died, hid herself in exile, and kept her AC-Free rescues up so they wouldn’t connect the two identities and hurt her adoptive parents. After she had knocked him out when he was making them crash, she probably did what she could to slow it down, and keep herself safe enough to survive, knowing the power center could honestly disintegrate her. It was what had caused his coma, him being a Glacar being the only thing that kept him from disintegration.
Zenok raised a brow and looked at him. “You think she could pull that and trick me!?” He asked angrily.
Hazlin handed the tiny computer to Zenok, and he took a look at the girl who died with Tarkansay. A young girl only sixteen, fifteen in the photo, and in a White Angel piloting suit, smirking at the camera. It couldn’t be her. He reached for his sword, obviously this creature knew nothing!
“I can describe her to you, her movements, everything! Everything down to that strange blue ring she always wears!” Tarkansay yelled desperately, not wanting him or his family to die after everything.
Zenok froze and turned around to look at him. “What ring?!”
“A silver ring with strange markings and a blue stone that always shimmered even in a pitch black night! It’s the only stone I’ve ever seen like it! She never took it off, said her adopted parents told her it was the last thing her birth parents gave her! When she was little and didn‘t fit her finger, she wore it around her neck on a long chain she had when her birth parents were still alive and still has it now!”
“How do you know this?” He asked, calmer, less angry, and had the dark look of greed within his eyes.
He leaned forward, swinging his long elephant styled nose over his shoulder. His blue skin getting darker and healthier as he spoke. “I grew up with her; it wasn’t until after I got the suicide mission I knew she was AC-Free! She confessed it to me on the ship before she saw my agenda and saw me trying to crash! Your men had been chasing her that day, even damaged her ship. I had gone under the guise of helping her fix it. She was on Saturn’s rings hiding from your men because they had been chasing her through the Milky Way galaxy that day! I know everything, her weaknesses, her strengths, everything you need to know! AC – her initials, Free- she always admired what humans called Freedom Fighters in the history books. Her weapons – she was a White Angel! That was how she got her ships and language skills that she used to rescue the slave camps prisoners!”
Zenok stormed out of the room without another word, going through the files on this Angel Cantrell. All of what the Glacar said was true. This girl fit all the requirements to be the whore he was looking for. The only thing even HE could not find was the names of her birth parents. His brows furrowed, that in itself was odd. The names of the true parents are always available unless He himself hid them as he did all of Brian’s information. The only clue being the fact her name had been changed when she was adopted, from what, it didn’t say.
Then a cold dark thought swept over him. This girl had the third ring, and was the right age. She was the final triplet! The watchers he had working for him said all three were alive. Meaning this girl did not die, just like Tarkansay had said. He knew she was the last triplet because of the birth date, and Tarkansay could not describe it so well without seeing it, for there are no photos or descriptions of the rings at all in any world. She was on Saturn, where Nick and AC-Free had been found and escaped from his men. AC-Free and the last remaining triplet were one in the same! And he had sent Fyliza after them, and he knew Fyliza, she would kill her, knowing he’d keep the assassin alive because she’d bring back Brian and Nickolas. She knew she was too skilled to kill. He roared in frustration and Hazlin came running in as he threw things about.
“CONTACT FYLIZA AND TELL HER IF SHE KILLS AC-FREE I’LL HAVE HER HEAD ON A PLATTER FOR THE DOGS OF MARS TO SHIT ON!”
“Yes sir!” he ran out to contact the woman.
He may have just killed the one he needed to control the realms. His face was red with fury. Why didn’t his watchers know that the last triplet and AC-Free were one in the same? The fates had a sense of humor. Making him try to kill just what he needed alive. The only hope he had was that Tarkansay was lying about it all. Despite him knowing too much, there was that chance. He did not know for sure and had to keep the bastard alive until he did. He kept trashing the room, furious and stuck with a situation he did not like. Just as he paused to go murder some prisoners to soothe him, Fyliza strolled in, looking worse off than Zenok had ever seen her. Her clothes were muddy and torn, very out of character for her. She herself was clean, but it meant something had gotten her somewhat decently.
“You better have all three of them with you! TELL ME YOU DID NOT KILL AC-FREE!”
She looked him coldly in the eyes. “I didn’t.”
“You have them with you.”
“No. But I can make your life easier by telling you who your little troublesome bitch is.”
Zenok was surprised. Fyliza must have lost. How? She was the best he had. That explained her appearance though. But how could she not have them? Not even AC-Free could be that good. No. Perhaps the rogue had had someone helping her.
“WHO!?” he demanded, wanting desperately to know if that pathetic creature was right and if he’d even be useful.
“Her name…” She drawled, as she ran her tongue over her scarlet colored lips. “Is Angel Cantrell.”
“It’s a good thing she wasn’t killed Fyliza.”
She raised a brow. “Good how, I thought you hated the bitch.”
It was then he started laughing, so hard he could hardly breathe. “I have just discovered she is…..she is the final bearer”
Fyliza stared at him with utter disbelief. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
He kept laughing at the news. “That Glacar we had try to get the rogue described the ring to me in detail. It’s her. Same whore.”
She shook her head, brushing more dirt off of her clothes. “Fucking irony for you. The fates must love toying with you Zenok.” She smirked, thinking of how satisfying it would be now to watch the ceremony go down where that AC-Free, along with her brothers, would be tortured to bring on Creation’s destruction. “Well I have the bitch’s White Angel ship. So they’re stranded on Yaresia.”
He stopped laughing then. “You left the three triplets WHERE!?”