And, we're back. Time to find out what was up with that mysterious building. Some of you may be surprised.
Chapter Two: The Young and the Reckless
"All things truly wicked start from innocence" - Ernest Hemingway
Urilia is like that younger sister who won't stop bugging you. Granted, I have no siblings to draw a comparison from, but I'm quite confident that's what she's like. Meanwhile, the other member of our little group, Damien, is more like an overprotective older sibling. I suppose this makes me the shy and quiet middle child.
Ah, I suppose I have not mentioned them yet, have I? Well, Urilia and I may have met as toddlers, but Damien didn't come around until a few years later. Long story short, we were screwing around in her yard when we saw them walking around with a backpack. They seemed rather upset, though we weren't sure why. Urilia, being the kind soul that she is, picked the nearest flower (I didn't have the heart to tell her it was actually a weed), and gave it to them. Naturally, Damien was confused, but Urilia was persistent. They seemed to think it was cute.
They stayed with Urilia's mothers after that, but it wasn't until many years later that we would find out why they had run away in the first place.
After a hectic but rewarding day at the market, it was always nice to unwind with my closest companions. But, seeing as the dark green puffling - Damien - is holding Urilia by the foot, struggling to keep her from flying over the fence, something tells me my adrenaline won't settle just yet.
My friends are too busy with their (read: Urilia's) shenanigans to notice me, so I clear my throat. They both turn around and smile. Urilia descends and folds her cream-colored butterfly wings back into their cape-form. "'Bout time you showed up," she says.
I nod in acknowledgement and say to Damien, "She roped you into this too, I see." They just shrug.
I approach the wiry fence, gazing curiously at the structure within. It is an enormous cubic building, much larger than anything I've ever seen, painted a gray-purple color with very few windows. There are three odd vehicles - for construction, perhaps - but no one manning them. The workers...are on break, maybe, as I do not see any.
"What even is it?" Urilia wonders.
"Looks like prison, if you ask me," Damien says.
Hm. With the size, color scheme, and surrounding fence, I suppose it does look like a place for criminals. "Either of you see the aliens?" I ask. "Or, at least know what planet they're from?"
Damien leans back against the fence, arms crossed. "I hear they're from Shiverstar."
"Shiverstar?" Urilia sounds doubtful. "Isn't that planet, like, completely dead or something?"
"Not necessarily," Damien argues. "Shiverstarians are probably use to the cold."
"But, it's warm here. Warm and boring. If they are from Shiverstar, why would they come here?"
I add in my two cents. "Shiverstar or not, their reasoning for being here likely has something to do with all of this." I raise my hands to the building. Suddenly, I notice the smoke coming from the two...chimneys on the roof. I hope that's from a fireplace and not pollution.
Urilia brings her wings back out. "Just standing here is dumb. Let's get in there and see what's going on."
"That's called trespassing, Urilia," Damien says.
"Please. It's only trespassing if you get caught."
"Therefore," I say, drawing out my own wings, "we should avoid getting caught."
Damien stares in stunned silence at both of us then shakes their head. "You guys are crazy." Their burnt orange cape morphs into a pair of feathery wings. "Well, someone's gotta make sure you two don't get arrested."
Urilia slaps them hard on the back. "That's the spirit!"
On that extremely unnecessary note, she takes off into the sky toward one of the upper floors. Damien and I look at each other, shrug at her antics, and fly in her direction.
I've always loved flying. The wind in your face, the sights you can only see from above ground. Truly an experience, and I almost pity those without the ability. Damien and I occasionally have a friendly competition to see who fly the fastest. It's usually them, but I like to think that's only because they've had their wings longer than I. But, I digress.
Urilia is hovering about halfway-up the building, staring into one of the few windows. I attempt to look over her, but it's difficult to get a good look with her blocking my line of sight.
"See anything?" I ask, hoping my tone will push her out of my way so I don't have to.
"Perhaps a triggered alarm?" Damien snarks next to me.
Urilia doesn't move. She just keeps staring inside. "Looks like some kind of assembly line," she says, "but with machines doing all the work."
Since Damien is slightly less polite than me, they push her out of the way so that they and I might have a look. The inside of the building is...certainly different. There is a very long table, and part of it...appears to be moving? Various objects are on the moving portion, though the Stars know where they are heading. Behind the odd table, I see large cylinders that appear to have something in them, but I can't tell what. Aliens roam about, talking, writing on clipboards, examining and/or working with the many machines and cylinders. What on Lightstar is this place?
"Freaky," Damien comments. "Wonder what they're doing in there."
"Wonder what they're doing here," I mutter. Warning bells are chiming in my head, though for life of me I can't figure out why.
Then all three of us freeze. One of the aliens has spotted us. It as a head that is far too large for its small, curvy body and pupil-less dark green eyes that are too large for its pale face, which does not have a visible mouth. Stranger still, it has no arms, yet it has hands which seem to be floating as though there really are arms. I'm not even sure if this creature has legs or at least feet. It is difficult to tell with the long tan cloth wrapped around its torso. Its dark pink hair is pulled into a tight bun at the top of its head with a few strands escaping and falling around its face. Not that it seems to mind. It pulls its white lab coat almost protectively over the small bulge on its stomach. As it appears to float over to us - staying very close to the ground - I'm beginning to think it has no legs or feet.
I don't know why none of us move as it...glides up to the window, unlocks it, and opens it. Perhaps we are simply paralyzed with indecision. On one hand, we are all curious. On the other hand, well, these creatures could be quite hostile for all we know.
The alien rests one hand on the window sill and brings the other hand to its chin. Its high and delicate voice leads me to believe that it is a female. "A couple of natives, I see."
Damien immediately points to Urilia and me. "This was their idea. I wanted no part of it."
Uh, you did not have to come, you know.
But, the female takes no notice of my and Urilia's irritation. She simply laughs - a dainty, pretty sound - and says, "My name is Marigold. Marigold Haltmann. My husband and I run this factory. Since you are all curious, would you like a look around?"
Is...she serious? We trespass on her land, and her only response is to offer us a tour? This can't be that simple. The woman clearly has something up her...lack of sleeve. I glance at Damien, and they look just as suspicious.
But, Urilia always was quick to trust people. "Would we ever!" she exclaims.
"Would we ever, though?" I ask, only to have Urilia grab my and Damien's hands and drag us through the window.
I wanted to make this longer but I'm trying to keep my chapter lengths somewhat consistent so this will have to pacify all of you for now. Review!