A comforting chirp made my head rise. I smiled beneath my mask. My familiar glided into my room and landed on her perch. She was a pure white owl. The last of her kind. Her brilliant feathers reflected light, giving her a soft glow. I reached out a hand. Her head swiveled to me, slender black beak complimenting the shape of her head. It was her head that inspired my mask. We all had to wear masks. At least, we magic users. As much as magic was frowned upon, we “men of science” could use our powers safely if we wore masks. I disagreed with it, but I wasn’t ready for death. There was so much to be discovered! Long ago, I came to realize I would have to be the discoverer. The others were content with their lives behind glass. None of them wanted to step outside our ship and walk amongst the stars. The stars were right there. Right outside the glass. The other so-called scholars scoffed and thought nothing more of the stars. I, on the other hand, made the stars my life. I studied them. Drew them. Visited them in my dreams. Even my robes were midnight blue and littered with stars.
I sighed when Aphrodite refused to come to me. She most likely thought I was crazy, too. Turning back to my desk, I gazed out my window. Let my mind wander through the stars. I didn’t understand. Why were they so bad? A small weight landed on my shoulder. Aphrodite chirped at me. She gazed at my drawings. Sketches of a streamlined vessel that would take me throughout space. I conjured a small model with my magic. Everything had been perfectly thought out. Though the design had been tedious. The air locks startled me. Standing, I reached behind me and covered the drawings. Never had I been so thankful for the mask. The High Counciler of our mega-ship stood in my doorway. “May I come in?” It took me much longer than I wanted to find my voice. “Yes, your grace.” He strode into my room, studying my various instruments and tomes. His white and gold robes trailed him. I swallowed. This was bad. He typically left magicians alone. Unless he disposed of them. Well…I did want to learn more about space, didn’t I?
His piercing brown eyes settled upon me. My limbs trembled. “It has come to my attention that you wish to study the stars. Is this true?” All I could do was nod. “Excellent. An enemy threatens our colony. One from outside our ship. I require your assistance. Your studies will prove useful against these aliens. Will you help me save our ship and people?” My voice left me again. I was surprised. For the High Counciler to personally ask for my help…? Though he didn’t have his normal entourage. Perhaps they prepared defenses? Grinning beneath my mask, I nodded once more. “Absolutely, my grace. It would be an honor and privelage to work alongside you.” He clasped a strong hand on my shoulder. “Fantastic. Come with me, child.” I followed, overwhelmed with the task ahead of me. My head suddenly exploded with pain. Darkness became my vision.
When I woke, I felt weightless. Felt odd. My eyes opened. I floated amongst the stars, suspended in a force field. But for how much longer? My magic was instinctual, but it wouldn’t last forever. I spun around. The colony ship was no where to be seen. Aphrodite couldn’t be found. I was alone. With the stars. Panic grew inside me. Gnawed at my very core. I would die with the stars. My force field flickered. It wouldn’t last much longer. More flickering. The magic faded. I was lost. It didn’t take long for lack of oxygen to slay me. An invisible vacuum sucked my air away. My vision blurred. I felt myself sinking, falling. Had gravity taken over. How– My body hit a hard surface. The stars disappeared. This was it. I had died.
“Simulation complete.” My ears heard, but my brain didn’t comprehend. Someone ripped off my mask, placed something over my nose and mouth. Full consciousness returned. I coughed until I could breathe normally. Stood sooner than I should have. A medic crew caught me before I fell. I looked around. I was in the Simulation Chamber. Why? Why had I been rendered unconscious? What was going on? Where was my familiar? I struggled against the medics, but I was too weak for them. Not even my magic could be summoned. The High Counciler placed a hand on my shoulder. “Your magic surpassed expectations. We have been doing our own research. However, technology fails us. It doesn’t last in space’s conditions. Please help us. I promise there won’t be any more surprises.” I studied him in wonder. That had been a test? I passed? I had honestly been recruited? “I exceeded expectations?” He nodded. “Yes. Your magic kept you alive for the equivalent of six days. If we could combine your archaic knowledge with our technology, we could discover amazing things.”
Pride swelled in my chest, replacing any fears I might have possessed. They were ready to accept magic. And they had chosen me. I had kept studying the stars when the Elders mocked me. I learned how a spaceship works and designed my own. I didn’t fail myself, and I now had the High Counciler asking for my help in true space research. My eyes glistened with happiness. “As long as I can properly enjoy the stars.”