Exosphere: the Traitorous One

The Galactic Highway felt like being pushed through a coffee straw at the speed of light. It was uncomfortable, but I just held onto Hobar as we propelled ourselves through the cosmos. Stars and planets sped by, barely registering in my head as objects. They were more like streaks of light painting the space around us.

We didn’t pass anyone on our journey. Hobar didn’t speak so neither did I. There was no sound but my ragged breathing as I tried to keep steady. Just a few hours ago I was firmly planted on the Earth’s surface. Amazing how fast things can change.

Arialites were a mystery to me…and now Hobar tells me I am one of them? How do humans and Arialites look so alike? What was the difference between them? And how did I end up on Earth despite being one of them? It was all so confusing.

The streaks of light were becoming objects again as we slowed down, seemingly reaching our destination. In the distance I could see a huge ship, red and gold with green lights on the bottom. “That’s one of our home bases,” Hobar informed me as we flew towards the ship. “Nanette is my boss, one of the captains of this base. Answer any questions she has for you and we’ll be sure to get to the bottom of this mystery.”

I nodded, unable to speak through my dry mouth. Speeding through space really wasn’t my favorite thing, I was finding out.

We flew up to the side of the ship, and Hobar reached for his fancy walkie-talkie again. “This is Hobar. I have an Arialite here who does not know his reason for being. May we come aboard to speak to Captain Nanette, over?”

“You may, over and out.”

A loud clang and a hiss filled my ears as the ship’s doors slowly slid open. We entered. It was nice to place my feet on something solid. The inside of the ship was brilliantly white, spotless and almost glowing with how bright it was. It was kind of hard to see, but there was no time for my eyes to adjust. Hobar lead me through the white halls, greeting everyone we passed. Some looked human, but others were beings I couldn’t quite understand. Aliens?

Hobar looked back at me and smiled as we passed by a giant purple blob who greeted us. “I told you we have to assimilate to each new area we explore, didn’t I?”

“You can shapeshift?!”

We can shapeshift,” he corrected. I looked ahead, my head hurting from this newfound knowledge.

Before I could ask him any questions, we walked into what seemed to be a control room. At the end of the room was a giant window where Ursa Major’s stars painted the space beyond it. At the center of the room was a very comfortable looking seat. The arms were covered in various buttons, and the rail in front of the seat blocked the rest of the deck from the Captain’s seat. It felt like Star Trek, but way more technologically advanced. I had never seen some of the tech they had in their stations. It was overwhelming.

“Hobar! Nice to see you again.” A tall, green creature came walking from one of the stations. It had two extra arms and hair that looked like fuzzy orange burrs, but a voice like a human being. Its face was insectoid in nature…she had to be Arialian, but she looked like nothing I had ever seen.

The creature looked at me and hummed. “You’d probably be more comfortable if I shifted to a human form, yes?” She then slowly began to shift before my eyes. It was honestly kind of horrifying, but I had no time to think before she was in her human form and was holding out her hand to greet me. She was still tall, but instead of green, her skin was a glowing shade of olive. Her orange hair brushed against her shoulders. She was quite beautiful in this form. “I am Nanette, captain of this ship. You must be Evan O’Malley.”

I shook her hand. “Yeah, that’s me…”

“Nice to meet a fellow Arialian,” she said, smiling a warm smile. “Although, you do not know of your origin. Truly a conundrum!”

“He ventured outside of Earth on a whim,” Hobar said. “It’s luck that brings him to us.”

“Luck…or an unknown desire to be with his own kind,” Nanette sighed, hands on her hips. “We all leave our post at twenty three to come home. Evan somehow knew that he had to do the same.”

“But how is it that I don’t know about all of this?” I asked, gesturing around at the ship around us. “I barely know how to be an adult human. How do I even start being an Arialite?!”

Nanette shook her head and placed a hand on my shoulder. “Do not worry about that now. Right now, we have to find out who left you to fend for yourself on Earth.”

“Every Arialite has a partner,” Hobar told me as we began to walk over to the Captain’s Chair. “They are supposed to walk with their Arialian child, teach them the ways of their found planet. Upon their twenty third birthday, the little Arialian comes home to report their findings, then returns to their planet with their own partner to start the cycle over. Only certain Arialites move to different roles.”

“Hobar has visited many worlds,” Nanette told me as she typed on her giant computer. “He is my greatest Patrolman.”

“Patrolman?”

“I protect the Virgo Supercluster from those who want to harm it. Many meteors are actually alien ships in their cloaked form,” he added. “Lots of meteors fall to Earth? Those are parts of the ships I’ve destroyed.”

“Oh.” What else could I say to that?

“So, Mr. O’Malley,” Nanette hummed as she typed away. “Let’s see if we can figure out who you are, and whom your partner was supposed to be.” I stood, watching her screen as she clicked and typed in silence. Eventually, she turned to me and held up a small camera-like device. It flashed a bright red light. I blinked hard, trying to blink the flash out of my eyes. “Sorry, just scanning your face.”

On the screen, my face appeared. I cringed at my bewildered expression. Suddenly, a picture of an unnaturally red creature popped up next to my picture. It had little horns on its forehead and big blue eyes. Its eyes were the same color as mine.

“Spandel, Son of Plendu.” Nanette read the name very matter-of-factly. “At least your Arialian name is easy to say.”

“Spandel?” The name sounded foreign on my tongue.

“That’s you!” Hobar exclaimed, holding his arms out wide. “That was easy! Nanette, you are so wise.”

“I just looked at the database,” she shrugged. “Now, who was little Spandel supposed to be partnered with…?” A few clicks revealed another red horned man. He looked gruff. “Oh? You were supposed to be with Leon.”

“Leon…” His name didn’t ring a bell.

“He has been missing for quite some time,” Nanette mused. “Patrolmen have been looking for him for…well, twenty three years, it seems.”

“He left me,” I realized, speaking softly. A strange bubble of betrayal welled up inside of me. Even though I never knew him, the hurt feeling was still there. “Why did he leave me?”

“It’s lucky that he left you in your parent’s capable hands,” Hobar said. His voice was suddenly grim. “Anything could’ve happened to you.”

“Hobar.” Nanette spun in her chair to look at the two of us. She looked very authoritative all of a sudden. “You will search for Leon and bring him back here.”

Hobar frowned. “He could be anywhere, Capitan! How am I supposed to find him? Especially after we have been searching for so long…”

“He could not have gone out of this system,” Nanette told him plainly. “You know Arialites are forbidden to leave their designated system.”

“With respect, Capitan, Leon could’ve left the system,” I said, trying to tread lightly. “He’s been gone for years.”

“Arialites die if they leave their system before they’re supposed to. It’s in their code,” Nanette looked at me, speaking bluntly. “It is like a kill switch.”

“Oh, well nevermind then.” There went that idea.

“Hobar, take young Spandel — or, Evan — with you on your journey. Perhaps he can be of assistance to you?”

Hobar looked at me, and I looked at Hobar. He seemed to be excited about the sudden company. “Of course, Capitan.”

Nanette smiled now. “Well, off you go! Find Leon and bring him back here alive. He must answer the questions I have for him before he meets his fate.”

Olivia made it hard to write this post today! Hopefully it’s all cohesive and makes sense. I usually go through a little editing before posting, but she’s teething so she needs all the attention I can give her!

Thanks for reading! I liked the idea of expanding Evan’s universe, so I wrote a little more of his story. Hopefully you like it! If you’d like to follow me on Twitter, feel free to do so. I don’t tweet about space nearly as much as I’d like, but it’s still fun to see my day-to-day happenings. And remember to subscribe to emails from Medium so you’ll never miss a post!

See you here next week with something new! For now, Olivia is asleep…so I need to sleep while the baby sleeps!

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Mary B. Golubich

I write stories, as well as music, movie, product reviews and monthly wrap-up journals. Basically, if you can think it, I can write about it.