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The Controller of Mala'k
Tick, tock, tick, tock. The second hand on the clock on the wall seemed to move slower than usual. A fourteen year old girl with short black hair and dark eyes fingered her necklace as she listened to her teacher drone on. Astronomy was usually her favorite class, but the lecture that day just wasn't sparking any interest in her.
She scribbled something in her notes and rested her head on her arms. She absentmindedly doodled in the upper right corner of her paper as she glanced at the clock for the umpteenth time.
The girl, whose name was Nepta Rodabeck The Fifth, breathed a sigh of relief as the bell finally rang. She stacked her books into a pile and hoisted them into her arms, stumbling out the door and to her locker, where she packed her bag and got ready to head home.
Meanwhile, in Washington, DC, the President of the United States was having his afternoon break when one of his advisors burst through the door into the Oval Office.
"Sir! Sir! This is an emergency!" the advisor yelled as he rushed to the Resolute Desk. President Oliver dropped his coffee, where it spilled onto the floor. A dozen situations raced through his mind. A terrorist attack? A natural disaster? His family and people in danger?
"Spit it out, Simon!" Oliver snapped as Simon gasped for breath. It appeared as if he had run a long way. He held up a cell phone and handed it to the President.
"Mr. President... Aliens. Aliens from Neptune are on the phone!" Simon finally spluttered. President Oliver blinked for a few moments, his mouth open.
"Simon, I have more pressing matters on my mind than a few high school pranksters pretending to be aliens!" the President sighed as he reached out the hand the phone to his advisor.
Simon was panting, his hands on his knees. He shook his head vigorously. "Actually, sir, there's something you might want to know. Do you remember, at your inauguration when you were talking to the previous President, that he mentioned aliens?" Simon asked, having finally caught his breath. He stood up straight. President Oliver frowned.
"He was joking. Everyone knows there are no such things as aliens," Oliver scoffed. Simon shook his head again, slowly this time. The President, his features frozen in shock, slowly pulled the phone to his ear.
"Hey! Are you there? Helloooo! Can you hear me!?" screamed a feminine voice. Oliver held the phone slightly away from his head.
"Er, yes. Yes, I'm here. Young lady, did you know that I could arrest you for prank-calling the President?" Oliver barked in a commanding voice. Simon stiffened. The voice on the phone hesitated.
"I'm guessing you're a newer President. Well, guess what? This is no prank call. And you better believe it, buddy, 'cause there's a problem in my world. And if there's a problem on my world, there's a problem on your world. So listen up," the voice growled, snarling like a dog. In fact, it sounded exactly like a dog. The President, unused to someone telling him what to do, was taken aback.
"Who are you?" he asked, setting the cell phone to speaker and setting it on his desk.
"You're obviously not going to believe me since you're new to this, but I am very much like you. My name is Illis and I am the leader... the president, as you would call it... of my planet. I live on Neptune," Illis explained. Oliver lifted a skeptical eyebrow at Simon, who gestured for him to speak to her.
"Go on," he prompted her. Illis cleared her throat.
"My people, the Neptunians, are in great danger from the aliens of Saturn and Mars. This is an intergalactic war, and I am sorry to say that the Neptunians are losing. This war started when Saturn and Mars wished to band together to lead the solar system, and the other planets and I disagreed and demanded that they disband. This was when your predecessor was the President of the Earth, and we all made that decision in the Council, which you will no doubt need to participate in sometime during your presidency. Saturn and Mars where furious, and they decided to attack the other planets and try to take over the solar system by force. They started with Neptune since we are a mostly peaceful planet with not much of an army. Needless to say, we aren't doing so well. And that's where you come in. A very long time ago, a special Neptunian stone was implanted in a meteor and sent to Earth. Our Capitol was being invaded, and the stone-- which is imbued with special powers-- had to be sent to Earth in order to keep it safe. The stone was discovered by a young woman. She knew what the stone was and took it as a sign, and named all of her children and grandchildren the same name; Nepta Rodabeck. Are you getting all this?" Illis asked suddenly. Oliver could only cough and stutter.
"Your job is to find the youngest Nepta Rodabeck. She should have the stone in her possession. Bring her into your castle-- excuse me, your White House. Then, you can call me back. I'll tell you how to send her to Neptune, where she will use the stone to assist all of Neptune," Illis instructed. She then Oliver scratched his head.
"But... but why Earth? Why can't you get the help of some other planet? You've still got Mercury, Venus, Jupiter and Uranus to help you! And besides, I don't really care about Neptune! I've got my own problems!" he snapped. The President had enough to worry about without an intergalactic war.
"Listen, President. You obviously don't understand how things work in the universe. What affects Neptune affects Earth. If Saturn and Mars defeat us, they will turn their sights to the most beautiful planet in the galaxy. And that planet is Earth. They have it in their minds that if they destroy the gem of the universe, the other planets will surrender out of fear and sorrow. Your people are not prepared for their technology and power. Earth will be obliterated. So get off your rump and get Nepta!" Illis yelled and hung up. Oliver sat there for a moment, staring at Simon. He turned off the phone and slowly handed it back to Simon.
"You heard her, Simon. I want Nepta Rodabeck in this office before lunch," Oliver commanded, and he stood from his chair and started to clean the coffee from his carpet while Simon hurried from the Oval Office.
Luckily for Simon, Nepta Rodabeck already lived in Washington, DC. She was making her way home, humming to herself and entwining her fingers in the chain of her necklace. The stone she wore was about the size and shape of a marble-sized egg. It was a bright aqua-blue color that always seemed to match everything she wore. She had worn it since she was old enough to understand that it was the most valuable thing in her house.
Her great-great-grandmother had found it when a meteor had crashed into her backyard. She had found the stone in the rubble of the space rock, and had polished it and turned it into a necklace. For some reason, Nepta's great-great-grandmother had changed her name to Nepta after she had found the stone. Whenever any of the necklace-wearing Neptas walked into a jewelry store, the jewelers would eye the stone with greed, longing and jealousy.
Nepta The Fifth now unlocked her front door and let herself in, throwing her backpack on the floor and kicking her shoes into the corner. She set her schoolbooks on the kitchen table and started peeling a banana. Then, the phone rang. She picked up the phone and propped it on her shoulder while she used her hands to continue peeling her snack. Her mother, Nepta The Fourth, came down the stairs and leaned on the doorway.
"Nepta Rodabeck. The Fifth. What do you want?" she asked, taking a huge bite of banana. A man's voice came through the speaker.
"Is this the youngest Nepta Rodabeck, or do you have a son or daughter?" he asked. Nepta frowned and brushed the hair from her face.
"Dude, I'm only fourteen. No, I don't have a kid. Who is this?" she asked through the mouthful of banana. Her mother gave her an odd look.
"This is Simon Quince. I'm from the White House. Listen, kid, can I talk to your Mom or Dad?" the guy asked. Nepta's eyebrows shot up. The White House?
Nepta shrugged and handed the phone to her mother. "Hello?" she asked. She listened to the voice for a while.
"The White House? Are you sure? Oh... oh, my... what? No, that's not true. Listen, my great-grandma found it in her backyard. There's nothing special about... the President? No, I still don't believe you. Oh, Mr. President! Ahm... this is all a joke, right?" her mother's face was turning pale. Nepta sighed. It was probably one of her dorky friends prank-calling her.
Her mother put down the phone. "Nepta, dear... I have to drive you into the city. To the White House. The President wants to see you."
Nepta didn't believe it for a second. "Mom, it was probably just Emma or someone. I have homework to do." She sat down and wrote her name at the top of her paper. Her mother pulled her out of her seat, spinning her around.
"Now, Nepta. I'm serious. Get in the car. And bring stuff with you." she grabbed Nepta's backpack and turned it upside down, dumping everything out.
"Hey!" Nepta yelled, but her mother had already started filling it with food and an emergency kit.
"Go get extra clothes," her mother ordered. Nepta, too freaked out to argue, did what she was told. When she returned with armfuls of clothes, her mom stuffed them in the backpack along with a blanket, a flashlight and other random stuff. To Nepta, it looked as if she was going on a camping trip, not to the White House.
Her mother practically shoved her into the car, and in half an hour they were standing in front of the White House. Guys in suits raced the two up to the Oval Office. More suited men stood outside the door. Nepta, trying to take this all in, was panting for breath by the time she walked through the door.
There, sitting at the desk, was the guy that she had only seen on TV and in newspapers. It was President Thomas Oliver. A short, squat guy stood next to him. He stood as the two Rodabecks walked in, and shook their hands.
"Thanks for coming on short notice," said Oliver. The four of them sat on the couches.
"Will you please tell me what this is all about?" Nepta asked her mother for the millionth time.
"There's been a sort of situation," interruptec the guy next to the President. Nepta recognized Simon Quince from his voice. "Well, you see, the President got a call earlier today..."
"I'll tell them," the President offered, and he continued to inform Nepta about the entire conversation that he had previously had with Illis.
"I don't believe you one bit," Nepta scowled as the President finished. She clenched her stone in her hand.
"Well, you will now," said Oliver, and he pulled a cell phone from his pocket, searched through the contacts list, and dialed a very long number. He put the phone on speaker once more and placed it on the table between the couches.
"Hello?" asked Illis. "Mr. President, have you found Nepta?" Nepta felt her breath catch in her chest. Whoever this person was, they knew her name.
"Uhm, yes, Illis, this is the President. I have the youngest Rodabeck here. Say hi, Nepta," the President prompted. Nepta leaned in over the phone.
"Hey, there. Has the President told you everything?"
"Yes. But it's not true."
"Nonsense. It's all true. Now, are you ready? Have you said your good-byes?"
Nepta hesitated. "Why would I need to say good-bye to anyone?"
Oliver interrupted. "I, uh, left out that bit. See, in order to help them, it appears that you'll have to, you know, go there. To Neptune. With that." He pointed to Nepta's stone.
"No way!" Nepta screeched. "I am not going to Neptune!"
"You are," said Illis, "because if you don't, Neptune and eventually Earth will be destroyed. Now kiss your mother good-bye, 'cause you're not going to see her for a while." Nepta scooted a little closer to her mom. Illis continued. "When you're ready, stand up and tell me. Then, I'm going to have to ask you to remove your stone. I'll help you from there."
Nepta grabbed onto the cushions of the couch as the President and Simon tried to haul her to her feet. She kicked and screamed, but eventually the guys in suits heard the racket and came in to hold her still while the President removed her stone from her neck. She tried to bite his fingers. Her mother stood, her eyes wet with tears, and tried to calm Nepta down.
Oliver, who had a long scratch on his cheek from Nepta's nails, shouted to the phone. "Illis, she's ready. What now?"
"Why are you shouting? Is she struggling? Never mind. Do you have her stone? Get Nepta to hold it in her right hand," Illis instructed. One of the suited guys lifted Nepta's hand and clasped it around the stone. "Press the stone against her chest and then have her toss the stone over her head and then jump. Throw her into the air if you need to. Just get her here!"
Nepta, who was screaming with defiance, snapped at the guy who shoved her clenched hand against her chest. The stone in her hand grew warm, and beams of aqua-blue light shot from between her fingers. She opened her hand; the stone was now a ball of light. She was so captivated by this that she didn't see the suited guy swing his hand underneath hers. The stone popped out of her hand and into the air above her head. It seemed to suspend itself in midair, and the light grew even brighter. The men, including the President, grabbed Nepta and threw her into the air. Nepta shrieked as the stone touched her forehead.
The stone let out one last flash of brilliance that left everyone in the room momentarily blinded, and then Nepta was gone.
To Nepta, her fall seemed much longer than it should have. I'm going to hit the carpet, break my ankle and sue the stupid President, she thought as she fell. She stopped screaming, thinking about the money she would win from a lawsuit against the president.