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Starlit Captors

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Jay was utterly cautious as he walked into the local resteraunt he'd found he favored. Carino's was open this early in the morning, luckily. The whole place was buzzing with the news of another earthquake. Little did they know it had really been the arrival of alien lifeforms that were probably intent on destroying them. Poor little humans.

He'd grown fond of them over the past months. Though they were definitely irritating with their tendencies to violence (his race had always lived in peace) they were entertaining enough. It seemed that no matter how much he read, listened or observed, he could never understand them, even despite the fact that he could read their thoughts as though they were open books.

His gift to do that here on Earth was a little tricky. He hadn't been able to do that back home, and he assumed the reason for it now was because the humans' brains were so much simpler. He'd researched it, did experiments on it, and found that the more self-absorbed the person was, the easier it was to gauge their thoughts. He didn't read them like how mind-reading is always portrayed in books and movies. It was a lot harder than that, actually. For one, people didn't think in sentences. They thought in fragments. Fragments of imagery, words, senses and above all, recollections. Using memory to compare something to, using memory to predict what will happen. Memory was vital in reading thoughts. He'd came across a woman with amnesia before, and was completely unable to glean any thoughts from her whatsover. Her mind had been a jumble of chaotic senses scrambling each and every way.

"Hey, Jay. The usual for you?"

Jay started, spinning around to only find Andy standing behind him. Andy started laughing.

"Jumpy this morning, huh? Makes someone wonder what you were doing last night," Andy winked, turning half-way to put away a few spare menus. After that he walked to Jay's side, grinned down at him. Though Jay was a good six feet himself, Andy stood a towering six four and was wide enough that he made a very imposing figure. His red-ginger hair glinted in the dim resteraunt lights shining from overhead. "Were you the one that caused that earthquake?" he teased.

Jay refrained from rolling his eyes, instead smiling up at Andy pleasantly. Humans. All about the mating. "I'm surprised you didn't sleep right through it," he said instead, his smile broadening at Andy's thought response of amusement.

"I would have," Andy said ruefully, mirroring Jay's grin. "If only the framed picture of Kate Winslet hadn't fallen from my ceiling right onto my face."

Jay chuckled as Andy led him to his usual table. There weren't many people in the resteraunt at nine in the morning. The only others in the room was the three sitting directly across from his table and the lone elderly man at his own table beside the restrooms.

"You want the soup of the day, right?" Andy asked as Jay eased into a chair.

Like I even need to ask, Andy thought cheerfully. That's all the guy eats.

"Yes." Jay said, his voice barely containing his amusement. Andy gave him a final quick grin before heading back for the kitchen.

At peace for the first time since the onimous not-earthquake of last night, Jay leaned back in his chair and studied the people around him. He liked to observe people. The way they thought and the way they used their features in expressions were so different. Except...for this girl. Curious in a vague sort of way, he studied the girl sitting directly across from him. She was small, petite, with shining chestnut-hair that just barely brushed across her shoulders. He wondered if it felt as soft as it looked. Her eyes were large and definitely the dominant feature of her face; they were fringed with long, thick lashes and sparkled a clear, crystal blue. Very expressive eyes. In fact, her entire face was expressive, currently bright and open in an expression of utter attentiveness as she watched the elderly woman sitting to her right talk to the young boy sitting on her left. She had a small, cute button nose, little lush, rosebud lips, dark brows that arched over her eyes...maybe she was an actress. They usually had very vivid facial expressions. Out of pure curiousity, he probed the edges of her mind.

And blinked in surprise. The girl was deaf. No wonder her expressions were so vivid. She used them as the tone of her voice.

It was strange, exploring the mind of someone who had absolutely no recollections of sound. He'd only came across ten hearing-disabled people in his lifetime on earth, and most of them were very curious people.

They had nothing compared to this girl.

All she was was curiousity. Well not all she was, but she had a very inquisitive personality. He couldn't tell anything about a person other than their current stream of thought, but of just what she was thinking about the woman's conversation to the little boy (she was reading the woman's lips), he could tell that all her mind consisted of was who, what, when, where and why.

Morbidly inquisitive now, he mentally pricked his ears forward, listened in on the woman and the boy's conversation.

"...for it to be okay if Dad came back."

"No, Johnny." the elderly lady was shaking her head. "It doesn't work that way." How am I supposed to tell the poor child that his father wouldn't be back until next year? If only the damned war would end already...

He fervently agreed with the woman's line of thinking. These humans needed to stop fighting against one another. In fact, what they really needed to do was to join together to fight the alien warriors about to come knocking down the door.

"But why doesn't it?" the boy asked, pleading in his big blue eyes that looked remarkebly like the girl's-they must be brother and sister. I want to see Daddy, the boy thought.

Pity rose inside of Jay.

He misses Dad, the girl thought somberly. Jay was a little startled by the sound of her mind in his head. It was always different hearing the voices of those who couldn't hear their own voice. Unlike the sound she had in real life, which was the typical high-pitched tone of most deaf women, in her mind her voice was similar to echoes. Mind-voices really didn't have any particular pitch or anything-they just sort of floated across your mind, forming non-existant words through thought-images.

"It just doesn't." the woman said gently, but her thoughts were quivering. What do I do? I can't tell him his father was reassigned. He'll be devastated. I can only-

-Maybe the war will end soon. Maybe everyone will come to their senses and decide peace is the way to go. Maybe Nana and I will be able to get Dad home without Johnny ever knowing about the reassignment. Maybe-

The girl's mind-thought was interrupted by Andy, who had appeared suddenly with Jay's soup. Jay thanked him briefly before snapping his attention back onto the girl. When he glanced up, he saw that she was watching him, that same sort of innocent speculation in her eyes that had been in her thoughts. He gathered that she had saw Andy arrive out of the corner of her eye and had turned to look. Now that she had spotted him, more speculative interest rose inside her.

I don't think I've seen him before. Who is it? He's cute.

Jay felt his cheeks redden just a little as he hastily spooned some soup and shoved it into his mouth. It scalded his throat, but that was better than listening to the sex-crazed thoughts of humans. To his surprise, the girl's thoughts were far from it.

He looks lonely. Maybe I should get Nana to invite him to sit with us. Or I could introduce him to Mr. Mclaren - the old man sitting alone near the restrooms. -Though he might be sitting alone for a reason...I guess some people do like to be alone. I better just leave it.

Don't leave it, Jay thought-replied without considering the consequences. The girl gasped as his words flashed across her mind. She fell out of her chair; the boy and the grandmother bent immediately to see what was wrong, and perhaps that was what had truly saved their lives.

For it was at that moment that a huge, wickedly-sharp sword that was at least six feet long appeared literally right out of thin air and went swinging across the room, its blade gleaming a strange color mixture of purple and blue that on Venus would have been a startlingly beautiful color, but on Earth there weren't enough molecules in the air to create the color, instead leaving the blade a shimmering gray that seemed to waver under closer inspection.

And closer inspection was something nobody wanted to get.

The only reason Jay hadn't been killed instantly was that he had made sure to stay in shape. As a result, his reflexes were perfectly honed, and he was able to duck just in time. Mr. Mclaren had not been so lucky. His blood was already creating a large puddle beneath the table he had been sitting at.

Jay heard the strange, horrifying metallic screech of the Zargul; it tore at the ears. He heard the terrified screams of both the grandmother Nana and the young boy Johnny and looked up to see both crouching beneath their table, their hands clapped over their ears and their faces screwed up in pain. The girl was kneeling beside them, her thoughts a frantic, chaotic scrambling of confusion and fear.

"Run," he bellowed at her before remembering that she could not hear him. Unfortunatly, the Zargul could. Its sword approached first; then the entire Zargul loomed into view, its hideous face leering, its gray-blue muscles bulging, its thick hide smelling strongly of something far worse than all of the most disgusting smells on earth combined. Jay held his breath so he wouldn't vomit.

The Zargul barked some words in its native dialect that was impossible to be described in any human language. Its voice was chocked, garbled and immensely frightening.

It raised its sword for the death blow that would indefinitly end Jay-and then it paused. There was a small sound of something clattering upon the hard-wood floor.

The Zargul turned, and to the side of its grotesque, oddly-formed hip Jay spotted the girl standing, her arm cocked in the air as though she had just thrown something. With a rush of shock, fear, and something akin to adoration, he realized that she had just chunked a knife at the Zargul's back.

Die, die, I'm going to die, she thought in a frenzy of terror, but she was still slowly inching to the left, leading the Zargul away from her brother and grandmother, who were still writhing in pain on the floor from the sound of the Zargul's earlier shriek.

"HEY!" Jay called, scrambling to his feet and climbing on top of the table. His spilt soup made his sneakers slippery on the table-cloth. The Zargul paused, twisted its ugly head completely around on its shoulders (for they had no neck) and literally growled at Jay. It stomped toward him, fast enough that Jay wouldn't have time to dash out of the door, though he wouldn't dare to leave behind this strange human girl who had thrown a knife at an alien lifeform anyway. All of his muscles locked into place and he gritted his teeth, waiting for the death blow-

When suddenly, out of nowhere, a figure with huge black wings came shooting at the Zargul at a blinding speed. Whatever the figure was it must have been strong, for it tackled the Zargul right through the resteraunt wall and onto the street outside.

There was no time to stay frozen in shock. Jay jumped into action. He sprinted at the girl, made a flying leap off the table. He landed beside her and she barely had enough time to widen her eyes before he seized her by the arm and began to drag her toward the front entrance. She dug her heels into the floor in resistance, making a high cry of protest, and he didn't understand until he heard her shout in her mind, What is he doing? I can't leave them!



Them, he thought before remembering with a jolt of realization. The brother and the grandmother. He bent, ducked under the table, grabbed the woman's wrist with one hand and the boy's wrist with his other. He yanked them out and to their feet.

"We have to hurry, more could be here any second," he told them, and they were in such a state of shock that it was all they could do just to nod their heads in panic. "Come on."

He flung the boy over one of his shoulders since his little legs couldn't keep up. The grandmother was only 49 and was capable of running. Then, clutching the girl's hand in one of his own with the grandmother having a deathgrip on the side of his jacket, they hurried to the front door and he kicked it open before they rushed out into the blinding sunshine.





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