Cursed Orb Chapter 1

By Nikhil

cursed orb image“Don’t step there,” Martha, a Fire Nation soldier told Jackson. Martha could control fire and summon it at will. All Fire Nation soldiers could, but Martha could do it better than the rest and could use it to fly. No one else had flames powerful enough to do that other than the emperor of the Fire Nation.

“ I know! Jeez, Martha. You act like we’re just helpless little kids. We know what we’re doing!” exclaimed Jackson, a Water Nation soldier. As a water soldier, he could control it if they were near water to a limit. But, Jackson had no limits. He could control the water to his heart’s extent, and he also had a special ability. He could store the water in his body to use for a later time when he wasn’t near a water source, but it took up a lot of energy.

“Oh yeah! Well if you weren’t doing stupid things, like trying to step into lava like you are now…”

“ What lava… AHHHH,” Jackson barely got out of the way of the flowing lava. “Why didn’t you tell me about it earlier!?” He shouted at Martha.

“Both of you, STOP IT RIGHT NOW!” George shouted at the two. George was an Earth Nation soldier, and a natural born leader. All Earth Nation soldiers had a little power of the earth, but George could just do whatever he wanted with it. If he wanted, he could probably build another Great Wall of China. No other earth soldier could bend that much earth to their will.“ You two have been arguing ever since we got down here.” They were currently in the lower mantle of the Earth. Lava was flowing almost everywhere. It was steamy and burning. But, before they had made the journey, they had received a layer of cool air around them to protect them from the heat. There were many caves, and they tried to find the way that went farthest down.   “We’re a team, and we need to start acting like one. You shouldn’t be fighting with each other like children. The fate of the world depends on our success in this mission. We need to get the orb back to its owner if we want to stop the war between our 3 nations and the Wind and Metal Nations. We are the Earth’s only chance.”

“Oh, stop your sentiment,” Luke sighed, “We get that we have save to save  the world and all, but we don’t need to be bored to death with your speeches.” Luke was always calm, but gets bored easy. He was from the Earth Nation as well, and an amazing swordsman. The best swordsman in all of the five nations in fact.

“Just keep walking,” George said.

All of the soldiers had been selected because they each had special powers or just were the best at something.  From the Earth Nation, Will was also selected. He was the best archer that anyone would ever come across. He could shoot an arrow from 1,000 meters away and split the arrow that he shot before. His friends joked around and called him Willshot. From the Water Nation, Selena and Malcolm were selected. Selena could control the water to make images that show the future. This would be a useful ability to choose between crossroads. Malcolm could turn the pure water into water vapor and use the wind to create mini hurricanes. This could be used for a variety of purposes, but especially when they need a distraction or stall for time. The Fire Nation also had its special people. Connor might be mischievous, but he was a very powerful soldier. Just by visualizing something burning, he could make it instantly set aflame. He mostly used it to play pranks on people, but when he wanted to, he could be a ferocious warrior. Phoebe, was the best tracker that ever lived and knew all sorts of information that could save their lives. She was a personal assistant to the emperor until she was sent in this quest.

“ Looks like we’re reaching the core,” Phoebe announced, “ The air here is getting more humid and suffocating. We need to really watch our step here. One wrong move can lead to death by fire.

“ Thanks for that captain obvious,” Jackson taunted. As he was looking away, Connor set ablaze the ground where Jackson was going to step again.

Phoebe sighed and rapidly said, “ You’re stepping into fire.”

Jackson quickly sidestepped around the fire and a couple paths of flowing lava which made him look like he was doing a dance.

“ You people are the worst friends in the world. You don’t even tell me when I’m stepping into fire until the last second.” Jackson complained. Connor snickered in the back just quiet enough for Jackson not to hear.

Phoebe shrugged, “ I did warn you by telling you to watch where you’re stepping. You just didn’t care. So, that’s your fault.”

“ Jackson, Phoebe, stop arguing and concentrate on not dying,” George said through gritted teeth, “ Jackson, you especially. I won’t take you arguing with every. Single. Person. Either you shut up or I do it for you.” After that warning, Jackson knew better than to test George’s patience.

“Shhhh. We’re approaching the core. Brace yourself, and put on the sunglasses that you were given unless you want your eyes to go blind permanently.” Phoebe warned. They each put on the special sunglasses they were given by the fire emperor. The sunglasses could block the light from the core so that their eyes wouldn’t burn to a burn to a crisp. They soon reached two pillars and a giant wall after it.

“Looks like this is the Gateway to the Core.” George explained, “ Once we pass this gate, we will reach the core. Ready yourself and walk through.” They enter through the path and are immediately blown back so they are once again standing in front of the path. But now, a demon stood there. It was a man with a pale complexion, dark robes that spiked up at the top and a blood red shirt. He had slick black hair, Elvis Presley style. His eyes were were a black void with purple specks.

The man simply yawned and said, “ Looks like someone finally managed to awaken me. But sadly, this will be the last thing you ever do,” and then he charged the heroes, “ Looks like it’s time for you to die.”

 

 

Greenery

by Richard

Mountain

Fall is approaching us, I calmly imagine myself in a forest of many vivid colors, some bright and some dull. Shades of all types of colors, red, green, yellow, orange, all have a interconnection to them that makes all these colors come into harmony. At first glance, without ever experiencing fall, one might describe the colors in fall as chaotic, with no possible way of fitting together nicely. However, I don’t see fall as something disordered, in fact, quite the contrary. I can envision fall as a time of peacefulness, a time of serene environments, and, most importantly, a time of astounding scenery.

Massive trees would stand above us; each one giving off a divine feel of grandeur. They stand like the legs of giants. The leaves would fall like angels gliding down from heaven. Their colors would be the brightest colors you can imagine. Suddenly, my eyes open, bringing me back into the completely different world of summer. Instead, the royal green dominates, and somehow, I’m surrounded by the kingdom of the green. And soon, it seems that every single plant is infected with the vast body of this color. The color itself represents life, as explained from the lush plants and greenery that circles me. The trees burst with existence, from the tree and its healthy bark, to the chipmunks scavenging around near the leaves.

forestEven as I admire nature so immensely, it would be a shame not to mention the beautiful sun, blistering with blinding rays of pure radiance, bouncing off the green kingdom itself. The plants seem to living on their own, living their lives peacefully as nature and its wildlife nurture it. Even with humanity’s worst disasters and destructive power, plants still manage to thrive. When we humans did the first nuclear bomb test, we passed the threshold. Thus, resulting in even more dangerous tests, leading to even more destructive bombs that could take peaceful and bustling cities of beautifully done pieces of architecture to unrecognizable ashes. Afterward, after all of our thirst for complete annihilation, nature doesn’t care. It does not hold grudges for wiping out all its kin and making peaceful rolling hills into barren wastelands of radiation.

Nature doesn’t try to interfere in any sort of way with people, it simply tries to thrive, no matter the circumstances. Even in harsh fallout, nature will somehow, in some way, get back on its feet. On the contrary, some plants may have physical

Road

 attributes that make them so unpleasant, such as self-defense thorns, poison, and overall deadliness; but ifsomeone were to be careful enough, they can be mostly avoided. Except, this is a very minor reason. Plants have always helped humanity by providing materials for us; wood, sticks, stems, but yet we take these materials for granted. Destroying habitats and entire environments for urban and rural construction, cutting down wood for excessive use, and other activities show that we think of plants as a necessity that is always accessible. Their beauty, their usage, everything, these earliest forms of life need to be appreciated, so that way, we can let our future generations see trees.

Stardust

by: Vivian Zhu

In which a girl sits on the Sun in search for home.

ASTRA has been to many places. Many, many places. Whether that be the tip of the Milky Way, or a tiny, rundown town in Africa, her adventures have always been in search for shelter. For a place she could call home.

How many years had passed since then? A thousand? A billion? Now Astra is the universes she traveled to. She sits on top of the Sun of Universes, watching over the Planets of the Universes, and observing as billions of stars explode. Each thing in her universe is a magnification of other ones—one planet represents others in different galaxies.

This has been her home since forever. But where is her real home? There has been a place, right? A place from a long, long time ago…

***

We are made up of the same stuff as the stars.

                The sun, the moon, the stars. Astra floated down the molten lava of the Sun, feeling the heat of a thousand more as her fingers held the golden liquid.

                “Hey, Sun,” she said, her voice muted in the blackness of space. “How are you?”

                 Her hands were the color of pure energy, faded white and dulled after billions of years of sitting on the Sun. Her once blonde hair, golden and yellow, was blackened into the color of deep space. And the eyes of the girl were no longer warm brown, but clear white with no iris or pupil.

                  The splash of freckles on her face was perhaps the only color in her entire body. The small dots were multicolored, a long time effect from centuries in space. Blue and purple were tucked in the corners of her nose, while soft pink and light teal dotted the frames of her cheeks.

                   Astra wrapped her arms around her legs. Today was worse than the rest—the feeling of loneliness enveloped her insides entirely.

                   “Hey, Sun,” she said absentmindedly, her low voice thoughtful. “Are you ever lonely? Are you ever sad? Do you ever feel like… like there’s something so heavy on your chest that you can’t describe it with one word?”

                    She inhaled sharply. This was a conversation she had held back for as long as she could remember. On the glowing ball of warmth, Astra’s blank eyes of no color felt moist.

                    “What am I saying? You’re not human.” She laughed harshly, but it was cut short with streaming tears.

                     And then it all came out. For the first time in thousands of centuries, her loneliness and desire for home poured out of her. But her tears were not water—they were streams of liquid silver.

                     It was beautiful.

                     Her tears were the same as the stars.

                     And though it was impossible to cry in space, her tears of stars kept streaming down her face, defying gravity and all laws of science.

                     “Hey, Sun,” Astra said, her pale hands reaching to wipe away the silver tears. “You’re not human, so you don’t understand. But I don’t understand why I’m crying either—so does that mean I’m not human too?

                      “What does it even mean to be “human”? What is this place called Earth? Why do I still have memories of a place where I was safe and sheltered?”

                      And when she finally reached her ultimate question, the planets before her shook as her melodious voice rose into a crescendo of volume.

                      “Why am I even here?”

                      In this universe where one planet represented a million others, where one star was the magnification of a billion, why did Astra even belong in a place so desolate and perfect? The planets had no answer as they continued their relentless orbit.

                      “Yes,” she whispered, her voice catching. “Why am I even here?

                     The blazing sun beneath her seemed to shudder. It’s flames of pure energy erupted, engulfing her body in a shower of prickly warmth. Astra was surprised, for she had never felt such a wonderful feeling consuming her body inch by inch. The Sun had never flared, not like this before.

                       Before a word could escape from her lips, the molten star beneath her feet gave way, and then she was falling.

***

                       Astra opened her eyes. She felt an unfamiliar touch against her body, something that was rough and fuzzy and strange. She sat up, squinting at the sudden brightness.

                        What was this?

                        She seemed to have fell asleep. But how? The last Astra remembered was the sudden blast that came from the Sun, then darkness and falling as she plummeted to the unknown. Where was this, though? Her eyes flitted to the bright enclosure.

                        The word came before she realized it. Tent.

                        A tent. And the thing that was covering her was a blanket, the strange cushion beneath her head was a pillow, and the blinding light coming from outside was…

                        The Sun.

                        “What in the world?” Astra breathed. Her voice caught when she stared at a small oval contraption on the right of her makeshift bed. Mirror, she remembered, but the face she saw in it couldn’t be her own. For as long as her memory stretched, Astra’s hair was black from the darkness of space. Her eyes were white, with no pupil color. The girl in the mirror, though, was a gorgeous beauty with wavy blond locks and dark chocolate irises.

                         “Is this… me?” she wondered aloud, her eyes wide. “Is this… home?”

                         A sudden crash from outside the tent startled her. Astra blinked, watching as a girl popped into her shelter. She was young, way younger than her, with smooth chocolate skin and curious almond eyes. Her hair was close-cropped and curly.

                         A man emerged from behind her. He was thin and reedy, and sandy hair blocked out the lights in his blue eyes. “Hey, Astra. Get up.”

                         Astra obliged. “Where am I?”

                         The man raised a brow. “Really? Now? Did you hit your head or something? Gods, Astra, we need you. Stop with the joking. This is Africa, and we have a mission.”

                         She had no clue what he was saying. “I don’t know who you are.”

                         Anger replaced the mild amusement on his expression. Astra flinched, but before the man could strike her, the young girl with curious eyes stopped him. “She’s not lying. You can see it. Astra, do you not remember us?”

                         The girl in bed shook her head. This was too much for her. The only memory she had was the one of the planets and the Sun.

                         Then the world spun upside down and everything went black.

     

                       

              

                     

         

 

An Illegitimate Endeavor at Protection: Science Fiction Satire

On Earth, or what was left of it, people celebrated to have survived until 2040. Many were coming to terms with the fact that the Earth would be uninhabitable soon, but a few visionaries were hopeful. One such optimist was a journalist by the name of Hector Mejorador, who at the time specialized in satire. His favorite way of exposing government atrocities was to beat them to their ideas, and in doing so, he spared the American people many major headaches. At a point, several of the Congresspeople decided he was too powerful, so they drafted legislation to stop him from destroying their agenda.

The legislation that was proposed turned all of the unwritten social “rules” that Congress could think of, plus a few arbitrary ideas, into law. When the last Mejorador report was issued with the headline of “Shocking New Study Finds 80% of Congress Would Be Jailed Under New Law”, Hector was taken away from his home and forced into a series of examinations to determine his social skills. When he had succeeded in every category except choosing to be socially involved, a very ambiguous category, the proctors gave him a minute to look at his report before dragging him into a filthy jail cell with a straw mattress, a camera and a water faucet from the ceiling.

“Explain your score in the next minute or we’ll flood your cell!” Hector could hear one of the proctors shouting.

“I- I s- sabotaged my Introvert Extermination Program to navigate the murky waters of life!” He stammered.
“You WHAT?!?”
“I decided I was being limited to a negligible amount of control over my life, and I found alternative education.” This time, he was more confident.
“We’ll see how you like limits!” They left him to languish in his cell, and he looked around. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a hole in the wall by the straw mattress. He ripped out a steel bar on the stone wall, and hacked at the hole with the bar. After about an hour of toil unnoticed by his captors, he had managed to carve a hole to the outside world. He took the bar, crawled out of his cell, and saw an expanse of buildings. The one that caught his eye was one of a rival news network: Fox News. Knowing that he would be able to tell his story best near civilization, he headed in that building’s direction.
“Free at last!” He exclaimed as he cantered along the expanse of grass.
“Not so fast!” The jail guards ran after him with their cameras, and Hector knew the cameras would be broadcasting to all of the major national news networks. In a flash, he used the bar to dig a trap, then sprinted to the nearest tree. He was about twenty feet up when he heard shouts.
“Cruel tricks! We know you have magic powers, so we must show the havoc you could wreak on the people!”
Hector was smirking at this point, knowing that he could make a major statement to all. He jumped down from the trees, and when the cameras were rolling, he said, “I am not trying to cause damage to any person in America. I am simply trying to reframe society, but my mission is unconstitutionally stifled – ”
“You are able to see the future! Show us what you see!” He was interrupted by the rowdiest guard.
“America, we must not panic. In order to show you what I will do for you, I need to demonstrate what the future would look like under our current government.” He gestured at the guards, and a square was marked around them.
“Here in this square are the guards who have tried to rob me of all will to live. The land they stand on has time moving faster than normal, so you will see the way people would live in the future under their government. This is only a simulation, so no harm will come to anyone.” In a minute, the people were gasping for breath and saying thing like, “Stop this!”, “Cruelty!”, and “You dare take our power!” Hector walked over to them and gestured to the square.
“I will try… to save… you.” Suddenly, he sounded weak, as though he was suffering through a major ordeal. He collapsed on the ground, and the guards came over, seizing the bar from him. One brought it over his head, ready to strike, when they all saw that Hector was finally defeated from his own burnout. Despite his being a thorn in their side, they dedicated a stone nearby to him, with the words, “Hector Mejorador: The one who tried to change us for good.” Society was finally back to normal.

 

written by: Brady Rivkin