• “Yeah! You know him?”
    “Well of course!” Fen says.
    “That b*****d is still alive!” Roe shouts gleefully to the moon.
    “What? Who are you guys really, and how do you know Non!” Maruru walks closer to them.
    “He’s part of our group” Ayn replies. “Man, I thought he was dead! No one could’ve survived that”
    “Group? What group?”
    “What, you don’t know who we are?” he grinned. “And I thought we were getting more famous” he laughed long, making Maruru wait for her answer. “We’re the Fallen Star, the sky thieves! Two days ago we erupted the big bad Capton Ine”
    “You guys did that? And Non was part of it?”
    “Actually, no, we thought he was in the afterlife, remember?”
    “But why? And does that mean Rey is a Fallen Star, too? I didn’t see a red star on him. Maybe it was covered or—”
    “Who’s Rey?” Fen asked.
    “You don’t know him? I thought you would. Well he and Non hang out a lot, you know, on Aiers and stuff. They ride everyday all day and I don’t know where they go. They never take me because I’m not allowed to leave and—”
    “Never mind him. What about Non? When was the last time you saw him?” Roe asked.
    “I—well it was today, actually. Somewhere around five o’clock”
    “Where is he now?”
    “I…don’t know. I told you he and Rey go somewhere everyday” she looks up and sees that their eager faces turned dismayed. “Oh, but they come back at noon so…”
    “Noon? Everyday at noon?” Ayn says.
    “Uh, yeah”
    “Great, that’s perfect! Then we’ll just go meet him there and bring him back!”
    “Am I going with?” Maruru asks excitedly.
    “Yeah, sure—wait, no you can’t”
    “What? Why not?” Roe asks Ayn.
    “Cause she’s a hostage, remember?”
    “Oh right…I keep forgetting because she acts so—”
    “—not like one” Fen finishes.
    “Who cares? Just let me go, please! On the Aier again” Maruru begs. “I’ll even sob and plead my dad to bring me back. I’ll even tell him your conditions! Maybe raise the money up higher to two million. He’ll give in if I tell him that you guys are going to take me far, far away”
    Ayn’s shoulder slumped and he suddenly looked really tired. Fen and Roe looked encouragingly to their boss, urging him to agree with Maruru.
    “Come on!” Fen says. “That sounds real good, right? Just do it! We’ll get so much more money!”
    “I…oh fine! Have it your way” Ayn gave Maruru a sharp look. “You don’t care what happens to you, do you? Unless you act this way towards anyone that kidnaps you or threatens to kill you”
    “Actually, yes I do” Maruru beams. “It doesn’t matter to me if I could ride on an Aier. I even fell off a cliff to go on one! Plus, you Fallen Star people aren’t bad at all. Except for one…” she shakes the thought of Keller from her head. “Anyway, who do I ride with? Or do I get my own?”
    “We don’t have any extra Aiers” Ayn says.
    “Yeah, you don’t need one” Fen pats Ayn’s back. “Just ride with him!”
    “Yeah, let him sweep you off your feet again!” Roe grins.
    Ayn gaped. “What are you guys—idiots?”
    “You’ll let me ride with you?” Maruru asked him.
    “Why me? Go with one of them” he points to the others.
    “Oh, okay, sure. It doesn’t matter who I go with” she turns to Roe and Fen.
    “No” they said flatly. “We ride solo”
    “Just go with boss, he’s a better Aier rider then us and he can do cool tricks”
    “Tricks?!” Maruru whirls back to Ayn. He groans. “You can do tricks? Then I want to ride with you, period!” she smiles.
    “Thought you said it didn’t matter who you go with” Ayn grumbles.
    “Well now it does” she hops happily like a child that got the coolest toy ever. “Anyway, I’m tired. Where do I sleep?”
    All three of them pointed and looked in the same direction. Maruru followed their gazes.
    “Where?” she says, scanning the deck.
    “Anywhere but inside” Ayn replies.
    “What?!” she turns to him. “Are you crazy?”
    “No, I’m not actually, you are. You’re a hostage now, not a princess so don’t expect to be pampered”
    “Sweet dreams” Roe and Fen went into the forecastle.
    “Don’t freeze to death” Ayn says as he walks away to get on his Aier.
    “Wait, where are you going?” she asks, taking a step closer to him.
    “Crow’s nest” he points up to the main mast. “I’m the leader. I have to do lookout to make sure we’re not in danger” as he takes off, Maruru pounces on him, throwing him off balance. They were swerving and turning upside down and out of the ship. Ayn caught hold of the ledge of the ship and they stopped spinning. He steadied himself then took deep breathes.
    “Wow that was crazy” Maruru chirped, poking her head over Ayn’s shoulder.
    “Your nuts!” he shouts in her ear, making them ring. “You must be dumb!”
    “I told you Keller’s image dumb my mind”
    He laughed. “Okay, I get it, but don’t be so hard on her”
    “Cause, you don’t know what its like. She’s had it hard just like any of us”
    “What do you mean?”
    Ayn gave Maruru a long stare. His golden eyes seemed to look far beyond anything she could imagine. It was sad and…afraid. Like an emotionless child that saw its family die and doesn’t know how to react to it.
    Maruru returned Ayn’s stare. She opened her mouth to say something but nothing came out. It was like she was in a trance, like he was dragging her mind somewhere. And she was letting him. Wherever he was taking her seemed like…the past.
    I’m crazy, she thought. There’s no such thing as time traveling. Then she winced.
    He blinked and shakes his head. “Forget about it”
    “Wha…but I…” her voice came in a soft whisper.
    “I said forget about it. It’s nothing”
    “You’re just a hostage!” his voice was low but it was angry. “Just a hostage. You’re not one of us so you don’t need to know anything” he raises the Aier up to the deck then he had to physically pull Maruru off and onto the ship. “Your just a hostage” he says again, but more sad. “It’s alright to not know about us” he said to himself as he flew up onto the crow’s nest.
    “But why?” Maruru says quietly. She heard what Ayn said even though she wasn’t supposed to. “You’re hurting inside” she looks up at him. “I felt it—your pain. And it hurt, so why wont you tell me?” she knew he couldn’t hear her but she kept on talking. “Share your past with me. It won’t hurt so much if you do”

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