(Kelly is written by Kelly Blanchard. Sasha is written by Virginia Stark. NOTE: Sasha is a character in Virginia’s science fiction work ‘Dalton’s Daughter’.)
Sasha waited for the lady who was coming to interview her with the apprehension that she so often felt before any interview, or public speaking or anything else that might be seen by thousands, hundreds of thousands, or—since she and Verily had confirmed publicly that they were in fact an item—billions.
It was a big, populated galaxy and it was always hungry for celebrity gossip. Ever since her first unsuspecting appearance on Holovision when she had confessed her past and it had made the major media outlets, she had had a cautious relationship with the press.
Still, this was supposed to be different. A diplomatic envoy from another dimension set. It was intriguing even if her mouth was still dry and her belly still filled with butterflies.
The door opened and the music and laughter from ‘The Good Spot’ flooded into the dim room briefly as the sound proofing was broken and a woman strode into the room.
“Have a seat.” Sasha said, and then realized that she had forgot to introduce herself and blurted, “I’m Sasha Wheaton.” out rather abruptly. She held her drink in her hand and nervously took a drink. ‘Well,’ she thought to herself, ‘I’m off to a great start once again.’
When Kelly first walked in, the noise greeted. In her own world, this would result in a blaring headache for her, but thankfully in the realm of the imagination, Kelly managed to dampen the noise immediately and locate her interviewee, so she approached.
When ordered to seat, Kelly raised a brow but said nothing as she graciously took a seat across from Sasha. She smiled at the woman. “Thank you for meeting with me. I am Kelly Blanchard As you may know, I am from a completely different realm, so some of my questions may seem strange, but I appreciate your patience. On the bright side, at least you get to talk with someone who knows absolutely nothing about you.” She smiled. “So shall we begin?” Once Sasha gave a curt nod, Kelly nodded as well then tilted her head to a side. “So, Sasha Wheaton, who are you?”
Sasha smoothed her wavy dark hair behind her ears and looked at Kelly. As was so often the case when faced with a direct question she fumbled it. Luckily she had a lot more practice since she had first enlisted in the GAF and she was able to find her words.
“Well, I’m a Lieutenant in the Galactic Armed Forces, I serve in Detach Detachment.” Sasha realized that this probably meant little to nothing to someone from so far away and so she tried to recall how she was trained to introduce herself when meeting a new race for the first time. She couldn’t bring the formal words to mind and so she compensated with a drink of her alcohol and smiled nervously.
Kelly returned the smile with ease. “No need to worry, Sasha. I’m not a reporter. I’m not even an ambassador. You can think of me as….a friend—one you’ll never see again, but I won’t betray your trust.” Kelly then sat back in her chair and crossed an arm over her chest to hold her other arm. “So you’re a Lieutenant. Impressive. I must say though, no matter how many times I’ve tried to learn the army ranks, I always get confused, so pardon me if I fumble. Now, you mentioned you serve the…Detach Detachment. Could you explain that to me? It sounds rather redundant.”
“Oh, you can just call me ‘Sasha’. There’s no need for ranks, really.” Sasha leaned forward, excited to be able to talk about something that she knew about. It was easier than talking about her own past or present for that matter. “Most larger units are referred to as detachments. Detach Detachment is a bit special because it was, well, detached from the main body of the GAF, because, well, it’s where they send people when they want to punish or get rid of them. It used to be a pretty horrible place when I was first sent to it, but Verily…I mean, Captain Wrought, really changed it. The sort of thing that happened before he came aren’t allowed to happen anymore and we get dangerous missions still but there is also a lot of respect for us.”
Sasha glowed with pride. It had been hard for her when she had first been sent to Detach Detachment, but it had worked out beyond her wildest dreams in the end, except for the fact that she was still enlisted for another three years.
Kelly tried to understand. “So, wait, they sent you there because they want to punish you or something?” She furrowed her brows. “Why?” She hoped she was understanding it correctly.
“That’s exactly right. I had some bad luck shortly after I finished training. A Commanding Officer tried to make me do things, I tried to report him but he got there before I did and he framed me for theft and planted evidence on me. I didn’t have any way to refute it, he blew it way out of proportion and next thing I knew I was sent way to the far end of the galaxy.” The injustice of it still brought tears to Sasha’s big dark eyes.
Kelly frowned when she heard this, and she crossed her arms. “Well, that’s largely unfair, but you said it turned out for the best? And this Captain Wrought….was he there when you arrived? And how did he manage to change it?” She already knew there was a connection between the captain and Sasha, but Kelly wanted her to tell her that.
Sasha blushed at the name, “He wasn’t there. And when I first got there, well, you might as well be sent to prison…only everyone has access to weapons and there weren’t any guards or bars. It was horrible. There was no order, no discipline, and the Captain who ran it before Wrought came was a big fat incompetent…well, you get the idea. He treated it like the women who were there were there to be his personal harem. It was a nightmare. ” She paused long enough to catch her breath.
“Captain Wrought has a lot of money. His father owns Wrought Munitions and the GAF buys all its weapons from him. Verily enlisted against his father’s wishes and ended up doing a…controversial maneuver that got him sent to replace the old Captain of Detach Detachment as punishment.” Sasha’s eyes darted at the mention of the old captain’s sudden demise and looked away.
“As for Verily and I, well, it’s not a secret anymore so I can tell you about it. I had a crush on him since the first time I ever saw him on holovision. I felt like I knew him, but then everyone thinks they know celebrities. When I first saw him I thought I was dreaming and then he woke me up out of the nightmare I had fallen into in Detach Detachment…it took him along time to convince me that he really loved me. I just couldn’t believe that anyone ever would, and that that someone would be Verily…well, I guess he’s my Prince Charming, my Lancelot.”
A warm smile touched Kelly’s lips as she listened to this enchanting tale—a different kind of fairy tale, and she liked it. “I’m glad you two have each other. I bet you’re a force to be reckoned with.” She chuckled. “Now, before we address any questions dealing with the present day or what the future may hold, why did you join the army? I’m assuming there was a war of sorts. What was it about?”
“There wasn’t a war at the time, but an entire galaxy has to be patrolled and there are always skirmishes and confrontations. At the time though it was almost like becoming a Peace Keeper.” Sasha paused before plunging in, “It’s not at all a secret, not when it’s been aired on holovision all over the galaxy, but I left home to escape my family. Well, to escape my Dad. I had been told that my sister was dead and she was the only reason that I stayed at home. I later found proof that she isn’t dead, she is alive and I hope one day to get her back.” Sasha was neglecting large embarrassing chunks of the story but she thought her cheeks were red enough as it was
Kelly noted the redness of her cheeks and tilted her head. “There’s something you’re not saying…”
Sasha didn’t try to dissimilate, “I was pregnant, I knew it was my father’s. I wanted to get rid of it. I was scared it would be a monster and oddly, I didn’t want to get my dad in trouble. I blackmailed him and demanded he give me the money I needed to get into the officer’s academy and to get rid of the baby. I regret doing that now. There are too many questions about it…”
Sasha trailed off. Losing her sister and the pregnancy were still unresolved issues, and she stumbled to formulate a justification through the guilt she still felt, “My sister, Anastasia…she was special. They call it autistic, but she had special gifts. She could make things move, do things. Some people called her a monster. I always worried afterwards that maybe it was a baby like Anastasia. I had gotten rid of and I had just called her a monster and got rid of her. Now I’ll never know.”
Sadness touched Kelly at this story, but she understood the choices Sasha made, and she was right. She would never know. “So your sister….you said you know she’s alive, but have you seen her yourself? How do you know this?”
“She talks to me, sometimes in dreams, but sometimes she will tell me when something bad is about to happen and try to warn me.” Sasha paused. “She is a long ways away. My dad was scared of her, people with special abilities aren’t supposed to be with the regular people. Dad was scared of her but there was also a big reward for someone of Anastasia’s talents.” Sasha felt like she wanted to race across the galaxy to find the military installation Anastasia was in right that second. She would need a lot of help to find it, let alone to extract her sister though. “She’s owned by a top secret detachment of the GAF now. She was sold into slavery by her own father. One day I will find her though and I will find a way to keep her safe”
Some reason, Anastasia reminded Kelly a little bit of River from ‘Firefly’ but also completely different, and this made Kelly curious, so she leaned forward, setting her elbows on the table between them. “I’m sorry to hear about everything she’s endured, but if she takes after you at all, she must be a very strong person. It’s neat that she can reach out to you in dreams. When was the first time that happened?”
“Anastasia never spoke very well but she always spoke extremely well to me…I mean, when she wanted to her thoughts would just be in my head. Sometimes she would also talk to me our dreams.” Sasha laughed, “The first time that I really knew she was special though was when she was only home for a few days. Our house was really small and she and I shared a room from the first day she was brought home. Daddy came in and tried to touch me and Anastasia pulled a solar system project I had hung up off of the ceiling and started pelting him with them! After that anytime he tried to touch me, worse and worse things would happen. The day Anastasia was taken away though…it was like things went right back to ‘normal’.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, but she does care about you, and I hope you can find her soon and bring her somewhere where she will be safe.” Kelly gifted Sasha with a kind smile as she pulled back and settled in her chair. “So, random questions, do you have a dream you hope to see come true? If so, what is that dream?”
“I would love to have a little cottage somewhere, on a nice planet, not like a planet like Dalton where I grew up…I don’t want to be in a ‘fashionable’ place like Brandeburg.” Sasha constructed her dream in the air. “I want to live happily ever after and have everything be beautiful. When we were little, Anastasia and I would play The Knights of the Round Table. Anastasia always wanted to be Lancelot and rescue me as Gueneviere, but we all know that Gueneviere is never rescued. She gets condemned by her own husband and the whole thing is tragedy. I don’t want to play that game anymore. When I see Anastasia again, I want to play Happily Ever After. I want her to love Verily, and I know he will love her and take care of her, probably better than I was ever able to take care of Anastasia.” Sasha sighed, “I want to be happy with my prince and with the little princess and to have children of my own.” Sasha knew she was rambling and forced herself to have a drink so she would stop talking.
“That is a beautiful dream, and I hope it will come true as realistically as possible. Now though…” Kelly tilted her head as she regarded Sasha. “What’s your greatest fear?”
“That I will wake up at home on Dalton and all this will have been a dream. That Anastasia will still be gone and that I’ll be trapped working for the Nuclear Factory.” Sasha surprised herself with how quickly she knew the answer to that question. She hadn’t realized that that was her greatest fear.
“Interesting.” Kelly nodded but then offered Sasha another smile. “For what it’s worth, I’m pretty sure this isn’t a dream, so don’t worry about that.” She dismissed it with a gesture of her hand but then glimpsed around at their surroundings. “I get the feeling that you’re pretty popular or something. How does a lieutenant become a celebrity of sorts?” She furrowed her brows a bit puzzled as she looked back at Sasha.
“I guess that started when I met Howard Donovan. I was still in basic training and I didn’t know that he was the father of the pop star icon Dominic Donovan as well as being the head of Donovan Industries. I told him everything about my dad and, well, everything, I was really naïve and didn’t know that a man like that has reporters hounding him nearly constantly. Our whole conversation was recorded and I found that I either had to be okay in a hurry about talking about the abuse I had experienced or I was going to be sunk in a hurry. After that I became a bit of a poster child for the GAF. They used it as an enlistment campaign that it was a place to go when your home wasn’t a safe place anymore. I guess a lot of people related to it.” Sasha smiled, “When I started dating Verily all my privacy went out the window. He was the most eligible bachelor in the Galaxy. He was on the cover of the Galactic Star with that written under his picture as a matter of fact. I have a copy of it somewhere.” Sasha smiled again, she had bought the magazine before she had ever met Verily.
This made Kelly laugh. Verily and Sasha’s relationship sounded amazing, so Kelly had to know more. She leaned forward, setting her elbows on the table and her chin in her hand–a ready smile on her face. “So is Verily really his name? That’s an odd one.”
“He is really named Verily. His father’s name is worse though: Victorinous Wrought.” Sasha made a yuck face although it wasn’t so much about the name as it was the man himself. He seemed to have no morals or values except to make money. She had personally seen the damage his weapons had done to planets and people and couldn’t reconcile the glee that Victorinous displayed with anyone who was human. “Verily is wonderful though, the total opposite of his father in every way. He is so caring and thoughtful and he uses his money for good and not evil. He’s very handsome…blue eyes and red hair. Red hair is almost unheard of and some people don’t like it but I think it’s amazing.” Sasha was clearly utterly smitten with Verily.
“He sounds quite charming! Now, I know ‘how’ you met, but can you describe to me that moment?” Kelly watched the memories flood Sasha’s face and knew she was remembering that exact moment. She waited to hear what Sasha would say.
“I was in utter misery when I first saw him. I must have looked like a wreck. I had given up caring about how I looked and I just tried to survive each day. I was pretty sure Anastasia was dead, I hadn’t heard from her in months.” She paused, “It was in this sort of mental state that I first saw him and to me, he looked like a heroic angel more than like a human man.”
“Our former Captain, Captain VanHorn, had been found with his throat slit and all of us knew that our futures were extremely precarious. Any of us could have been accused of murdering him and everyone was even more suspicious than usual of everyone else.”
“We first found out the new captain had arrived when we were ordered to report to the Mess Hall for inspection. That pretty much meant that everyone tried to find pants AND a shirt. And there we were, a bunch of hope forsaken slobs while he stood tall and confronted us all like we were all reasonable human beings. He was the first person who talked to me after I was sent to Detach Detachment like I was a human, like he respected me. It made me feel alive again.”
“And you knew of him before this though? Since you said he was the most eligible bachelor in the Galaxy.” Kelly’s eyes twinkled with amusement of what she imagined could have gone through Sasha’s head at the time, but of course, in that mental state she had been in, maybe Sasha hadn’t recognized him at first, so she tilted her head. “Did you recognize him when you saw him?
“Oh, I recognized him. At first I just enjoyed looking at him…if you know what I mean. And then I kind of woke up and I didn’t know if it was really happening. At this point I was in survivor mode and I wasn’t very rational. I would have been happy then to have had it just been a diversion. I would have been happy if it turned out I was delusional from head trauma and having this all as a fantasy.” She shook her head. “But I wasn’t delusional and he was really there. I knew he had joined the GAF, but I hadn’t imagined they would ever send him to DD. You have to understand the way Verily is too, he’s very practical and he’s used to people having their jaws hit the floor when he walks into a room. He just started talking, listing off all the stuff that was going to change, but in a polite and courteous tone. And there we are, pretty much hardened criminals (or nearly half dead in my case) and everyone is just nodding along and agreeing with him. He’s a very charming man and it’s a rare person who doesn’t want to make him proud of them. He just has that way to him.”
“That is very amazing, and he sounds like a wonderful person. I’m glad you two have each other.” Kelly smiled but then the smile froze on her face, and she cocked her head to a side as if listening to something only she could hear.
Frowning, she sighed then locked eyes with Sasha. “I’m sorry, but my time here has come to an end. I need to get back to my own world.” She rose to her feet. “Thank you for the chat. I really do appreciate it. I have so many more questions I wanted to ask, but alas.” She shook her head. “Time isn’t an element I control—usually. But thank you again. I hope you the very best, and I look forward to hearing of your adventures!”
“Thanks so much for coming, Kelly! I know this is a long ways away from home for you and it was wonderful that you could make the journey… so to speak.” Sasha smiled. She was much more calm and confident at the end of an interview than at the start.
“It was my pleasure! And it wasn’t quite a journey as much as you may think. I will be keeping an eye on your story.” With a wink, Kelly vanished completely in front of Sasha’s eyes, returning to her own realm.
Note: Sasha is a character in Virginia’s science fiction book, ‘Dalton’s Daughter’.