“The fire that burned down our first home wasn’t an accident. Your father died that night trying to save you from a terrorist attack on our capital. You were just a baby, but they knew that there was a power within you.”
“The power to change the world around me with a simple thought. The power of transfiguration.”
After ascending through the ranks and becoming an ace pilot, Ayna had every intention of following orders and going where they sent her, not fighting a militia of beings as old as the universe. Her mother said not a word after revealing the truth; she did nothing when Ayna got up and left through the front door. She didn’t even jump with the sound of the front door slamming as it echoed through the quiet room.
The truth was too much to handle. It felt like Ayna’s entire world was crashing down around her as that revelation unfolded a million others, like pages in a book being ripped from the spine. Transfiguration- the word explained so much. Turning a toad into a frog as a child. Somehow being able to breathe air after wading into the deep part of the lake.
Disobeying a direct order from her commanding officer and saving a research vessel. She should have been discharged then. But they continued to let her stay because she had the power to save them all. She never knew. They had told her what she could do was merely her imagination. The heat of the moment. A false memory as the result of panic. Everyone lied to her about this, and now she knew. And now? There was no chance of her running. What choice did she have? They were after her. They would always be after her. Everyone Ayna knew would be in danger. Her mother, her stepfather, her little brother. Angry tears filled her eyes; she stomped down the steps and to the holocar.
Ayna angrily commanded the car to just drive. Where was she going? She didn’t know; she didn’t care. Maybe the farther away she got, the more the truth would cease to exist. Maybe the pages would return to their binding without the smallest of tears. Maybe if she drove far enough away, the power within her would vanish and she could go back to having a normal life.
I’ll never have a normal life.
The thought makes her yell at the holocar to stop. She slams her hand on the seat beside her and lets out a scream of frustration. Even if the powers vanished, life would never be the same. Because people would know and people would find out, eventually. She looks out the window and notices she’s still in the city. Ayna tells the car to park on the side of the road and gets out. She’s in front of a familiar building. It’s not her home, but it always felt like one. Amidst the most chaotic times in her life, this was a haven. Ayna climbed the steps to Café Ashes and took a deep breath as the smell of coffee and cooked food overwhelmed her. If anyone could settle the storm within her, it was the owner of the café, Zane.
Zane reminded her a lot of a person she saw on the holoscreens once, a character in a show that aired over a thousand years ago. This character had been the uncle to a troubled teenager, and even though the teenager had betrayed, the uncle’s wisdom helped guide the teen to a better life. The café is bustling with activity; all the booths and tables and the waiting area were occupied. Several patrons waved hello and Ayna waved backs, trying to manifest a smile she doesn’t feel. Zane, meanwhile, sat at the bar drinking a cup of coffee and talking to a server. She sat down next to him and ordered the special, a soup that Ayna didn’t care to eat. She needed something in her stomach, even though she wasn’t hungry.
“Hello Ayna. Are you on leave?”
“Kind of,” Ayna confessed as she laid the money down. A waitress put her order in front of her. “I was visiting my mother.”
“What brings you here, then?” Zane finished his coffee and the same waitress refilled his cup.
Ayna took a deep breath. “That’s what I came to talk to you about. Privately.”
“We can talk in my office. Come on.”
Ayna picked up her meal. He leads her past the kitchen and to the stairs in the back of the restaurant. The stairs lead to Zane’s upstairs apartment, where the two sat in the living room. Patiently, he waited for her to finish eating; he could feel the fury that had settled beneath her skin and was waiting to be released. When she was finished, Ayna put down the bowl a little harder than she meant to- Zane notices that the surface cracks- and goes into why she’s angry. She explains everything. And then Ayna connected the dots out loud.
And what she had to do- what she needed to do- was made clear.
“Fight them, even if you fight them alone. You have to. From what you told me, these beings could wipe out our very existence if not dealt with.” Zane’s words echo in her ears as he takes her dish to a sink.
“I have to give up everything to defeat them.”
“No Ayna. One can’t just abandon who they are. Maybe this truth had been hidden from you. Maybe you don’t like how it made others treat you. But you don’t have to let their lies and their actions define you. You are your own weapon- always have been. How powerful you are is only determined by how powerful you let yourself be.”
The hot anger in her simmered to a chilled boil. Zane was right. Maybe the truth of what she was had been kept from her, but Ayna knew who she was. “What- what do you think I should do then?”
“I believe you already know that answer. It’s not an easy one.”
Her only reply is a nod. Then- she closed her eyes, thinks about home, and disappeared in a puff of smoke, her bowl abandoned in the sink.
Zane sighs, but with a smile. He’d known- always known- what she was. “All the power in the universe, and she couldn’t wash her bowl?”