by Tiffany Pertranovich
2014-16 The Last NEBADOR Writing Contest, second place
This story takes place on the gas-giant planet Sonmatia Six, which the crew of the Manessa Kwi saw, but did not visit, in NEBADOR Book Five: Back to the Stars.
The green mist was floating at the top of the clouds, looking up at the stars, when a blue mist floated near.
"Hi," the green mist said. "You get done with chores, too?"
"No," the blue mist said. "I snuck away."
The green mist giggled.
"What are you doing up here?" Blue asked.
"Dreaming about the stars. I want to go there some day. I am so tired of gravity. Gravity is for grown-ups!"
"I know what you mean. Whenever I want to sneak away, I just float up ... and up ... and up ... and no one knows where I went!"
Green giggled again. "Want to be friends?"
Blue looked at Green. "And float away together if we can ever find a way?"
They touched, swirled together, and became a blue-green mist at the top of the clouds.
"Assembly!" the evil queen roared. "Everybody get down here, at the bottom of the gravity well where everything is as it should be!" And then she whispered to herself, "(and I'm in control)."
All of the mist-people of Sonmatia Six trudged through the strong gravity to get to the assembly hall. The kids floated, until their parents saw them and made them come down and trudge with the grown-ups.
"Our scientists (damn them) have discovered something!" the evil queen roared when everyone was assembled.
The people gasped, because their queen rarely admitted the scientists even existed, and almost never told the people anything they discovered.
"They have discovered that a comet is coming our way. I didn't believe them until I agreed to look through one of their gadgets. Now I know it's true (and I'm only telling you because I can twist the truth for my own purposes)."
The grown-ups grumbled among themselves. The kids tried to float away, but the grown-ups saw them and made them come back down.
"The comet won't hit the planet, but will skim through the upper cloud layers, and spread poisonous ice made of water, and poisonous gasses like air ..."
The people gasped and trembled with fear. The kids tried to float away again, and the grown-ups were so busy trembling that some of the kids made it.
"So even though I hate to do this (but secretly love it)," the evil queen went on, "I have to warn everyone to stay far away from the comet when it skims by, or you might get poisoned and die!"
The people talked and grumbled and trembled as they left the assembly.
The real truth spread from kid to kid, because one of them had a father who was a scientist, and had heard him saying that the water and air from the comet wasn't poisonous at all.
The next time Green and Blue could get away from chores and lessons, they floated together at the top of the clouds, partly green, partly blue, and partly blue-green.
"I think I can see the comet," Blue said. "If it moves after a while, then that's it, for sure."
"Yeah," Green agreed. "The big question is ... are we going to do it?"
Blue thought for a long time. "It's a one-way trip. As far as the scientists know, that comet will never come back here ... even again."
Green nodded. "And we'll have to sneak away three days before it gets here to be at the right place at the right time."
Blue cringed. "Kids our age don't leave home very often, except a few that have rotten parents."
Green nodded. "My parents aren't rotten. They're just ... grown-ups, and don't understand why I want to go see the ... the whole ... the whole universe."
"Mine aren't rotten either," Blue said. "They're just ... you know ... caught by gravity."
The two friend were silent for a long time.
"Yep, it moved," Blue said. "That's the comet."
"Yep," Green agreed.
The parents of both Green and Blue arranged plenty of activities, deep in the gravity well, to keep their kids busy on the day the comet would skim the atmosphere of the planet. They had even rented part of Bouncing Cloud Castle, a treat few kids could resist. But they hadn't realized that the most important day for keeping their kids busy was three days earlier.
After a normal day of lessons and chores, the two friends met in a secret place deep inside a dark cloud where no one ever went. They weren't planning to gaze up at the stars and the comet. They were planning to leave home, probably forever.
It was their turn to tremble. Either one of them, alone, probably wouldn't have found the courage to do it. But together, they did.
Without saying much, they took some deep breaths, looked down at their childhood home one last time, and zoomed away toward the place where the comet would skim the clouds of Sonmatia Six three days later.
Beings of mist can't zoom very fast. Also, the evil queen's police had thought of what might happen three days before the comet arrived.
"You two kids! Stop right there!"
Green froze, but Blue knew what had to be done. "You go ahead. The police aren't close enough yet to see our colors. I'll puff up real big, and they'll think I'm two of us. Go! Now! Before they get any closer! It was your dream to see the whole universe more than it was mine. And I bet you'll find a way to come back and tell me all about it."
Green hesitated, but Blue gave a big push, and Green knew Blue was being serious. "Bye! I'll never forget you!" Green called, zooming into a cloud.
Blue waved good-bye as long as possible, then puffed up and turned to face the police.
"These must be the missing two kids," one police-mist said.
"We just wanted to see the comet fly by!" Blue said. Then, in a slightly different voice, "Yeah!" Blue agreed, trying not to snicker.
The police took Blue, still puffed up, slowly back down into the gravity well where all the other mist-people lived. They didn't notice that the blue mist had a hint of green in it.
Green was sad, but didn't want Blue's sacrifice to be for nothing, so went on, as fast as a mist can, toward the place the comet would touch the clouds.
For two and a half more days, Green floated as fast as possible, not wanting to be late.
When Green arrive at the right place, the comet was almost there. It now looked huge, and Green felt some fear, but Blue's courage had made Green even more determined than ever.
The comet skimmed through the upper clouds, and with a deep breath, Green swirled into the comet's gasses and bits of ice, leaving Sonmatia Six behind forever.
The comet left the clouds and flew back into space.
"Weeeeeeeeeeeee!" Green yelled, starting the biggest adventure any mist-person had ever had.
When the scientists looked through their gadgets at the comet, now getting farther and farther away, they saw a small swirl of green mist among all the white and gray of the comet. They also noticed that the green mist had a little bit of blue in it.