“Super Sacrifice” is one of the outstanding stories of the first biannual International Short Story Contest 2018 written by Amelia Huge, Greenfields Academy, USA.
Before we start this story, you will have to understand who the characters are and what their life is like. Eclipse, who we start with, is a superhero who can harness the powers of the moon. He can create moon dust, blinding everyone around him, leaving only him with the capability to see. He can also create “space balls”. He uses these make things explode. His name comes from his well-known power, the solar eclipse. Everything around you goes dark. The only thing that you can see is a bright light shaped like a man. This is used as a distraction from what is happening in the real world.
Astra, Eclipse’s crime-fighting partner, has similar powers. She is able to manipulate nebula-looking matter and create it into what she wants to. She most commonly uses her space car and space wings. She has another power, but it doesn’t have anything to do with her name. She can communicate with animals, in a way. She can talk to them, they will understand her, but they can’t talk back.
Both Astra and Eclipse share the same enemy, Fire Fly. She has fire related powers, which change often which makes her a confusing enemy. This is the reason why she hasn’t been defeated yet. She has used her powers to try and get rid of Astra and use Eclipse as her henchman. Astra and Eclipse protect the city of Hillside. Hillside is what you might imagine as a futuristic city. However you imagine this, it will fit into the story. Now that you are caught up, let’s begin...
“You have 1 hour until your city is swallowed by flames” were the words that still echoed in his head. Every time he tried to relax, he just heard the words again: the death sentence on his city.
He ate food in silence, still mulling over how he could save Hillside. Every solution that he had in mind still had the same flaw: Someone will die, whether that was him or civilians. He protects the city and that’s his job, but if he isn’t there anymore, who will save the city? He had set his watch after the message. He had spent 10 minutes thinking. It felt like an eternity trapped in an hour.
“Sir, Astra is at the door. Should I answer it?” He heard his automated servant’s voice. He had jumped at the sound. He hadn’t heard anything but his thoughts in the last 10 minutes.
No full-time superhero went by their real name, not even to each other. Astra was his sidekick, in a way. She had just as much glory as he did, but neither of them needed to be famous. They just wanted to make sure this city was safe from Fire Fly, his one enemy. He still hadn’t managed to take her down.
“Yeah, that’s fine.” Eclipse said. He pulled himself together, still thinking of Fire Fly. Astra probably didn’t know, so he prepared himself to break the news. He snapped his fingers and instantly his place was clean.
Recently, he had installed a cleaning system that would help him out. Eclipse never had time to clean for himself, so this helped him immensely. He heard Astra greets his robot. His robot has a system that developed feelings. He also said whatever came to mind. He saw Astra walk into the room, wearing her usual “saving-the-world” outfit.
“What are we going to do about Fire Fly? If she is going to light the city on fire in…” she tapped her wrist to check the time, “49 minutes, then we have to think of something and put it into action, pronto.” Astra had already started pacing around the room. She had heard the news somehow.
“So, I know we are in a really big hurry, but how exactly did you find out?” Eclipse needed an empty mind to handle Fire Fly. If this was something that was in his head, he would never be able to focus.
“He somehow broke into my robot’s system and spoke through it. Then he tried killing me, but I hadn’t installed a combat system on my robot yet, so he got nowhere with that. I had to destroy it anyway because it was a permanent command. Oh well.” Astra wasn’t one to linger. Once it happened, she was over it, for the most part.
“So, back on topic: Fire Fly. Any ideas?” she kept pacing around the room.
He thought it over again. It was about a minute of silence until Eclipse’s robot offered something. The comment made everything sound so easy. He was surprised he didn’t think of it before.
“Sir, you could always just find out where she is located by backtracking the source’s signal to where she was when she sent it and then stop her before she even gets to the city.” Sometimes, a robot is truly helpful.
“Great. Chip, track the message back to its source and pull up a visual. Make some tea as well.” Eclipse was eager to find Fire Fly before she could do anything to his city. In under a second, a visual was sent to his suit screen, “Chateau Miranda. Celles, Belgium. Let’s go.” Eclipse started to walk out the door, but was held back by Astra grabbing his arm.
“Eclipse, you can’t just run off. It’s not safe. I only came over to brainstorm, I don’t have everything. You can’t go by yourself.” her eyes glinted with determination.
“I’m going now. You can meet me there.” He tapped his screen to send the coordinates to Astra. “I’m not waiting for you.”
With that, Eclipse was out of the door. Astra watched him fly off, by himself.
“Sir, you forgot your tea.” Chip was holding a plate with two cups of tea. “Would you still like your tea, Miss?” Chip held out the plate to Astra.
“No, thanks, I have to make sure that Eclipse is safe. Bye, Chip.” Even in the dire situation, Astra remembered to use her manners with Chip. She used her space car to get home.
Astra ran inside and past her broken robot. She ran into her room, grabbed her mask and her space resistant shoes. They were made out of a material that wouldn’t dissolve because of her powers. Before she left, she took out her backup robot and set it up. She named it Pete. There was no time to figure out of a better name. She then connected her microphone to the robot. She needed to make sure that she didn’t mess anything up, on account with what happened during the last mission. She tried not to think of it anymore, but it was always in the back of her head.
Astra suppressed her failed mission from her head as she rushed out the door. She used her powers to create her wings. Up into the air she went and turned on her microphone. “Pete, send me the coordinates for Chateau Miranda to my suit GPS.” Astra tapped her wrist to check on the time she had left. By making her stop at home, she had spent 15 minutes. She had 34 minutes left. She needed to make sure Eclipse was okay. She took off to the skies.
“Pete, turn on my microphone connection with Eclipse.” She tapped her microphone twice to change the contact, “Eclipse, do you copy?” After a few minutes of dead silence on the other end, she asked “Pete, why can’t Eclipse get in contact with me?”
“It appears that Eclipse has turned off his microphone connection.” Pete answered. Astra knew that something was wrong. They had decided from when they first met, that they would never turn off their contact with each other. Astra flew faster. Wind blew hard in her face. Astra looked down and saw the ocean. It was always windier over the water. She tried hard to ponder about ordinary things, like she had an ordinary life, but she didn’t and she knew that. Trying to distract Astra doesn’t go very well.
After 5 more minutes of flying, she found Chateau Miranda. She touched her wings and they dissolved. She ran into the building.
When she looked around, she couldn’t see anything. It was pitch dark, even during the day. She held up her finger and the room lit up. She could tell that the place had recently been used. There was high tech equipment everywhere. There was a small noise that came from behind her. She held her breath, waiting for the worst.
A mouse scurried across the floor. She breathed a sigh of relief. “Come here.” She called the mouse over. The mouse’s ears perked up and he came over. Her name had to do with her space-related powers, but that didn’t mean that she could only do that. She was proud to be able to understand things that others don’t. “Have you seen anyone here?” She asked the mouse. He nodded his head, “Where did they go?” The mouse motioned to a wall. She searched the wall and found a scorch mark. Fire Fly had been here, “Thank you.” the mouse continued with his scurrying.
“Pete, search for signs of rapidly decreasing oxygen levels in the air and then send me the coordinates for their location.” She checked around the room one last time to see if she could find any more clues, but it was empty.
“Astra, a location 30 miles away from Hillside just had a sudden decrease in oxygen. Sending the coordinates now.” Just after she got the message, Pete spoke again. “Astra an incoming video message from Fire Fly, I am sending you the projection now.” Astra heard another beep come from her suit’s notification system. She created her space wings again and started on her route. Astra tapped the back of her wrist twice to see what the notification was for.
Astra was upset for two reasons. First, the sun was glaring onto the screen, making it hard to see. Second, she saw Fire Fly’s face, “Hello Astra. I’m sure you already know that it’s me, but Fire Fly is here and she is not alone.” What really drove Astra nuts sometimes was that Fire Fly talked in third-person. It was normally a sign that a person has issues. “She has company, I’m sure you know him. Do you have something to say?” Astra saw the camera turn from her face to another. She saw Eclipse tied up in a chair with fabric in his mouth. Fire Fly took off the fabric with immense force. She heard Eclipse yell out in pain.
“Well, spit it out Eclipse!” Fire Fly yelled. Eclipse didn’t look at the camera, but he said, urgently, “Don’t come to save me, make sure she doesn’t kill anybody.” He looked into the camera with a hard stare, “Do not come for…” Fire Fly put the gag back on.
“That’s enough.” she waved her hand to dismiss the topic, “Anyway, you have under 30 minutes to save your city or your friend. It’s your choice, darling. Your city Or your friend.”
With that, the screen went black. Fire Fly was well aware that Astra’s last battle hadn’t gone well. She had let an innocent civilian die because instead she saved Eclipse. He had been mad at her since the incident and she wasn’t sure what to do again. She knew that everybody would die, but if she saved everyone, Fire Fly would take Eclipse. She would be alone. This was the hardest decision to make. She figured that if she saved Eclipse as fast as she could, she could have time to save Hillside with help. This seemed like the best answer and if she couldn’t ever work Eclipse again, she would have saved him and everyone else.
“Pete, track the source of the last message and send the coordinates to my suits GPS.” Astra had continued flying and started down the track that Pete sent her. She was wasting time and she couldn’t help but do so. There was no way to fly faster, otherwise her wings would dissolve and she would fall. The feeling of helplessness was not one that she was familiar with.
Up ahead, Hillside came into view, she kept following the GPS. She had a hard time breathing. Pete had told her that Hillside had a dramatic decrease in oxygen levels, but there wasn’t much to do about it. The civilians would know that Fire Fly is here. This wasn’t the first time she had tried to destroy the city. Again, her past mistakes came into her head, but she didn’t let that distract her.
Astra had landed on the ground; she touched her wings to make them dissolve. She had followed the signal to an old abandoned warehouse. Just by looking, she could tell that Fire Fly was here. There were black singe marks where the lock should be and the door was slightly ajar. She silently opened and closed the door, letting the darkness engulf her.
There was some light coming through the door, but still it wasn’t enough. Astra couldn’t use her powers to light up the warehouse, otherwise Fire Fly would know she was here. She moved along the wall, letting her sense of touch guide her. She hadn’t walked for long before she saw a fire. Fire Fly wasn’t one to rely on electricity. Along the edge of the warehouse, there were small fires, acting as torches to light up the room. In the center of the room, she saw Eclipse in a chair.
He was looking down, so he hadn’t spotted her yet. There was an hourglass next to him. He had been watching the time slip away. The hourglass was attached to a machine. She didn’t know what it did, but she knew that it wasn’t good. Astra looked from side to side, making sure no one was there. They slipped out of the shadows, getting closer to Eclipse.
“Eclipse, we’re leaving now.” Astra whispered. He had looked up and seen her. The look on his face told her that she was in a lot of trouble. She untied him from the chair and burnt through the handcuffs using her powers. She then took the gag off him. They both ran out of the warehouse. Astra made sure she left it like it was when she came. After they made it a block away from the building, Eclipse stopped. Astra looked at the ground. She knew what was coming to her.
“I thought I had made it clear not to come for me! If I must remind you, you saved me last time, innocent people died, Astra. This mistake has been made too many times. I don’t want to talk about it again!” Eclipse was yelling at her now. Astra knew that if she wanted her strategy to work, she needed to tell him why.
“But Eclipse, I have a whole…” Astra wasn’t able to finish.
“No, I’m not done. We’ve gone over this before and I’ll say it again. You are NOT to risk the lives of other people just so I stay alive. That is what being a superhero means. Do you understand?” Eclipse was done.
“DO YOU UNDERSTAND?” Eclipse wasn’t letting any excuses get to him. She had never seen him this mad before.
“Yes.” Astra needed to find a way to explain to Eclipse that she had an idea, but with him at this stage, there was no getting to him. She tapped her wrist to check the time: 17 minutes remaining. If she wanted her tactic to work, she needed to tell him now.
“Eclipse, I know you are upset with me, but you need to listen.” Astra started.
“Of course I’m mad with you. You have failed to follow our expectations, therefore putting innocent civilians in danger.” Eclipse was impossible to stop. This was going to be hard. If she wanted her plan to succeed, she needed to take a different approach.
“Then I’ll leave.” A look of horror came across Eclipse’s face, but Astra wasn’t done.
“If you will refuse to listen to me, then I can’t work with you anymore.” She knew not to say goodbye because it would leave too much of a polite attitude to her departure. It hurt Astra to say these words, but she knew it was the only way to have him listen.
“Astra, you know that’s not the right decision.” Eclipse was trying to get her to stay. His mood had drifted slightly back to normal, but he still acted like he was completely in charge of her.
“You always say that. “You’re not making the right decision, Astra”. “You’re smarter than that”. I am old enough to have my own opinion and I can save Hillside on my own.” Astra made a big scene. She even mimicked his voice when she was quoting him. She created her wings and flew off. She felt bad that she had to leave him, but it was the only way that he would understand.
When she landed, she touched her wings to make them dissolve. She walked inside to be greeted by her new robot. She knew what she needed to do to get Eclipse to help her. She knew that whatever came to a robot’s circuits is what they say. She needed to get Pete to contact Eclipse.
“Hey Pete.” Astra used her gloomiest voice she could ever do. She needed to have him listen to her conversation.
“You seem down, Miss Astra. What seems to be the problem?” Pete took the bait.
“Eclipse and I got into a fight today.” The line was tugged.
“What was the fight about?” The mouth is caught on the hook.
“He never lets me make my own decisions, but now I feel upset about arguing with him. He just wasn’t listening to me. I was going to rescue him and then have twice the amount of chances to win against Fire Fly. He just didn’t let me speak. Please don’t tell Chip or Eclipse. I wouldn’t want him hearing all this.” She pressed her back up against the wall and listened to Pete. He had done just what she needed him to do.
“Chip, I just had a conversation with Astra. She got into a fight with him today. She told me that she felt bad the she argued with him, but she just wanted him to listen. She said that she had a plan to save him so she could have twice the chance to stop Fire Fly. Please tell Eclipse so he knows that he still has to save the world.” Pete hung up from the call. Her plan had worked, but it wasn’t quite done. She just needed Eclipse. Astra checked her equipment one last time and ran out the door.
Astra checked her time again. She didn’t have much left. She created her wings and flew off. She immediately noticed a large decrease in air, even more than before. She needed to find where Fire Fly was and she needed to do it fast. Astra didn’t have the kind of technology that Eclipse had, making her unable to find her easily. She only had one way to find her and that was to search the old fashioned way. She flew around the city, looked in every room, looked on top of every building, but she just couldn’t find Fire Fly. She kept looking, but was then interrupted by a loud boom.
The first thought that came to Astra’s mind was about Fire Fly. She was too late. Eclipse was right, she should have left him. Her mind ran in circles and her heart raced. She wasn’t ready to fight Fire Fly on her own. Astra was thinking about something she could say. Something that would catch her off guard.
Astra whirled around to see Eclipse was searching as well and had sent a space ball in the sky to get her attention. He had sent the coordinates to Fire Fly’s location to her GPS. He pointed in the direction that the GPS was pointing to. Astra caught up with him and they both together, in silence, followed the directions to the same location Astra had found Eclipse. They broke down the door together.
Inside, they found Fire Fly. She was holding her hands up to the sky; she was using her powers. Red lights came out of her hands. It would’ve been cool if it weren’t such a dire situation.
Eclipse and Astra looked at each other. Eclipse nodded his head. Astra shot one of her spaceballs at Fire Fly. Right before it hit her, it just dissolved into thin air.
“You really think I wasn’t expecting you,” Fire Fly turned around. “I have been waiting.”
A few minutes later, both Astra and Eclipse were trapped a heat-filled room. Both Eclipse and Astra were sweating, but they couldn’t move, at least not without being killed by Fire Fly. Both of them knew how to communicate with just their mouths, so they were making a plan. There was only one issue: if they moved at all, they would die. A few minutes later, they had a plan. A deal that would let both of them survive.
“Hey Fire Fly. Did you know that we have backup? I don’t think you have much time left. If I were you, I’d be running away right now.” Eclipse put the first part of the plan into action.
“You amuse me! I know you would never trust anyone more than your precious Astra. I’ve been thinking, what were to happen if I killed her?” Fire Fly was distracted. Eclipse got out of is seat. He flew out of the building, breaking a hole through the ceiling. He left without Fire Fly killing him, but she wasn’t leaving the faculty. She was a stubborn person. She needed her to leave for the arrangement to work.
“I think you need to stop him. He can stop your plan.” Astra started improvising.
“Maybe he can stop me, but you know what he can’t stop me from doing? Killing you.” Fire Fly created a fireball in her hand. The light reflected in her eyes, making her look even more insane than she already was. “It could be painless. I could kill you now, but that wouldn’t be fun, would it?”
Fire Fly wanted to torment Eclipse, use him as a henchman. Me? That was a different story.
Fire Fly kept talking, but Astra wasn’t listening. Astra knew that Eclipse would notice that she couldn’t get out. Fire Fly still waited patiently in the faculty. Astra didn’t know what to do anymore. She couldn’t escape, Fire Fly was still watching her. She couldn’t kill Fire Fly, she had some sort of protection around her. She was stuck, big time.
Seconds later, the room was covered in dust. Astra could see clearly, but Fire Fly couldn’t. It was moondust. That meant Eclipse was here. While Fire Fly was distracted, Astra flew out of the hole in the building. Eclipse grabbed her by the hand and pulled her away from the warehouse.
“Our course of action didn’t work, we have to improvise.” Eclipse was stating the obvious, as usual. The moon dust was clearing from the building, Fire Fly was going to come out. She saw a bright light leaking through the hole in the ceiling. Fire Fly was certainly mad this time. She didn’t care who she had to kill to destroy the city. Neither Eclipse or Astra could see Fire Fly, she was engulfed in a red, blazing sun. This wasn’t a good sign. Fire Fly was at her fullest potential. Even with both of them, this wasn’t going to end well.
“Astra, I know you’re here.” Fire Fly was looking around for them. Astra and Eclipse had a hard time seeing, but Fire Fly would be able to see everything. They needed to stop her now. Red bolts of light came shooting out of Fire Fly’s sun ball.
“Let’s do a trade.” Fire Fly said. She had spotted them, “Astra, for your city. You know you can only have one or the other. Make your choice.” Fire Fly was making Eclipse go into sacrifice mode. Eclipse looked at Astra with the “don’t-stop-me” eyes. Astra shook her head. There was no way that she was going to let Eclipse do this.
“It’s me she wants, Eclipse. Let me go.” Astra tried talking sense into him, but he just wouldn’t listen.
“No Astra. I need to protect you and the city. I’m going to stop her.” Eclipse started flying towards Fire Fly.
Astra grabbed him by the arm. “Please, let me go. I am going to save the city this time. She doesn’t want you, she wants me.” She wasn’t going to let him go that easily.
“Astra,” Eclipse pulled her arm off him, “Listen to me, please. We are more than just partners. You shouldn’t have found out like this. I’m sorry sis.” Eclipse had grabbed her hands. He was looking at her in the eyes.
“Sis?” Astra was confused. She knew that they worked together, but they weren’t related, were they?
“Mom and Dad, before they died, they had a child. They told me to always watch out for you, even if it meant risking everything,” A loud boom came from behind him, “I need to do what they told me. Please, Astra. I’m doing this to protect you. My whole life, this is what I was meant to do. You can’t stop me, Astra. I won’t let you.” A tear slowly ran down his cheek, “I love you, Astra.” Eclipse hugged her hard. He let go of her hands and flew off to Fire Fly, into her sunball.
“Eclipse! No!” Astra flew as fast as she could, but she couldn’t get there in time. Fire Fly’s sun exploded. The force knocked Astra backwards, flinging her into a building. Everything went black.
Astra slowly opened her eyes. No bodies were lying around her which was a good sign, but the warehouse where the explosion happened had blown up with the sun. Then she remembered: Eclipse.
“Eclipse!” Astra called. She was looking around in the rubble from the building. She threw rocks and plastic aside. Metal scraps went flying in Astra’s desperate search for him, “ECLIPSE!” Astra yelled again. She kept looking. Then, something caught her eye. A shred of blue cloth was on the ground. She ran over to it. She pulled it out of the stone. She saw the “E” from his suit on the shred on fabric. She saw a drop of water fall onto the cloth. She felt her tears run down her cheeks. She couldn’t hold back her emotions anymore. She didn’t want anyone to die, that was the whole point. She had failed, just like he said she would.
“I love you, too.” Astra held the shredded piece of fabric in her hand as she fell to her knees and cried. Eclipse had saved the city, but at a great cost.