Starman part 4. A lot can happen between adventures.
“I know what it is!” Chloe stood up, “I think I know what we need to feed the star in order to give him the energy he needs!’
By now the various villagers that had been listening to Chloe’s story returned to their responsibilities. Only Jan, Yaska, and the Starman remained around the dwindling fire. Now that the story had turned to discussion, the stood, forming a small circle around the dwindling fire.
“What did the hero give the star in my father’s legend?” Chloe asked.
Yaska half-frowned at Chloe, “you said it was just food and drink. We gave him food and drink on the mountain.”
“I know, but, like you said, it wasn’t star food.”
“Well then what is star food?”
Chloe smiled, “well, what is a star? Here’s a better question; the sun is a star, so what is the sun?”
Jan looked into the sky and stared at the sun. His Plainkind eyes adjusted and focused. After a few seconds, he looked away and rubbed his eyes.
“Well, it’s bright!” Jan laughed.
Yaska said, “It is bright, and it gives off heat during the day.”
“Right, so…?” Chloe questioned.
“So, is the sun a fire?”
“So stars are made of fire.”
“Right!” Chloe clapped her hands together, “Stars are made of fire.”
“So we need to figure out what feeds a fire, and feed it to the Starman.” Yaska concluded.
The Starman nodded.
Jan said, “So we have to feed him shrubs and brambles?” He looked at the pile of desert plants he had gathered for the night fire with confusion.
“If I needed to eat shrubs, I would have told you. I learned the word for that.” The Starman said.
Chloe laughed, “don’t worry, I’ll tell you! Stars don’t burn wood or shrubs, you can’t grow those things in the sky anyway. Instead they burn hydrogen.”
Yaska listened with interest, but Jan said, “They burn what?”
“Hydrogen. It’s invisible and flammable,” Chloe said, “and a star doesn’t really burn it. Instead, it causes a nuclear reaction that combines four hydrogen atoms into beryllium*. At least, that’s what the Sol-Metch researchers say. But really, they know more about fission than fusion.”
Jan said, “you completely lost me.”
Yaska said, “you mostly lost me. But more importantly, do you know where we can get hydrogen?”
Chloe smiled, “oh, it’s in water.”
Chloe picked her waterskin up from the ground, “you can separate the hydrogen from the rest of the compound by, ah,” Chloe frowned, “running an electric current through it.”
Jan and the Starman stared, but Yaska’s face showed deadened recognition, “an electric current? Is that not related to the a soul in Solune culture?”
“Ah, all of our nerves run on electric signals, so creating one outside of a body is…” Chloe trailed off and twiddled her thumbs, “ah, even if it wasn’t such a touch area, how would we even…”
Chloe gave up on her sentence. She had the the water, but she wasn’t sure how she could separate it, or even how.
The Starman looked from Yaska to Chloe, and then to Jan. He could see that Jan was unsure of what was going on, but was aware that this was some sort of road block.
The Starman said, “but, if we are to believe your story then does that not mean that, like the hero, I can just drink the water?”
Chloe’s eyes widened, she brightly said, “of course! Perhaps you can do it within you! Let’s at least give it a shot.”
She handed the skin to the Starman, who drank a bit. He said, “this is what I needed.”
To Chloe’s relief, the Starman finished only half the water. He said, “thank you, you were right, this is star food. I think I should return outside the village.”
The Starman started walking towards the place where he landed. The group followed. AS they walked, the sky began to get dark.
Chloe said, “it was quite interesting to meet a star, I would have liked to learn more about you.”
Yaska said, “well, perhaps he can stay.”
The Starman shook his head, “You are all quite friendly, but I prefer my own home.”
The Starman closed his eyes and began generating energy. His legs slowly morphed away. His body dropped and began to hover above the ground. Then the rest of his features began to lose their form and he, once again, became a ball of light. The star rose up just as other stars began to appear in the darkening sky.
Yaska tried to see which star he would become, but through the dusk and the shimmering atmosphere, it was hard to tell. Jan departed shortly after to make sure the village had a fire, and Chloe and Yaska were left alone, watching.
“Did you see which star he was?” Yaska said.
Chloe said, “it’s hard to tell. To be honest, I don’t really know the locations of stars. They’re hard to see in the Solune Kingdom too, so we don’t really engage in mapping them.”
“Oh. He was a little strange. Silent. Perhaps he did not particularly enjoy our company.”
“He must have had some reason for wanting to get home. For all we know, that could be the reason. Maybe stars just think differently than us.”
Chloe shrugged and sat on the sand. Yaska sat next to her.
“I wonder,” Yaska said, “If that star in your story wanted to stay.”
“Well, my father says he did. I guess, like us, stars have differences too.”
Yaska considered her words. She thought about Chloe’s father. She had met him, the Solune King, before. He was said to be immortal.
Yaska said, “was your father the hero from the story?”
Chloe turned her head and smiled, “I think so. He told me that the star might return at some point.”
“It is just afraid of taking the form of someone influential again? Or getting attacked?”
“Yeah.”Chloe continued, “Hey, let’s go visit the fire. Maybe Jan will have a new story for us.”
“Or maybe you could give us another.” Yaska smiled.
They both smiled, and returned to the village.
*The Sol-Metch researchers are incorrect about this. In basic terms, s star will fuse two hydrogen atoms into a helium, and then later will fuse two helium atoms into beryllium. The Sol-Metch and Solune scientific communities have not yet discovered helium, and so at the moment they assume that hydrogen either fuses by threes into lithium, or by fours into beryllium.
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