Author's Note: This was originally posted on over a year ago, under my old pen name, Ultima Sefirah/Aether/Enigma/whatever the hell it was… but it never got past the first chapter. So, lo and behold, here it is once more—and this time, I fully intend to continue it regularly (unless something worse than writer's block hits, which would suck). I should probably note, though, to anyone who read the first version, that there aren't really two new chapters… The first one was entirely too long, so I split it in half (not to mention I've done some heavy—heavy—editing). So…uh… have fun, I guess…


"Hey… Are we there yet?"

"Almost. We have about half an hour left before we break the atmosphere."

"Really?!"

"Yes. You don't have to shout right in my ear."

"Oh… Sorry."

"All right, listen up: Once we get there, you have to promise me you'll stay on the ship."

"What?! But…but why?! What if you screw up?!"

"I highly doubt that's even possible. It's not that hard, to find a suitable match—"

"Suitable?! What's that supposed to mean? Are we supposed to be machines, or something—?"

"Would you start thinking about what's best for Windaffia, for once?! In this job, nothing's ever all about you!"

"…Fine. …But… Can't I at least have a little say in which one you choose…?"

"We're not going by personal preference. We have to find someone to create a sound enough balance to help effectively carry out—"

"I know, I know all that…but…"

"But what?"

"…Nothing. I'll see you later."

"Sure." Now, then… With that, he set to the task of sending a warning transmission to the American government regarding their arrival, and requesting a landing spot. Not that there was anything they could do about it, anyway.


"Aliens?! You can't be serious!"

"That does seem like the only possible explanation, sir."

"You mean 'aliens' as in illegal immigrants, right?"

"Uh, no, sir, I mean extraterrestrial aliens; you know, big green heads, almond-shaped eyes, 'take me to your leader'—aliens."

"Look, this is the FBI, not the high-school 'Roswell' club. The CIA doesn't handle stuff like that, either! It's probably just a couple of teenagers cranking you. How could you buy into such a moronic scheme?!"

"Um, sir, then what's this?" He turned on the TV to a news channel report.

"This just in! A giant, black object was detected off the coast of New Jersey; there are reports that it's a UFO, unidentified flying object—in other words, aliens have invaded Earth! Reporters are standing by to release more information to the public as it's received. Now, back to sports…"

There was a shocked silence afterwards. They had shown no pictures of the supposed 'UFO,' so there was no real proof…was there? No, it couldn't be true…could it? Aliens…riiiight…

"Sir?"

"What?"

"We have a recording of the transmission… You won't believe what they're asking for…"

"Show me the tape."


"Wildwood totally rocks! How long have we been in New Jersey, anyway?"

"Three months and counting."

"Aw, man, we gotta go back to school soon…"

"I know you're overjoyed."

"Hey, I'm not that much of a dork!" Ariana Mia Chancé tucked a strand of her long, dark blond hair behind one ear, mock glaring at Cherise, the two of them completely unaware of the 'UFO' that was less than two or three miles away.

"Oh, come on! You have not had your face out of a book since you got here!"

"…Speaking of getting my face out of books, we've been here for three months, right?" Cherise nodded; Ariana simply stared. "…Oh, crap! I got this book out the first week we were here! It's, like…ten weeks late!"

"What about the other seven in the back?" She pointed to the stack behind her. Ariana's mouth dropped.

"I gotta get these books back!" She grabbed a shoulder bag, dropping the stack of books inside. "Hey, Cherise, you really need to read more often!"

"I'm on vacation!" Cherise called as she walked out. She opened the book she was reading earlier—Dean Koontz, By the Light of the Moon—and started to read.

Ariana kept on walking into the daily night crowd of the sidewalks. She glanced at her watch; it read 6:30 PM. The library was open until seven-thirty. If she hurried, she could get to the library and pay off the fines, but still have enough time to go on the boardwalk to the arcade and play the DDR machine…

She turned a corner and kept walking, dodging people and baby carriages, but as she dodged one, she bumped into another.

"Oh, I'm sorry! Please excuse me," she said, blushing, only taking her eyes off the page to glance at the person she bumped into and walk around him. She paused once she saw him; he was about a few inches taller than she, possibly around her age, with short, glossy black hair and dark green eyes.

There was something odd about his eyes…they seemed somewhat…well, the only word that came to her was "entrancing." That sounded kind of cheesy, though, so she didn't let it bother her any further.

"No, it's okay," he replied, smiling. His smile seemed the same way, as well. She would've hit herself to clear the thought from her mind, but that would look weird. (Hey, it's not every day you see somebody just hit themselves over the head for no reason.)

"Um…uh…" She desperately tried to think of something to say. "…Th-thanks, but…I gotta go. Sorry, again!" She returned the smile and quickly rushed by him.

Her thoughts were constantly on his eyes—and his smile—even after she got to the library. She sat down at a table, picking out a new book off the shelves and glancing over the cover. Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare. Bleh, how many new editions are they gonna make of this? she thought.

"After all…knights in shining armor only appear in fantasies," she muttered, shelving the book, and going back to the one she was reading earlier. The bell on the door of the library jingled, signaling that someone came in, but she didn't look up. It was none of her business. She opened the book and started reading.


Jareth Reiker looked around the beach. It was dark; most people had deserted the beach by now, crowding the boardwalk. He scanned the area for a few seconds.

No… It's just as I thought; there's nothing here… I might as well check elsewhere.

He walked up the stairs, off the boardwalk and down onto the streets. It was just as crowded as the boardwalk had been. Earlier he'd been sitting on a bench, off to one side, but really didn't see anyone like the one he'd been looking for. He sighed. Well… This was a waste of time, he thought to himself. After all the careful planning I did just to get out here… I should probably go back, before Ianus notices

Suddenly, he walked right into someone: A girl…?

"Oh, I'm sorry! Please excuse me," she had said, face reddening. It was rare that a girl of this age would possess those kinds of manners. But what amazed him more was that she was reading—not a magazine, like the others, but a book: a thick one, at that. Maybe not all of these girls were as airheaded as he first thought.

"No, it's okay," he replied. He couldn't help but smile. Her beauty matched her kindness—or at least what he had seen of it so far—with dark blond hair and light blue eyes.

"Um…" She stuttered for a moment, then collected her nerves. "Th-thanks, but…I gotta go. Sorry, again!" Her smile was warm but fast. He was enchanted by this girl. Jareth couldn't believe it—this was the one he'd been looking for, all along!

He would've said something else, asked her name, maybe, but she hurried away. Damn! …I have to follow her; at least find out who she is… He turned and followed her. She walked a few more blocks and then into a large building. He looked inside the window and saw shelves upon shelves of books. A library…? I guess I shouldn't be surprised… After she walked in, he waited a few minutes, then went inside.

She was sitting alone at a table, reading that same book. He walked quietly by her, to an aisle of books, momentarily glancing sideways at the covers, but his eyes were trained on her. The way her foot tapped the floor, the way her eyes moved so rhythmically, the way her breathing was so silent, but her chest rose and fell in a timed manner, and the way her lips formed the words as she read…he had known her barely five minutes, but he was steadily growing fond of each of these traits. Heh… I guess this is what they call "love at first sight." Ianus is gonna be so pissed at me.

She got up, picked up a book on the shelf closest to him and read the back, then the front page. He decided to test her manners. Jareth knocked five or six books off the shelf.

"Oh, crap," he muttered, leaning down to pick up the books. The girl glanced over at him and walked over, shelving her book.

"Here, let me help you with that," she said quietly, crouching down and picking up two of the books. He picked up the other three. She glanced at him, saying, "You should be more careful. You might get hurt, sometime." As she glanced into his eyes, something clicked. This guy, she thought. …He looks familiar… Huh, maybe I'm just seeing things. She smiled, turned around, walked back to her chair, picked up her book and went over to the counter.

"Hey, Phil," she said, smiling. The librarian, on the other hand, looked disappointed. "What?"

"I remember you. You're the one who took out eight books. This is the ninth week they've been late."

"I'm sorry," she said sincerely, looking at the stack of books. "I've got them all…"

"I figured that," he grumbled, picking up one of the books and scanning it. "This book was taken out nine weeks ago by a certain Ariana Chancé. You her?"

"Yes."

"Well, you owe twenty bucks."

"Twenty bucks?" She bent over the counter and looked at the screen. "Oh…" She pulled out her wallet, and counted only seven dollars and thirty-two cents. "Ummm… I only have six dollars…?" Man…I need that last dollar for DDR…!

"Seven."

She sniffled. "Seven thirty-two… Take it…" She laid it down on the counter. "I'll be back tomorrow with the rest of it… Okay…?"

"Sure. Just so long as the books stay here."

"Okay, okay… But I wanna renew this one!" She pointed at By the Light of the Moon.

"Whatever…"

"Thank you!"

"It's due in two weeks. Don't forget."

"I won't, I won't! See ya!"

"Bye…" He watched her leave, sighing. "Honestly…"

"How much does that girl still owe?"

"Huh?" Phil looked up to see a strange boy, with black hair and green eyes. "Oh, uh, $12.68. Why?"

"Here," he replied, getting out his wallet and pulling out thirteen dollars.

"You her boyfriend, or something?"

"I'm an acquaintance."

"Oh, okay. I'll tell her tomorrow you paid it off…" He looked down for a moment, counting out the change. "What's your name…? Eh?" He glanced around; the boy had disappeared. "Where'd he go…?"


"You don't look like much of an alien to me."

The alien representative, Ianus Reiker, merely smiled, dressed in a tan business suit. With his pale green eyes and dark brown hair, there was nothing about him that suggested he did not come from Earth; though Zack Morgan, the "official" human representative, was a bit irritated at the fact he looked a bit young to be in this line of work. "Of course not. Our secondary forms would not be suitable for this current situation. Besides, it would cause worldwide panic if we were to be caught on camera. You wouldn't want that happening, would you?"

"What proof can you give me that you do come from this 'Windolphin' place?"

"It's 'Windaffia,'" he said shortly. Mr. Reiker, along with two others like him, had been sent from the 'ship' as a representative of all those on board, including their leader. He was also apparently the second-in-command, the basic equivalent of a vice president. Zack, on the other hand, wasn't really anyone special; just a lowly FBI employee who happened to be in the area when the transmission was received. "Proof is not an urgent matter right now, although your government already has records of our existence. In fact, regular contact—and trade, I might add—occurs between this 'Earth' and the planetary nation of Qidanta. You wouldn't know of it; the technologies of your culture are so poorly developed, the only ones to know of us are the, ah…higher-ups in your government."

"Right. So, what does your leader want of us? World domination? The entire human race as slaves? What?"

He smiled again. "We don't need any more territory than our own planet, and we disapprove of slavery. Our request is but a simple one, though you may not take us seriously."

"I won't know until I hear it. Shoot."

He paused. "…Very well. Our leader is in need of a wife. There are none to his liking on Windaffia, so—"

"Whoa, whoa, wait a minute! You're telling me you came all the way out here just so your king could get hitched?! Is that it?!"

"Well, yes, you could put it that way."

"That's crazy. What if you're lying? Then you would have your own little virgin sacrifice to play around with, while we're all sitting here, twiddling our thumbs, thinking we just prevented some inter-galactic war by giving up a perfectly innocent person. No way I'm gonna let that happen."

"I can see why you have reason to jump to conclusions, but, I assure you, no harm will come to our leader's selection. Besides, we've already started…scouting around the area."

"Then tell your 'scouts' to get the hell back on the ship! The deal's off!"

"I'm afraid that's impossible." The representative's voice suddenly deepened, in a slightly more serious tone. "You see, this is of the utmost importance to our people. If we can't find a suitable match, I won't be able to guarantee the safety of your lonely, underdeveloped planet. Understand?"

"You're kidding me."

"Not at all, good sir, not at all."

There was a long silence. "…Just who is your leader, anyway?"

"His name is of no importance. I expect you'll be meeting him shortly."

"He's not gonna try and rip my head off, is he?"

"It depends."

Suddenly, an electronic beeping noise sounded off; an annoyed look crossed Mr. Reiker's face before he reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a cell phone. "Excuse me for a minute…" With a few strides, he'd crossed to the other side of the room; he was taller than he seemed.

"Hello? …Oh, it's you. What is it? …What?! What the hell are you doing?! I thought I told you—! …What? What do you mean?! Did you forget everything I said already?! Well, look, don't get too attached— …Well, no, we haven't, but—all right, all right, fine! Do you have her phone number? …Address? …Well, you do have her name, right? Just look it up— …Wait, you don't even know who she is?!"

(He slid a thumb over the receiver, swearing to himself for a few moments.)

"…Yeah, I'm still here. …No, it's okay. Look, if you really think she's the right one, you'd better find out her stats by midnight, you hear me? …I don't care if it sounds creepy! It's in your hands now, so deal with it!"

He flipped the phone shut, then turned to Zack Morgan, who was a bit bewildered at the conversation. "What… What was that?"

"Oh… One of our 'scouts,' that I mentioned before." (He said the word with distaste. Zack could only wonder why.) "He thinks he's found the one."


Ariana was standing in front of the DDR machine, looking somewhat helpless. "Damn you…why do you have to cost seventy-five cents…?" She sniffled. "Not…fair…"

"Hey, Ariana!"

She looked up. "Hi, Cherise!" she exclaimed, perhaps a bit too enthusiastically.

"…No."

"But I didn't even ask you…!"

"And I'm giving you an answer. No."

She sniffled again. "Aww…big sister…"

"Don't you look at me like that."

"I wuv you…"

"I'm not your friggin' sister. Don't call me that…stop with those eyes… All right, didn't you lend me twenty bucks last week?"

She paused. "…I was supposed to pay off my book fines with that… Wait, I thought I said you didn't owe me for that!"

"Yeah, so what, you goody-two-shoes? Here, I'll give you $3.75; that's good for five rounds of DDR. Happy?"

Ariana gasped. "Thank you SO much!"

"…Dude, you just so got gypped…" She handed her the money. "See ya 'round; you're starting to embarrass me…"

"At least I'm having fun with my money," she pouted, watching her walk away. "Fine, be that way…"

"Hey, it's that crazy chick again!"

"What?"

"Yeah, the one who's here every night! The DDR chick!"

"Oh, her! Don't tell me she's back!"

Ariana was paying little to no attention to the crowd that was starting to draw around her, especially not the group of teenagers to her left. She was more concentrated on trying not to fall down. Again. So far, she was on her fourth round, and hadn't had any crash landings so far.

"Bust your ass! Bust your ass!"

She froze, then turned to glare at him—Chris. Hmph… She started to ignore him all over again.

"Bust your ass! Bust your—"

"WEEEEEEEEEEE ARE THE CHAAAAAAAMPIONNNNNNS, MY FRIEEEEEENNNDS…"

"Man, she just dissed you…"

"Shut up! I don't need to hear it from you!"

"Then how come you stopped?!"

"I told you to shut up!"

"Dude, kiss my ass!"

"BUST YOUR ASS! BUST YOUR ASS!"

"You know, Chris, you are so immature!" snapped Ariana. "One day you're just gonna have to learn when to SHUT UP, BECAUSE NO ONE REALLY CARES—OW!" She had just fallen down. Again. "Owww…NOW LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO! I lost!"

"Ha! You busted your ass!" He started laughing, but then looked around. "Hey, why aren't you guys laughing?!" Everybody was looking at him, their faces all saying the same thing: it wasn't funny at all. There was a silence. "…You all suck. I can't believe you're siding with her." He left. Everybody else started to walk away.

She growled. "I can't believe him…because of that jerk, I dropped my quarters…crap, where'd they go?!"

"Um…you dropped these, miss…"

"Huh? Oh, thank you!" She looked up to see a somewhat-familiar face. "Hey, wait…haven't we met?"

"At least twice today, I think." Jareth smiled. Finally, he managed to track her down…

She stood up. "Er… Thanks… Again… Hey, you're not a stalker, are you…?"

"No! What would give you that idea?"

"Well, it's not every day you bump into the same person three times in a row…I didn't mean to offend you…"

He paused. "You know…they say that if you run into the same person three times in one day, you're fated to meet. Or something like that."

There was a brief silence. "That's…cool… Since you put it that way, my name's Ariana—Ariana Chancé, if you wanna get technical. What's yours?"

"Oh, I'm—"

"Watch the tram car, please."

"Ack!" She jumped back so as not to get run over. After the tram car passed, he was gone. "Huh?! Hey, where'd he go?! …Oh, well, that's too bad… He was cute, too…" She sighed. "Might as well go back home…"


Zack was growing increasingly anxious. They had gone all the way out to New Jersey just to meet this so-called 'leader,' and he still hadn't shown up. The 'UFO' was even larger than he thought; from where he was outside, it looked to be like some sort of streamlined commercial jet, at least twice the size of a normal one. Forget the stereotypical silver Frisbee; this thing was freakin' huge. Somehow, for its size, it was floating on the water's surface. He wasn't really surprised, since something that big couldn't possibly fit enough on land to take off. That is, if it really was that similar to a commercial jet.

"So, still think we're just pulling your leg?"

He glanced over at Mr. Reiker, who had a smirk on his face. "No," he said flatly.

"Good. We don't appreciate skeptics."

"Wait… 'We?'"

"You didn't really think that we were the only other planetary nation out there, did you?"

"Planetary… What?"

"Planetary nation. Earth is the only planet known thus far to have divided their land up into so many different territories—continents, nations, provinces, prefectures and whatnot. We really don't find it necessary, but, since you Earthlings insist on it, we've had to call ourselves 'planetary' nations to differentiate ours from yours."

There were a few more minutes of uneasy silence, Zack feeling incredibly overwhelmed by all of this. There was still no sign of the leader. "Where is he?" asked Zack, a slightly apprehensive tone in his voice.

"He should be on the ship…" Mr. Reiker looked at his watch impatiently. "Late… What could he possibly be doing…? Ah, there he is."

Suddenly, a strange feeling swept through him. He couldn't exactly explain it; he felt it was similar to a smaller animal's irrational fear that there is something else there, that will kill it most painfully. But he couldn't really say he was afraid of anything…more or less struck in awe by the commanding presence of whatever was there—of the leader.

Then he saw him: a tall figure dressed entirely in black robes. His face was hidden by an odd, bird-like mask, also pitch black with a hood covering the rest of his head. He seemed to glide over the ground towards them. The news crews that had been crowded around the fenced-off area fell silent. It seemed all of them were feeling the same effects; he could feel his pulse racing, his adrenaline building… Right now, more than anything else, he wanted to be away from here, away from this…being.

Yet, he didn't run away…he couldn't. He was frozen to the spot, completely paralyzed by this sense of ultimate power. He wasn't afraid of it; he was just overwhelmed.

"My leader, this is a representative of the American government." Mr. Reiker paused, as the leader turned ever so slightly to face him. He didn't appear to be fazed…could he feel this unbelievable power that this person, this creature was emanating? It didn't appear to be so. "…Have you made your decision?" In a move as subtle as when he turned to the representative, he inclined his head in a nod. "Good."

The representative turned to the agent. "Exactly thirty minutes from now, we'll release the name of our selection to you. It is not to be released to the public. Understand?"

"Yeah, so… No contacting the press, right?"

"Right. Although…you will be forgiven for any mistakes, considering the current condition of the area." He was talking, of course, about the news crews who were pushing to get in more insistently by the minute, all in vain because of the fence and the police force.

"Uh…yeah…"


"Hey, guys! I'm back!"

"Sssshh, shut up!" came a voice from the living room. "Get your ass in here, there's something really weird on!"

"Don't tell me you guys are gonna try to make me watch 'It' again!" Ariana said warily, walking into the room. "You know I don't like that movie… Huh? Since when do we watch the news?!"

"Shut up!" She tried turning up the volume, but it was already on full blast. It was some sort of 'breaking news' report; in the background, a beach, or something, there was a huge black thing on the water. "Aliens are invading New Jersey! It's insane!"

"You've gotta be kidding me!" she snapped. "I mean, how many times have we seen 'Independence Day?!' For crying out loud, I believe there is life on other planets, but not aliens!"

"That's what they're saying. A big UFO landed and demanded to meet with the American government."

"Let me guess: 'take me to your leader?' 'Resistance is futile?' What are they gonna do, make us work in chicken joints?! Why would they be interested in this crappy planet, anyway?! It's already screwed up enough!"

"They're making some really weird demands… But they haven't said what they are, exactly. As far as we can find out, they're gonna take somebody back 'home' with 'em."

Ariana started laughing. "And you probably fed into every last bit of it! It's a freakin' hoax, anyway! Aliens never have landed on Earth, and they never will…"

"Shh, she's coming back on!" The room fell quiet as the reporter appeared on the screen again.

"…This just in… The 'aliens' have made their selection and are prepared to leave. The selection will be notified by the government via phone. If you receive this phone call, follow their directions and meet at this designated area. The call will be made in five minutes. Please, end all use of the phone lines immediately."

She smirked and pulled out her cell phone. "Y'know, just because they asked so nicely, I should go ahead and call someone right now."

"Yeah, but what if that person is the 'selection?'"

"So what? It's not like it's gonna be anyone we know, even if they are 'aliens.' We're just a bunch of normal dorks."

"You'd better not be calling me a dork."

"Shut up, Cherise! Look, I'm gonna go take a shower…and I'll take this,"—she indicated the cell phone—"with me, just in case."

"Yeah, whatever, I doubt it…"

So do I, she thought, going upstairs. Man…they'd probably choose some ultra-skinny, blond bimbo with a vocabulary of three words: "like," "yeah," and "whatever." Or maybe a dumb, egocentric jock, if they're looking for guys…like Chris… Take him, God, take him! I'll do anything! I'll shoot myself, just get him away from me!

Then, when she got up to the bathroom, she heard something: a familiar, shrill, electronic version of "The Entertainer."

It was her ringtone.