When Stardust stumbles across a secret lab hidden deep beneath the forest, she meets the cunning Doctor Zephyr Abraxas, a dangerously determined scientist who has one thing on his mind: Star Power. When the doctor discovers that Stardust harbors this rare power, the stakes will be high, trust will be tested, and Stardust's life will be thrown into danger. How will Stardust fare against this new threat? And will Corvus be able to save her from the plans of the evil Dr. Abraxas???
Stardust's bright blue eyes gilmmered with the innocence and curiosity of a child. She just couldn't take it all in at once. All the sights, the smells, and the sounds -- she had discovered a new part of the forest. Just when she thought she had explored every part of it, she finds herself in this new, beautiful clearing. What would Corvus think, she thought, if he found this place with her?
Like a child exploring a candy shop, she immediately went for the most interesting things; the small stream that bubbled down the hill, the purple flowers that she had never seen before, and the large trees that grew in the area. Giggling happily, she quickly began to head for the flowers, when she noticed a strange patch of grass on the ground.
It didn't look natural at all. There was something off about that patch of grass. Taking a closer look, she realized that it was more like a door of some sort. Digging her fingers beneath the grass, she pulled it up and gasped as the ground gave away and a large hole leading downwards revealed itself. A ladder stretched all the way down to the bottom of the vertical tunnel. Curiosity gripping her tightly, she lost control and started climbing down the ladder, being careful not to fall. When she reached the bottom, she looked back up and realized that it wasn't too far down. Even if the ladder broke, if she reached up high enough, she could touch the top of the hole.
Following the tunnel, she kept going until she saw a door to the left. To her surprise, it opened by itself with a hissss, and she cautiously stepped inside. What she came upon amazed her. Machines and chemicals of unknown use were resting on counters and tables strewn around the room. The floor was so clean, she was sure she could see her reflection in the tile. The machines beeped and clicked with readings from various radars, and she saw many lights moving around in a funnel-shaped tube. Mesmerized by the dancing lights, she didn't notice a figure come through the opposite door.
"Why hello there."
Stardust came out of her trance and whipped around to see a white echidna with a clipboard smiling down at her. Gasping, she backed up in fear and almost knocked over a test tube rack.
"Um... Ah... Er..."
The echidna chuckled and shook his head, placing the clipboard onto the table.
"Do not fret, young one. It is only a mere rack of test tubes."
At these words, Stardust relaxed a little. She was embarrassed to have been caught red-handed exploring the scientist's "house", but he seemed content, and that fact alone made her feel a little less afraid.
"I'm Stardust. Stardust the Cat. I'm sorry for coming in without being invited..."
He chuckled again, and took a step closer.
"It is quite alright. You need not to be afraid of me, child. I am simply a scientist, reasearching fantastic things. My name is Doctor Abraxas. And your name is Stardust, if I recall?"
Stardust nodded, feeling a little more secure with the fact that she now knew the stranger's name.
Dr. Abraxas smiled, seeming to like her name.
"Where... What is this place? Do you live here, Dr. Abraxas?"
His eyes lit up at her question.
"Oh, no. this is not my home, dear child. I work here. Although, sometimes, I stay here for days on end."
The young cat couldn't help her curiousity.
"What do you do here?"
He picked up his clip board and busied himself with checking his machines while he answered her.
"I research portals, and transportation. It's quite fascinating. You might not understand, my dear, but it is really quite complicated. You see, the only way to get to a certain continent is to use--"
He suddenly stopped mid-sentence. One of his radars was picking up a large of amount of Star Power within close proximity of his current position. Turning to look at Stardust, who was listening with great interest, he realized that there was something very different about Stardust.
She urged him on to continue his "story".
"... What? What do you have to use?"
The doctor, not wanting to lose his precious "specimen", chose to keep the truth to himself.
"... A special... mineral."
After these words were spoken, there was a long slience between the two. Dr. Abraxas continued to stare at Stardust with a large grin on his face, and Stardust simply stared back at him. The silence was broken by a voice from above. Stardust recognized the voice immediately.
"Stardust! You here?"
The young cat immediately started for the door.
"That's my friend! He's calling me. I have to go. It was very nice to meet you, Dr. Abraxas!"
"Wait, child! I would like to give you something, so that you remember this place. I enjoy your company; you are quite a fascinating child."
Stardust's eyes lit up at this, and she bounded over to collect what the doctor was giving her. He held out a test tube with a small stone sitting inside of it.
"A sample. I collected it from a cave a while back. My research with it is finished. I'd like you to have it."
She beamed happily, and took the sample, taking great care to tuck it close to her.
He nodded, and rested a hand on her shoulder.
"Please, child. Return to this place. I should like to see you again."
She nodded happily, and ascended the ladder up to the surface. After closing the door, she ran over to Corvus, who looked at her worridly.
"Stardust, where were you? I was starting to think the Starshine guards had snatched you!"
She shook her head, and smiled happily.
"No one got me, Corvus. Look at this place! It's brand new! I'm gonna come here again sometime."
Coruvs shook his head playfully and sighed.
"Whatever. Let's get back to the house, It's getting dark."
The two headed back to the cottage as the sun began to set.
- * * *
Doctor Abraxas stared at the readings on his radar. His suspicions were correct. The child was the source of the sudden jump in the signal. She was the last remaining being with Star Power from the legendary continent.
The next morning, Stardust woke up to a rather cloudy day. While she loved the morning sky no matter what, she didn't favor cloudy days as much as sunny ones. But she really couldn't complain. Back in Starshine, there wasn't a sun to admire. It was always dark, with only endless stars and a few moons. Nevertheless, she got out of bed and went to make some breakfast. Corvus wasn't too good at cooking.
As she was setting the table, Corvus came out of his room, still in yesterday's clothes. It seemed he had stayed up a little later than he had intended to, and had probably passed out sometime in the night. She giggled at his tired expression, and he mumbled a "good morning" before sitting down to eat his breakfast.
As Stardust finished up, she suddenly remembered the small test tube she had recieved from Dr. Abraxas. Smiling happily, she stood up and prepared to head out before Corvus called her back.
"Stardust? Where are you going?"
She pointed out towards the door.
"I'm going to--"
Before she could finish, the test tube silpped out of her outstretched hand and onto the floor, making a loud rattling sound. Corvus sat up a little to see what she had dropped, and frowned when he saw the tube.
"...What is that?"
She picked it up and showed it to Corvus.
"I made a friend yesterday at the new clearing. He gave me this so I would remember him and come back sometime."
Taking it from her, he realized it was a test tube, which was an item very foreign to the area.
"...How well do you know him? What's his name?"
Stardust beamed happily.
"His name is Doctor Abraxas! He's a scientist. He talks sorta funny."
Corvus was skeptical. Although her new friend was a doctor, he seemed fishy to him for some reason. But he couldn't just tell her to not see him again. She had been restrained for the first ten years of her life. Why take away her freedom? Deciding to let her have a little fun, he promised himself that he would meet the doctor sometime, but not today.
"Alright, Stardust. You can go. But... just be careful, alright?"
Nodding again, she hugged Corvus quickly before dashing out the door and into the forest to the same clearing she had found yesterday. The older cat watched her go, deeply thinking about the whole situation.
- * * * *
"Hello? Doctor Abraxas?"
The young cat called into the tunnel, hoping for an answer. The cloudy day, along with the fact that the sun had not yet fully risen made it hard to see. She walked forward and found her way to the door on the side. As usual, it opened with a hiissss, and she stepped inside to find the doctor writing on his clipboard furiously as he intently watched a radar. He turned to see Stardust, and he eyes lit up.
"Ah, child! You have returned!"
She nodded eagerly and took in the lab again. It was so foreign to her; she still couldn't believe all the technology she was seeing. She held out some flowers she had picked on the way to the lab, and smile brightly.
"I picked these for you!"
He chuckled and took the flowers into his hands, placing them into an unused beaker.
"Thank-you, child. That was very thoughtul of you to do that. I shall keep them here until they whither... Now, Stardust... I have a favor to ask of you."
She tilted her head curiously, wondering what he meant.
He nodded, and took her hand, leading her to a large machine with a glass dome.
"I need a subject to run some harmless tests on. I wonder if you would like to be that subect...?"
She shrugged, not sure what he meant.
"They won't hurt, will they?"
The doctor shook his head.
"Oh, my, no. I would never hurt you, my dear. Right then, if you would please step into the dome?"
With the press of a button, the dome opened, and she carefully stepped inside.
"Mind your head, child. I'm going to close the door now."
She nodded, feeling a little scared about being inside the strange machine. It made a few sounds, and moved around a little bit before strange lights began circling the dome. She watched in amazement as the lights danced around her. Dr. Abraxas took notes on his clipboard intently, looking at the radar carefully. After a few minutes of this, the lights stopped moving.
"Very good, my dear. Very good. Now, there is just one more test, and then--"
"I can come out?"
The doctor's smile was a little too friendly, but he nodded.
"Yes, you can come out after this one final test."
She nodded, feeling a little cramped in the small space the dome provided, but nonetheless cooperated. He pushed another button, and this time, a strange gas entered the dome. Stardust took notice, but didn't think of it much -- until it started to make her ache.
"... I'm hurting. Can I come out? Please?"
He shook his head slowly as he continued to take notes, a smile on his face.
"Not yet, my dear..."
She fell onto her knees, feeling weaker by the second. Something was wrong. The gas was making her feel weak. It made her ache and feel dizzy. She crawled over to the door and started trying to pry it open.
"Please, Doctor Abraxas! I don't like it in here!"
"Just a little longer, child!"
She waited. And waited. And finally, the door opened, and she tumbled out of the dome, groaning in pain.
Doctor Abraxas calmly walked over and picked her up.
He placed her on a nearby table and let her relax.
She gulped, feeling the air suddenly grow tense.
"... I want to go home now."
There was a long silence between the two, and all of a sudden, Stardust jumped up and made a mad dash for the ladder at the end of the tunnel. The doctor slowly followed her, and before she could touch the ladder, pressed a button that detached the ladder from the railing, making it fall to the ground. She let out a cry of fear as she realized that there was no way to escape, and threw the gift the doctor had given her up to the surface, and screamed as the doctor grabbed her and threw the door closed.
Her screams never left the underground lab, but the test tube did.
- * * * *
Doctor Abraxas smiled as he took some final notes down onto his clipboard before turning to Stardust, who was bound and gagged.
"I have read many stories about a being who possessed Star Power -- the last being."
Tears streamed down Stardust's face as she stared at the doctor with unending fear.
"Now that I have finally found you... You are never going to leave."
Corvus' eyes shot open. Something was wrong. He could feel it in the pit of his stomach, and no matter how hard he tried to ignore it, it was impossible. It was like a sharp stick prodding him in the back, begging him for attention. He checked the time. It was way too late for Stardust to be out. She was usually back before six; right now, it was 7:30. Something was wrong.
Stepping outside into the cool nighttime air, he called out for Stardust.
"Stardust! ... Stardust, where are you?!"
Feeling sick to his stomach, he grabbed a flashlight and headed out into the forest. Yes, Stardust should have been back long before it was this dark. He recalled she had wanted to go to the clearing to see her friend, Doctor... whoever-he-was.
He found himself entering the clearing, and called out for Stardust again.
"Stardust! Hey, c'mon! Stop playing around!"
Again, all was silent. As he shone his flashlight around, he looked for anything that could show Stardust was there. The light fell upon something shining on the ground. Walking over, he carefully picked it up and realized what it was with horror. The test tube with the small rock had been lying on the ground. Shining it at the ground, he saw the grass was odd in a certain spot. Setting the flashlight down, he punched into the ground, sending the grass door down with a clang. Peering in with the flashlight, he noticed a ladder was resting on the ground at the bottom.
He jumped down with a heavy thud, and shone the flashlight around to get his bearings.
"...who were you with?"
He continued forward, making sure to keep his footsteps light. He found his way to a door, and realized that it lacked a door knob. He placed his ear on the door and listened. He could hear voices inside. He listened carefully...
"...you think you actually.... but I know... and with this!"
His eyes suddenly widened as he heard Stardust's panicked scream.
Knowing that he didn't have much time, he felt the door. It was metal, but he would be able to bust it down if he punched hard enough. Bringing his arm back, he punched as hard as he could into the door, sending it flying into the room with a crash.
Doctor Abraxas turned around in shock at the newcomer. He had a needle in his hand. Stardust was strapped down onto a table, her eyes glittering in fear and relief.
Coruvs glared angrily at the doctor, his fists ready to punch out every tooth the doctor had in that twisted smile of his.
"Ah, hello there. You must be little Stardust's savior. How amusing."
Corvus stepped forward angrily, barely being able to hold his fist back.
"Let her go, you monster!"
Doctor Abraxas seemed confused.
"Monster? i? I am trying to do good for this world, boy. How could you think such a thing?"
Corvus had had enough. He ran at the doctor, and punched him square in the face before he even had time to register what Corvus was doing. The sudden impact made him stumble to the ground, and he was out cold.
Corvus ran over to Stardust and started undoing the belts.
"Don't worry, Stardust. I'll have you out of here soon!"
She was shaking in fear, nodding as fresh tears began to pour from her eyes. After the belts were undone, he picked up her shaking form and headed for the door. He grabbed the ladder and lifted it up so Stardust could climb up, but she stopped midway when she heard the doctor chuckling from the back room.
"... He's awake!"
And sure enough, the doctor was standing at the doorway a few meters away, leaning on the wall with a needle in his hand. He was grinning madly, and eyeing Corvus with a wicked grin.
She nodded, and climbed to the top and stayed there, peering down.
"Get out of here! I'll be okay. Don't let him get you!"
She nodded and started backing away from the tunnel. But she had no intentions of leaving.
- * * * *