Rochelle Laurent was the epitome of ordinary. She had skin that was lightly tanned and dotted with freckles on her arms, legs, and a few splashes upon her cheeks and nose. She had long auburn hair that went half-way to her back and dark brown eyes that sometimes looked black when she was angry.
She was an intelligent and an athletic girl with an average frame and lots of friends.
However, Rochelle was always nice to everyone in her new school for while she was popular at Hickory High at her old school of Rochester’s Administration she had been bullied and picked on constantly. She knew what it was like to never think you were good enough and to suffer the sharp tongue of fellow classmates. It’s why she never wanted to treat anyone that way because she hated the idea of anyone suffering the way she had before.
Her mother was a nurse at a hospital who had found out a few months ago that she was dying of cancer.
Rochelle’s grades had suffered a little bit under this news, but not so badly that anyone was concerned. She was usually averaging all A’s in her classes, but now she found there were a few B’s intermingled with the A’s.
It was hard for her to focus sometimes when she thought of the idea of her mother suffering. It infuriated her to think about it because her mother was a kind person and one that was undeserving of pain.
Her mother was an only child and her father had never been part of the picture. She didn’t know what would happen to her when her mother passed, and she didn’t want to think of that awful day coming. Her mother would beat this. She had to!
Rochelle walked home from school that night as she always did seeing as her house was only a five minute walk from the school. She bade her friends goodbye as she always did, and then cut across the grass pathway of Mrs. Anderson’s yard as fast as she could so the grumpy old woman couldn’t yell at her for not taking five minutes more on the sidewalk. The direct path was easier and saved her some time.
It wasn’t as if Rochelle took any steps near the cranky old woman’s precious flowers.
Little did she know, her life would change that night.
Rochelle opened the door when she came home from school, surprised to see that her mother’s bag was at the door. She was supposed to be at work. She then found her mother on the ground and unresponsive. The fourteen year old girl shook her mother. “Mom? MOM! WAKE UP!” There was no reply.
Feeling sick, Rochelle called 9-1-1. When she got the operator her voice shook when she told them what she had found and gave them the address. They seemed intent on getting the whole picture and asked her questions which vexed her and made her more exasperated. “I think my mother is dead or dying! You need to get here now!” she cried, tears streaming down her cheeks.
Ten minutes later an ambulance arrived taking Rochelle and her mother to the hospital.
Her mother’s best friend Bee found her waiting in the hall. The black woman smiled at the young woman sadly, shaking her head.
“No, Bee!” she protested.
“I know, sweetheart, I know,” Bee soothed, stroking Rochelle’s auburn hair. The woman brushed strands of her dark curly hair from her eyes. “You’re going to stay with me, okay?”
“Okay, Bee,” Rochelle murmured softly.
“Your mother didn’t have any family, so we have to become one,” she insisted.
Rochelle smiled sadly. “I appreciate it, Bee, I’m just…”
“Overwhelmed?” Bee suggested.
“Don’t worry, we’ll get through this, together.”
Rochelle nodded again.
This felt as if it were going to be the longest day of her life.
Three days later at the funeral, Rochelle was gazing at her mother’s lifeless body as if it weren’t even real. None of this felt as if it could be real. She glanced at her mother’s brown hair and intense blue eyes gazing upward at the heavens. “Mommy, how could you leave me? This wasn’t fair!” she protested, tears spilling from her eyes upon her mother’s shirt.
Bee turned away, unable to watch. She knew that this had to kill Rochelle because she was a grown woman and she could barely stand this. It didn’t seem right that someone as kind as Doris should have to die when there were people that got off on murdering and hurting people in other ways. She shook her head sadly. Rochelle was only fourteen and already without her mother. It made Bee sad because she knew what it was like. Her mother had died when she was twelve of cancer, and her father had died shortly afterward. Neither of her parents were there on her wedding day. It had been hard.
Rochelle screamed as she felt someone grab her from behind and saw a man she didn’t recognize standing there.
“Excuse me, sir, what do you think you’re doing?” Bee demanded.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle anyone. I’m Rochelle’s father, Bernard. Doris and I made an agreement that we wouldn’t see each other when things went sour, but I thought that Rochelle should come with me now that her mother unfortunately died too young. She’s but a young girl.”
“Oh, so now you think you can just walk into this girl’s life and take her away? She wasn’t good enough for you when she was a kid or a baby. But now that she’s nearly grown, you going to take responsibility? You a real man. That’s for sure,” Bee snapped. “Until you can prove to me that you’re Rochelle’s father, you’re not taking her anywhere.”
“Do we really have to do this?”
“Yes we do. Doris was my best friend, and she mentioned you by name only once. I want proof that you’re this girl’s father before I let her go anywhere with you. Did you really just think you were going to walk out of here with her? She’s grieving her mother, and now the shock that she actually has a father walks into her life? Don’t you think that’s a bit overwhelming for a fourteen year old girl?”
“I suppose you’re right. I apologize. If you take us to the hospital we can find that out, can’t we…?”
“Bee. And yes, we can. Let’s go, Rochelle.”
Rochelle eyed the stranger uneasily. He had long red hair that was tied back in a ponytail and dark brown eyes. He felt familiar even if she didn’t know him. She was a little afraid that what he said was the truth because she didn’t know how she was supposed to feel if this man were her father.
However, they soon arrived at the hospital and she couldn’t tell him or Bee no.
As they waited for the test results she paced the halls. The halls that used to be filled with good memories of her mother’s laughter, Bee and her mother being silly, Bee surprising her mother with birthday cake and Rochelle after school one day. It just wasn’t fair that any of this had happened, and as much as she wanted to get away, she wasn’t so sure she wanted to leave with this stranger. She would rather stay with Bee.
“Test confirms it, he is her father. As much as you may not like it, Bee, you have to let her go with him.”
“I’ll give you a couple of days to say your goodbyes,” the man said. “I know this must be hard on you both. I’m sorry I scared you,” he said to Rochelle. “Thank you for taking care of her, Bee.”
Rochelle didn’t realize that she may have wanted to say better goodbyes after those couple days had passed. She was dressed and ready to go with suitcase by the door, but she didn’t want to go. She wanted to sit here cross legged on the floor in these jeans petting Bee’s chocolate lab Cookie forever. She wanted this moment to never end.
The days blew by so quickly she was beginning to lose track of them and that scared her. Would she one day forget her mother, too? The mother whom she loved so much. She sincerely hoped not.
Too soon there was a knock on the door. Bee opened it and the red haired stranger from before was standing there.
Rochelle had an uneasy feeling in her heart. She didn’t want to go.
She slowly moved forward as if her legs were made of heavy marble or rock that one would find difficult to extricate. She didn’t want this. She didn’t want any of this. It seemed like some horrible nightmare that she needed to snap herself out of, but she couldn’t wake from this bad dream no matter how much she wished to.
Bee hugged her so tightly.
They were both crying when they let go of their embrace. “Bee, I’ll miss you.”
“I’ll miss you, too. You take care of yourself, kiddo. And, you, Bernard, if you ever hurt you so help me God I will hunt you down and destroy you and everything you love.”
“Don’t worry, Bee, I would never hurt her.”
“We’ll see,” Bee scoffed.
Rochelle glanced at Bernard. She didn’t know how she felt about him. It was easy to see she had his eyes and the red in her hair must have come from him, too. She noticed that he had pale skin, but had freckles the same shade as hers. So she had gotten his freckles, too, even if she weren’t complected in that pasty white he was.
His skin almost seemed ghostly or vampiric it was so white. She wondered what her mother had seen in this guy. He was cute, but he wasn’t handsome. Her mother deserved someone who was handsome.
“Your mother was a beautiful woman, wasn’t she? But that’s not a very nice thought, Rochelle.”
“Never realized there was a thought police or that anyone could hear my thoughts,” she growled at him, glaring ferociously.
He only laughed.
“It’s not funny,” she protested.
“I’m sorry. Of course, it’s not,” he said. “Hold onto my hand,” he instructed. “We’re going home.”
“Hold onto my hand,” he interjected. “And I know you’re upset, but I don’t appreciate the attitude.”
She glared, holding onto his hand just barely. She felt his fingers wrap tightly around hers as if he were afraid he were going to lose her. That’s when it happened, she was wrenched through time and space in a kaleidoscope of colors and shapes. She turned to Bernard, but he didn’t seem too bothered by it. “What the hell is this? Are you a time traveller or something?”
“Or something,” he grinned. “Don’t worry. It won’t hurt you. We’ll be home soon.”
“Where is home, exactly?”
“That can’t be. The force of it would crush you.”
“That’s a front we put up so people from Earth never visit. We don’t really wish to crush any of them, but we will to preserve our resources. Earth is very, very stingy with it’s resources and very greedy always seeking to overtake other countries from one another. We’ve watched and we’ve decided we’re not going to be as friendly as Mars who ought to be more cautious. If they’re not careful they’ll send Earthlings among the Martians and they’ll terrorize them for resources. I wouldn’t be so trusting of those people.”
“Not everyone on Earth is bad.”
“No, and neither are they all good,” Bernard shrugged. “We can’t take chances.”
“I’m never going to be able to go back again am I?”
“Sadly, no. I am sorry.”
“You should have left me with Bee. At least I was happy there.”
He looked hurt by this, but he said nothing.
Rochelle didn’t know how to feel about this. She felt as if she ought to apologize, but then reminded herself that he was the one dragging her to a new world and a new planet. He was the one that had never reached out to her in fourteen years. He was the one that was taking her away from Bee and Hickory High and everything that she had come to love in life. He was taking her away from Earth and plunging her into the throes of some planet that might kill her for all she knew.
They landed suddenly. Rochelle’s suitcase flew through the air and landed several feet from them, her father still clutched her hand rather forcefully.
“Rochelle, stay here,” he insisted, as he walked over to grab her bag. He then pulled her towards a building.
“What is this?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“You came from Earth, they need to make sure you aren’t bringing any diseases into our planet that could potentially hurt you or them.”
“Okay, where is this one from, Bernard?”
“An Earthling? But we despise Earthlings!”
“She’s my daughter.”
“Oh, so you fell in love with an Earth girl once. You never mentioned that.” The man grinned nastily. He slicked back black hair and owlish yellow eyes. “The things you learn about your supposed best friends, eh? Come on, girl.”
Rochelle took an immediate dislike to him, but followed after him, wanting to get this over and done with. After a couple of hours of testing, the man was looking at the papers nodding.
“She’s clean, Bernard. No worries.”
“Good, let’s go, Rochelle.”
“Rochelle? What a weird name.”
“I don’t like him.”
“I don’t much like him, either, but he’s my bosses son so I put up with him.”
“He said you were best friends.”
“He exaggerates. A lot.”
Rochelle snorted. “I remember there was a boy like that at school. Once he said he had a lizard up his nose, but the lizard’s tail barely touched his nose.”
“That sounds painful. I don’t know why anyone would brag about that,” Bernard laughed.
“Me, either. Once he said that his mother gained forty pounds, but it turns out she only gained four. Still, she was embarrassed he told everyone that.”
“I bet, that wasn’t very nice.”
“No, he wasn’t a very nice kid. He liked to bully people. I punched him in the nose once, but I didn’t get in trouble because he was bullying my friend. I don’t like bullies.”
“Me, either,” Bernard agreed.
“Will I have a school to go to here?” she asked.
“Does everyone here have weird yellow eyes?”
“No,” Bernard laughed. “Just some people. But just so you know, brown eyes are rare here. So they’ll probably stare.”
“Oh, great,” Rochelle grimaced.
Bernard smiled gently. “I’m sorry. I was hoping that you would get her eyes,” he said. “But blue is recessive, isn’t it?”
“It is, but so is red, and I still have red in my hair.”
“I guess some of my genes were persistent,” he laughed.
Once she was enrolled in school, the principal took her to class. She was a tall woman whose hair fell to her waist in a torrent of naturally pink curls. Her eyes were the same color. She walked Rochelle to class, and pulled the teacher over.
“Hello, Rochelle,” a woman with naturally green hair smiled at her. Her hair was kept short, and she had a pair of chunky square framed glasses. Her eyes were a blue-green. “Welcome to Jupiter, and to our classroom. Okay, class this is Rochelle Laurent. She comes all the way from Earth.”
“Earth? I thought we were against the daughters and sons of Earth because of how greedy they were with their resources,” one of the students piped up.
“Ordinarily, yes. But this girl happens to be the daughter of Bernard Laurent. So let’s be kind, no? Without his help, this world would be a mess.”
It made Rochelle wonder what her father’s occupation was, but she wasn’t about to ask the teacher or her classmates outright for fear of being laughed at. She could already tell that today was going to be a long day. As her father warned brown eyes were something rare, and people were staring at her all day and taunting her about it relentlessly.
All except a mousy looking girl with long brown hair that fell slightly past her shoulders who had brown eyes herself. “They’re rather immature. Just ignore them.”
“Thank you. I’m Rochelle. What’s your name?”
“I am Cornelia.”
A girl with white-hair and blue eyes looked at them with sympathy. “We’re not all idiots who discriminate against people because of the color of their eyes. My name is Metera.”
“Nice to meet you, Metera.”
It was nice that Rochelle was able to befriend anyone, she thought. She had imagined she would be by her lonesome quite often. But Metera and Cornelia were nice and very curious of Earth so they asked her a lot of questions.
This made Rochelle feel a bit better about things. If she had to be here, at least, she could have some fun.
As the bell rang and school ended for the afternoon she headed towards the exit. She found that her father was waiting for her at the door. Before she could tell him how her day went or ask him about his job or say anything at all, he had grabbed her arm.
“I apologize, Rochelle, but I have a summons from the queen. You’re going to have to come with me for a few hours at my office.”
“Where do you work?” she asked.
“I’m one of the bounty hunters on the safety committee for the king and queen.”
“You’ve put a lot of people out of business?”
“Aye. Have to keep this planet safe. There are a lot of people who want to use up all of our resources from this planet alone, and we can’t allow that to happen. Just stay quiet and hidden, all right? She isn’t aware that you’re going to be with me.”
“Okay, got it.”
They walked in relative silence all the way there. Her father glanced at her apologetically. “I’m sorry, Rochelle, I’m rather anxious about this meeting. I’m being terribly rude to you. How was your day, not too bad, I hope?”
“It was all right. I made a couple of friends.”
“Metera and Cornelia. Cornelia has brown eyes, too, and Metera’s just nice. She thinks they’re stupid for discriminating against brown eyes.”
“I’m glad that you’re adjusting well. I know the transition must be hard for you, but I think, in time, you’ll grow to love this place.”
Rochelle shrugged. Only time would tell, wouldn’t it?
She wasn’t so sure she’d ever get used to the fact that Jupiter was really habitable. She half-expected to pull herself out of this daydream and find that everything was completely normal and she was just dreaming at Hickory High. Yet a part of her knew that even her imagination wasn’t this good.
Rochelle walked into the building that her father walked in, rather curious. She would love the chance to look around for the building was in a shape of a triangle and made of dark glass that was so dark that one could not see through it. Yet while inside the building, the glass appeared to be various shades of blue and purple that one could not see whilst outside it.
Her father made her hide beneath a desk as he nervously paced the floor to his office. She wondered how much time he actually spent here. The carpet was barely worn and the desk looked almost in mint condition. It seemed that this building was really a front which it very well may be if he were a bounty hunter like he said he was. That or he was always out on a job which could be another possibility.
Suddenly there was a knock on the door and her father answered it immediately.
“Announcing her highness, The Queen Alaria.”
Two men stepped inside followed by a tall woman with long white blonde hair and blue eyes who was wearing a pair of high heeled silver boots and a long flowing silvery dress embellished with the designs of crescent moons and ravens in gold and black. Some of her hair was braided back from her eyes, but the majority of it hung loose and down. She was very beautiful, Rochelle noted, but she also seemed very dangerous.
“Ah, Bernard, darling. You’ve been doing good work as usual. But I crave a little something more from you.” She grabbed him roughly by the shoulders, slamming him into a wall.
“Alaria, you’re married. That would be wrong to both you and your husband.”
“Bernard, I simply don’t care. I had to watch you with that awful Venusian woman…it would be a pity if something happened to your son.”
“Don’t you dare hurt him.”
Alaria smirked. Rochelle couldn’t see her father’s expression, but she was sure it was indignant.
“Such fire in those eyes. Reminds me of a comet. I know you were hiding his parentage to spare his life from people like me, but it is my job to collect information.”
“I’ve never liked bullies, Alaria.”
“I am a queen, and a beautiful one at that; would you really deny me what I want? I already killed your Venusian wife and I gave that awful Doris woman cancer so that you could turn your gaze away from that idiot.”
“You killed Doris?”
“Of course, I did. You’re meant to be mine. She didn’t appreciate you or love you in the way that you ought to be loved. But I?” Alaria asked, running her tongue across Bernard’s neck. “I would carry your child and love you with honor.”
“Alaria, I said no.”
“All these things I’ve done for you, and you’d tell me no?” Alaria cackled. She threw Bernard so hard that he slammed into a desk right next to Rochelle.
“You killed Descina and Doris for me? No, more like for you,” he ground out, feeling furious. “Doris was only doing what she thought was right for her child. There’s nothing wrong with a mother’s love.”
“So there’s something wrong with a father’s?” Alaria scoffed, scornfully.
“I never said that.”
Rochelle’s eyes (which were already large and doe-like) became even larger in both shock and fear. Who was this woman that she was so strong that she could throw men around like mere toys?!
It then hit her like an ocean. This woman not only knew who her mother was, but she gave her cancer, too. Her mother who had been the kindest person she knew.
“I’ve left your children alone, Bernard, but I will hurt them, too; if I must. When will you get it through your head that you’re meant to be mine?”
Her mother had to die because of this horrible woman’s jealousy? Rochelle felt fury burn in her like white hot knives, but she knew that she had to wait until the perfect moment to act.
“If I were meant to be yours, you wouldn’t have to beg,” Bernard retorted, stabbing her in the stomach.
She laughed darkly. “Looking for my spleen?” she asked. “I’m not Venusian like your wife was. I’m actually from Mars. It would be here,” she said, pointing at a spot just lower than where her father had stabbed. “Such a fool you are to die for love,” she sneered, snapping Bernard’s neck easily as if he were nothing more than a rag doll.
Rochelle acted swiftly, running at the woman, removing the blade that her father had shoved into the woman and severing her spleen. She had been foolish to say where it was because now Rochelle knew, but she didn’t stop there. She shoved the blade at whatever inch of this woman she could reach.
Alaria seemed amused by all of her rage. “Who are you, little girl? And why do you hate me so much?” she demanded, as she became weaker from blood loss. She knew that she was dying, but she wanted to know at the hands of whom.
“You killed my mother and you killed my father, and that’s something I cannot forgive because I hate bullies.”
“Bernard hated bullies, too,” she laughed darkly, her blue eyes gazing lifelessly at the heavens. Her long white blonde hair still looked beautiful even as it laid lifeless and limp beneath the woman’s body.
“You killed the King’s Wife! You must be finished.”
“No,” came the voice of the yellow-eyed man she had seen in customs. “You will not harm my sister.”
“Dad didn’t want me to blow your cover or his when he brought you in, but since these bastards already know that I’m Bernard’s son…there’s no use in hiding it.”
“This is a pardon for the Queen’s death signed by the King himself. My father wasn’t to die, but trust you idiots to get it wrong.”
“But why would our queen be wanted dead?”
“Her husband knew of her infidelity, of course. Not to mention, I’m sure you’re aware of it, as well, judging from those blonde hairs on your clothes. I would shower and change before seeing the king. Also, he knew of her lies and the alliance she was planning on making with Earth’s corrupt king. Fortunately, that meeting was permenantely cancelled.”
“We are sorry, Veras.”
“Yes, you certainly are. You best get yourselves to the king and see what he has to say of you.”
Veras grabbed Rochelle’s arm. “You’ll probably be hated by some people of this country now, but…others will hail you as a hero. Welcome home, Jupiter’s daughter. I know father was always remorseful that your mother would not join him or let you see him, but that was their agreement. He loved you very much even if he wasn’t able to express it. I’m sorry that you had to endure all this.”
“Will I live with you now?” she asked softly, confused.
“Of course. I’m your big brother.” He ruffled her hair.
“Did your mother have yellow eyes?”
“She did. She came from Venus.”
“Venus? Father had a thing for foreign women, didn’t he?”
Venas burst out laughing. “Yes, yes, he did.”
“Do we have any more siblings?”
“No. Mother and he were married, but when she died, he was very depressed and lonely. He found your mother a very interesting person and left to Earth before we could stop him. When he told your mother the truth, she got pretty mad and she was already pregnant…she made him promise to stay away. He stopped looking for love, after that, thinking maybe he was supposed to be alone for whatever reason.”
“I see,” Rochelle said, as she glanced around her at the beautiful starry sky surrounding them. “You can’t blame her. It’s a bit overwhelming. Even for a daughter of Jupiter.”
Venas smiled. “I’m sure, but you’ll get used to it.”
Rochelle nodded. On Earth she always felt like there was somewhere else she ought to be. She now knew she was always meant to be on Jupiter, and she wouldn’t try to fight that anymore. She was finally home.