Angelina Webber has always had to learn things the hard way. In a world where image is vital and society is corrupted, the sixteen year old who prefers to dress in her own style has never been accepted. Disowned by her own mother and father, she lives with her ninety year-old grandmother. But one day, everything changes – when two human beings land in her vegetable garden. These people are not your average human beings, and they are not from the average planet. They're here for Expedition 10
1 new message from unknown number
The words glared out at her, surprisingly bright in the dim light of the spaceship. She snuck a glance at Erika and Luka, glad to see that they were too preoccupied fussing over a small remote to notice what she was doing. Ignoring the fearful clench in her stomach, she returned her gaze to the phone, tapping lightly on the screen.
2 scared to reply whore? Or r u too busy slicing ur wrists? maybe ur watching your fail of a gran waste away. the world will b better without u both.
A pang of pain hit her chest at the mention of her grandmother. Insults directed at her she could manage, but aimed at her grandmother was a different matter. Her grandmother was her Achilles heel. When you punctured her Achilles heel, Angelina crumbled. She could already feel her yearâ€™s worth of resilience fading with that one simple insult.
Swallowing down the sob that threatened to rise to her throat, Angelinaâ€™s finger hovered over the delete button. A part of her wanted to reply; cussing the person who was harassing her would relieve her of the anger that had been steadily building up over the years. What gave people the right to treat others like that? What had happened to the World to make people act that way?
The answer, of course, was obvious. Erika knew it; Luka knew it. The only person who didnâ€™t know it was Angelina herself.
Her eyes zeroed in on the reply button. It was so incredibly tempting, yet deep down she knew that by replying, sheâ€™d be stooping down to their level. Could she perhaps-?
â€œAngelina!â€ The sound of her name pulled her out of her inner struggle, and she hastily turned the phone off, attempting to shove it back into the pocket. However, before it could disappear from sight, a perfectly manicured hand rested on hers trapping it in place. â€œWhatâ€™s that?â€ Erika asked, her eyes narrowing on the smart phone.
Angelinaâ€™s eyes bulged. She couldnâ€™t let Erika see the message. â€œI-itâ€™s nothing,â€ she stammered, avoiding contact with Erikaâ€™s sharp green eyes.
Before she knew what was happening, Erikaâ€™s hand had whipped out, snatching her phone from right beneath her hand. Angelina let out a short gasp of surprise, jumping up from her seat and attempting to grab it back.
Easily, the woman held the contraption out of her reach, turning it on swiftly. Angelinaâ€™s efforts to reach her phone quickly resided as she realized that there was nothing she could do. She watched uneasily as Erikaâ€™s eyes skimmed over the screen, narrowing as they reached the end before flickering to Angelinaâ€™s face.
â€œWho sent this?â€
Angelina lowered her eyes, embarrassed by the expression on Erikaâ€™s face; the pity she saw there was not needed nor wanted. She chose to ignore the woman, instead focusing on the big gardening boots that were still on her feet. The right bootâ€™s laces were untied, she noticed, as always. She had never really mastered the art of tying shoelaces.
â€œAnd thatâ€™s the reason I agreed to join this expedition.â€ Angelinaâ€™s head snapped up at the sound of Luka speaking to see him reading over Erikaâ€™s shoulder. He spoke in an upbeat voice, but there was an underlying intonation of disgust, undoubtedly aimed at the sender. His words danced in Angelinaâ€™s mind as silence fell. She could see Erika sending a small glare in his direction, before his previously neutral expression turned into one of alarm.
â€œThe reason you agreed to join this expedition?â€ she questioned, a small frown settling into her forehead. What was that supposed to mean? They had told her that the expedition was to take a group of chosen Earth citizens to their planet, presumably to give them a chance to experience different life. If so, how did the text that sheâ€™d received relate to him deciding to join the expedition?
The coupleâ€™s worried - or embarrassed, in Lukaâ€™s case - expressions made Angelina think that were was something she didnâ€™t know. There was something that the two keeping from her.
Just as Angelina opened her mouth to press the issue further, an unexpected jerk from the shuttle sent her falling backwards into the chair she had previously been sat on. Luka and Erika went tumbling into the wall to their right, though recovered quickly as Erika pressed a button on her remote and the small tremors that were following the sudden movement subsided immediately.
Erika quickly took the chance to escape, approaching the large panel of controls at the other end of the spaceship. The shuttle was exactly what youâ€™d expect a spaceship to be like, except missing the massive spacesuits, and having an actual kitchen and lounge area, which both surprised and comforted Angelina.
Not in the mood to be ignored, she stormed to the other side of the room. â€œAre you not telling me something?â€ she demanded, stepping in front of Erika as she pretended not to notice her presence. The plan seemed to work as Erika was forced to take a step backwards, looking a little intimidated by Angelinaâ€™s no-nonsense stance. Her hands were on her hips, her eyes narrowed in a frightful glare, and her thin lips were pursed together tightly.
She stood her ground as Erika looked her over, and waited for the woman to speak. At least, Erika seemed to realize that Angelina wasnâ€™t joking around.
â€œWhat do you want to know?â€ she asked, sighing lightly.
Angelina paused, quickly thinking things over. What did she want to know? She wanted to know lots of things - what they were not telling her, what she was doing on this ship, why she was chosen â€“ but one question ultimately stood out in her mind.
â€œWhat is the purpose of Expedition 101?â€ she asked determinedly.
Behind Erika, Luka approached the couple, watching with careful eyes. Angelina didnâ€™t spare a glance for him, keeping her eyes connected with Erikaâ€™s to make sure that the woman was truthful in her answer. Her grandmother had always told her that you can sense the truth by watching the irises, and that was exactly what she intended to do. If Erika was lying, she would know.
â€œExpedition 101 has been planned for hundreds of years,â€ Erika began with a sigh, leaning back against the desk behind her. â€œAt first, it was supposed to be to give a chosen group of people a chance to experience planet Montoon. Our technology is at least a century ahead of yours, not to mention wiser. The generals of the expedition expected your planet to grow like ours; for the technology to improve the living standards and social standards of the Earth.
â€œBut, in the past couple of hundred years, it quickly became apparent that this was not going to happen. Our scientists investigated as to why life happened differently on Earth than on Montoon, until it surfaced that the humans on planet Earth are born with a different connection between their genes. Your minds think differently,â€ she added, noticing Angelinaâ€™s confused expression. â€œThat means that they also thinkâ€¦ in a less kind way, explaining the terrorists and attacks and way of life as you know it. It explains the messages youâ€™ve been receiving.â€
Angelina could feel her breaths coming shallower as the words Erika were speaking began to sink into her mind. â€œWhat is Expedition 101 now, then?â€
â€œThe purpose of the current Expedition 101 is to evacuate a group of humans from planet Earth who have been identified as missing the gene I mentioned earlier. They will move to planet Montoon, where peace and technology are able to live alongside. Once evacuated, planet Earth will be destroyed, along with the humans remaining on it. It is to protect the essence of human life throughout this universe and others. You, Angelina, are one of those missing the gene, and this is why you are involved in Expedition 101,â€ Erika finished, watching the girl closely for a reaction.
Angelina, however, was too shocked to give her the reaction she apparently expected. It seemed almost as though she was frozen in place, her body stuck in a block of frozen ice, preventing her from moving a muscle. Her pulse was vibrating loudly through her ears, yet her blood seemed to have stopped circulating. Angelinaâ€™s mind was whirring; she was trying to make sense of the emotions flying through her- there was disappointment, surprise, intrigue, excitement, and even a hint of happiness. However, one emotion was lacking, and that, she learned, was regret.
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