The Heart of Scorpio



The sky was dark. It always was, but sometimes it seemed far darker, far emptier than usual. Sure, an infinite number of stars dotted the Transitional Road, and the Sun Children who fluttered about were bright as usual, there was a certain sadness that lingered in the air—something that wasn’t completely uncommon there.

But it was fine, really. It was never empty, not completely. The silver traces of souls as they trod the road were always there, though sometimes few and far between. It was rare that one of them would notice me, but when they did, their eyes shone as if a Sun Child lived within.

I especially enjoyed the passing by of children, even though their existence here always ignited a heavy sadness in me. The precious children always spared me a glance and a gap-toothed smile.

It was one of the only sources of joy I could have on this road.

I’d been lonely for so long. Every other Star had a Sentinel, it seemed, which was incredibly disappointing—and totally false. Still, I couldn’t wrap my head around why I had been left to fend for myself when there were plenty of Sentinels around. I mean, couldn’t, say, Betelgeuse spare one? I was almost certain he had at least twenty.

I mean, a star his size needed more watching over, right?

Shaking my head, I returned my attention to where it should have been anyway: the road. And I was glad I did.

Treading air in the center of a rapidly-moving crowd fluttered a shadow. Perhaps on Earth, that wouldn’t have been so strange, but here, shadows meant only one thing: trouble.

I drew my swords and took one step forward, and it was then that the shadow launched itself from its sedentary state, high into the space above, and straight down onto an oblivious soul.

Claws wrapped around the young man’s arm, and only briefly was an expression of shock and mortal terror visible on his face before he was dragged down.

I didn’t waste any time. Not like I had a choice; if I were to betray my duty, let alone my instincts, I don’t believe I would have continued my existence. And that would have been seriously disappointing.

But it wasn’t the time to think. I had to act. And act I did.

Spinning my double scimitars, I leapt into the air and dove, plunging down to the road where I stood, parting the way. The shadow stood before me—or rather, slithered—its clawed appendage—yes, just the one—still wrapped around the frail body of the young man whose eyes were wide and fearful.

“Fear not,” I said gently. “You will return to your journey momentarily.” Talking like that was seriously a pain, but hey, I couldn’t give up my reputation.

With a ballestra, I swiped my right sword across the middle of the shadow. It hissed furiously and lashed out, releasing its captive and swiping me across the face with its claws. I hissed back. Stupid shadow.

I used a quick thrust and plunged my sword straight through it. The shadow fizzled into particles too tiny to see. Job well done, though the cut hurts like Scorpio’s backhand.

After returning my swords to their proper sheaths, I offered a hand to the fallen man who took it graciously.

After he stood on his own, he turned his eyes, grey but still full of life, toward me. That was strange in itself: not only was it far too rare for an adult to really look at me, but his eyes were so lively. It was as if he hadn’t died at all.

“Thank you.” It wasn’t much, but it was more than I’d ever received. Unaccustomed to this, I bowed my head.

“My pleasure. Now, be on your way. Your journey is far from over.”

Once he stumbled off, tossing only two—three—glances back, I placed my hands on my hips and let out an enormous sigh.

Golly gumdrops, I was out of practice. The shadows had been particularly absent for at least a half revolution of the Earth, and I guess it was my fault for being so relaxed.

Guess they were making their comeback. Joy.

As I waded my way through the throng of souls, a bouncing ball of sunshine—literally—landed on my back, and I nearly fell face-first onto a poor old fellow. “Kuma.” It was my mother voice. She knew it well.

She giggled, playing with my hair. “Sorry, Cora. But I’m so excited! I wanted you to come with me!”

“Come where?”

“To the beginning!” She meant of the road, of course.

Brows furrowed, I reached the side of the road and hopped off. “For what?”

She leaned closer to my ear and whispered, “There’s a new Sentinel coming.”

I paused, then reached up to remove the Sun Child from her perch. As I placed her on the ground, I doubled over to look her in the eye. “Lead the way.”

Hey, if there was a new Sentinel, something that hadn’t occurred in at least three Earth rotations, I was going to put on my A-game and try to win them over.

I shook out my hair and straightened my shirt. I could do it.

Kuma skipped ahead of me. The beginning wasn’t very far, just around one bend and then BAM, right in your face.

Apus was already at attention. He alone manned the beginning of the road, and he was more than capable. If he wasn’t so ancient, I would have fancied him.

“Apus, how art thou?”

“Cora, please,” he groaned, not bothering to spare me a single glance. “There’s no need for that.”

“Okay, fine.” I cleared my throat. “Yo, wassup, home-skillet? What’s the word, dawg?” This tongue felt heavy in my mouth. Gross.

His eye twitched as he turned to face me. “I regret this conversation already.” Pouting I quickly crossed the distance between us, Kuma already dancing at his heels.

Draping an arm around him, I rested my head against his shoulder. “Aw, Apus, come on. I’m not that bad.”

He sighed and patted my head—a half-fatherly, half-loving action—and said, “No, there are far worse.”

“Gee, thanks for that lovely compliment,” I said, darting away from him. The silver grass beneath our feet was tall enough to brush mid-calf, and it reflected the light we emitted into all directions. If I hadn’t been used to it, I’d have thought it beautiful.

Holding a finger to his lips, he pointed at where a small, new orb of light was appearing. “Hush. The Sentinel is arriving.”

I wrung my hands. “Lord, let it be a sane one.”


Holding my hands up in surrender, I smiled. “Alright, alright. I’m sorry. I’ll be quiet."

A small form appeared—well, everything was small to me, but still—and once the light faded, the Sentinel made her first appearance.

Lying facedown in a puddle of broken grass.

Brilliant entrance.

Kuma danced right over to her, and as she leaned down, Apus stepped forward.

"Don't touch them Kuma, we're only looking." Apus was stern as he always was when speaking to the Children, and Kuma pouted.

"But why can't we wake them up?" Though she was adorable, I couldn’t deny she was terribly immature.

"Do not touch them unless they're awake,” Apus said, appearing bored.

"Look, look. Can I play with this one?" The Sentinel’s eyes flashed open as Kuma spoke. They were so plain, so ordinary. I was dying to get a closer look; the first glimpse of a Sentinel as they became self-aware was said to be spectacular.

"Step away Kuma, let Cora see." Bloody underworld, it was like he could read my mind sometimes.

"Are they all like this, Apus?" I asked, squinting at the tiny woman. She seemed so fragile. How was she supposed to protect a star who was thrice her size?

"I don't think she likes it here..." I was shocked that she was able to sit up so quickly. Must be a strong one. Good on her.

"She just needs time to adjust." Was that all? Well she had a long way to go then. This road was long, and it wasn’t Earth, not in the slightest.

"Adjust to what?" Oh, her voice was so gravelly. Lord, was she a smoker or something? Did humans smoke things anymore? Heaven, I was out of the loop. I needed to do more research or something

"To put this gently, you're dead..." Apus turned to me for a brief moment before looking back at the Sentinel. I only met his eyes with an expression of disbelief.

Goodness, he had a way with words.

I knelt by the Sentinel’s side, surprising myself by doing so. “My name is Cora.”


“Pleasure.” I smiled, and though it felt a bit forced, she returned it. “I’m sure this is all very... um...”

She offered, “Weird?”

Blinking, I suddenly became nervous, afraid I didn’t know enough about her culture or time to communicate with her. “Um... yes. B-but you can just ignore A-Apus. He’s elderly, and he sometimes forgets that he isn’t God.”

She laughed, short but sure. “Yeah. Guess that would be a bit far-fetched. I’m not gonna be welcomed through the pearly gates by the Almighty Allah himself, eh?”

I bit my lip. “Well, you won’t be walking through them anytime soon.”


Unable to find the right words, I turned to Apus for guidance. Sure, I loved to tease and mock him, but he was so very wise.

“You are a Sentinel. Your life on Earth was regarded as whole and pure, so you’ve been chosen.”

“Chosen for what exactly?”

I held up a hand. This I could handle. “Your job is to help guide the souls to Heaven along the Transitional Road, and—”

“Sounds a bit dull.”

“There are shadows and demons and evil beings who hunt here,” I added.

She smirked. “So monster fighting?”

“Not for you.”


I drew my swords, their silver blades glinting in the light from... well everything. “That’s a star’s job.”

Where I’d gotten all this energy and confidence and way with words—because let’s face it, I was awesomely articulate at this moment—was a mystery.

“Star? I assume you don’t mean from Hollywood.”



Kuma tip-toed over to her. “She says weird things sometimes.”

“Hush,” I said. Clearing my throat, I turned back to Marcella. “No. Not actors.”

“Then gaseous balls of hydrogen and helium.”

I held up a hand and splayed the fingers. “I’m only 3.5% noble gasses, excuse you.”

Furrowing her eyebrows, she leaned closer, tilting her face up to get a better look at mine. “No. No way.”

I threw out my arms, biting the left corner of my bottom lip. “Chin up, sweetheart. The shock’ll pass.”

“I...” was all she could say.

Apus tapped my shoulder, but I wanted to soak in the open-mouthed expression of Marcella’s face; it was bloody priceless, I tell you. He was insistent, so I humored him. “Yes?”

“You may wish to handle the introductions later.”

I rolled my eyes—an odd habit I’d picked up from humans. “And why would that be?”

“We have company.”

Dropping my smile, I rose and spun to face the road. There, fluttering above it was a huge black creature with wide, gaping jaws and massive webbed wings. It was black. Solid black. No shadows, no highlights.

Except for its eyes which were the brightest white I’d ever seen. It hissed at his, opening its mouth far wider than should have been natural, black saliva dripping from its top dagger-like teeth to the bottom. It said one word—though I was surprised it could even manage that: “Death.”

“Brilliant! Love riddles. Love one word comments. Fantastic.” Muttering, I spun my swords in both hands and took up a fighting stance, watching from the corner of my eye as Apus did the same and Kuma ran to Marcella for safety.

Winking at the Sentinel as the energy began to flow through me, I said, “Watch closely. This is what Stars can do.”

I leapt into the air.

God, I’d missed this.



So I tried... um...

let me know what you think pwease.




I just kind of winged it, so...... yeah.

Sorry omg. I really tried.

Um. Yeah.

I don’t know what happened with her character.

She suddenly became the sass-master and I think I like it.




In my defense I got like three total hours of sleep last night (on and off) and I had work today and I drove all over creation and ughhhhhhh