MAU: Can't Take The Sky From Me! Chapter -1-

Griffin is your usually outcast teenager who sees the opportunity of a lifetime land in someone else's lap. However, he's not about to let that stop him or his friend Danny from achieving their dreams.

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. None of the characters, places, or anything else is meant to be represented by anything in reality. Duh! Fiction, get it? I the author reserve the rights, so please don't go posting this anyplace else without my permission. A very special thanks goes out to Cathy who spent the time to make this story readable. Another round of thanks goes out to all the others out there in BCTS land who have encouraged and inspired me to write and keep writing. Any remaining mistakes are all mine.

To Elrod who has generously let me and so many others play in the remarkable worlds he's created! Thank you!

MAU: Can't Take The Sky From Me!


The lone silver box tumbled though the not so empty space between Earth and the Moon. About briefcase sized, it's journey had begun as one of many units being prepared for shipping following its manufacture by Gamalfi Corporation's automated factory 1138. Loaded into a Fwirthian merchant star ship for transport, it's destination was far away markets to enrich its creators. Then, the box's trip took a turn for the strange when a pirate attack led to the accidental ejection of many cargo pods, including the one that it and many of its brethren had been carefully packed within.

A long fall began as the box's pod was drawn towards the solar system's small yellow sun. Along the way other cargo pods were caught by the gravities of the outer planets or collided with the scattered asteroids as they made their way though the belt between the fourth and fifth planets.

A few, like its pod, were pulled toward the third planet. That pod ended it's journey upon that planet's single, very large moon, but that was not the end of the box's travels. In a fine example of cosmic pinball, most of the box's fellows were scattered and buried on that dusty, airless plain, but some few were thrown high enough to escape Luna's weak gravity as it sling-shotted towards Earth.

For a time it lingered near the gravitation eddy of the Lagrangian One point, but that was not to be its fate to stay near motionless in the void. However it did serve to separate it even more from it's very few remaining fellow travelers to let it enter the Earth's atmosphere alone and with little fanfare. Lacking anything to burn off besides the moon-dust of it's very brief stopover and the accumulated particles as it made a leisurely journey from the Moon to the Earth, it's meteor-trail was faint and hard to spot.

That is, unless you happened to be looking at exactly the right spot.


Chapter One

Urban Hell Acres

The stars were shining brighter than usual, sighed the teen perched on the roof. Here, trapped in Urban Hell Acres, they were too close to the big city to really see the faraway suns, but he did the best he could. That didn't take into account all the lights in Upton Heights Acres, a supposedly upper-class neighborhood, that was lit up like the brightest day. It was only here on the roof of the three story wanna-be mansion that shielded him somewhat from the streetlight's glare that Griffin got any kind of decent view of the night sky. Tonight's better than average show was because the latest weather front had blown all the haze away leaving an almost painfully clear sky for once.

Of course his Mom and Step-dad, Chris, would blow a gasket if they knew he was out here. His being on the roof with his binoculars would have both of them in orbit because the only reason they could think of would be wrong. It was a very good thing they were out for the night.

“You can't take the sky from me.” He sang softly to the stars above. Astronomy, space that final frontier, was his passion. Looking up into the night sky at the planets and stars, they had captured his imagination. Filling his eyes with the ancient lights that had traveled for hundreds, thousands, millions of years before they reached him, filled him with wonder.

Griffin wouldn't say he'd never used his binoculars to look at non-celestial 'bodies' below the horizon, but those were the exceptions and not the rule. His grandparents, whom he'd spent his last four years with, had nurtured his love of science. It was they who'd bought the specialized 15X70 glasses although really they weren't that expensive. They were easier to store than a telescope and because of that caused less speculation as to their use. Last Christmas when he'd asked for a more capable telescope, Chris had immediately leaped to the erroneous conclusion he was going to use them to spy on the neighbors.

The teen scoffed. He didn't need any optical devices to do that. Here in this so-called up-scale development the mini-economy sized mansions were so close together he could nearly leap from one roof to another. The backyards might be fair sized, stretching out behind the pricey homes, but with the privacy fence each had, there was just enough room to walk between house and fence without turning sideways.

Compared to the sprawling rural farmhouse of Grandpa Joe and Grandma May, it was night and day. Although he would forever miss his Dad, in some ways he missed his Grandparents even more. After his Mom had remarried and Chris made his views on having a 12 year old around from a previous marriage very clear, he'd lived out in the country with them. They'd taken a grieving boy in and tended his heartbreak of effectively losing both of his parents.

He sighed again, upsetting his sighting of Saturn. Griffin loved his Mom, but sometimes he didn't like her very much. However, after Grandpa Joe had his heart-attack, leaving them, everyone knew Grandma May would soon follow. They had one of those loves he'd heard sung in ballads. It was as if they shared one heart and soul.

He'd sat there with her as she passed peaceably in her sleep a smile on her face as she looked forward to reuniting with her love. Unfortunately, that meant his Mom had little choice, but to take him. She hadn't abandoned all contact because he had visited occasionally during school holidays, but that didn't mean she was happy with the circumstances.

Chris had grudgingly accepted the situation since Griffin had always been on his best behavior in the past. It wasn't because he was sucking up, but because that was the way he was raised. Being polite cost nothing and could reap large rewards. Besides Grandma May always said her grandson had an old soul.

Realigning his glasses again, he felt he'd no choice. As much as he was loved by the two who took him in, he'd still had to deal with the practical aftermath of being an orphan. Plus there was that 'other' matter that gave him no other options, but to abandon any ideas of normalcy.

His introspection instantly evaporated as he spotted the moving dot of light. The absence of running lights ruled out an aircraft and the trajectory was all wrong for a satellite. Griffin's mind raced as he saw the dot expand to a streak. It wasn't making an arc, but growing larger.

Crap, it was heading almost directly at him!

Chelyabinsk, Russia and its meteor instantly came to mind, but this one wasn't anywhere vaguely near that big or bright. As a matter of fact it was leaving very little of a trail which meant very little of its mass was burning away. That made him consider it might be something man-made returning to Earth. Still it might be worth a lot if it landed nearby enough for him to recover it. That is, if it wasn't easily identifiable. NASA claimed anything of theirs that fell back to earth even if it was in pieces.

However, he had real reasons for wanting his own cash. Sure his grandparents had left their inheritance to him, but he couldn't touch that till he was 21 and who knew how much taxes would leave him? No, once he turned 18 there would be changes although in a lot of ways it was already far too late.

His Mom might easily pass as a much younger trophy wife even if she had a teenage son, but he took after his father. Hell, he'd been called Little Griffin because he resembled his very masculine father so strongly they could think of nothing else to name him except as a Junior.

The other kids at his new school just didn't believe she was his mother at all. She had to be his older sister or something, right? Just as bad was their thinking he'd been held back a grade or two because he looked older than 16. To his dismay, he'd been shaving since he was 14, and not peach fuzz either.

The first thing his fellow classmate wanted of him was to go out and purchase beer for them as if every place didn't check ID's now days. His telling them what to go and do with themselves pretty much ruled out his making much in the way of friends. Well, besides Danny. However, his friend's condition and situation ruled out them being able to do much together in the way of active things.

He tracked the incoming opportunity, wondering what to do if, in that million to one chance, it did hit him or the house. Nothing to do, but wait and see, Griffin decided. He didn't have time to get off the roof and if it did hit the house his chances for securing it were between nil and zero. Besides this was the best place to spot where it did land.

Seconds later he was cursing as the potential golden rock from the heavens hit close, but right in exactly the wrong place, the neighbor's backyard. Of all of the yards it could've gone, it picked Steven the Perv's. Just to make things absolutely perfect, the Perv and his live-in boyfriend, Brian were soaking in the hot tub out back.

Rather surprisingly, it didn't sound like a bomb going off when it impacted. He decided it was between a shotgun going off or a loud firework display. The windows didn't even rattle. What it did do was make one hell of a furrow in the soft well-manicured lawn which might explain why it hit so softly. Just last weekend Brain had practically redone the entire layout, laying new sod as well as planting a lot of new flowers.

Actually Griffin thought the 'boyfriend' was pretty cool and a nice guy. How he'd gotten involved with a major asshole like Steven was beyond him. Brian didn't need to put up with all of The Perv's BS, since he not only ran and owned his own florist and gardening shop, but collected black belts in the martial arts like they were baseball cards.

Steven was a different story. Openly gay, The Perv ran a robotics consultation firm, as well as having business interests in a number of high-tech manufacturers in the area. The thing was, Steven was not above using just about anything to get what he wanted. No matter if it took playing the Gay Card or down and dirty business and financial tactics, he did not take no for an answer.

Griffin even once heard the Perv accusing him of being a bigot, which made him laugh. He knew just how screwed up he was which made him the last person in the world to be pointing fingers at anyone for being … odd. However, unlike back with his grandparents and neighbors were neighborly, these people here couldn't care less until you violated some infraction of the Community Association Nazis by painting your door the wrong color or planting the wrong stuff out front where it could be seen.

As he plainly put it to the big, blond living stereotype. “It's not gays I don't like. It's you.”

Curious, the two men got out the tub to investigate the newest addition to their landscaping. Brian, lithe and dark, at least wrapped a towel around his waist while the vain, arrogant Steven predictably did not. Looking like one of those well muscled male models from a Playgirl magazine, he just had to take every chance to flaunt his body and superiority.

Yeah, Griffin had looked at that magazine, wondering about his likes and dislikes, but the naked guys didn't do a thing for him. On the other hand his reaction to the pictures in Playboy was more … complicated, making him wonder how much was attraction and how much was only his … difference.

Griffin averted his eyes, really not wanting to see what The Perv had swinging in the wind. However, he was curious about that fallen star too, and focused his binoculars on the crater. Thinking about it, he moved more into the shadows from the eaves so he wouldn't be seen.

Brian did know he stargazed up here sometimes. Sure enough, the boyfriend glanced up in his direction, but it appeared Griffin had stayed hidden. Still it was a relief when the man in the towel went on to join his nude companion.

Griffin felt like a sports announcer at a bumbling high school football team's game. 'No, don't get too close. It probably too hot. If it's man-made, its possible it has toxic residue from fuel, or even radioactive. No, don't drag it out with a garden rake! You need to take pictures of the site first. Something was really weird about this and it all needs to be documented.'

He was utterly flummoxed when he saw the silver, metallic looking briefcase sized box. No, the careful counting he did when he first sighted it indicated it had fallen from far higher than any airplane flew. It was definitely not lost luggage. Besides, he reminded himself, it was hot enough from the atmosphere to literally glow white hot and leave a glowing meteor trail. Briefcase or not, it had re-entered the atmosphere.

Just where the hell could it had fallen from? Had the International Space-station lost yet another tool kit? What in the world was it made of that could survive re-entry at all, much less look like it was brand new?

The next two hours were a couple of the strangest he'd ever experienced. If he hadn't taken pictures of the whole thing with his phone, Griffin wouldn't have believed a word of it. He still couldn't believe it.

First, The Perv had dragged the thing back to their hot tub where he fiddled with it much to Brian's dismay. Then the thing had sudden 'unpacked' itself like something from a bad Sci-Fi alien invasion movie. The thing simply stretched itself into a booth that was many times larger than the original box. That'd caused both guys to run for their lives only to have Steven reappear defensively carrying a golf club while Brian had retrieved that garden rake.

For a moment, Griffin felt like he was at the town of Working in England or Grover's Mill in New Jersey. Would an army of Bug-eye aliens erupt from the booth intent on invasion?

The answer was no.

What really happened might be even stranger than even an alien invasion.

Luck was on his side since what he guessed was the control panel and door faced where he could see them. About half of that side was taken up by the door. The remaining area had the likely controls of this thing. It had a flat black rectangle centered in the middle of the section while below it was a flat oddly shaped red crystal. The red just didn't look right to his eyes.

He had the distinct impression that perhaps the crystal was emitting colors out of the spectrum that was visible to humans. There was also these weird purple glowing symbols that just had to be an alien language.

As Steven lowered his golf club and began running his other hand on the controls, Griffin realized that the red crystal must be a hand print. That is if your hand only had three fingers.

'No, don't touch the button on the alien machine, stupid!' He silently kept up his commentary. A shiver raced up his spine as 'The Perv,' true to form, put his hand on the the crystal.

A row of more of the strange symbols suddenly appeared on the black rectangle, joined by many others until the 'screen' began scrolling down as it filled.

As soon as Steven removed his hand, it stopped, only to begin again when he put it back. Finally it stopped, leaving only one last row of blinking purple characters.

Brian, after watching all this and demonstrating just how unhappy he was about his boyfriend's taking chances with something they knew absolutely nothing about, dragged the much bigger Steven away from the machine.

As much as he rejoiced that one of the two guys was showing some sense, Griffin winced. Just as he feared, Steven angrily pushed Brian away. Not expecting it and only wearing a towel, he danced a mad step, keeping his balance.

The Perv just had too much ego to let anyone tell him what to do, much less Brian. For some people, of which Griffin suspected his step-father Chris was one too, the power was more important than the relationship or love.

Angry words, of which the Eff-Bomb consisted of more than half of what was spoken, or more accurately shouted, at each other. It was good thing it was Friday night and most everyone living nearby was out and about on the town. Besides, even if these houses were close together, they were well insulated from their neighbors as well as the climate.

Not really caring about the lovers' quarrel, he turned his attention back to the booth. With the 15X magnification of his glasses, Griffin could see a lot of details even from where he was. He also took the chance of taking more pictures while there was no one blocking the view.

He noted that there was some more of that purple writing, about where logically a door handle would be. However the real question had yet to be answered. What was it and what did it do?

So far it appeared to need input or outside action to initialize things. The first was the touching of the symbols on the box which caused it to grow. Then, touching the ruby crystal which began that feed of yet more purple writing, ended by the ones which still blinked on the display.

Brian had just finally thrown his hands in the air in disgust while Steven stomped back to the box. Defiantly, 'The Perv' touched the blinking purple script. Instantly it disappeared, but then an image formed on the rectangular screen.

Griffin wasn't able to see at first, given Steven was in the way, but after The Perv excitedly ran off to try and drag Brian back, he got a chance to see what the excitement was about.

There pictured on the display was an image of 'The Perv.'

However there was something that wasn't quite right about it.

Steeling himself, Griffin made himself compare the image with the real thing.

While Steven had that buff model look, he wasn't ripped like a body builder. However, the alien machine's display showed just that, an idealized figure of 'The Perv.'

Just why became clear when he returned with Brian. As much as Griffin got bad vibes off the man, he had to admit Steven wasn't stupid. It didn't take the successful businessman and engineer long to figure out the machine.

As the door opened and 'The Perv' went inside, Griffin wanted the egotistical jerk's arrogance to backfire on him, but feared it wouldn't. When the new, improved 'Perv' walked out, some questions were answered. As always, they only created more unanswered ones, but what really bothered Griffin was who possessed this thing from the stars.

If anyone in the world would misuse something like this, it was Steven.

So intent was the teen over the scene before him, he never noticed the beginnings of wispy clouds stealthily approaching over the horizon.

To be continued

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