"When you're older, Meg."
Pierce, Colorado – 3028 A.D.
“Daddy, why can’t I go with you?” Four-year-old Meg Korso asked her father as he sped through the military base.
“You’re too young, Meg,” Joseph Korso- known to most as just Korso- replied. “Where I’m going is no place for a little girl.” He glanced down at Meg, who was sitting on his lap clutching her favorite stuffed animal; a pink and purple seahorse he got for her while on assignment in Greece last year. He smiled at his daughter. “Besides, you like spending time with Sarah.”
Meg bit her lip. “I guess.” Sarah Hawkins was a nice woman who owned the local Inn. She always looked after Meg and her best friend, Cale Tucker, when their fathers weren’t around. “But I’d rather go with you.”
“When you’re older, Meg.”
Korso pondered for a moment as he turned down the street where the Inn was located. “When you’re eighteen.”
Meg pouted. “That’s forever from now!”
“Fourteen years,” Cale chimed in from the backseat. Despite only being five-years-old, Cale Tucker was very smart. He and his father, Sam Tucker, were inventors. Just recently Cale had invented the toy he had with him now. Meg didn’t know what it did, though. Cale said she had to wait to see it until he could show it off to Sarah’s young son, Jim.
Korso parked his car and the four of them got out. Sarah was waiting by the door and Cale ran to her, with Sam close behind. Meg looked up at her father. “When I’m eighteen,” she repeated.
Korso crouched down in front of her and put his hand on her shoulder. “When you’re eighteen, if you still want to go where I’m going, I’ll take you with me.”
“Do you promise?”
“I promise.” Korso kissed her forehead, then picked her up.
“Hello, Joseph,” Sarah greeted. She then smiled at Meg. “Hello, Meg. That is a lovely dress you’re wearing.”
“Is it?” Korso gave Meg’s blue dress a once over. “I picked it out for her, but sometimes I have no idea what I’m doing. At times, raising a little girl can be more foreign to me than most languages.”
Sarah giggled. “I assure you, Joseph; you’re doing a terrific job. Meg is a wonderful little girl.”
Meg beamed. “Thank you, Miss Sarah.”
Korso shifted Meg in his arms so she was facing him. “I have to go now, Meg. I don’t want you or Mr. Fuzzyfinkles causing any trouble for Sarah while I’m gone.” He tapped the nose of her stuffed animal.
Meg giggled. “Yes, daddy.”
He gave her another kiss and a tight hug before setting her on the floor. “I love you more than anything, Meg.”
“I love you, too, daddy.”
Sam walked passed Meg, towards the door; his combat boots making a loud clunking noise on the wooden floor. “Ready, Korso?”
Sam looked down at Meg. “Keep Cale out of trouble, okay, Meg?”
“Good girl.” Sam looked to Sarah. “We’ll be back tonight. Thanks again for watching them.”
“It’s no problem at all. Be careful out there, you two,” Sarah told them.
Sam gave her a short nod and the two men left. Sarah closed the door behind them and turned her attention to Meg. “The boys went out back to play; why don’t you join them.”
Meg skipped through the Inn to the back door. There wasn’t much behind the Inn; just a wheat field and a stream lined with trees and boulders. But that was plenty for three kids with big imaginations. Meg ran through the field and found Cale and Jim sitting by the stream. Cale’s toy invention was bobbing in the water and making a whirring sound. After a moment it lifted itself out of the water and spun, shooting water out of holes on the bottom.
“Wow!” Jim exclaimed. “That’s so cool!”
Cale smiled proudly. “I built it myself!”
Jim’s face lit up. “You did?”
Meg sat down on a rock next to Cale, but he didn’t seem to notice. “My dad helped a little, but it was mostly me.”
“I made this!” Jim held up a wooden sailboat toy. It seemed insignificant compared to Cale’s invention and it made Meg giggle.
Cale took it from him. “It’s not bad, Jim. But we’re gonna need a spaceship if we’re ever going to find Treasure Planet.”
Jim’s eyes grew wide. “Flint’s Trove!”
“That’s right,” Cale exclaimed. “Together, you and me can build that greatest spaceship ever and find Treasure Planet!”
“Mr. Fuzzyfinkles and I want to come, too!” Meg announced.
Cale frowned at her. “You can’t come with us, Meg; you’re just a girl.”
“No girls allowed!” Jim added.
Meg started to protest when Cale’s toy spun out of control, spitting water all over her. The boys laughed, causing Meg’s face to grow hot. The toy crashed to the ground and Meg kicked it into the water. “It was a stupid invention anyway.” She got to her feet and ran back to the Inn.
Sarah was sitting behind the counter, reading a novel when Meg came running in through the back door. Her dress was wet and most of her hair had fallen from her ponytail. “What’s the matter, Meg?”
“I hate Jim!” Meg declared.
Sarah scowled at her. “Megara Josephine Korso! You know better than to say things like that.”
Meg wasn’t sorry. “Well, it’s true! Cale is supposed to be my best friend, but every time we come here Jim is always around and Cale plays with him more than me. Jim is trying to steal my best friend.”
Sarah walked over to Meg and knelt down next to her. “Now, Meg, that’s not true. Cale is still your best friend, but sometimes boys just want to play with other boys. You and Cale have always had each other and play together all the time.” She turned Meg around and started fixing her ponytail. “But, Jim doesn’t have any other friends and he looks up to Cale as a brother. You understand, sweetie; when Jane comes to visit, the two of you never want to play with the boys.”
Meg looked back at her, hopefully. “Is Jane coming to visit today?”
“No. Jane lives in London; that’s very far from here.”
Jim came into the Inn just then. “Meg? Cale wanted me to tell you that he wants you to go back outside.”
Meg narrowed her eyes at him. “I don’t want to play with you, Jim.”
“Megara…” Sarah warned.
Jim looked down at his sailboat. “He said he wants to talk to you alone about breaking his toy.”
“Megara!” Sarah gasped. “Did you break Cale’s toy?”
Meg lowered her eyes. “Yes, Miss Sarah.”
Sarah crossed her arms over her chest. “You know I’m gonna have to tell your father about this.”
“No! Please don’t tell him, Miss Sarah!”
“Go outside and apologize to Cale.”
Meg nodded and hurried back outside. Cale was still sitting by the stream and his invention was laying in two pieces next to him.
“Cale?” Meg approached him and sat down next to him. She hugged Mr. Fuzzyfinkles to her chest like a shield. “Cale, I’m sorry I broke your invention. Please tell Miss Sarah you forgive me so she doesn’t tell my daddy. If I cause trouble he might take back his promise and not take me with him when I’m older.”
“Why do you want to go with him so badly? They just do boring grown up stuff. It’s better to come here and play.”
“You never play with me when we come here. Doing boring grown up stuff is better than watching you play with Jim.” Meg sat down next to him. “You’re supposed to be my best friend, not his. He’s only three.”
“You are my best friend, Meg.”
“Then why can’t I go to Treasure Planet with you?”
Cale wrinkled his nose. “Girls can’t go on adventures; that’s for heroes.”
“I can be a hero, too!”
“No you can’t!”
Meg pouted. “Then what am I supposed to do?”
Cale thought for a moment. “Well, heroes always have to save the princess. So, you can be my princess and I’ll save you.”
“I don’t need you to save me, Cale Tucker!” Meg stated. “I’m not in any danger. And if I was, my daddy would protect me. That’s what daddies do.”
“What if he’s not there and Captain Flint gets you? You’ll need me to save you then.”
Meg shook her head hard. “My daddy will always be there.”
“Cale!” a loud voice boomed from the field. Meg and Cale turned to see Sam running towards them. “Cale! Come here now!”
Cale scooped up the pieces of his toy and ran towards his dad. Meg chased after him. “Dad, my invention broke,” Cale informed him.
“We’ll fix it later, son. We have to go. Come on, Meg.” Sam picked both of them up and ran towards the Inn.
Korso’s car was parked in front of the Inn. He was in the driver’s seat; Sarah was in the passenger seat with Jim on her lap. Jim was still clutching his sailboat.
“Daddy!” Meg wriggled out of Sam’s grip and ran towards the car. Korso picked her up and set her in his lap. “Daddy, you came back for me.”
Korso didn’t say anything at first. As soon as Sam and Cale were in the car, he sped away from the Inn. Fighter jets flew overhead; there were so many they almost blocked out the entire sky. But, they were low enough for their propellers to cause a strong wind over them. Korso drove faster than Meg had ever seen him drive and didn’t stop until they were back at the military base. Hundreds of people were gathered at the base and all running towards ships. Korso pulled up in front of one of the ships.
“Dad, where’s everyone going?” Cale asked.
“We’re leaving, too,” Sam told him as they got out of the car. “We all have to go someplace safe.”
Sarah and Jim also got out of the car, but Korso didn’t move.
“Daddy, what’s going on?” Meg asked.
Korso held her close to him. “You’re going to get on that ship and go someplace safe. You and Cale are gonna go with Sarah and Jim. But, Sam and I can’t go with you. We have to go on a different ship. Sarah will look after you until we can meet up again.”
Meg clung to her dad’s shirt. “No, daddy! I want to go with you."
"You can't, Meg."
"Is this because I caused trouble at Sarah’s? I’m sorry! I won’t do it again.”
Korso hugged his small daughter. “No, Meg. This isn’t because of you. It's too dangerous for you to come with me.” He got out of the car and walked over to Sarah and the Tuckers. It seemed Cale was equally as upset about his dad not coming with them.
“No, dad!” Cale cried. “Don’t leave me!”
Sam was kneeling in front of Cale. He slipped his ring off and put it on Cale’s finger. “Here, Cale; take this. As long as you wear it, there’s hope. I’ll see you again.”
Meg was crying now. “When will I see you again, daddy?”
“I don’t know, Meg. I wish I did. But, until then I need you to be good for Sarah, okay?”
Meg sniffled. “Okay.”
“We’ll be together again someday, I promise.” Korso kissed her cheek. “Keep Mr. Fuzzyfinkles with you; he’ll watch over you until I come for you.”
“Sir, we have to go!” a man shouted at Korso.
“I’m coming!” he shouted back. “It’s going to be all right, Meg. I love you very much.”
Meg wrapped her arms around his neck. “I love you, too, daddy!”
Korso set her down and Sarah took her hand. Sam was already back at the car and now Korso went after him.
“Daddy!” Meg cried. She tried to run after him, but Sarah pulled her back.
“Come, Meg! We have to get on the ship now!”
Meg watched her father drive away as they boarded the ship. Eventually she could no longer see him anymore, but she continued to stare through the window at the spot where he had been. But as the ship flew out of the Earth's atmosphere, she saw hundreds of other ships surrounding the planet. They shot lazers at the the Earth, causing giant explosions. Meg let out a terrified whimper and buried her face into her seahorse and let herself cry harder.
Cale couldn’t bear seeing his best friend so upset. Even though he was scared and wanted to be with his dad, too, he knew he had to be the hero for Meg now. He reached over and took her hand. She looked over at him; her purple eyes filled with tears.
“I’ll protect you until your dad comes back,” Cale told her.
"I made this!"
"We all have to go someplace safe."
"It's too dangerous..."
"As long as you wear it, there's hope."