It was my birthday and there was a knot the size of a sofball in my stomach. Or was it softball? I didn’t know but I knew what they looked like.
I hadn’t stopped thinking about what Caelum had wrote. Yesterday I emailed Lynx back and thanked him. I didn’t say anything else. I didn’t want anyone to know who I really was.
I had sat in Lainie’s dorm room all day, skipping classes. She showed up around two and gave me a dress to wear to dinner. It was a gorgeous knee-length, dark blue satin with a glittering belt. At about five, I shimmied on the dress.
While I was putting in my contacts, I heard a knock at the door. “It’s me, love,” called Lainie.
I opened the door. “You look amazing.” She was wearing a sexy curve-hugging black dress. She owned a lot of black dresses. I loved it.
“Hey, it’s your birthday. I’m supposed to be the one complimenting you.” She blushed. “You look absolutely gorgeous. You like the dress?”
Now I blushed. “It’s beautiful. Thank you.” I kissed her cheek. “Where are we going?”
“It’s a surprise. Give me your keys. Let’s go.”
Lainie drove and twenty minutes later we pulled up to Refectory Restaurant and Bistro. It was a French place. To humans, Enceladians sounded French with our accents.
“French cuisine, huh?” I grinned.
“There’s a first time for everything.” My accent was gone from my nine years on Earth but Lainie swore she could hear it sometimes. “First event of the night,” she winked.
It turned out, Lainie hated French food and I loved it. Maybe if we were in France she’d like it. (I made a mental note to take her there someday.) Some of the dishes reminded me of the choppy Enceladian meals Lynx and I would sneakily make, after the kingdom was asleep.
“What now?” I asked as we got into the car.
“Now we go home.” Lainie left no room for pondering. Her voice was low and gravely. I knew exactly what she was thinking. She drove us to my place.
I opened my apartment and in the dark, I could make out decorations. I flipped on the light switch. Strewn all over my front room were streamers of all colors. There were also balloons. As I got closer I realized things were written on the balloons. Things like “I love you” and “you’re the best,” all written in Enceladian. My eyes watered. No one had ever done anything so sweet for me.
“You like?” From behind her back, Lainie pulled out a bottle of fine wine. I didn’t drink Earth beer but wine was universal. I enjoyed it and Lainie knew that. She knew nearly everything about me. Which made my gut queasy about not telling her how worried I was about being the Devil’s daughter. About how I feared my dark side would take over once and for all. She’d probably laugh and tell me I wasn’t evil. She’d say that I knew who I was. She’d make me feel better. But I couldn’t ruin this moment.
“I love it. You are extraordinary.” I took the bottle of wine and set it down. I brought her close and kissed her minty lips. I wanted to taste more of her. I tried unzipping her dress but she stopped me.
“Wait,” she murmured against my lips. “I have one more present for you.” She ran to my room and came out with a thick black poster board. When she turned it around, I gaped.
The poster had two circles drawn on it resembling Earth and Enceladus. One grey and one blue, green, and white. On top she had written, “Although we’re from different worlds . . .” and finished it on the bottom saying, “I love you just the same.” It was all written in an intricate, beautiful font. Under the “I love you,” she had written, “Ü mïð zü Amelia Ladus.” All over the posters background she had made it look like a galaxy, stars everywhere. I was so touched, tears spilled.
“Do you like it?” she asked hesitantly.
“Oh, Lainie . . . It’s perfect. You’re perfect. I can’t believe you did all of this. It’s so sweet.” I hugged her tightly and my wings spread out, knocking a lamp to the ground. Lainie’s laughter ricocheted off the walls. She was so cute.
I went to the kitchen to get a bottle opener and some glasses. I poured us some delicious white wine. “I love you so much.”
Her laughter quieted and she had that sexy look in her eyes. She came up to me and took her dress off, ever so slowly.
“What about our wine?” I asked. I was entirely kidding of course. I’d take her over wine any day.
She then motioned to her body, which was bare, and kissed me.
Lainie decided to take me out to dinner the next night too. Somewhere we both liked. It was a nice, relaxing dinner.
We finished paying and Lainie excused herself to the bathroom. She told me to wait in the car.
I was almost to my car when I heard a rustle of branches. My shoulder blades tensed, wings ready to instinctively sprout. I peered around the parking lot. I could see better than humans but it was nearly pitch black.
Suddenly someone stepped into the street lamp’s light in front of me. I gasped. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
“Oh, my dearest Amelia.” Vela ran up to me and wrapped her arms around my neck.
I didn’t move. Memories flooded my head like a river. I stepped back and started to panic. She was wearing a dark hoodie. Or was it a royal robe? I couldn’t tell the past from the present.
“Amelia?” Vela’s voice was muffled. I felt my wings shoot out. I saw a memory of my mother trying to barter me off to suitable Enceladian men. I saw another one of her barking at me to straighten up, be a lady, love men.
Darkness surrounded me. It threatened to drown me until I heard Lainie’s voice.
“Amy? Love, what’s wrong?” Suddenly I could see in the dim light. Lainie was crouched in front of me. “What happened?”
“I don’t know. I think it was just a flashback. A bad one.” I stood up and found myself staring right into Vela’s blue eyes. I stumbled backward. It was no flashback.
“Amelia, I am so sorry to cause you distress. I understand your confusion. You thought I was dead.” She opened her arms wide.
I couldn’t speak. Shock had taken over and I was incapable of forming words.
“I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be rude, but who are you?” Lainie asked. She was standing slightly in front of me like she could protect me from this 500 year old alien.
“I am former Queen Vela of Enceladus and Amelia’s mother.” She bowed towards Lainie. “And you must be Amelia’s consort.”
“How-” My breathing was ragged. Another terrible memory flashed. “How are you here?” My voice was timid.
“I faked my death,” Vela said matter-of-factly. “Your wings are absolutely magnificent. They’re gorgeous.” She reached out to touch them and I recoiled. A memory surfaced of when she literally dragged me by the ear down to a party where she was sure I’d find “the one”, a man of course.
“Why?” was all I could manage. I put my wings away slowly, feeling the odd sensation of them disappearing into my skin.
“I needed to escape Enceladus. I had no other choice.” She looked identical from the last time I saw her nearly a decade ago. Long off-white hair, ocean eyes.
“And Orion? Did you kill him?” My voice took on an edge and my breathing was ragged from anger now.
Vela looked away, ashamed. “Not directly, no. Queen Cassiopeia needed to rule. Orion was a terrible leader. We both know that. She is Queen now, right?”
Truth be told, I wasn’t sad about Orion’s death. This just all confirmed that my mother was a monster.
“I have to right the wrongs of Enceladus’ kingdom. Which is why I’ve come here, to Earth.”
I squeezed my head in my hands. “We can’t stay here. Come on.” I motioned for Lainie and Vela to get in my car.
We drove home in silence.
Once we got to my apartment, I started questioning my mother.
“So why exactly are you here? Why did you need to escape Enceladus?”
“Orion would have ruled for a few more centuries. You know how his family has ruled ever since our race was created. I couldn’t let him lead for one more day. I care about my planet. I don’t want them to suffer any longer,” Vela said, sitting on my sofa. I remained standing and Lainie excused herself to the “bathroom”. I heard my bedroom door click instead.
“Why not just kill him? You would have still been queen.” In our kingdom if a king died, there wouldn’t be a new one. The queen would just rule until her death.
“It is your sister’s turn. She’s going to make a wonderful leader. Besides, I couldn’t rule those people. It was never for me.”
“So why are you here, on Earth, with me?”
Vela sighed deeply. “While I was still Queen, I learned of a plan that the people of Tethys had in place. I had to stop it so-”
“Tethys? The witch people?” Tethys was the planet that Lynx had mentioned in his email. Tethys was another one of Saturn’s moons. The people that inhabited it looked similar to Enceladians and humans. They also had abilities but they bordered more on the magical side. Which was why my siblings and I referred to them as the witch people. They were like wizards or sorcerers.
People of Tethys were also similar to Enceladians in that they had wings. Black wings. Before I got my powers, Caelum would joke about me being from Tethys. He had said that when my wings came out, they would be black. He was only half wrong.
“What are Tethys’ plans?” I asked Vela.
“Queen Amara announced that she wants to rule all fifty two moons of Saturn.”
My mouth went slack-jawed. “All fifty two? Why did we never hear about this?”
“Amara was never one for talking.”
My mother was right. Tethys held ruthless people who were always in the midst of world wars. Their queen, Amara, had never controlled her people the way Orion had. Maybe if she did, the planet wouldn’t always be in peril. But if she did, there’d be one more dictator in the universe. I had never met a Tethian but Caelum had when he was thirty-eight. It was when the alliance between Enceladus and Tethys was formed and signed, three centuries ago. The alliance was held in place by Space Enforcement.
SE kept an eye on the entire explored universe. They were like space police. They held alliances intact and made sure planets never invaded each other. Or tried to rule each other.
“And Amara thinks SE will let her do that?”
Vela shook her head. “I think Amara’s willing to do whatever it takes. She’s always been a power-hungry ðüå,”she said, calling her a bitch.
“There’s no way her and her people can take SE’s army. Tethys has only about 200,000 more people than us.” Even though SE was all about peacekeeping, they still had an army like force.
Vela shrugged as Lainie came out of my room. She smiled warmly at my mother who didn’t deserve to see Lainie’s wonderful smile.
“So what’s the point in telling me?” I asked.
“You can fix it.”
I rolled my eyes. Why was everything on me? On my shoulders? What about Cassiopeia who was the actual queen? Or why not inform Space Enforcement? “Why didn’t you tell SE while you were still queen?”
“Your father watched my every move. He wouldn’t have let me shuttle to an SE base. He hardly even let me leave the palace. He would’ve sooner gone to war with Tethys than ask for help. Or tattle on Amara.”
“He wasn’t my father,” I said bitterly.
“Yes, sorry, my mistake. I take it you read the letter?”
I nodded and Lainie shifted uncomfortably. “Who is SE?”
“Space Enforcement,” Vela said casually.
“Nothing,” I answered casually. SE’s biggest rule was to never tell uninformed planets of their existence. Even though Lainie wouldn’t tell anyone, the crime of telling was punishable by death. For the human and the alien.
“Amelia, I am sorry for putting that sensitive information in a simple letter,” Vela said and to make matters worse, she stood up and grabbed my hand.
I yanked it away and accidentally backed up into my television. The flat screen wobbled.
Vela sat down again and tried a new approach. “Your brothers and sisters need you. They can’t fight this war alone.”
“War?” I knew Tethys was capable of war but was Enceladus? Every Tethian was trained to fight, even the children. But on Enceladus, our general populace was poor and barely educated, thanks to Orion.
“Queen Amara probably already knows that the treaty has been terminated. She will not be happy. She could be angry enough to strike against us.”
“But if you knew this would happen, why would you retract the treaty? And why did SE let you?” I asked her before I realized I had mentioned SE again. I changed the subject. “You claim to care about Enceladus. Do you know what happened after you had Orion killed?”
Vela shook her head, looking nervous.
“Our people were thrown into chaos. The citizens who murdered Orion tried to take over the planet. People died, the streets and the palace was littered with bodies. You caused that. Innocent lives were lost in the coup. The people you hired didn’t just kill him and go back to their sectors. They were close to governing our world.”
Vela was silent.
“You also claim to care about me. Why were you such an evil mother?” I spoke in Enceladian.
Vela stood. “I am your mother. No matter what.” She also spoke in Enceladian. “And I will not be disrespected by you.”
“Really? You are hardly my mother. You did everything wrong. You couldn’t even conceive me right. You are a monster.”
She stepped closer to me with that wicked facial expression I’d always known plastered on her face. She raised her hand to slap me but I used telekinesis to suspend her hand in the air. She tried to move it.
“You can’t treat me the way you used to. I have my powers and I am more powerful than you. I can kill you with a simple thought,” I seethed.
Apparently I had said that in English because Lainie gasped. My mind let go of my mother’s hand as I stepped away. “Lainie . . .”
“I’m going to take a taxi home. You clearly need time alone with your mother.” She walked out and slammed the door before I could say anything.
Šĉôt. What had I done?
“You can sleep here,” I told Vela, pointing to the couch. “Don’t bother me.” I stalked to my room.