The next morning, I decided to begin working on the Saturn division where Jae lived.
I found out that I was good for more than painting. A man, old enough to be my grandfather, taught me how use a hammer and nail. It seemed silly and easy but I had never done anything like it before. Orion had us sheltered. Even his demon daughter. The hammers on Enceladus were more like sledgehammers.
What happened last night with Talia was embarrassing. I hadn’t stopped apologizing to her. The night was going so great until what my dream father said popped into my head. I didn’t know why those words were so stuck in my mind.
“Let’s move on to the next house,” said the man.
Apparently the house I’d been working was done. At least the frame. Nothing else was done but he was the boss.
The temperature was considerably cooler but I could tell it was still above forty.
Forty. Šĉôt. There it was again.
After a few more hours, the man told me it was lunchtime. I sauntered off to go find Jae’s house.
I had visited his home months ago, before the war, when he helped me with controlling my abilities. Jae was an expert at controlling his powers. When he was a kid, they had been out of control and extremely dangerous. So dangerous that a trainer had compelled him not to use his powers. Eventually he was told to use them again. He then took off and lived in the woods for years, mastering his powers.
I had visited him with Alexander . . .
“Princess Amelia,” he greeted after I knocked. “Come in.”
“Thanks for doing this,” I told him.
“Of course. So you want to control your electricity ability, yes?”
“Yeah but I think we should go someplace where I can’t scorch your house.”
He smiled and agreed. We headed out of the division through the back. Behind it, and on each side, were the woods. The artificial woods. The trees weren’t fake but for centuries scientists had been studying the trees that didn’t actually belong on the planet. All evidence suggested that the trees were brand new. Brand new is the 1200s. Whoever or whatever brought the first generation of Enceladians here must have planted trees where there were none.
We stopped in the center where there was a clearing. It was pretty dark since were away from the divisions lights but I could still see Jae.
“Okay, summon your power,” he told me like it was the easiest thing in the universe.
“Ummm . . .” I looked at my hands and willed the electricity there. Nothing happened.
“Concentrate, Amelia. Your mind is all over the place. I can tell.”
Ouch. He was right though. I took a deep breath and emptied my mind. I heard Jae make a startled noise and I opened my eyes. I had done it. My hands were alit with whitish blue sparks. “I did it.” They lit up a good amount of the forest around us.
“Now turn it off.”
Again, it wasn’t that easy. I tried and tried but to no avail. I shook my hands and Jae swore as I shot a bolt of electricity his way. He barely dodged out of the way.
“Sorry! I don’t know how to turn it off!”
“Amelia!” For some reason we were both shouting. “You need to calm down. Breathe.”
I did as he told and wished the electricity away. Eventually, my hands faded back to pale. I sighed. Why was that so hard? When I got my other normal abilities, I barely needed Jae’s help at all to control them. It came effortlessly. But with this electricity . . .
“Turn it back on,” said Jae.
I raised my eyebrows. “How is this going to help?”
“I am the teacher.” He smiled.
I tried again and my hands crackled with less concentration.
I didn’t know how long we spent doing that: Jae telling me to turn it off and on and back on again.
By the end, it was as easy as flipping a light switch.
“Thank you!” I went to Jae for a hug but he backed away wide-eyed, pointing at my hands. I looked down and willed the electricity away.
Then he hugged me. “Thank you so much. You really helped me.”
“Now, we just have to control that energy sourcing.”
It was my turn to back away. “That can’t be controlled,” I whispered.
“You did it during the war. You took from all those günt without taking from the people,” he pointed out. Günt were the dragon-like creatures that resided on Tethys.
“I couldn’t do it like this. There’s no evil creature to take from.”
“We could find an animal. Take from them.”
“I can’t do that!” I exclaimed then took a deep breath. I was getting too riled up. If it went on too long, I would just take from him. For a moment, it sounded great, delicious, satisfying. I was hungry after all. It would feel so amazing to take from Jae.
I shook my head. Dammit, Amy. What the Hell?
“Thank you, again. I’m going to go get some food.” With that, I turned and walked out of the woods.
I flew to the palace and was taken aback by the chaos.
Cassiopeia strode up to me. She was wearing a billowing gown and a light robe, clutching her scepter. “More of our elderly are falling ill. I don’t understand. We cooled the planet.” She looked at me like I knew how to fix it.
“I don’t know, Cass. Is there anything I can do?”
She sighed and I saw what the worry and stress were doing to her, to her body. “Help out in the infirmary, please. They could use another set of hands.”
I obeyed and stepped into the crowded infirmary. Closest to the door were supplies: blankets, pillows, medical equipment and water. Then lining each wall, were at least twenty cots. Next to each were monitoring machines.
And in nearly every bed, there was a person, suffering from heat exhaustion. My heart ached.
“Thank goodness, Princess. Thank you for coming. Grab some cool, wet cloths and put them on people’s foreheads. Just make sure they’re comfortable,” Dr. Jones ordered me.
I did as I was told and went to the nearest person that wasn’t being helped. There were four maids in the infirmary tending to the people. Dr. Jones was busy with another man. There were moans and groans of overheated elderly.
I could tell the infirmary was the coolest room in the entire palace. They had probably moved an air conditioner in here.
“Hi,” I spoke in Enceladian. “How are you doing?” I asked the woman lying on the cot. I gingerly pressed a cloth to her forehead.
“Hot, Princess.” Her voice was drained of energy. I felt so bad for her.
After a while, I left her with the cold cloth and moved on to another citizen.
My attention was pulled to a child walking in with his mother. “I don’t feel good,” he said. He was sweating. Oh no.
Dr. Jones went up to him, putting his hands on the boy’s forehead and neck. “He has heat exhaustion.” Jones swore out loud. He laid the boy on the only unused cot.
He was the first child to get sick, which meant there would be more.
The next citizen I helped was sleeping so I gently laid the cloth on her head. The second I did, her eyes shot open.
“It’s okay,” I soothed. “I’m just here to help.”
“No!” she shouted. “Not you. Not you.” The tone in her voice was pure terror. “Not you! Get away. Don’t hurt me! You took my boy. Go away, môn!”
My eyes watered as I backed up. My legs hit another person’s cot across form hers. She called me a môn. Devil.
A maid came up to us to make sure everything was okay.
“Yes,” I mumbled as I ran out of the infirmary.
I spent the rest of the day in my room, underneath my vanity. I cried most of the time but fell asleep once only to wake up later and cry again.
Forty. One of those forty was that woman’s son. I killed someone’s son. Her child. Her boy. Her blood. I usually tried not to think about the people’s family. Or who they were, what they meant to the rest of the population, what they offered in their division or in the palace. I didn’t have a list of names but if I did I was sure I’d never leave my room.
There was a knock at my door. I hoped it wasn’t Talia. She was always saving me from moments like these. I knew she would get tired of it eventually. “Princess.” It wasn’t Talia. “Prince Lynx has been asking for you.”
That got me up. “Thanks,” I called, hoping she went away.
Lynx had been asking for me?
I was curious as to why so I made myself look presentable and went to his room.
“Hey, nïxï. You’ve been asking for me?”
Lynx was sitting at his vanity, facing away from it. His face was expressionless per usual, staring at nothing. “Mhm. You didn’t come by today.” He’d noticed.
“Amy . . . I know you’re having a hard time. I know you’re depressed and tearing yourself apart.”
I stood, motionless, shocked. He knew? He knew all of that?
“I’m sorry I haven’t been able to be there for you. It’s hard for me to think, you know? To be conscious.” He finally looked at me.
I could barely nod.
“I am so sorry, Amelia.”
A tear spilled. That was all it took. Soon I was sobbing on my brother’s floor. That was when my shock peaked. He knelt on the floor next to me and gathered me in his arms.