It was Cassiopeia’s birthday. She was turning 323, the oldest of my siblings. She had decided she didn’t want a big party with all of Enceladus like most queens did, like Vela. Vela’s only real job as queen had been to plan parties and things like that. Enceladus was a patriarchy for a thousand years but when Cass took over, it became a matriarchy. She was the one who ruled now, not the king. She’d even changed some misogynistic laws like a queen needing to be married to be the true ruler.
On Enceladus, we did give presents to the birthday person but after three centuries, one started to run out of ideas for what to gift. Cass also told us that we were her gift in a rare display of emotion.
All we were doing tonight was having a dinner with four courses. Cassiopeia, John, Golda, Caelum, Lynx, Alexander, Delphinus, Talia and I gathered in the dining room. Again, I didn’t feel hungry when the maids brought out the first dish. I was beginning to think it was more than just nerves that kept me from food. I politely picked around the food until we got to dessert which I ate all of.
“Gæl Pünôn, ån,” John said to Cassiopeia, kissing her cheek.
There wasn’t a Happy Birthday song on Enceladus, so everyone raised their glasses and mimicked John. “Gæl Pünôn!”
Cass grinned so much that her eyes crinkled at the corners. “Thank you. I love you all.”
Next, we all gave Cass toasts. When it was my turn, I pushed aside my discontentment, whatever the cause, and gave her the best speech possible. I stood up, holding my glass. “Cassiopeia, despite the differences we’ve had in the past, I am extremely proud of you. You have made an amazing ruler of our little planet. The people are happy under your ruling. They’re not scared to live here. They’re not imprisoned. You are very wise, as wise as I aspire to be. You haven’t let us down and I know you never will. You make an amazing sister, wife, queen and maybe one day mother. I’m proud to call you my sister and I’m proud to call you my Queen. To Cass!”
By the time I was done, Cassiopeia had tears in her eyes. She got up and hugged me so tight I couldn’t breathe. But I welcomed it. It felt so nice to be on good terms with my siblings.
Once I sat, Talia gave me the sweetest kiss on my cheek. I leaned into it, grateful to have her be my rock.
Later that day I was trying not to freak out over the knot in my hair. I had a knot underneath my hair and I couldn’t brush it out. So, for some reason, I was having a mini meltdown.
Then, I was no longer looking in the mirror at myself but at my father.
He was sitting lopsided in his throne, smirking at me.
“What do you want?” I grumbled.
He nearly bolted upright as his eyes roamed my body. “Stacia, you are not well. You’ve lost weight.”
“Yeah, for some reason I don’t feel hungry. Do you have anything to do with that?”
He laughed. “Yes and no. You see, you are Lucifer’s daughter, my blood. I don’t need food to sustain myself and now you don’t either. Since you are a succubus, you only need to feed off the essence of others.” He said it like it was simple.
I wouldn’t believe it. He was insane.
“I am not insane.” He stood up. “It is true. You no longer need Enceladian or human food. In order to survive, you will need to feed off others’ souls. I wouldn’t joke about anything like this. And it looks like you may need to do it soon. Your face is skinnier.” He came closer to me and carefully touched my cheek. I didn’t flinch. “Soon I will join you and you won’t ever have to be unhappy again.” Something in his voice made me want that so badly. I didn’t want to be sad anymore.
“I’ll see you later,” I said and blinked back to my room. Had I just said that I would see the Devil later? What was wrong with me?
Eight days later, the family was sitting in the dining room once again. Cassiopeia was talking about the invasion. “So, I asked our armorer to make everyone new armor about two months ago. It should be ready this week so I will go inspect it later. The blacksmith has also been forging new weapons for everyone.”
“What powers do Rheans have?” I asked. I hadn’t stopped thinking about what my father said. I also hadn’t been eating at all. I didn’t share my fear with Talia though. She’d worry too much. It was hard keeping from her that I wasn’t eating especially since we ate every meal together.
“I read that they have monkey-like agility and night vision. I believe they are able to teleport,” John answered.
“Monkey?” Caelum asked.
“An Earth animal that has apposable thumbs. They’re related to humans and I guess us too,” since we were related to humans. “Monkeys can climb things well. They’re fast,” I supplied.
Cal nodded and smiled at me. It was . . . different to have him smile at me so much.
“They also have an extra set of each of their organs. Rheans,” Talia said. I didn’t know how that was possible. Or the purpose.
“Okay so what will be our best strategy for defeating them?” Delphinus asked. Dr. Jones insisted she stay in bed since she was so close to giving birth but she ignored him, saying she didn’t want to miss this meeting. No one told Delphinus what to do.
“Well, since it seems the only real power they have is teleportation, it should be easy to eliminate them,” said Alexander.
“Okay what about the Titans?” Golda asked.
“The Titans have no abilities but their average height is nine feet,” John said.
“Nine feet?” Lynx exclaimed. “That’s taller than Amelia!”
I almost laughed. I was taller than most of my family except for Caelum and Alexander. I was no nine feet or even eight feet but I was unusually tall for my age and gender.
“They are extremely strong and have a huge population since it is the biggest of Saturn’s moons. Their weakness is that Titan is a very snowy and cold planet. They aren’t used to heat. They also can be slow because of their height. We can use that as our advantage,” John told us.
At least they had some weaknesses.
“How about the Mimans?” Cass asked but I had a feeling she knew everything there was to know about them.
“Well, they are practically robots and every technology has a weakness. They can be overcharged or short out. I’m not sure if water can harm them but it would be good to try. Amelia, your electricity powers might come in handy when fighting them,” John said the last sentence quietly as if not sure if he should mention it.
I nodded to assure him I wasn’t upset. “I read that not all their body parts are robotic. That some of their citizens have flesh and organs like us. They can also control technology.”
“And the Dionians?” Caelum asked.
“The people of Dione are made of rocks. Their ability is building different creatures with rocks or pieces of earth. The creatures can be destroyed simply by brute force,” answered John.
“But what about the people? How can they-” Delphinus was cut off by her own pain filled shout.
Everybody bolted up. “Del, what’s wrong?”
“I think—the baby’s coming,” she bit out.
Suddenly I stopped hearing. I watched as Cass barked out orders. Caelum picked Del up and we all ran to the infirmary.
Next thing I knew the nurses were shoving everybody but Cass out of the room.
My hearing came back as I heard, “Amelia, Amelia,” Talia was saying. “Are you okay?” She touched my arm.
“Yeah, I’m great actually. I’m going to be an aunt.”
She laced her fingers in mine and we walked back to the dining room, Lynx, Alexander, Caelum, and Golda following us. John stayed outside the infirmary.
Hours later, Delphinus had given birth to a beautiful baby girl. My family and I were all crowded around the small bed.
“What’s her name?” Golda asked. She was teary-eyed. She wanted children. I wondered how my brother would do with being a father.
“Carina.” Del had tears in her eyes as well. “The second brightest star in the sky.” I had never seen her so happy.
Carina had gorgeous emerald eyes. I was shocked to see her hair would be black. I vaguely registered that the baby’s father had black hair. Now I wouldn't be the only one in our family with black hair.
“She is gorgeous Del.” I said, letting Carina’s hand wrap around my finger.
“She looks a bit like you,” Del commented.
I laughed and wiped away a tear. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad. The baby girl looked at me with complete and utter innocence and I knew I would go to the ends of the earth to protect this girl and my family. No matter the cost.