Chapter Twenty-Four



Wednesday the First

Lunar 4, Luka 16

Lumena, Lumeria

Near the Fenn Family Home

The four of us and the guards loaded back into the cruiser, now getting a bit tight, and set course for my parents’ house. It was strange for me to think of going there by cruiser. Water taxi wasn’t inconvenient; it was only about twenty minutes. The cruiser would get us there in just a few minutes, sure, but it seemed an absurd waste to fire up a vehicle meant for interstellar travel just to do that. But, I supposed, that was my life now. Princesses don’t use public transportation. Not even fake ones.

I laid with my head against the window, uncomfortable with a tiara on, my hand clamped down over Portia’s for the ride. Eddy was getting to know both of them a bit more, being her usual kind, optimistic self. I thought of what Legato had told me when I’d seen him — that Eddy could be trusted. As angry as I was at him, I did have more reason to trust him, and The Queen was acting pretty suspicious herself…

“Miss Eddy?” Duncan finally asked. “What’s happening to my mom and dad?”

Eddy cleared her throat. “You can visit them again soon. I promise,” she said, reaching out to boop him on the nose. “And I assure you, no matter what happens to them, the both of you are completely safe.”

“Safe?” Portia asked.

“Why, of course,” Eddy said. “You’re minors. Even if any indictments are made, you’ll be spared serious adjudication. Such is within the great justice and mercy of our land.”

“Oh. Okay,” Portia said, glancing away. “That’s… good to know.” 

I could tell that Portia might’ve actually liked to talk back for once, maybe say something like ‘well, why wouldn’t we be safe?’, but bickering with authority was a skill she had little practice with. The idea of ‘serious adjudication’ being withheld was probably no solace, given what I was up against a few weeks ago as a minor; it must’ve only meant she and Duncan would escape with their lives.

“I’m gonna try to help Mom and Dad, too,” I said, earnestly. “I’m sure this was all a big misunderstanding…”

“Thanks,” Portia said. “I still can’t believe it. You’re really…”

Eddy smiled, big and bold. “I’m sure it must be a shock — to learn who you’ve been living with all these years. How does that feel?”

“Does that mean I’m a prince?” Duncan asked. “If my sister is a princess?”

We all laughed, awkwardly.

“Perhaps not a prince, Mister Duncan,” Eddy said. “Though I’m sure you’ll grow up to be a fine, noble Lord if you live a good life.”

We landed not long after, as close to our home as we could. A gaggle of press was looming nearby, but we’d been preceded by a larger security team that took care of some of the guesswork for us. They loomed, however, making the whole thing quite uncomfortable.

“There’s so many of them,” Portia whispered, seeming very distant, terrified. “Why won’t they leave us alone?”

“I’m afraid this is to be expected,” Eddy said. 

The front door was covered in caution tape. Portia pushed it open. Inside was nothing like the home any of us remembered. The investigation team had ransacked it, putting tape and evidence signs all over the place. The couch was toppled over, and all the cupboards opened and emptied, glasses shattered all over the floor. The drapes and curtains were torn down, and some of the windows and walls broken into. 

“We can’t disturb the investigation,” Eddy said. “They were kind enough to leave, and to allow us to take anything you’ll need, but you’ll have to log everything you take — and try not to bother anything they’ve laid out.”

Duncan headed straight up the stairs, not seeming to fully grasp what happened to our home. Portia was like a ghost, wispy, absent, pale. She went to the table to wipe some glass off of a textbook she’d left there and some notebooks underneath. The admissions letters she had stuck to the fridge were on the floor, covered in dirt and footprints. The notepad we used to leave each other was flopped on the ground beside them, turned inside out and fanned open. 

In typical form, instead of feeling the thing she wanted to feel, Portia just picked everything up off the ground and tidied them up, tucking the letters inside the notebook.

“I’m sorry,” I said, reaching out to hold it for her while she went for the broom. The note on top was still the one that I had written.  “Gods, Portia… I’m so sorry.” 

“Don’t worry about the mess,” Eddy said, motioning for Portia to head upstairs. “Go and get your things.”

Portia gulped visibly. “It’s not your fault,” she said to me, before heading upstairs.

When no one was looking, I crumpled up the note I’d written and shoved it down the front of my dress with the mirror from before, figuring it was best if nobody questioned why I suddenly disappeared and reappeared from home for a few weeks. Then, I followed Portia up to the second floor. Duncan came bursting out of his room with a suitcase bursting at the seams with comic books and toys, along with a few pairs of clothes. Judging by the lump in there, too, he’d brought a football, too. Portia took much more time with hers, folding her things neatly in her suitcase.

“I’ll call for another cruiser,” Eddy said, herself preoccupied with looking around our home, seeming to scrutinize every nook and cranny. I could tell that she was probably thinking it looked oddly normal for the sight of a great, grand scheme of intergalactic treason.

“What is it?” I asked, curious if she might actually confirm that theory for me.

“Nothing,” she said. “It was a lovely home you had. I’m… almost glad,” she said, looking between the three of us. “Do take everything you’d like to see again soon. We won’t be able to come back.”

“Never?” Portia asked, peeking out of her room. “Why not?”

“Well, I’m afraid the house is considered leverage toward your parents’ legal fees, so it’s being seized by the State,” Eddy said, bobbing her head back and forth as though she was confirming the details with herself. “I’ll make sure everything else is delivered to you once it’s been investigated, but I’m afraid it could take some time, especially if it becomes evidence…”

Portia ducked back inside her room. I followed suit in my own, but I didn’t have the stoicism she had. I would’ve cried if I had any tears left in me, but I didn’t, so I just grabbed what I could. There really wasn’t anything I wanted that I could have, nothing worth keeping if it couldn’t help my parents, or Portia or Duncan. I tossed some of it together anyhow; books, music, a swim trophy, and the baby book my parents made for me when I was little, tucking all of it under my arm.


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