Sky Queen preview: Aelu’s story.

‘That was delicious,’ said a slender blue-skinned creature, sitting at his kitchen table.
‘It needed more spice,’ his wife fretted, washing the dishes. She watched the stars from the window, and the lights of the supercity beyond the bustling jetway.
‘It was fine,’ her husband assured her softly, coming over to hug her from behind.
‘It was tasteless,’ she snapped, matter-of-factly, shrugging away from him to scrub at the burned-on food in the bottom of the pan. ‘I fucked it up. Again.’
‘Aelu, it was fine,’ her husband consoled her, trying to slip his three-fingered hands back around his wife’s thin waist. He tried to entwine his tail with hers, just like they used to when they were young and infatuated. ‘Don’t be so hard on yourself,’ he said softly in her ear. ‘Let’s lie down for a while. Come on.’
‘I don’t want to lie down!’ Aelu burst out, slamming the pan down in the sink to confront him. ‘They took our son from us, Raia!’ she screamed, her eyes filling with tears. ‘He’s gone!’
‘Come on Aelu,’ he pleaded. ‘We’ve had a drink. You know how down we can get after a drink.’
‘I’m allowed to grieve over our son!’ she snapped.
‘It’s been years, Aelu!’ he yelled back. ‘How many times do you want to dig this back up, huh? How long do we need to grieve, exactly? Why do you want to make this harder? We need to get on with our lives!’
‘How can you even say that!?’ Aelu screamed, backing away from her husband as if he’d harmed her. Her feline eyes were wide, angry; streaming tears. She clutched the kitchen counter as if it anchored her to the world. Stopped her crumbling all over again.
‘You think I don’t miss him!?’ he said angrily. ‘The Guardian Corps did everything they could,’ her husband pleaded with her.
‘You still believe that?’ Aelu snapped, smiling in disbelief. ‘You still think they’re the good old Guardian Corps they were when you joined up?’
‘They’re on our side, Aelu!’ Raia barked. ‘How many times do we need to go over this?’
‘They’re run by the fucking mob!’ she screamed, hurling a glass down to shatter over the floor tiles.
‘They’re the Guardian Corps!’ Raia bellowed back, as if he was stating an inalienable fact. Like the military police were a part of the Gods themselves. Virtue distilled. ‘They did everything they could! We did everything we could! Raiu’s gone!’
‘And I want justice for our son!’ she screamed. ‘I want that gang dead!’
‘They could be anywhere in the galaxy by now!’ Raia countered.
‘Why should that stop us from getting justice?’ Aelu snapped, looking at her husband in disgust. ‘Why should that stop the Guardian Corps from finding them? Isn’t that what we pay our taxes for?’
‘The Guardian Corps did everything they could,’ he consoled her.
‘Then fuck the Guardian Corps. Useless bastards,’ Aelu spat back, storming out of the kitchen.
‘You don’t mean that,’ Raia said darkly, following her.
‘They stood by and watched while our son died!’ she yelled beside the couch. ‘They didn’t even go off-world to follow that gang! They’re nothing but crooks themselves.’
‘Aelu,’ Raia threatened, stepping close. ‘Mind your tone.’
‘No!’ she countered, turning to stand up to him. ‘The Guardian Corps are scum and you know it. That’s why you left them.’ Aelu got his hard strong palm in response. Clutched her bleeding lip and watched him warily as she got back to her feet.
‘I said, mind your tone,’ Raia growled. His snarling furrowed mouth bared a hint of his sharp teeth beneath. He towered over her; six feet of angry muscle. The same six feet of angry muscle she knew she was marrying all those years ago. But kind and gentle, once upon a time, before their son was murdered. Drinking hard ever since. But he’d never been hers, not really. He was still Guardian Corps property, even a full decade after retirement. To him they’d always come first.
‘That gang’s still here somewhere,’ she said, with absolute conviction. ‘I’m going to find them, and I’m going to get justice for our son. Even if you won’t.’
‘Aelu,’ he warned her. ‘You’re not thinking straight.’
‘I’ve been thinking straight ever since they took him from us,’ she countered. ‘The Guardian Corps won’t help us. Nobody’s ever helped us. I mean, look what it’s done to us, and no one’s even been questioned! I want revenge for our son.’
‘You’re being ridiculous,’ Raia told her. ‘Come and sit down. Now.’
‘I’m leaving,’ Aelu said through gritted teeth, heading for the door. Raia said nothing. Just stormed up behind her and slammed his palm against the front door, barring her way out.
‘You’re not going anywhere,’ he growled in her ear, gripping her arm so hard it hurt. ‘We’re going to sit down and talk this through before you go playing vigilante and get yourself arrested. Or worse.’
‘Get off me Raia,’ she threatened him, tensing up. He tried to pull her back into the living room. ‘I said, get off me!’ she yelled, striking out. He rubbed his sore jaw, staring at her. Animal-intense. She’d hit him, for the first time. Broken the ancient law.
‘Raia,’ she cautioned him, stepping away. His staring eyes were boring through her as he came closer. She fumbled for the door handle. She knew that look in his eyes. Raia wasn’t in there right now. There was only drunk anger. A rabid growl was the only reply she got. ‘Raia!’ she screamed, throwing her hands up to protect herself. Then came the punch, knocking her head hard against the door. Aelu’s ears were ringing as her limbs crumpled in shock. She fumbled again for the door handle in a daze. Felt her husband’s big hands grab her shoulders and throw her to the floor. Before he could hit her again Aelu grabbed up the metal doorstop beside her and swung it against his head. Staggered to her feet and opened the front door. Slammed it shut on him as he yelled and growled on his hands and knees in the hallway. She hurriedly locked the door and snapped off the slender ornate key at the grip. Checked the dark lamp-lit street for anyone watching her, and ran into the night. Searching the darkness for the vengeance she’d never had. Following her cheated motherly pride wherever it dared to take her.

 

What did you think? Leave a comment below — and stay tuned for Creature’s story, coming tomorrow…

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