I want my own life back. I want to be that innocent person that I woke up as again, not this… this composite monster that you made me as, Anders. I can’t love you while hearing that gunshot every time you take a step in my presence. Please get rid of these dreadful memories that you’ve burdened me with.

One solitary Anders Shew cautiously watched the pale sky as a small speck of illuminated salt among the pepper clouds expanded itself into a skyskipper with the headlights at half-power. As it extended its slim glassy landing gear onto the tentative landing area on the roof and powered down to standby, he took a step back from the snow that the cooling fans were blowing around him in mild gusts. Manning the ship in the pilot’s seat was a slender nondescript woman of no consequence, no doubt someone who’d been handpicked by reluctant-to-rule Queen Maxine herself for her ability to fade among the masses.

“I assume you’re the Mister Anders Shew that I’m supposed to deliver this to?” the pilot inquired after slipping out of the ship with a wallet-sized device under her elbow and hesitantly approaching Anders. “If you have a government-issued ID chip, please extend it.”

Happy to comply, Anders slipped off his right glove and extended the hand, quickly becoming pink in the chilling weather. It had been spring-like temperatures until lunch, and then it was like the higher powers decided to dump the entirety of their damp and fluffy newspaper shreds on the earthlings. It was only a few seconds until the pilot passed her scanner over his chip and verified that he was indeed Anders Shew, but he drew his hand back a tad too quickly and replaced the glove soundlessly. “I trust that you know where the delivery doors are?”

“Back of the building between the two marble pillars, correct?”

“Yes, ma’am. The doors should slide up as soon as you approach them. I’ve already approved your ID for today.”

“Alright.” She turned back to the skyskipper and called for the rest of her crew to lower the cargo bay floor and move the heavy piece of lab equipment that Anders had ordered where his order had specified. “You know, I remember when this was a regular fixture here. Our very own Queen Emma went through this thing quite a few times. It doesn’t really work on people with that specific mental wiring, though.”

“I don’t want to talk about Her Majesty. Too many emotionally charged memories there, and being convicted of treason isn’t on my list of things to do today.”

The pilot cast a darkened glance at Anders like he’d just spoken the most reviling profanity that he could think of. “Are you still butthurt that she didn’t want to date you? Still playing God here in the void Allaketo left behind?”

“He left me to run the place behind the scenes far before he was assassinated. I was the proper heir to the throne under Zorphian law, being the firstborn child, and you know it. Please just move the machine to the second operating suite. It’s for my partner.”

She giggled a bit as the cargo bay lowered itself down into the roof, the pistons and gears creaking under the collective weight of the machines and the crew making sure that it didn’t fall off during the descent. “Good luck with that woman, Anders. We’ve all heard stories about her from some of your more pernicious employees, and if they’re true, then you certainly have a long road ahead of you before you two are wed.”


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