Glad you could join us for the next explanatory episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…
The few times Clifton had seen his aunt Lilian’s Innermost Chamber, it had been packed with advisors and attendants, and vibrating with activity. He wasn’t sure she had any place this spacious and quiet in the Hive back home that she could call her own.
Queen Madalena stood apart, warm but aloof. “Samantha tells me you’re from Fen, and Lilian’s nephew. How is she?”
“You know my aunt? I mean, she’s well, thank you. I… I’m just surprised you know her. Sam… Samantha didn’t mention the Hiverarchy had any contact with Fen.”
“We don’t,” Sam stated, fixing her mother with a stare that demanded an explanation.
“It was before you were born,” the Queen responded, “before the Great War. Knowing Lilian, in fact, is the reason I invited you in, Clifton.” She gazed at her daughter. “There is much you don’t know about our past.”
“Apparently,” Sam said.
Her mother’s voice was almost too low to hear. “I was born in Fen. I grew up with Lilian. I met your father there, Samantha.”
“What? Then why don’t you want to help them?” Panic-edged uncertainty seeped into Sam’s eyes.
“I never belonged to the Suns of Glory, but I was there when Benito and his rebels attacked the Hive and grabbed Lilian. I saw her mother sacrifice herself to save the Princess. Samantha, your father risked his life to stop Benito — he may have been Benito’s brother, but he wasn’t a rebel.”
Sam’s jaw dropped. “My father was a wasp?”
That explains so much about her, Clifton thought.
“Yes. The finest I’ve ever known,” her mother answered. “He tried to protect me that day, but the sky was so full of madness, I was knocked to the ground, and when he came to help me, the fighters Lilian had rallied thought he was a rebel and killed him.”
Her pain was so raw, so fresh, her tears flowed as though for the first time.
“After the War and your birth, I tried to clear his name, but Lilian’s forces wouldn’t admit they’d executed a loyal citizen of Fen. They found me guilty of treason and sent me into exile.”
Sam took her hand. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
Leaning her head against her daughter’s, the Queen closed her eyes. “I vowed to leave the Hive behind forever and start a new colony. A peaceful place where the ugly hatreds of the outside world would never enter. I wanted you to have a safe home, and everyone who wanted the same for themselves came with me.”
Madalena took Sam’s face in her hands, “You’re very like your father — you have his fire and commitment, his strength and brilliance. I’m proud of you, Samantha, and I don’t want to lose you. This colony will need your strengths when I’m gone.” She stood back to appraise her daughter. “As your Queen, I know I could order you to stay here, and you would. But as your mother, I love you too much to make this decision for you. I want you to follow your heart just like your father did.”
Watching Sam’s face, Clifton believed this was the first time he’d ever seen grateful tears.
Princess Samantha bowed her head. “Thank you, Mother. I’ll make you proud.”
Clifton was afraid the Queen’s tears didn’t spring from joy. She held her daughter and said, “Just come home when it’s all over.”
To be continued. . .