Queen Skyla and Captain Darian Flaherty left the Dome Hospital without speaking to one another. Skyla walked a few paces ahead of Darian, as Dome etiquette indicated that in times of non-emergency, no one was to walk in front of the queen. They headed for the throne room, as the time of her press conference was nearing and she had little time to prepare a statement for the public, the media, and the Earth leaders to swallow.
“I thought you might jump to that,” Darian said suddenly.
“Jump to what?” Skyla asked.
“You asked Doctor Leeland about the Moon Flash Virus.”
Skyla was quiet for a few moments, tasting the words in her mouth, considering them carefully before speaking. “It is the deadliest disease known to mankind. Of course my mind would jump there first, especially after what happened.”
“I miss him too, Skyla.”
She whipped her head around. “I was talking about the tragedy of the Dome! Not of…not of that.”
He looked momentarily hurt. She had fractured the mask that came with the uniform. The face behind the captain’s duty was soft and full of grief, and it weren’t for the bits of facial hair under his lips and around his cheeks, he would’ve looked like a child.
So it was true, he did miss him. He should, Skyla thought bitterly. He was his best friend. She balled her emerging anger and let it stew inside her, letting her gaze drift forward once more.
“Skyla, I’m sorry.”
“You’ve been away too long, Captain.” She spat the words out like she had something rotten on her tongue. “You forget the formality that the First Luna Dome expects from its officers.”
“Your majesty,” Darian said quietly. “If you are not feeling up to addressing the public, I can take your place.”
He’s trying to reach out to me, Skyla thought. He wants to talk about it.
“That’s not necessary, Captain.”
More silence. She refused to talk about it.
Dominique was suddenly the most popular Lady on the Moon.
And as such, she had to live up to her newest role.
She sat up straight, her relaxed but poised in front of her dresser mirror adorned with twirling fool’s gold that encircled the glass. She blinked once, then twice, allowing the tips of her fake lashes to brush the skin below her eyes. A light blue eyeshadow decorated and matched her eyes, sparkling in the overhead lights. Her blond curls—fresh from the overnight rollers—lay still on her shoulders until she drew them up with one motion with a hairpin. This drew attention to her half-exposed shoulders, the rest covered by a dress the colour of Earth’s oceans that went to her ankles. No jewelry, though. That was reserved for the queen.
With the First Lady out of commission, it was the Second Lady’s job to oversee the training of the Junior Ladies and provide proper political opposition to the queen. Being the Second Lady was almost as hard as being the First, in Dominique’s opinion. There was all this pressure on her when Harmony messed up. Not that it happened all the time. But she had heard rumours of Harmony’s light night adventure and wondered what she was really up to. Meeting a new beau, perhaps?
There was a light knock on her door. “Lady Dominique?”
“Come in,” she said, not looking away from the mirror.
In the reflection, Dominique saw the door open and a mousey young woman peer into the room. Junior Lady Kristen wore a light pink dress similar to Dominique’s in length. Her straight brown hair wrapped around her face, hiding her ears, and barely touched her shoulders. She was the youngest Lady assigned to the Dome, barely eighteen, and eager to please both Harmony and Dominique whenever she had the chance.
“The Queen is holding a press conference in an hour to discuss what happened to Lady Harmony.”
“I know,” Dominique replied.
“Do you know what happened to her? I heard that she went crazy,” Lady Kristen said.
“You shouldn’t listen to rumours unless they have some kind of fact to back them up,” Dominique said, sliding an extra bobby pin into her hair to trap a curl that went astray.
“Lady’s Charter, Rule 27,” Lady Kristen quoted.
Dominique nodded. “That’s right. You’ve been studying.”
“I have.” She paused a moment. “Lady Dominique, can I ask you a personal question?”
“You can, yes.”
Lady Kristen took a deep breath and brought her hands neatly in front of her, like all Ladies were taught to do when breaching a delicate topic. “Lady Harmony…she’s in the hospital right now. If she doesn’t wake up, you’re next in line for First Lady. So if you get promoted-”
Dominique swung around on her stool and crossed her legs. “I know what you’re going to ask.”
The young Lady’s face brightened. “You do?”
“You’re wondering if you’ll become a full fledged Lady.”
Lady Kristen’s head bobbed up and down excitedly. “Yes! Well, will I?”
A smile slid across Dominique’s face. She could toy with the young woman. She remembered senior Ladies promising promotions and then denying them later when she was but a Junior. It was Harmony’s final decision who was promoted, anyway. She could dangle the promise, have some fun.
“Well, the score on your last Politics and Etiquette exam was very high,” Dominique said finally. “It’s not totally out of the question, I suppose.”
If Lady Kristen wasn’t wearing heels, she would’ve jumped up and down with glee. “Oh, thank you, my Lady! Thank you!”
“Now Lady Kristen, I haven’t promised you anything yet, we’ll have to wait for Lady Harmony’s approval.”
Her face fell slightly. “But…if she never wakes up…?”
“How about we pay her a visit later? Check her progress with our own eyes,” Dominique suggested.
“That’s a wonderful idea!” Lady Kristen exclaimed.
Dominique stood and a smile slid across her rosy cheeks. “Yes, it is.”