Skyla woke up with sweat pouring down her face. The remnants of the dream lingered at the back of her mind. She scrambled to remember it. Something about a tower…stairs…mist…The dream left an uneasy aftertaste in her mind, like drinking milk before bed made her teeth feel unclean in the morning.
Her neck ached. She massaged it with her fingers. Must have slept on it the wrong way.
Gripping the underside of the warm pillow, Skyla curled herself into a ball and rolled over. Her feathered mattress cradled her body and her down comforter helped her concentrate on finding a pleasant dreamscape.
She was drifting back to sleep when she heard one of the floorboards creak. Her entire body tensed as her Lady Training flooded back to her. The Ladies weren’t given as much offensive training as the military, but the defensive training had been thorough. Skyla refused to be assassinated in her own bedroom.
Another creak, closer to the right side of the bed. Skyla guessed the attacker had two more steps before he hit the bed, not including the time it took to brush aside the light blue canopy sheers. Keeping her eyes closed, Skyla slid her fingers slowly beneath her pillow and wrapped them around the plastic hilt of her knife.
Skyla listened for more creaks, but the room was silent, except for the gentle hum of the generators outside the Dome. She tried to keep her breathing even, but her fears swirled in the pit of her stomach like water sloshing in a pot. It was time to chance a peek. Skyla opened her eyes just as the intruder pulled back the canopy sheers.
In one practiced move, Skyla pulled the knife from beneath the pillow. It tore at the bed sheets as it went, making a terrible ripping sound. She thrust it towards the intruder. Taken off guard, he stumbled backwards but caught himself on Skyla’s dresser.
“Skyla, wait! It’s me!”
Skyla drew a sharp breath inward. “Lights on full!”
The Dome computer system obeyed the queen and the room brightened. Captain Darian Flaherty climbed slowly to his feet, keeping one hand on Skyla’s dresser for support. His light brown hair was slicked back in appropriate military style, and was barely disturbed from his slight tumble. He had dark blue eyes that were set closer together than normal. His chin jutted outward in a proud manner that reflected the two service badges sewn to the breast of his fitted grey uniform.
“Darian!” Skyla hissed. “What are you doing here?”
Darian moved his eyes to Skyla’s chest and cleared his throat. “Your majesty.”
She followed his eyes to her chest. Her silky light blue nightdress had a plunging neckline that was, at the moment, skewed to one side. It revealed part of her left breast, and hinted at her pink nipple, already showing itself through the nightdress because she was so alert. Darian averted his eyes as Skyla stood and retrieved her matching blue housecoat from a rocking chair next to the dresser.
“Report, Captain,” she said as she tied the housecoat.
Darian folded his hands behind him. “There has been an intruder, your highness.”
“You mean besides you to my bedroom?”
She glanced up at him. He stared at her through the dresser mirror as if she had slapped him. It was always this way. One of them would venture beyond the mask required for both of them to keep the Dome functioning, and stab the other. She immediately regretted her tone and told reminded herself to be gentler.
“I’m sorry,” she said softly. “This is serious. What happened? Has anyone been hurt?”
Darian shifted his weight. “No one is hurt, but everyone is awake and afraid. We were first notified of a disturbance when one of the airlock alarms was triggered.”
“An airlock? Someone was trying to get in from…the outside?”
“No, your highness, someone was trying to escape.”
Skyla ran her fingers through her hair. There was nothing on the Moon’s surface aside from the Dome. Every citizen had access to spacesuits in their quarters for both emergency and leisurely purposes, but there was little interesting to see on the surface except the view of Earth, which could be seen from the observation deck.
“If no one came from the outside, then why is it being classified as an intruder?”
Before he could reply, the radio resting on Darian’s hip came to life with a rush of static. “Lieutenant Starkley to Captain Flaherty! We have captured the intruder.”
Darian unattached the radio from his belt and held it to his mouth. “We’re on our way.”
“Sir…” Lieutenant Starkley’s voice was uncertain through the static. “It’s Lady Harmony.”