It seems like a long time since I've written some flash fiction. In fact, this piece is just a smidgen over flash fiction length, so I hope you'll forgive me. For today's piece, I've decided to write chapter eight from Pull of Gravity from Nike's point of view instead of Edonys's. So I hope you enjoy this alternate version of events.
A Cupidian Festival
Nike stepped into the ballroom. A gasp caught in her throat at the brilliant display. Cupidians twirled and danced, their wings a variety of colors. String music lilted toward her and lured her with its beautiful melodies. The festival reminded her of an old Earth costume ball, except these people didn’t wear masks and their wings were real. In another life, she would’ve joined them, but she was here to destroy the Cupidians and take their planet.
As Farah was whisked away by a blue-feathered Cupidian and Yacob and Lewis slipped into the crowd, she spotted the royal family. With a deep breath, she strode toward them. She had to get close to these leaders of Cupidis, learn their secrets. The fate of her people depended upon it.
“I trust everything is to your liking, Nike.” King Jypitr’s voice came out raspy. He summoned a female servant with a sharp snap of his fingers.
The servant bowed and produced a drink for him. Nike caught the heady scent of wine from his goblet.
“Yes, sir. Everyone has been most kind and generous.” Nike straightened until she felt a pleasurable burn between her shoulder blades. Her gaze flicked to the prince, who looked like he was about to choke on his drink. The way his eyes raked across her body made her cheeks feel like they were on fire. Why didn’t her outfit have more fabric? She felt naked under his gaze. Edonys was too handsome, and she had to keep her distance from him. Her shoulders lowered, and she hung her head, her hair draping along her jaw.
“Nike, would you like—”
“Let me show you around, Nike dear.” Princess Dite rose from her chair and fanned her golden feathers behind her. “Brother, you need to attend to our guests. Perhaps dance with some of your possible mates.”
What did Edonys wish to ask her? But it didn’t matter. Dite was giving her exactly what she wanted with a tour. She had to learn everything she could about these Cupidians before the SS New World landed.
“Of course. You two have fun.” Edonys left them.
“Come, let me show you around.” Dite latched her arm around Nike’s.
“Thank you for offering to show me the palace. It is most gracious.” Nike slowly extracted her arm from Dite’s. Her gaze flicked toward the other Cupidians. She didn’t like being so exposed to the enemy. But were the Cupidians really an enemy? She didn’t think so. Conflict weighed heavily on her.
“I’m happy to. How long do you think you Earthlings will stay on Cupidis?”
Nike dodged a Cupidian with purple feathers. “Huh?”
“How long will you be staying?” The princess clipped her words and grasped Nike’s arm again. Dite’s smile chilled Nike’s blood.
“Not long.” Forever.
“Good.” Dite then showed Nike around a few rooms. The tour was short before she patted Nike’s hand. “I must continue with my duties. I’m sure you understand.”
“Of course.” Nike watched the princess leave. Relief flowed through her, and she entered the ballroom again. Yet the relief was too short-lived. The crowded room sucked the breath from Nike. She danced with a couple Cupidians, and she avoided the prince at all costs, but the night wore on her. Before running away to join the military, she kept to herself. This glamor and grandeur irritated her. She had to get away, even for a moment.
She edged toward the wall. A door opened to an unoccupied balcony, and she slipped outside. She didn’t hold back her gasp this time.
Cupidis was beautiful and everything a girl with no home wanted. Stars, sparkling like diamonds, filled the dark purple sky. She clutched the railing and breathed in a faint floral scent. Home. This place really could be her new home, but the thoughts of the commander’s plans devastated her. She wanted a place filled with life, not death. Her vision clouded over with tears as her heart ached to deny her people’s plans to annihilate the Cupidians.
“It’s beautiful out here, is it not?”
She spun around and stared at Edonys. All evening she had avoided him, but now here he was.
“Are you all right?” He stepped toward her.
“Yes,” she breathed. Her head tilted down, but then her cheeks burned again as she looked away from him and the castle. Why did he stir such warmth from her? More stars sparkled, and she yearned for their splendor. “And it is beautiful here. More than I could’ve ever imagined.”
Edonys shifted, as if he was going to leave, but then he offered his hand to her. “Dance with me.”
“I can’t dance.” With you. She pressed herself against the railing.
“Come, we can dance out here. Then, no one would see you.” His fingers curled, beckoning her to him.
“We can barely hear the music out here.” Her gaze fell to his outstretched hand. Would his hand be soft and warm? A slight chill tinged the air, and she shivered. She wanted to dance with him. She wanted a normal life. But she knew she could never have what she wanted.
“What do you have to lose?”
Everything. Her eyes met his, and with a deep breath, she accepted his hand.
Faint string music permeated the balcony. Edonys pulled her close. With his other hand on her waist, he swayed her about. Trembles raced through her. She needed to run away from him and stop this, but she barely dared to breathe. The last man who had touched her so intimately she had killed. Of course, his advances weren’t welcome. Were Edonys’s?
Her eyes closed, and she tilted her face toward his chest. She sighed as if the world had collapsed upon her. Her people were making a huge mistake, and they didn’t even know it yet. Only she and the commander knew their true mission.
As soon as the music ended, she pulled away and wrapped her arms around herself.
“Was it really so bad?”
“No, not at all.” Nike lowered her arms and reached back to grasp the railing. It offered some sense of steadiness. She felt dizzy after being so close to him.
“Tell you what. To thank you for this dance, I will show you my planet tomorrow.” He stepped closer to her.
She looked up, surprised by his offer. Her eyes still didn’t quite meet his as she reached out and touched his hand. He had played right into what she needed from him. Knowing the layout of the planet would help in the Earthling’s preparations. He would unknowingly give her the answers to destroy his people. She smiled sadly.
“Well?” He squeezed her hand.
“That’s an offer I can’t refuse.” But she wished she could.