“Luna” By Lucy Goldberg

It often confuses me how we can look at the blue morning sky and confuse ourselves that life will stay like that. The handcuffs around my wrists the more I realize that the sky is a perfect metaphor for life. Occasionally bright, sunny, with just a gentle breeze of doubts or mishaps that keep it from being too hot and blinding. But nearly as often it can be filled with storms, winds of dread, pain, and strife blowing you around this way that way, this way that way, until your entire life is focused on survival. I heard ancient humans used to die during these storms. How quaint. Death has been a concept we’ve been able to laugh at for a couple millenia. Once we evolved our abilities and learned to use them as energy to live off of for however long we wanted to, never aging. No, these days The Council just makes you wish for death. I wonder what they’ll do to me. My best friend, excuse me, ‘lawyer’ Stella strides in, that stupid yellow skirt she likes to wear swishing. She comes from a Star clan, people who inhabit various stars in the galaxy. It’s easy to figure out whether a person is Moon or Star. Stars are generally blond, average height, with bright eyes, creamy skin and a taste for light-colored clothing. Moons are pretty much the opposite, dark haired, either very short or very tall, eyes that show that we are the people who do most of the thinking, generally possessing either dark or bordering translucent skin and generally wearing darker clothes. I’m Moon, Stella’s Star, it’s never really mattered. We balance eachother out, using Stella’s charisma and looks I got a hearing with a secretary for Councilman Hades himself, and then my intelligence and sharpness got us both jobs. I was an inventor, I made weapons to fight off Dark. Then I missed and hit a star and an entire Star clan got wiped out, obliterated, taken off the face of the universe. It hadn’t happened since we eradicated death. Now I’m here, on a train, to be rocketed into the farthest corner of the galaxy where no one will hear from me again. Stella seems to sense my mood and puts an arm around my shoulder.

“I’ll be okay Luna, they can’t convict you so long as they can’t prove you did it intentionally.” This is a lie and we both know it.

“Don’t you have a case to be preparing for?” I ask, and then, unable to keep the bitterness out of my voice, “it’s not everyday you get the chance to impress Hades.” Stella’s brow furrows and she snorts.

“I’m finished, actually, and by the time I’m done we’ll both be back at work with promotions.” This actually makes me laugh, I’m surprised at how hysterical it sounds, I thought I did a better job of keeping myself sane.

“Stella. You’re missing the point. They don’t care why I did it. They just need to know that I did it so that they can prove I’m dangerous. Once I’m dangerous they can do whatever they want to make sure that I don’t do anything dangerous again. I hope you didn’t stake your entire case on ‘why.’” Stella is visibly taken aback. She shakes her head quickly and runs her hands through her long, curly hair.

“You’re right, I have a case to prepare for,” and she’s gone. I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry, we’ll be on Earth in a matter of minutes and I have no practical defense. I might as well try to escape. I have nothing to lose. With a hum, I send energy to my palms and feel them vibrate. Melt, I think, staring at the metal cuffs, melt. I hear a scoff from the door of the train. The guard laughs.

“A little late for that sweetheart,” he chuckles. He’s from a Moon clan. I can tell from his height alone. He’s taller than me, I stand only to his shoulder, and I’m significantly taller than Stella. I can’t see his hair from beneath his helmet, but he has a dark beard. His eyes are black.

“You can’t blame me for trying,” I hiss. The cuffs are now painfully hot, and if anything they’re tighter. He walks over to me and and jangles a set of keys in my face, just in front of biting range. I won’t rise the bait. I can tell what he wants. He wants a show. He wants me to turn to my animal instincts and become desperate. He wants me to beg and sit and rollover. I will not. I will face my fate with dignity. Besides, the keys I want aren’t even in the key ring. Judging by the size of my handcuffs, all the keys he has are either too large or too small. I bet the idiot doesn’t even notice. As I predicted, he seems disappointed.

“What’s wrong, little criminal?” he asks, placing the keys on my wrists, slightly above the handcuffs, “you don’t want them?”

“If you were going to give them to me, you’d lose your job. Or your freedom. The council doesn’t like it when things go unpunished. Besides, I saw your supervisor take both the keys to my cuffs and the keys to your vehicle when we last switched trains, he’s probably halfway to Saturn by now.  You might want to check on that.” He looks at his key ring so quickly it would be physically impossible for him to perceive details before running off in a panic. It worked, he’s gone. By the time he figures out that he still has the keys to the vehicle at least, we’ll be on Earth. It’s good to have at least one bit of amusement before certain doom. Stella reenters, this time taking the seat next to mine, eyebrows raised.

“What’d you do?” she asks.

“He thinks his supervisor stole his car,” I snicker and Stella giggles.

“Lu, convincing guards of something that isn’t true isn’t going to be helpful for the case.”

“Not guards, guard. Besides, he was tormenting me.”

“Fair enough,” she admits. A calm, automated voice fills the compartment.

“Twenty minutes to arrival, we are entering the ozone layer, it is advised to remain seated at this time.”  Twenty minutes, in twenty minutes I’ll be on the planet regarded as the center of the system. In less than an hour Stella will be making my case. In less than six hours the verdict will have been passed.

Stella places her arm around my shoulder and squeezes. Normally I’d shove her off with a grumble about how affectionate she always was, but today I decide it’s not worth it. I realize that her hand is shaking.

“Stella, you’ll make new friends, better friends, who don’t enjoy blowing stuff up,” I say, meaning to be conciliatory but that just makes her shake more. We’ve gone to the same school on planet 3 of Solar System B since we couldn’t read. We always shared everything. She’d never made any other friends because she didn’t need to. I didn’t because I couldn’t. Thinking about it, it’s better I’m being banished than Stella. She’ll be able to cope. I look back at her and she’s staring at me, her mouth slightly open.

“I don’t want any other friends!” she cries, tears finally running down her cheeks.

“Stella, you have to calm down, if you don’t appear professional when you appear before The Council they won’t take anything you say seriously!” I snarl, I am not in the mood for tears.

“Right,” Stella sniffs, wipes her eyes, and pushes her hair out of her face, “focus.”

The voice echoes through the speakers, “Ten minutes to arrival.” I must have let some of my panic show on my face because Stella erupts in a fresh set of tears and throws her arms around me. I don’t move, if I shove her off she’ll just cry harder.

After two minutes she takes a deep breath, wipes her eyes, and says in a cool voice, “I should put the finishing touches on the case.” I nod, and she walks out of the car shaking. I’m alone. Very alone. I am dignified. I am powerful. I am afraid. I am innocent. They know that. They don’t care.

“Five minutes until arrival on Earth.” Five minutes. I’ve heard life begins flashing before your eyes at seven minutes. Well I guess I’m not technically going to be dead in five minutes. I try to stand up, but there are chains fastened around my legs, bringing me back down painfully. I wish I could get up. I wish I could wake up in my dorm in the inventor’s building one last time. I wish… My wishful thinking is rudely cut off by the realization that I can see Earth. I’m momentarily… what’s the word? Starstruck? I’ve never actually seen Earth in person, only the grainy pictures they provide Solar Systems B, C, and D. This is the planet where it all started. Where humans first evolved. Where humans first developed their abilities. I take a deep breath to prepare myself.

“Docking imminent,” says the voice. Imminent. It’s such a dark word. Two new guards enter from the front compartment of the train. I raise my eyebrows at them. One grabs my shoulder as another undos the chains around my ankles.

“Walk,” says the one holding my shoulder. I obey, keeping my head tilted up I walk in long strides. When we reach the exit I ignore Stella’s attempts to make eye contact. With a woosh the doors open and I’m momentarily blinded by the sunlight. After blinking a couple times I notice the reporters. Millions of reporters, with bright flashing cameras. Accosting Stella, the conductor, the prosecutor, one even tries to speak with me.

“Miss Luna, how do you feel about this case? Are you innocent?” she squeaks. I walk forward, picking up my pace. It’s a straight walk, the Court is just a block away. I will not have to stop. Citizens clamor around the ROAD CLOSED barriers, trying to get a peek at me, I must now be an infamous criminal. One of them hurls a tomato at my face. He misses. I turn and blow a kiss without stopping. Stella is trying to catch up with me. I walk faster. I will not have her brought down by this. I can see the building. I could try to make a run for it. It won’t work, it’s physically impossible, but I don’t really have any options… No. I will not. For the same reason I tried to take the keys from the guard. I will finish this. I’ve arrived. I can’t even process it. I don’t try, I just keep walking. It’s one room. That’s interesting, I expected the whole building to be several different courts. It’s actually the most beautiful room I’ve ever seen. The walls are a polished wood, covered with banners of various different planets, moons and stars. The carpet is navy blue velvet, leading up to eight different thrones, each made of carved marble. In front of the thrones, there is a metal cage, clearly for the defendant. The two benches on either side of the thrones are for the lawyers. I continue walking until I reach the cage, at which point a guard shoves me into it, locks the door and puts the key on the armrest of the center throne. He and his companion soldier march out, shutting heavy oak doors behind them. A shrill voice erupts from a small uncomfortable-looking chair next to the throne to the far the left.

“All rise for the eight members of the esteemed Council: Hermes, Aphrodite, Hades, Ares, Zeus, Cronos, Ouranos, and Poseidon.” Everyone rises on command. The Councilmembers walk in one by one. I’ve heard each one is named for the planet they were born on. They sit on their thrones without a sound. You could hear a pin drop when the voice speaks again. “Today we are hearing the case of Luna, born on moon 12 of Planet 3 of Solar System B.”

“That will be enough, thank you,” says Ares in a crisp voice. The person in the chair nods and sits down.

Hades of Earth fixes his gaze on mine, “Well Luna of B3,12 how do plead?”

“Innocent,” I say in a voice that I’m not entirely convinced was as convincing as I wanted it to be.

“Interesting,” whispers Zeus to himself.

“We will now hear the facts of the case,” announces Aphrodite. “Secretary?” As they jump, I get a clear view of the person in the small chair. They are a Star female who looks too skinny for her own good, a pair of thick glasses resting on her nose. She’s dressed in a black suit that looks too important for her position.

“Yes Councilmember, Luna was an inventor for the Council, operating on Neptune. She created a weapon to vanquish Dark, but used it to kill a group of innocent Stars.” A gasp. This is all painfully predictable.

“Well let’s begin. Prosecution, you may begin your case.”

“Thank you Council. The defendant, Luna committed the first murder in over a millenia-”

Stella leaps up, “Objection!” None of the council even looks at her.

“Prosecution, please continue,” growls Hermes.

“Thank you, Great Leader, as I was saying. Luna fired the weapon, the most powerful in our generation mind you, into a group of stars. It’s the defense case that Dark was there. Ha! I will call our first witness, if I may, Mr. Titan.”

“Very well,” Hades pronounces, “let Mr. Titan take the stand.” A mousy looking Moon is led to stand directly in front of the Council.  

“Greetings Sir,” Aphrodite chimes, a joyless grin plastered onto her face. Her eyes speak of boredom at this inconsequential man shaking in front of her.

“G-greetings Madam Councilmember.”

“Well get on with it. State your name in front of my colleagues,” Aphrodite insisted, danger leaking into her voice.

“Ah, yes my name is Titan. I work on the DSC, the Dark Searching Committee, we work to find Dark-”

He’s cut off by an impatient grunt from prosecutor who whispers harshly at him, “They know what the DSC is, hell, Hades founded it.”

“R-right, so I worked with Luna when she fired the weapon,” I squint at this wisp of a person. I vaguely remember his face. He was one of the people on site who encouraged me to fire. If I were him, I’d be on D29 by now. Unless… “Myself and all the other commanders gave her orders not to fire.” It’s too much. It’s all too much. My friend being my lawyer, the taunting, and now this little liar.

“LIAR!” I scream at the top of my lungs. “COMMUNICATOR OF FALSEHOODS! YOU TOLD ME TO FIRE! I’LL DESTROY YOU! ALL OF YOU!” Before I can even process what I’ve just yelled in front of the most powerful people in the universe, I hear a guard’s enraged grunt, feel a sudden shock, and then everything goes black.

 

“Luna… Luna… LUNA!” a faraway voice, how interesting, if I had to guess, I’d say 40 yards away… I’m tired… What happened…  Need to blink… “LUNA! THEY DECIDED THE VERDICT!” I bolt up. Stella’s voice, precisely 10.2 inches away and to my right.

“What happened?”

“You yelled at the entire council, the prosecutor and the witness.” Oh. Right. That.

“Goodbye Stella,” I sigh, standing shakily, I move to stretch and my hands hit the cold steel of handcuffs. Obviously.

“Luna, we can appeal! It’ll be fine.” I turn towards her, and make direct eye contact. She flinches.

“Stella. You know you are lying. If we attempt to appeal, it’ll be shot down. It’s best if you just give up.” She opens her mouth, then closes it.

“Luna, you are set to meet with council in five minutes,” a voice from the ceiling fills the room. I raise my eyebrows at Stella.

“You didn’t tell me I was leaving in five minutes,” I state plainly.

“Luna, you’ll always remember me right?” asks Stella, eyes pleading.

“Of course.”

“Then take this with you,” Stella presses a photo of she and I into my hand. I close my fingers around it.

“Thank you Stella, for everything, really.” She starts crying again as we hear a knock on the door.

“I’m here to escort Miss Luna to the Council Banishment Room.” This is it. The end has come.

“Goodbye Luna!” Stella cries.

“Good Stella,” I call as the guard shoves me out the door.

“She your friend?” the guard asks. He’s a Star, and is glaring at me intently.

“Yes. She my friend.”

“No sass,” the guard commands.

“You make it too easy,” it makes me sad to think this might be my last time to insult an unintelligent annoyance.

“We here.” He shoves me into a small room. Hades is standing next to a pod, exactly big enough for me to lie down in. Panic makes my stomach flip. I take a hesitant step into the room.

“Don’t be shy Luna, I promise we won’t be here long.”

“That’s precisely what I’m worried about,” I mutter under my breath.

Hades smirks, “Speak loudly if you speak at all. Please, shout. It will be your last opportunity to.” I stare at him silently. “Not much of a talker, eh? No problem, just lay down and you’ll on your way.”

I scramble to think of a plan, “No.”

Hades tilts his head sideways, “What do you mean, no?”

“I won’t.” Without a word Hades blasts me with energy, my arm immediately begins to burn. It soon becomes unbearable, like my entire body is on fire. Anything would be better than this, anything at all.

“Make… it… stop…” I beg, taking shallow breaths.

“Get in the pod, and it will.” I have no choice, I take staggering steps towards the pod, and lie down. “Good girl. Such a shame, this is, really. You were so promising, but the people need a villain, and I’m afraid good old Dark won’t cut it anymore. However you, a murderer, your story gives them something to sink their teeth into. Your sacrifice is greatly appreciated. Goodbye.” I see a thick gray ceiling close in around me and here a click. I try to sit up, but I hit my head. I can do nothing but lay on my back. Forever. I feel myself moving upward, at a gradually increasing speed, although there is no sound. Finally it stops, and I’m perpetually alone.

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