Chapter 5:

The Everlasting Queen

Tetraprisma: Chromatic

“So, about that queen you said you’d tell me about!”

The three of us were jogging towards what I assumed was the cathedral. I didn’t know the hallways, so it all seemed like a labyrinth to me. Luckily enough, Aubrey and Aka knew where they were going.

Aka turned his head to look back at me. “Oh, yeah! Sorry! So, you probably don’t know about the big war two thousand years ago, but basically–”

“She already knows,” Aubrey blurted.

“I can talk for myself.”

“Well, uh, great! So, the queen that won that battle for us? Yeah! That’s her! She’s still alive! After two thousand years!”

I cringed at the image of a two thousand year-old woman. “Uh, that sounds great, except how the shit?”

Aubrey shrugged. “She’s got a pretty cool ability, y’know?”

“She can time travel,” Aka clarified. “They call her the Everlasting Queen.”

“But can’t Aubrey time travel, too?”

Aubrey stopped jogging to stare at me. “I wha-?”

“The four-year thing you guys were talking about.”

“Oh, you mean that! Nah, that’s just a weird Dianoct-Earth travel thing. It ain’t technically time travel. Well, it is, but I’m not the one doin’ it, space-time is.”

Aka cleared his throat and jutted his thumb forward. “We’ll only make it if you two actually move.”

“Okay, we’re comin’,” Aubrey groaned.

“So, like, is that it? All that’s interesting about the queen is that she can time travel?”

“She’s also our military leader, and she supervises the headmaster,” Aka said. “So whatever she’s here for, it’s either really good or really bad.”

“Usually bad,” Aubrey added.

“Does that mean we’re gonna have to cancel training?” I asked.

“The opposite, actually. We’re gonna need soldiers,” Aka said. “Assuming the news is bad.”

“Which it’ll probably be,” Aubrey snarked.

In front of us loomed a large cyan force field— it reminded me of a disintegration device from an old video game with its rippling surface. Behind it, I could see the lights of a courtyard. I hadn’t gone outside since the battlefield, so I didn’t quite know what time it was, but it looked dark.

Aubrey ran over to a keypad next to the field. “Just so ya know. Code here is ‘Insurmountable’. It sucks. Takes, like, an hour ta put in.” She slowly typed in the letters and hit the enter key.

The field cracked down its center and shattered into a hundred pieces. Each of the pieces crackled with what looked like electricity before disappearing completely. Does all cyan magic spark like that when it falls apart? I ran through the now-open door and looked around at the dark courtyard.

“How do we get to the cathedral from here?“

Aka pointed to a tall, arched building. “It’s right there, but the doors are closed!”

Aubrey glared at him. “Open ‘em, then.”

“They’re locked.”

“Do ya know that fer sure?”

He walked up to the doors and pushed as hard as he could. “Yep. Locked. Told you.”

“Try turnin’ the handle.”

He twisted the handles on the doors and pushed with all his might. He ended up nearly falling over as the doors opened up.

“I’m a dumbass,” Aka said.

“Yuuup,” Aubrey replied.

We made our way through the ornate cathedral and up to a small balcony. It overhung the massive crowd below us, watching a stage. As we walked up, I noticed a girl giving me a strange look, like she’d seen me before. I didn’t really think anything of it.

Aka tapped my shoulder and pointed to a reflective mirrored hallway behind the stage. “You know what that is?”

“A hallway.”

“Well, uh, yeah. That one’s called the Mirror Hall. It’s where the school’s, and by extent, the entire city’s shield generators are. It’s also where the Queen usually enters from.”

“I don’t see any queen.”

“She hasn’t come on stage yet.”

The lights dimmed, and a man walked on stage. His grey hair was slicked back, and his ears were pointy like Aka’s. The crowd began to clap.

That’s the queen?” I questioned.

“That’s our headmaster, idiot!” Aka whispered back. “Be quiet!”

The headmaster bowed. “As you all know, I am Headmaster Luke Milliheim. I’m not the one you’re looking forward to. But, please, while we have this time, let us go over some of the precautions. First, please do not bend over railings. If you fall, you could injure yourself or other students. Second, please remain quiet while the Queen is speaking. Make sure you understand every word. And finally, please turn off any cell phones or flash photography. We have a camera recording this for the public anyway, so your video won’t help.”

“What is this, a movie theater?” I whispered.

“Shut up!” Aubrey and Aka hissed in unison.

The headmaster cleared his throat. “Ahem. Without further ado, give it up for your Everlasting Queen, Teresa Beta!”

Did I hear that right?

The crowd erupted as a young woman emerged from the Mirror Hall. Her long silvery hair matched nicely with her robes, which spread behind her. After Aka and Aubrey’s description of her, I’d thought she would look elderly. She didn’t even seem past her thirties.

She gave the headmaster a smile before taking the microphone. “Good evening,” she said. “Now, I’m sure some of you already know the situation at hand, so I won’t dawdle. Sakira has declared active war against the territory of Atlas.”

I didn’t quite know what that meant, and frankly, I wasn’t really paying attention. My mind was racing. Her last name is Beta. My last name is Beta. Is that a coincidence? And Aaron asked about my father earlier, and my dad is always gone. Did he lie about my mother being dead? Am I a princess?

I tried to snap out of it. Ask those questions later.

Queen Teresa continued. “This is quite a predicament. For many years now, our students have only had to clash in border skirmishes, keeping them rather safe. This will mark our descent into war— we’re no longer aiming to push, we’re aiming to kill, understand? If you have a kill shot, don’t hesitate to fire. They’re evil spirits anyway! No great loss will come with the death of a specter.

“Along with his declaration of war, Sakira stated he would dispatch several sectors of the army along the borders of Atlas. We don’t know where these locations are, but we are on high alert. Border patrol is the most active it’s ever been. We won’t let those phantoms take our rightful territory. For two thousand years, we’ve survived— we can take another few!

“So steel yourselves, students of Atlas. Brace yourselves for your country, your kingdom, and we will not be defeated. Onward, Atlas! To victory!”

I didn’t know what to think. Going into war? It was a double-edged sword. One the one hand, I didn’t want to risk my own death. On the other, though, I would be able to prove to everyone what I could do.

And who was this Sakira figure the Queen had mentioned? He seemed important, but I had no idea who he was. Was he some human associated with the evil spirits? Had he become corrupted by their presence? What were the spirits anyway?

I felt a tap on my shoulder. Aubrey was looking at me, concerned. “Yer face looks all kindsa worried. What happened?”


“I can smell yer cortisol.”

“The hell?!”

“It’s a cat thing. I know yer stressed out about somethin’, so spill it.”

“Well, she just announced that we’re going into war, dumbass. So of course I’m worried about something!”

“You were way more stressed out when Milliheim introduced Queen Teresa, y’know.”

“It’s called anticipation!”

“Yer flabbergasted about somethin’ else. Dunno what. Just tell me.”

“Well, I don’t know how to put this… but my last name is Beta? And hers is too…?”

Aubrey tilted her head. “Oh, that’s what it is.”

Behind her, Aka was gaping. “You’re a Beta?!”

“Uh, yeah…?”

“I just- I never thought I’d meet one in person!”

“W-well, yeah, uh, I didn’t know about any of this ‘till five seconds ago.”

Aubrey shrugged. “Well, now ya know.”

“Well, now I’m thinking.”

“About what?” Aka asked.

“Well, my dad’s never home, and I haven’t seen my mother since I was a baby. He told me she died, but now I’m wondering if that was a coverup, and that I’m actually some kind of princess.”

Aubrey covered her mouth laughing. “Didjer dad ever tell ya yer mama’s name?”

“Yeah, he said she was named Myla. And that’s my middle name. But he might have said all that to cover up my lineage!”

“Uh, sorry ta burst yer bubble, but you ain’t a princess. Yer a descendent, yeah, but Teresa’s two thousand, remember? She ain’t yer mom, she’s yer ancestor.”

“Well, that’s still gotta mean something!”

“It’s just real cool. Ya don’t get anything special for bein’ a descendant. Just a pat on the back.”

A pat on the back? For being a descendant of the Queen?! Even people related to the President of the United States get more than that, and that’s a democracy!

I sighed. “Why?”

Aka leaned in. “Well, considering there are like, a hundred generations of Betas, it’d be kinda stupid to give them all royal treatment. I mean, no offense to you, but you haven’t done anything to deserve that kind of treatment yet. Teresa started a revolution, won a war, and claimed the territory. All you’ve done so far is float in the air for a few seconds.”

“Well, she did piss off DeAndrick earlier,” Aubrey noted.

“Wait, damn, really?” Aka asked.

“Yeah, it was great. Thought he could be all superior and tough with me. Big mistake,” I said.

“Okay, you get a few more respect points for that.”

The crowds started dispersing back into the lobby, which I hadn’t seen yet. I leaned over the railing to try to get a look, but Aubrey yanked me back.

“If you wanna go down there, best way’s the stairs, dolt.”

“Dolt? When’d you start saying that?” Aka asked.

Aubrey scratched the back of her head and smiled. “Uh, it’s somethin’ I picked up from Niko.”

“Niko?“ I asked.

“My twin brother, remember?”

“I knew it started with N.”

“Ya did?”

“That was when you weren’t here,” Aka said.

“Oh, gotcha. Yeah, ya did ask about ‘im, so ya probably–”

“Aubrey!” Marissa came running from behind us, nearly knocking Aubrey over. “I’ve been looking for you everywhere, I haven’t been able to find you, and then you’re here with Aka and Shiera, and–”

“Slow down. Yer adrenaline’s strong. What’s wrong?”

“Well, they’re drafting, and they mixed me up with someone else and put me on the front lines, and Aaron’s yelling at me to get it changed, but I don’t know how, and they put Aka as a soldier instead of a general for some reason, and he’s in your sector, and… Sorry. It’s all really stressful, and I…”

Aubrey looked serious for the first time I’d ever seen. “I understand. Is that all?” Her accent became little more than a rasp under her breath.

“No, that’s not it! Virien and Yuna are overworked handling the systems, and they’re asking me to help, and they just identified one of the troops approaching the border, and that’s not even the worst part!”

“The worst part? Marissa, what do you mean, the worst part?”

“Shiera!” She turned to me, her face soaked in fear. “You’re in the draft! You’re scheduled to deploy tomorrow!”

Slashed Ink.
Steward McOy
Kya Hon