There is no way to truly find out what happened that first night aboard the Iron Butterfly. One can make assumptions though, and assumptions were made, but to make a good assumption one needs to look only as far back as that evening.
2539 AD. XiaoWe-023, Port City-Venus
Men and women danced under the dome's protection to a song from the old days. Music like that was rare, most of it had been destroyed during the age of Adellyn, but of course, the Sen empire had somehow gotten it's hands on it.
They managed to collect rare things like that, music, planets, princesses. It was only natural to a Sen to hoard things like that.
But on that evening, with the stars as her witness, the princess danced among her people. Everything young Scaio did had to be perfect, tonight would be no exception.
To be anything but perfect meant death. Not immediate death of course, but it meant showing weakness, which in turn meant not being taken serious, which in turn meant being overthrown, which again meant death.
So be perfect or die.
So princess Scaio was perfect. Pale blue fabric tried to keep up with her graceful movements, and tried to look nearly as angelic as her. Eyes followed her movements, it wasn't common to dance alone after all. Scaio ignored the weight of their stares until they weighed her down.
With a tight smile she turned to the nearest bot, a tiny star mark painted on their forehead, and asked them to accompany her to the roof.
It was another uncommon thing to do.
It was breaking the unwritten rules, and Scaio knew that, but also figured that it showed restraint. She wasn't breaking any written rules. (Not yet...)
The servant bot accompanied her through the castle's many halls and even though she knew the way, followed them up to the roof. She hadn't wanted company, and servant bots didn't speak, and no noble would associate themselves with a bot.
With a sigh she sagged against the castle's walls, through small windows she could look over her city, the music still hummed through the air. Beyond the city and beyond the ports the dome abruptly cut off everything, behind it the planet's rocky surface cut through the darkness.
She thought of her home, a moon not too far away, and remembered the wind that would ruffle her hair there. The lack of wind here became even more apparent.
The bot quietly stayed by the door. Waiting. Scaio turned to them, meeting their blank stare with an angry one of her own.
Would it be so hard to comfort me? Her voice came out less than perfect, the emotions hung off of every syllable. Scaio cursed herself internally.
The servant bot didn't move. My name is Servant Bot-306,
I serve the Royal family of Sen and am not programmed to feel human emotions.
I am a Sen, you idiot. Scaio huffed.
It wasn't that she actually needed any comforting words, or a hug. She could do those things for herself, had learned that already. She just needed somebody to care.
One ship in the ports caught her eye. The Iron Butterfly. It wasn't big and it wasn't a warship, it wasn't even a passenger ship, it was just a cargo ship. Scaio loved it. Whenever she needed the silence, she knew where to find it.
Tell father I retired to my quarters early. She ordered the bot and quickly fell in a comfortable run back through the castles, leaving the servant bot attempting a chase behind. She hurried into a run past quiet passages, through the castle's gate, and then over cobblestone paths until she reached the city's ports.
Scaio had left Servant Bot-306 behind in the castle, the port sprawled out before her, quiet under the stars watchful eyes.
Everybody who hadn't been invited to the Winter's Eve Ball had been ordered an early curfew, leaving the city abandoned. It was deadly silent.
Scaio sighed and genuinely smiled for the first time that night.
At the entrance of the ship she pressed her hand against a cold metal scanner. She didn't worry about people knowing she sneaked onto cargo ships late at night, it had been a habit since her youth and nobody had ever bothered her about it.
She didn't figure they would start now.
Inside the ship warm air filtered through the airway as she stripped out of the detailed dress and slowly put on one of the suits worn by dock workers. With the press of a button the suit shaped itself to her body, perfectly snug and not a size too large.
She wandered the belly of the ship for a while, checking all spaces for potential disturbers and when she was sure it was empty she sagged down between the heavy boxes that lined the walls.
There she laid content, on the cold floor of a cargo ship in clothes that weren't even her own.
A grin tugged at her lips as she pulled out her Phone. It was an old model she only used for private things like these, in front of the nobles she of course always had the newest versions but they all appeared so fast Scaio could hardly keep up with them.
She hated to admit that she didn't know how to work them.
Her old phone buzzed with notifications, she ignored them all in favor of a simple game. The moment she tapped the icon a game started playing in midair, displaying a field and two enemy ships on each side. A shooter game.
What else could one expect of a heir to the largest empire since history? Nobody could command fleets like a Sen after all.
Scaio played the game, and with each win it got harder and more complicated, the game threw up challenges that got more difficult, unsolvable, yet she kept winning.
The game kept playing even when her eyes drooped and sleep took her away. The plasma blasters kept blazing even in her dreams.
No rest for a Sen.
five hours later
Panicked shouting roused the girl from sleep, loud banging made her aware of where she was, and the cold metal of a plasma blaster against her forehead was a clear message to her finally awakened mind.
She should have stayed at the ball.
The person, a large man with protruding eyes, held the plasma blaster in question. He towered over her, with large muscles and a cruel smile to boot Scaio knew that no amount of persuasion or violence was going to get her out of this situation.
She sighed loudly. If it's ransom you want, you might as well double the amount to make it worth my time.
The man's right eye twitched, but his cruel smile stayed. You're arrogant for your size.
She dragged her eyes across his form, making sure contempt dripped off of every point of her face. And you're not much of a looker, but that's your problem too.
The plasma blaster hit her, hard. A grin spread across her lips as she kicked the man's legs out from under him, taking his moment of unfocused anger to her advantage. His head hit the cold metal, harder. The plasma blaster fell from his grip and slid across the room.
Pressing a hand against the newly formed wound on her forehead she ran towards it and gripped the handle tight. The man stayed down where he was, making no movement to get up.
To be sure, she kicked him again.
The man wasn't wearing a cargo worker uniform, he had been wearing civilian clothes. They weren't allowed on cargo ships.
Something was wrong.
She moved towards the doors, holding the blaster comfortably in her hands. She knew how to use it. Was sure she would if she had to.
The halls of the cargo ships were empty as she passed through them, just as they had been when she arrived. Not a sign of life. Had the man been alone? She decided he couldn't have been alone, it was too strange.
A port window opened in the wall, showing the view outside the wi.ndow. Scaio caught her reflection in it and stopped to look at the wound that would surely scar, but something peculiar stopped her.
The city wasn't outside the wi.ndow. It was all black, small points of light in the distance the only thing that broke the pattern. It took her a moment to realize where she was.
She was in space.
A scared whimper escaped her lips. She hadn't planned on being this alone.
The sounds of a scuffle came from down the hall, Scaio hid behind a large stack of cargo boxes. Two voices rose out of the scuffle.
We won't let you do this! A scared voice squeaked up, pretending to be brave but sounding everything but.
A soft laugh rose up, carrying a bit of cynicism towards Scaio. A deep voice spoke. We? You mean you and your friends? You shouldn't struggle, my friend, and I won't hurt you.
A pause. You're a big liar. The first man said softly, his voice steady thi stime.
Oh no! The deep voice laughed. Don't tell my mother! His laugh abruptly got cut off and Scaio half expected him to be taken down but after a moment he spoke again. Put Him with the others, don't k.ill them.
The man struggled, of course. Two others clicked their tongues, as if disappointed with their orders. Surely if they struggle we can enforce ourselves, right?
The all too familiar sound of a plasma blaster going off sounded, Scaio yelped in surprise but was thankful her voice was covered by the noise.
Any more questions? The deep voice said.
There were no more questions. After some footsteps the halls were silent again.
She peeked around the cargo boxes and a immediately the same noise repeated itself, a hot string of plasma missed her by a hair. She hurried to press herself back behind the boxes.
Next time I won't miss, little girl. So you better run.
She didn't have to be told that twice, she ran as fast as her legs could take her, ran through corridors she usually would have known better than her own body, but that seemed completely foreign with all the adrenaline running along with her.
There was only one place to go then, so there she went. The doors to the docks were opened, she paused in the doorway as she looked at the chaos there. Three small fighter ships were docked there. Fighter ships that didn't belong there.
The cargo ship was invaded.
A pair of large arms wrapped around her and caught her in a less than gentle embrace. Caught you! A familiar voice yelled into her ear. The man who's plasma blaster she had stolen now held her tight.
Don't be so rough, Mogi. The deep voice spoke, obvious joy in his words.
The plasma blaster clattered to the ground. Scaio didn't even bother to struggle then. She looked at the face the deep voice belonged to, and felt not fear or contempt, but surprise.
Before her stood the most handsome man she had ever seen.
Editing note: Ahem. Do not try to slip lies into this report, General Tez.
The man's eyes widened at the sight of Scaio's less than unknown face, then hardened. By the moon, it's you. He said, slightly breathless.
Scaio took the opportunity she saw presented. I would like to be unhanded, right now.
The man's face then broke into a smile. Wrong thing to say. Oh, but you seem quite comfortable like this. Also, I quite like my princesses captured like this.
Scaio grit her teeth at his treachery. And who might you be? She asked.
He mock bowed to her. The name is Alexander Tez, criminal extraordinaire. You might have heard of the escaped bunch from Frigr-X? He winked at her, which only worked to infuriate her further. Pleased to make your acquaintance, princess Scaio.
Mogi let out a surprised gasp behind her. His grip, sadly, did not loosen.
Alexander motioned at Mogi to follow him, and then led the way to the small sleeping quarters of the workers. The room was filled with angry looking men bound by ropes and angry looking men holding plasma blasters.
There were no friends here for Scaio.
For the first time in her life, she wasn't so sure she could overcome a challenge.
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Sora.NE had been a recent addition to the Sen empire, only five years ago did the civil war that raged through these meadows calm. It was impossible to imagine now. Workers, mostly women, worked the fields, their forms wrapped in colorful fabrics to protect their skin from the nearby sun.
Scaio noticed there were few men and few children and few elderly. She looked beside her at Alexander to question why he had stopped at this planet but the softened expre.ssion on his features made her pause.
Forty years, he said softly. What they wanted to take from me after taking my home from me. Scaio waited for him to continue, but he didn't.
Instead, he abruptly turned to her, the harsh expr.ession back on his face. Tell me what you see, Scaio. He said, calling her strangely by her name.
She tried to rack her brain for an answer that he might want to hear, but couldn't come up with anything other than what she had been taught to see. A peaceful planet, blossoming under the protective wings of the Sen empire. She said, but a seed of doubt had been planted in her already.
Alexander didn't have to tell her she was wrong. War raged her for two years. Many died Scaio, they died so your father could say he won, so you can say you won. He hesitated, blinking a few times before continuing. My parents died.
Scaio's eyes widened as she watched his face gradually grow more blank, desperately trying to hide anything he felt. She wanted to say she was sorry, but knew it would do him no good. So she let him talk.
Those first two years weren't so horrible. Everything that happened was at the borders, far away from our eyes. There's a way of saying that all fancy, you know? Out of sight, out of heart. He chuckled a little, there was no humor in it. Then the armies came. Alexander didn't have to finish for Scaio to understand. She had been trained in the finer details of war after all. A smart gal.
I was twelve when they arrested me. Black market sc.um, they called me. Said I stole whatever I sold. Forty years for selling sugarcubes. He laughed again, this time loud enough to make the women in the fields look up. So what if I had stolen, Scaio? So what? People were starving when they didn't have to. He cut himself off.
Scaio gave him the mercy of looking away when the tears ran over the boy's face, and suddenly he looked so young. Nothing like a dangerous criminal, a rugged man that would do anything to survive. No. A boy forced to grow up too soon. He looked his age suddenly.
There were no words that could comfort the broken Alexander, so she hugged him.
And it was good. It was all he needed.
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