Princess sat on the deck of the ship that had been a city a few days ago. Now it had only about a dozen inhabitants, the rest having fled or died trying. And it was moving up the coast towards – as far as she could tell – more death.
A winged shadow approached her, bringing her out of her thoughts. It moved too slowly to be a bird, which meant it could only be her brother.
Princess did not greet him or in any way acknowledge him as he approached, but simply continued to gaze out at the ocean.
Duke sat down next to her, and sat with her in silence.
After a couple of minutes, he spoke up.
“He was your friend.”
She did not reply.
“Krogon” Duke continued. “We knew him as ‘The Trapmaker’, and believe me when I say he was far less kind to us than he was to you.”
Princess tried not to cry. Krogon was the first person she had met outside the vault that had been kind to her. And now, when she thought of him, all she could see was his exploded head, the remnants of his brains leaking out on the floor, her brother standing over the body with a smoking gun and the same calm expression he always had.
“Last I saw him, he was with the army that was besieging the vault. Not the one with the Dragon, but the one before that.” Duke wasn’t looking at her as he spoke – he was looking out into the vast blue, just like she was. “The time before that, he lied his way onto our ’rig and then attacked us with a beartrap on a chain.”
She couldn’t keep ignoring him at this point – she turned her head towards him, one eyebrow raised as if to say really?
Duke raised his hands. “It’s true, I swear.” His smile faded as he continued: “Snowy has the scars to prove it.”
They sat in silence for a few moments.
“Before that, he…” Duke started again, before changing his mind. “You know what, it doesn’t matter. He was bad to us. I understand he was good to you, and I suppose there are few people you would be safer with as a friend.”
He gave her a sad smile.
“For what he did for you, what he was for you, I am truly sorry he died.” His face turned grim as he continued: “For what he did to me, to Snowy, to Lili, to Eli… I am not. I don’t know if you’ll ever fully forgive me for what I did to you – it was a monstrous thing to do, I know that – but I hope that in time you can understand why I did it, and forgive me a little.”
Princess wept. This whole situation – her closest and only friend for the past weeks dead at the hands of her brother, the brother she trusted above all things – it was too much. She wanted to hate the Duke, but at the same time she didn’t. She wanted to go home, but knew she couldn’t – she was stuck on a giant city-ship which was headed into hostile lands. She was so scared. She wished she had never left the vault. She cried, because she didn’t know what else to do.
She felt her brother put his arms around her, and then his wings. This was the brother she knew and loved. The one that was always there for her. She knew that in a couple of days he would storm a science base to rescue his son, and that he might not make it back alive. It he did, there would be plenty of time to figure out whether she should hate him then.
Until then, she chose to see only the good in him.