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Never in a Thousand Lifetimes

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Seventeen-year-old Konn Torin stepped out of the spaceship onto Luna, slightly aggravated. He had been stuck on a small vehicle for 3 days with the company of an overly-excited prince. Although he had had baths, he still felt grungy. Even though the meals were okay, he still craved sweet water.

"Torin!" Torin cast a glance sideways at his best friend, who was grinning like a lunatic.

"Yes, Your Highness?" Torin replied monotonously. Prince Rikan made a face.

"Don't call me that."

"We are on a diplomatic mission, Your Majesty, and, therefore, I must call you by your title."

"Just because we're on a 'diplomatic mission' doesn't mean that you're not my best friend anymore." Torin let out an exasperated sigh and turned to face Rikan.

"Yes, and if the people here are going to treat you with respect, then have to set that example."

Rikan glared at him. They both didn't speak to each other for a couple of minutes. Then, unable to hold his angry demeanor for very long, Rikan's face split into a wide grin.

"Okay, whatever. But isn't this city beautiful?" he breathed, looking around in awe. Torin couldn't help a little smirk. Leave it to Rikan to find Luna beautiful. Disgusting, despicable Lunars. How Torin hated them.

But, nevertheless, his eyes swept over the city, and a little part of him couldn't help but be impressed. Artemisia was very regal.

"Torin," said a deep masculine voice. Torin looked up and saw his father, royal adviser. The position he would one day fulfill.

"Yes, Father?" he asked.

"This trip will be an educational experience for you. Pay attention." No more words were passed from father to son. Torin looked back over to Rikan, who was discussing something with the emperor of the Eastern Commonwealth, Rikan's father.

Despite Rikan's playfulness, he was a very hard worker and a loving, caring person. He would be a great ruler one day, and if his future son was to be anything like him, the son would be also.

Torin smiled at the thought. He would have fun seeing Rikan as a father. It would be entertaining… although by that time he would be the royal adviser. Torin felt a pang of fear at the thought, but quickly dismissed it. Fear was only fear if you acknowledged it. That's what his mother had said. His mother… killed by the Lunars… she had never been afraid.

A tear slid down Torin's cheek before he could suppress it. He didn't look at his father; he knew the royal adviser was thinking of her too.

He felt a squeeze of his hand and knew it was Rikan offering his support. Torin wiped his tears away and, together, they stepped forward to greet these cruel, inhuman creatures.

The family of royals and the advisers walked into a sheltered area, not indoors exactly, but similar to a overground tunnel with a clear ceiling. It was nighttime on Luna, so their only sources of light were gorgeous, illuminated flowers outlining the walkway. Although Torin knew that the flowers were lab-made, it appeared as if the flowers were real and bioluminescent. Each a different color, glowing sweetly. Suddenly….

All the lights went out. A quiet voice.

"Welcome, my loves. I am ecstatic that you are here at long last."

The voice changed the direction it was coming from.

"Let us not think about our previous rulers, though that is why you came. That era is behind us. A new era has begun. One filled with magic, light, and unity. One filled with happiness, love, and togetherness. Let us begin a special new world, just... for..."

A woman stepped out of the shadows, extending a slender finger to pull Rikan's chin down so he could meet her gaze. A mischievous smile played on her lips.

"Us," she finished. She tucked a strand of Rikan's hair behind his ear before pulling away, giving a girlish giggle.

Torin felt everyone around him stiffen. Rikan bowed mechanically, lifting the lady's hand to his lips.

"Your Majesty, if I may," the emperor began. "Please do not touch my son."

"I was only teasing, Your Highness. But," the woman let out an exaggerated sigh, "as you wish."

Torin studied the woman more closely, and recognized what everyone else probably already had noticed. The woman's youthful face, not a day past seventeen. Her dark, flowing hair. Her tanned skin without a blemish. Beautiful, laughing eyes.

"Oh! I should probably introduce myself!" The woman curtsied, looking at Rikan flirtatiously through her eyelashes. "I am Queen Channary of Luna."