A sea of dull, concrete roofs streamed by below, suffused in the strange, orange-ish glow of the lights overhead. Levs trickled between the buildings like water on a pebbly beach, with soft hums and glimpses of blue plasma. It was a city, looking as though it had been placed there from some giant's toy set, as though every building had been constructed all at once. The concrete still looked fresh and the streets clean and new. The only thing missing was the sky.

Near the city's heart, on the edge of a tree-studded plaza, a door opened and a blond, attractive woman entered, closely followed by a short man, dark and inconspicuous as her shadow. She was tossing comments blandly over her shoulder to the man without ever looking at him, and this seemed to suit him, as --judging by his silent, creeping gait -- he seemed to be the sort of man who didn't care to be seen. They walked down a narrow hallway, lights igniting themselves automatically around them, illuminating a solitary, reinforced door at the end. The words of the woman and the sharp clicks of her high heels echoed around the close walls, but both sounds stopped as the pair reached the door.

"Stay here, Dagger," said the woman, not bothering to turn to look at the man she was addressing. "It won't do for your bloody knife to be interfering. . . though, it's not as if he has a choice. But he may prefer if we pretend as though he does."

The man called Dagger faded into the shadows like magic. The blond woman stepped forward, keying a code into the pad by the door with mechanical swiftness. The door swung open.

Inside was a coat rack, a bed surrounded by a web of suspended medical equipment, and on the bed lay a boy. . . .

A flash of recognition.

Someone was speaking, but it wasn't the boy. . . or the woman. . . .

The room seemed to be getting foggy, then dissolving. . . the voices getting louder. . . .

*   *   *

Elenia's eyes fluttered open. The murky outlines of many stooping figures were pressing all around her, blocking the light.  An annoying breeze was blowing in her face and something vaguely pink kept whipping by her face. Her shoulder blades were pressing into something that felt like carpet. Was she on the ground?

"Oh, dear, oh dear me!" a voice was saying, trembly and feminine. "I'm always telling her she shouldn't eat so fast. I'm sure it was that. Are you sure she's not choking? Oh, dear me, dear me!"

"She's not choking, Ophelia, look there -- she's coming to, see?" A different voice; a man's. "Now stop flapping that ridiculous handkerchief in her face and let the med droid examine her."

The blowing and whipping pink thing were whisked away and Elenia felt a metallic hand close around her wrist and she heard her pulse being measured out in small beeps. Some water was dabbed on her face. Elenia tried to sit up.

"Here she comes, easy does it, my dear." The King was supporting her gingerly cupping the back of her head in his hand. "Gave us a bit of a turn there -- quiet Ophelia, she needs a little peace and space. She's only fainted, and I daresay she'll be alright."

Elenia suddenly sat up straighter; she had just remembered her dream -- had it been a dream? It had been so real. . . .

"There there, drink some of this -- it'll make you feel better." A cup was pressed to her lips. Elenia drank, but she was scarcely even aware of it. She kept seeing the city in her dream, which for some reason seemed much more important than her immediate situation. Where was that city? She had not seen it before, but the boy she had. . . who was he?

"Lorden," she said suddenly, herself surprised by what had just tumbled out of her mouth.

"What's that, dear? What did you say?" The Queen was hovering about anxiously.

"Nothing,"  muttered Elenia. But it was not nothing. How she could know his name, she could not fathom, but she would find out, she was sure.

The End

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