Marcelina hated this room. Calm colored walls and rounded corners on all the furniture left one with the feeling they were still not old enough to be trusted. As if, at any moment, she would produce a pair of scissors and race wildly through the room with them.

To be fair, if only to break the monotonous quiet, she might have done so if anyone had left scissors nearby. As no one had, she sat and waited. Other than a traitorous shake of her wings when the silence closed in on her, she sat still. She must be in more trouble than she’d thought as they’d left her in here a long time.

When she’d been directed to sit, she had, but only after turning the chair to face the door. If they planned on something extreme she wanted to see it coming. One thing they had not done was make sure there was a chair for her. Wings, she’d learned early on, made normal furniture torturous. Not, she thought, the best word to use. Not now.

Marcelina’s eyes opened when she heard the door. The fact she’d slept shocked her. Three people entered the room, but she did not stand. Neither did she acknowledge them other than to let her gaze slip across their faces.

Hardly surprising they’d send them.


“You remembered.”

“There’s no need to be that way.”

“Fuck off, Siemowit. Go back to your stupid wife.”

“So grown up.”

“I don’t even know why you’re here.”

“I always knew about you, Marcelina.”

“Yes, well, I thought you dead. And preferred it that way.”

“Marcelina, we need to settle this.”

“Oh? I figured you were just going to toss me to the wolves.” She wanted Jory, but he wasn’t invited. The governor would come to regret that because she might have held her temper with him there.

“There’s little to settle. The president dictator will agree to cease fire and acknowledge the neutral accords once more as soon as the traitor and her family are in our custody.”

Marcelina shuddered and half rose to her feet. At the last moment she was able to sit, but her wings remained half extended. The governor looked worried. She didn’t mind the man, most of the time, but it was hard to like anyone in the room right now. Especially herself.

“I’ll go.”

Three heads turned.

“But I will not have my family accompany me. He will have to be satisfied torturing and murdering me.”

“The deal,” Zuza said as she flicked a nail against the sleeve of her green uniform, “is that your entire family forfeit their futures.”

“If you try to take my husband and daughter I will kill you.”

“Dosia will not suffer because her parents betrayed their country. The president dictator is a benevolent ruler. He will raise her as his own daughter.” Siemowit took two rather hurried steps back when Marcelina rose to her feet.


The governor glared at the siblings before he opened the door. Several soldiers stepped inside. Marcelina forced herself, again, to stand still. She wouldn’t fight them. They were only doing their job and she was one person. The entire region was at stake and the governor was doing what was best for his people. So long as they left her family alone, she would submit.

So, she thought no one more shocked than her when the soldiers flanked her brother and sister.

“Escort them to the border. Once they are gone, we will raise the wall.”

The wall was a myth. Or so Marcelina believed. An energy field to protect them from outside attacks? It was like something out of a comic book. From the corner of her eye she saw scarlet feathers ruffle. Well.

“This is a mistake.”

The governor bowed and said nothing. After the door closed he turned to Marcelina. She sat down on the floor and lowered her head into her hands.

“Mrs. Couch? Are you well?”

“Why didn’t you let them take me?”

“Oh, I would have. If they’d acquiesced to your terms.”

Her head came up and she stared at him.

“The reasonable thing to do would be sacrifice you and save the rest of the region. And a reasonable man would have left instructions to accept that term.”

Marcelina’s laugh had a tinge of hysteria in it. “Who has ever claimed that man was reasonable?” She spread her wings and gestured behind her. “A reasonable man would not do this to his own people.”

“We’ve never seen any proof it was him and not the rebels who were responsible for the…anomalies.”

“I will leave. But, please allow my family to stay.”

“You will all stay. Your husband would cause me no end of trouble if I exiled you. The man is a menace.”

Marcelina smiled. As if Jory were a troublemaker. Still, if he had that reputation and it helped her, she wouldn’t correct the governor. No, she would just go home.