A novella written in 280 character chapters.
There was no tower, only the void between the stars. She, and hundreds like her, tricked into touching the metaphoric spindle, sold, unknowing, unconsenting, and unconscious to men who believed themselves to be princes.
The ship sped through the void between stars. She, and all the princesses, were supposed to be sleeping. But Echo, like the girl with the pea, couldn’t find peace. She crawled out of cryosleep, and amused herself with alien fossils.
The women, who were not sleeping beauties, slept. All except one. She watched and searched and stayed far away from spindles. She asked the magic mirror, not who was fairest, but rather where they were going. The mirror showed her the ice covered moon, Europa.
The ship speed thru the void while Echo watched her sisters sleeping, each locked in a glass coffin. She didn’t know what had pulled her from her poison laced sleep. In the magic mirror of the monitor, she caught the shadow of movement, only for it to be #lost.
Echo searched the dead ship for shadow that could not, should not be. She was the only one awake of the ship The princesses slept, dead. Echo’s fears were a #storm. Something woke her. Something cast a shadow. Something was in their castle.
Echo and all the princesses were already #cursed, and she knew that. Even though she had tried so hard to avoid the hundreds of hazards for women, still she ended up in a haunted castle hurtling through the void of space.
Echo ordered the magic mirror to watch for the shadow. She rose from the desk in search of a weapon that can slay a shadow. In the blank corridors of the ship, every groan and pop of metal poisoned her mind with fear.
There were no relics in the ship, nothing to remind Echo of who they had been, who she’d been. Even the clothes she wore, the ship pajamas, weren’t hers. She’d found them after she’d awoken. The handheld buzzed in her pocket. The computer had found the shadow.
Echo felt the glow of contentment. She knew what this shadow was, and it was a monster. But it was a monster she knew how to kill.
Echo recognized the shadow; he was a predator of princesses like her and the sleepers. Searching the handheld, she paled. She knew what he was doing, and how it had woken her. But she was not the princess he expected; she was the dragon who would devour him.
She didn’t know the ship well enough to sneak up on the shadow, but based on his actions he hasn’t noticed that she’d awakened. Besides even if he had noticed, there was no escape until the ship landed on Europa.
The shadow waited for her at the entrance of the cryo hold. “You aren’t supposed to be awake.” She glared, “Your fault.” He smiled, “My sleeping beauty has found her prince. We will be allies, you and I.” Echo said nothing and fired the gun.
Echo watched the shadow fall. He wasn’t going to be a danger to her or the sleeping princesses again. Now, she had to undo what he had done. To set things right she’d need to wake up all the sleeping princesses.
Echo pocketed her weapon. The shadow man lay dying. “But I bought you all,” he burbled. She smiled, “I’m no Rapunzel to be sold unconsenting for radiccio.” He died still wearing his confused expression. She’d make Ice Moon Europa the princesses’ tower.
Echo began thawing the princesses. The first to awaken called herself Scarlet. Echo recognized the her as another hunter. Yes, Echo thought, this one knows how to kill wolves. She would be useful in the icy wasteland on Europa.
Echo and Scarlet argued with the awoken princesses. Some wanted to return to Luna, others wanted Ganymeade, few wanted to continue on to Europa. They won the skirmish, but that didn’t win the war. The Luna contingent now argued for Ganymeade.
After more discussion, the sleeping beauties agreed to go to Europa. The ship’s sensors reported the surface of the ice moon was unmarred by life signs. The men, who had believed that princesses could be bought and sold, had been cleaned from the moon.
“Going to Europa makes us criminals,” Scarlet said.
“What they did to us, what they planned for us was criminal,” Echo replied tired. “Europa will be ours, and we will make the laws.”
Scarlet replied, “it’s our laws until whatever took out the landing party gets us.”
During the trip to Ice Moon Europa, the princesses became heroes, and adventurers, and blacksmiths, and fighters, and witches. They’d have to fight tooth and claw to survive on the moon, but they were all in agreement, they live with the moon, not in dominion over it.
They orbitted Europa. The sensors reported life in the seas, but microbes on the surface. “Can we survive there?” Scarlet asked.
Aurora replied, “We can, & if we’re careful, we won’t disrupt the ecosystem.”
Echo looked out the view screen, “It’s our only escape.”
Most stayed on the ship, planning to convert their tomb into life. Echo & Scarlet, led the first settlers to the surface. Amid the geysers that rained snow, Echo whispered a prayer to the Queen of Crete whose name the moon bore, “There will be no bulls here.”
“it’s a mystery. The ice swallowed them” Scarlet said looking at the single steel beam.
Blanche shook her head, “the ice didn’t do this. Something with will and intention did.”
Echo laid a gloved hand on the beam, “are you suggesting there’s intelligent life here?”
Aurora turned from the monitor. “Venus, can you get the scanner to see deeper under the ice?”
Venus clambered out from underneath the console she was repairing, grime streaked her face and hands. “It’ll take some work. The ship isn’t designed that for that”
Venus frowned at the data from her scans. It didn’t match anything from the survey records in the ship database. They knew there was life below the ice, but nothing like the higher level lifeforms her scans showed. After the third scan, she admitted it wasn’t a glitch.
They moved away from the meager remains of the 1st colony’s camp. At a safe distance, nestled in the ice walls, they erected a habitat. Echo and Scarlet surveyed their new home. It was a pathetically small island of light on an icy plane fast succumbing to nightfall.
Inside the habitat, Miller said “I’ll start looking at the data Venus sent us.”
Scarlet looked ready to object, but Echo shook her head. “let the woman work. She may be able to finish what Venus started. And we have to live here in harmony”
Venus was leading the project to convert the ship into a station. Her leadership was a smooth transition; no one has complained. They all knew the ship had to be converted as quickly as possible. Eventually, the corporation that bought them would come looking for them.
“At its core, Europa has rock,” Venus said. “But you guys are sitting on ice about 25 meters thick.”
“However, will we live in harmony with that?” Echo asked. Miller replied, “I know a way. But I don’t think you’ll like it. It’s going to require genetic manipulation”
Miller ran the tests again, & got the same results. She’d send the data up to the station, asking one of women who started on board could confirm her results. For now she was confident that she could begin genetically redesigning those who wanted to stay on the moon.
Echo stared at the ice. A patch of it had become translucent as glass. Under the ice, the ebon seas churned, and she saw all their futures in its murky depths. Echo had believed they could remake themselves, but she not anticipated rewriting their very genes.
The princesses, who would become mothers, each selected an element to parent. Sage’s genetics would live on the ice. Rosemary’s genes would remain in the seas. & Thyme’s genes would remain in the vacuum of space. Their kindred would be the seeds for the future.
Miller mixed her potions, & the coven on the station made sure she mixed no poison apples. Scarlet was the first to drink, and she waited to become other. Over 3 days, she writhed in agony. Her skin burned, as her pelt grew. Her eyes turned gold & her teeth grew sharp.
Scarlet survived the first stage of her genetic transformation. After the agony of muscle and bone rending, she reveled in the respite. Miller returned to begin the next round of treatments. In a month, she’d be irrevocably changed; not an animal, but no longer human.
The first undine stared into the stygian depths of the Europan sea. Her body had been recrafted to not simply withstand the cold, dark depths but to crave them. She gave a nod to Echo and slipped into the water; its depths held unimaginable wonders.
The undines, with the fierceness of sharks and tails of seals or whales or tentacles of squid explored the seas. They reported a change. Not to their wonderous new bodies, but within the sea itself. Something lived in the ice caves between the surface and the seas.
The coven of scientists reviewed the results of the on planet transformations, happy with the success. A group approached the coven seeking to throw off the yoke of terriestial living entirely. The witches didn’t know if they could remake the women to survive in the void.
In the short time it had been derelict, the original ship was dilapidated. Untended, seals had frozen, cracked and left the ship without air. The systems, left on standby, had one by one powered down. Only minimal propulsion, remained online to keep the ship in orbit.
The undines circled around the island of light in the ice. It was their way back to the surface, back to the other women. One rose to the surface, her eel tail propelling her to surface. She wasn’t sure what kind of life it was, but there was sentient life on Europa.
Back on Earth, the men who thought they were Kings, were busy blaming everyone but themselves for the catastrophe. They’d lost contact with the first colony, and their ship, The Black Forest, sent only one message. No terrans were welcome on Ice Moon Europa.
The others now lived on the ice, or if the wolves were right, under it in vast ice caves. The undines were happy in the dark, cold seas, but also explored the caves. Those in the station were beginning to explore the void. Echo was the last human on Europa.
Scarlet & her wolves romped over the ice and explored the caves, finding the ruins of a vast civilization. The undines searched for the survivors, whoever still lived deeper under the ice. They followed the currents to the boiling vents and heard the thrum of machines.
The avians of the void were a wonder of genetic engineering. The witches had spliced DNA of every known void dweller and woven the strands to make something new. They still needed to return to the atmosphere of the tower, but the next generation would permanently live in space.
The avians of the void bore the DNA of the leviathans who lived in vacuum & the Jovian smoke who peopled the gas giants. Some had the feline features of the Oort cloud cats, and others the crystalline faces of asteroid pixies. All flew through the void with utter delight.
In orbit above Europa, only a few maintained their humanity. Snow kept her human genes unaltered. She sacrificed her choice to control her body because of Earth. She would be the station’s voice. But Echo knew that the men there would never listen to a woman.
Inside her tiny shelter on Europa, Echo listened to the sounds of the vast iced over oceans. Lulled by the sounds of the sea, she didn’t hear the crackling of the ice outside her shelter, nor the quiet shadows that slipped up to the surface.
Snow lived with the witches in Tower Station. She greeted the refugees escaping all manner of violence and oppression. But it was speaking to their craven oppressors that she relished. Their outrage fading to quivering fear once they realized the Tower’s power.
Echo stared at the figures before her, but it was like her brain couldn’t process their forms.
“The sirens call you Echo,” the lead figure said. Its maw revealing rows of shark teeth. “Come,” it offered a clawed hand.
Echo nodded, she’d expected first contact sooner
“It will soon be the birth day of one of your Sirens,” the Europan said.
Echo frowned, “I don’t understand.”
“Is that the wrong word? She will soon bear a child of my tide-brother”
Echo sighed, “damn it. you got the words right. I didn’t think it possible.”