Starfall: A Starstruck Novel

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Authors: Brenda Hiatt
Tags: Science-Fiction, Romance, teen fiction
was so eager to spend time with his long-lost daughter, he finally agreed, too. I stepped back into the hallway where Cormac waited impassively and Healer Bowyn quietly closed Elana’s door behind us.
    “That was very thoughtful, Excellency. If you’ll come this way?”
    “Actually, I’d like you to take me to Head Mind Healer Adara. I need to speak with her about a matter of great urgency.”
    The Healer raised his eyebrows. “But you indicated—”
    “I know. It was necessary. If we can please hurry?”
    Though clearly confused, he didn’t dare disobey what amounted to an order from his Sovereign. “Of course, Excellency. This way.”
    A few moments later, he rang the chime outside Healer Adara’s office, though the door stood open. She looked up from her desk on the opposite side of the room, saw me…and blanched.  
    “Excellency!” She scrambled to her feet and bowed deeply. “This…this is a surprise. How may I help you?”
    I turned to Healer Bowyn. “Thank you. I’ll find my way back to Elana’s room when I’m through. Cormac, please wait for me out here.” Figuring I’d get more out of Adara if we were alone, I stepped into her office and closed the door.
    “I have some questions I believe you may be able to answer.”
    Her anxiety was palpable even from across the room. “Questions, Excellency?”
    “About Rigel Stuart. You already admitted having a hand in his memory erasure. I’d like to know every detail you can give me about what led up to that erasure—and exactly who was involved.”
    “I was…ah…”
    “Sworn to secrecy?” I guessed. She nodded unhappily. “By whom? Maybe whoever forced you to be part of this plot had that authority then, but I’m pretty sure I outrank them now.”
    After hesitating for another long, tense moment, she let out a gusty sigh. “You’re right, Excellency, of course. I have been exceedingly uncomfortable with the entire proceeding from the start, and it will be a relief to finally unburden myself about it.”  
    “Please proceed.” I seated myself regally across from her, more than a little amazed at my outward command given how my stomach was roiling with worry. Would the truth be even worse than what they’d made me believe?
    Adara gave a decisive nod, though I noticed she didn’t quite meet my gaze. “It began the day we all witnessed the memory extracted from Rigel Stuart revealing the existence of aliens with the potential to destroy us. When you left, the others remained—Nels Murdoch, Quinn O’Gara, Devyn Kane, Gordon Nolan and Morag Teague. For over an hour they debated what should be done and finally agreed upon the course we followed from that point until the present. I did argue against it, Excellency, on both medical and ethical grounds, but Quinn insisted he was empowered to act on your behalf. Eventually he and the others persuaded me that the possible risks to Nuath—and to your eventual rule—were great enough to outweigh my concerns.”  
    “And exactly what was the course they agreed on?” I felt like leaping over the desk to shake the rest of the story out of her, though I was also terrified of what her next words might be.
    “They…we…decided the safest thing would be to erase all knowledge of the aliens—and all memory of his association with you—from Rigel Stuart’s mind. His grandmother was particularly emphatic about the latter.” Now she did glance at me, her expression sympathetic.
    “So his memory really was wiped.” I twisted my hands together in my lap. “Just the last year, or…all of it?”  
    “Oh, just the last year, of course. Certainly he’d done nothing to justify the tabula rasa. But even a year, especially at his age…” She shook her head regretfully. “Before that was done, Quinn, Devyn and Gordon had us extract additional memories from him, in order to learn as much as possible and so that a few memories might be given…special treatment. Nels Murdoch and Rigel’s

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