grandmother had left by then, so were not part of that discussion, though it’s possible they were later told.”
No worse than I’d thought, but no better either. “And he left aboard the Luminosity yesterday? With Gordon?”
Adara nodded sadly. “Yes. Gordon was to oversee things at the other end. Though he may well have left for other reasons of his own, as well.”
Like escaping my wrath once I learned the truth? At least the other traitors were still here in Nuath, where I could deal with them.
“So how was all this explained to Rigel? What was he told, once his memory was erased?”
“Nothing, at least at this end. It was thought best that he be unconscious for the journey to Earth, so he was put into a medically-induced coma immediately after the erasure. His overall health should not be at risk,” she added quickly, at my horrified gasp.
“A coma?” I echoed faintly. “Are you sure—?”
“Even Echtran Healers should have no difficulty reviving him on his arrival, Excellency, and one of our own accompanied him on the ship.”
Along with Gordon, who I didn’t trust an inch. “What about that fake message they created to deceive me? Whose idea was that?” That had been the lowest blow of all, making me believe Rigel did all this willingly.
Adara looked genuinely confused. “Message? I was told nothing about a message, Excellency, though I did see Morag Teague’s public statement, claiming that Rigel acted of his own accord. Quinn stressed it was important you believe that, and Devyn and Gordon spent a fair amount of time alone with Rigel the first two days he was here, but I was never told what they talked to him about.”
That must be when they’d obtained the footage to put together that video I’d been sent. But why had they sent it so soon, risking me finding out the Luminosity hadn’t even left yet?
Because I’d demanded Rigel be brought to the Palace, I realized. Mr. O discovered I’d done that the evening I was Installed and I’d received that message the very next morning. Almost certainly not a coincidence!
Again I cursed myself for not being more suspicious from the start. But I didn’t have time now to beat myself up—not when there was so much I still needed to know. “What’s the plan for when Rigel gets to Earth? Did they say?”
She shook her head. “Not to me, other than a mention of you never encountering him again. I’d guess they intend him to live somewhere far removed from any place you might visit, should you ever return to Earth for any reason.”
Oh, I was going to return, all right! On the very next ship, if I could.
“The other day, you reported a lot of progress in restoring erased memories. I’ve seen some of the evidence myself.” I tried not to think about how messed up some of those people still were. “Can you send me all the details on how you’ve managed that?”
Now her expression was so pitying it scared me. “Excellency, I’m sure you’d like to think Rigel’s memory can be put back just as it was, but that is extremely unlikely. Certainly, it’s not as simple as informing him of everything he’s forgotten. In fact, we’ve found that method to be rather dangerous to a patient’s mental state, occasionally leading to a psychotic break, as their perceived reality is so at odds with what they’re being told. This is even more likely in Rigel’s case, as actual blocks were put in place to prevent him remembering particular events.”
“Yes. It’s a procedure we occasionally use when a person has undergone extreme trauma and wishes to have a particular memory permanently removed. The odds of accessing a memory that has been blocked in such a way are extremely remote, I’m afraid.”
“What kind of blocks? What did you do?”
“Normally, the traumatic memory is overlaid by a different, innocuous one, created for that purpose. There was not time in Rigel’s case to create completely new memories, so