Lunar Chronicles Deleted Scene #5
I’ll be posting a new deleted scene or excerpt from The Lunar Chronicles every Friday through January 27, spanning the releases of The Lunar Chronicles Coloring Book on December 6 and Wires and Nerve, vol. 1 on January 31.
SPOILERS WARNING: Even though this scene was ultimately deleted (or heavily altered), it still contains information and references to things that did make it into the book. I strongly encourage readers to enjoy the published books before proceeding!
Lunar Chronicles Deleted Scene #5
So, I *do* have a deleted scene from Cress, but it happens to be my favorite of all the deleted scenes, so I’m saving it for my big finale post at the end of January. In the meantime, here’s one from Winter!
This is actually a really special scene for me, one that was very hard for me to cut. In fact, it was so hard for me to get rid of that it became the inspiration for the “Something Old, Something New” story in Stars Above… because I just wanted to show this happening so bad!!
From: Winter, 1st draft
Featuring: Almost Everyone
Helpful set-up: The timeline is wonky from the final version – this scene took place after Jacin’s faked murder of Winter, but that originally happened before the crew arrived on Luna. Thorne is still blind. Iko is sadly nonexistent here because she originally wasn’t supposed to come back after Book One. (GASP! I know.) Also, that thing that happened to Dr. Erland at the end of Book Three didn’t happen. Oh, and Scarlet was never kidnapped, so both she and Wolf were on the Rampion for the entirety of Book Three.
* * *
“You look lovely,” said Cress, swooning with her hands clasped over her heart.
Cinder withheld a snicker, watching as Scarlet squinted at her reflection in the mirror.
“I look the same as I always do,” said Scarlet. “Except now I’m wearing a dress that’s too small for me.”
“That’s not true.” Cress bounded off of Cinder’s bunk and went to tuck a red curl behind Scarlet’s ear. “The dress makes you look like a net star. Plus you’re glowing, just like a real bride.”
Cinder thought that the dress was maybe a touch too small for Scarlet’s envy-worthy curves, but it was the only dress aboard the ship—the light, floral daydress that Cress had worn aboard the satellite she’d called home for so many years—and Cress had insisted that the bride-to-be couldn’t wear the same men’s cargo pants and military-issue tank tops that the rest of them did.
The glowing part, she thought, maybe had an element of truth to it. Scarlet’s eyes did seem to have a particular twinkle to them that maybe hadn’t been there two days ago.
A knock startled Cinder into turning around. Thorne was standing with his fist still on the doorframe. “Holy aces, girls take a long time to get ready. Are we doing this or not?”
“You’re one to talk,” said Cinder, reaching out and ruffling Thorne’s hair. He squirmed away and instantly set to fixing the misplaced pieces. “You primp longer than any of us.”
“Yeah, well, I have a reputation,” Thorne said with a smirk. He rubbed his chin, covered with nearly a week’s worth of scruff. “Too bad shaving would probably result in bleeding to death right now.”
“You look nice, Captain,” said Cress, fiddling with her fingers.
Thorne preened. “Thank you, Cress.” Sending a cocky grin in Cinder’s direction, he started off down the hallway, singing, “Here comes the bride. I don’t know what color she’s wearing, so we’ll call it white.”
Crossing her arms, Cinder glanced back at Cress. “You know his head is only going to get bigger, right?”
Pink tinted the girl’s cheeks. “He does look nice.”
Sharing a smile with Scarlet, Cinder nudged her head toward the hallway. “Shall we?”
The lights were dimmed, casting a romantic glow down the hallway as they made their way toward the front of the ship. The cargo bay had been rearranged so that there was room by the loading ramp for Kai to stand with the bride and groom, and two crates for the rest of the crew to watch. Cress had programmed the screen on the wall to alternate pictures of roses and sunsets and quiet orchestral music alighted from every speaker on the ship.
Wolf was waiting just outside the hallway. Though he wore the same pants and t-shirt he always wore, his hair glistened, suggesting he’d made an effort to tame it for the occasion, but had failed.
Cress bounced toward him on the balls of her feet and squealed a delighted, “Congratulations.”
Wolf only smiled.
Cinder racked her brain for something appropriate to say, but just as she was realizing she had no idea what was appropriate—she’d never been to a wedding before—Wolf caught sight of Scarlet behind her and clearly forgot Cinder was there.
Hunching her shoulders, Cinder ducked out of their path and went to join the others. Cress had shockingly claimed the seat beside Thorne, so Cinder sat down beside Dr. Erland, who politely held his hat in his lap, letting his gray hair fluff out on the sides of his balding head.
She smiled at Kai, already standing at the front. In his finely embroidered wedding clothes, he was the only one appropriately dressed for the occasion. He returned her smile, but he looked peculiarly nervous.
The man who addressed the entire planet on a regular basis was nervous.
Cinder’s heart flipped at the thought.
Kai cleared his throat as the music quieted. “Um. Please stand?”
They stood, Thorne with some grumbling until Cress smacked him in the arm.
Wolf and Scarlet walked down the “aisle” together, and as she was passing between the two crates, Scarlet let out a laugh as if realizing for the first time how strange it all was, but there was a ring of happiness in the sound and Cinder felt warm down to her stomach. Glancing across the aisle, she saw that Cress had tears in her eyes.
“Thank you all for joining us,” Kai started, “for what I assume is the most untraditional wedding any of us will ever attend.”
“Oh, hold on,” said Cress, jumping off the crate. “Let me grab a port so I can take some pictures.”
“Sit down,” Thorne hissed, snatching her wrist and pulling her back down beside him.
Kai smothered a smile. “Obviously, I don’t know Wolf and Scarlet very well, having met them only a week ago, but it was clear from that first day this relationship is not your normal relationship.”
“Rarely do we get to see the amount of tenderness and devotion that Wolf and Scarlet show toward each other every moment they’re together.”
Cinder folded her hands in her lap, grinning at Wolf and Scarlet. Though she could only see part of Scarlet’s face, the warmth in Wolf’s filled her with a peculiar giddiness. She’d never considered it before, but Kai was right. The bond between them was almost palpable. She couldn’t remember doubting their love for each other since she’d first dragged them aboard the ship.
“As someone who knows what it’s like to not be given a choice of whom to marry,” Kai said, “I am honored to be a part of your wedding today.” His eyes dipped. “You are lucky to have found each other, despite all the people who would try to convince us that Earthens and Lunars can’t love each other. Despite starting this war on opposing sides. Despite all the challenges that have tried to keep you apart . . . I can’t even begin to imagine how many there were.” Scarlet squeezed Wolf’s hand. “But you did find each other, and I sincerely hope your love will carry you through all the challenges still to come.” With a shy smile, Kai gestured for the bride and groom to face each other. His eyes darted over the small audience and Cinder thought perhaps his gaze was most intense upon her, but she instantly convinced herself she’d imagined it.
“I understand there are rings . . . ?”
“Right here,” said Cress, sniffling into her sleeve. She hopped down from the crate and pulled two soldered-steel rings from her pocket. “Cinder made them,” she whispered, handing them to Kai.
Cinder shifted uncomfortably, though she couldn’t help thinking she’d done a fine job with an outdated soldering iron and scrap metal.
“Perfect,” Kai said. “You may now exchange rings as a symbol of your eternal love and unity. Do you . . . Wolf . . . give yourself to—”
Kai blinked. “Excuse me?”
Wolf slid the ring onto Scarlet’s finger, holding her gaze as he whispered, “Ze’ev Kesley.”
“Oh. I’d wondered. All right, do you, Ze’ev Kesley—”
“Wait a second. Ze’ev?” Thorne stood up. “Since when?”
“Captain,” Cress hissed, hauling him back. “Sit down.”
Wolf grinned, his gaze still glued to Scarlet’s.
Kai started again, “Do you, Ze’ev Kesley, give yourself to Scarlet, wholly and entirely, in mind and body, to accept her strengths and weaknesses, her faults and her perfections, and to love her completely until the stars burn out in the sky?”
“Do you, Scarlet . . . Benoit?”
“. . . give yourself to Wo—Ze’ev, wholly and entirely, in mind and body, to accept his strengths and weaknesses, his faults and his perfections, and to love him completely until the stars burn out in the sky?”
Her lashes fluttered. “I do.”
“Then, by the laws of the Eastern Commonwealth and the power invested in me [???] by the Union of Earthen Nations, I do pronounce you husband and wife.”
Scarlet and Wolf gazed at each other for a moment, as if dazed by the proclamation, before Wolf broke into a devilish grin and swooped his arms around Scarlet and kissed her.
Cress jumped to her feet, applauding vigorously, and was soon joined by Cinder and Dr. Erland, though somewhat less enthusiastically. Thorne only rolled his eyes and said, “They’re kissing now, aren’t they?” When Cress swapped him on the shoulder, he begrudgingly joined in the clapping.
“Okay!” said Cress. “I’ll go get the food and then we’re going to dance!” She whistled a short tune and the screen changed to more upbeat waltz, before she took off for the kitchen.
Cinder shook her head after her, chuckling, before she caught Kai’s eye. He was in the middle of rubbing his hand through his hair—his face was all relief.
“How’d I do?” Kai whispered, stepping around the married couple as Wolf hoisted Scarlet up and her laughter peeled through the cargo bay.
She beamed at him. “You’d never know it was your first wedding.”
Kai ducked his face and she thought she might be embarrassed, except he was grinning ear-to-ear. “You know, I think that was my favorite act as emperor yet.”
“Too bad the rest of the world couldn’t see it.”
He nodded and tucked his hands into his pockets. “What would they think? Kidnapped emperor conducts wedding ceremony between Earthen girl and Lunar werewolf soldier.”
Cinder barked a laugh. “Now that’s a headline for the screen anchors.”
“Here we are!” said Cress, returning with a platter of sliced, once-canned peaches and pears drizzled with homemade caramel sauce, or as close as they could figure out how to make caramel sauce with cane sugar and evaporated milk.
“Thank you, Cress,” said Scarlet, laughing. “It’s everything I’ve ever dreamed of.”
Cress preened, her face flushed. “You two have to share the first dance.”
“Have to?” said Scarlet, glancing at Wolf.
He grimaced. “Dancing wasn’t exactly part of my training, but I’ll try.”
“Well, you can’t be any worse than me,” said Scarlet.
Cress twisted her wrists together, swaying as she watched Wolf spin Scarlet awkwardly beneath one arm. “We should have had His Majesty teach us. I know he knows how to dance.”
Kai raised both eyebrows at her, and Cress shrugged. “I watched every Eastern Commonwealth ball religiously. Well, accept this last one, of course.”
Clearing his throat, Kai scratched his ear.
Thorne, who seemed to be taking a nap atop his crate, sat up suddenly. “I can dance.” Cress’s eyes widened as Thorne swept his feet off the crate. Suddenly, his annoyance was gone, replaced with a suave, crooked grin at the promise of being the center of attention again. “I’ll prove it,” he said, holding a hand out to Cress.
Cinder rolled her eyes as Cress let the captain pull her into a waltz, his form impeccable.
“He shouldn’t encourage her,” Cinder muttered.
Kai glanced at her from the corner of his eye. “What do you mean?”
“He must know that she has a crush on him the size of Jupiter.”
Lips twitching, Kai watched as Thorne dipped a beet-red Cress nearly to the floor. “And that’s a reason to not dance with her?”
Cinder blinked. “It’s just—” Her words died as the hint of pressure tugged at her left wrist. She flinched, moving to pull away, but Kai didn’t release her. Bowing at the waist, he lifted her hand, kissing the back of her steel knuckles.
“May I have this dance?”
Her body seized up, heart lodging in her throat. Kai didn’t wait for a response before leading her away from the crate, into the center of the cargo bay. A chill shook her as he settled a hand on her waist and she tentatively settled hers on his shoulder.
“Um. I don’t . . . I’m not . . .”
He raised his eyebrows. “No time to learn how to waltz between fixing all those androids?”
She huffed. “It never seemed like a priority, Your Majesty.”
Grinning, Kai drew her a hair closer, the intimacy making her heartbeat race. Cinder tore her gaze away. Over Kai’s shoulder, she saw Thorne teaching Cress an elaborate spin, and Scarlet feeding Wolf a slice of peach, and Dr. Erland recording them all with his portscreen. She felt her body relax, as happiness curled around her spine. Kai guided her in a simple four-step, and even with the clumsiness of her heavy prosthetic she felt half-graceful.
“We needed this.”
Instead of answering, Kai suddenly turned and dropped her into his arms. Cinder gasped, clutching his shoulder, then smacked him.
Kai laughed. “I’m just glad to finally be getting my dance.”
She tried to return the smile, but her nerves were sizzling, her eyes unable to keep from dropping to his lips.
An alarm echoed through the ship, the lights flickering. Kai’s arms tensed around her as they both glanced up.
“Attention,” said the Rampion’s programmed voice. “Dock opening. Unrecognized pod ship now boarding.”
Cinder extracted herself from Kai’s arms, glancing around at the rest of the crew. There was a moment of hushed shock, before they scattered—Wolf and Scarlet rushing to grab handguns from an open crate near the cockpit, Thorne checking the pistol that rarely left his belt, and Cress rushing to the screen on the wall and cutting out the romantic music and pulling up instead a live feed from the Rampion’s dock beneath them.
The video showed the dock’s door just as it finished opening and a small podship approaching from the blackness of space. Cinder’s gut tightened, her hand morphing into its own weapon and pulling a tranquilizer dart into her finger almost without thinking about it. Gulping, she paced toward the screen, watching as the ship dipped too low on its way into the dock, its nose bumping into the Rampion’s exterior wall. The ship shuddered around them and Cinder braced against the nearest crate.
They stared as the pod lifted shakily and slid into the dock as if afraid. Cinder grimaced as the side of it nearly took out the attached toolboxes on the wall, before it finally settled down, its lights dimming as the engines shut off.
The automatic overhead lights of the dock reflected off the pod’s surface, making it shimmer and sparkle against the dark backdrop of the galaxy.
“It’s Lunar,” said Cinder.
“Not only that,” said Dr. Erland from behind her. “It’s a royal ship.”
Cinder grit her teeth as the doctor twirled his finger around a vague insignia on the ship’s side. “This is the emblem of the royal guard.”
They stared at the ship, but there was no movement beyond the shadows of the glass cockpit windows, and of course no one would de-board with the dock’s doors still open. They began to shut automatically a breath later, crawling gradually to shut off the ship from the airless space beyond.
“Well,” said Thorne, “shall we go greet our guests, then.”
With a curt nod, Cinder spun around and snatched another gun from the crate. She cast a glance at Kai, intent on telling him to stay on the upper deck, but found him already half a step behind Thorne on the way to the hatch.
“Your Majesty, perhaps you should stay up here.”
He turned toward her as they waited for Thorne to descend the ladder first, before casting a sly glance at the numerous weapons in the hands of the crew. “It looks like you might require some diplomacy,” he said, his eyes devoid of the grin he’d had mere minutes before.
They descended one by one into the ship’s sublevel, gathering outside the door that separated the corridor from the dock, all eyes focused on the screen indicating the doors were closing, closing, shut tight. Pressure sealed. Oxygen pump activated. Engaging life support systems. False gravity adjusted to _____ standard Earthen scale.
Safe to enter.
“Could it be Her Majesty?” Cress whispered, her quiet voice cutting shakily through the silence.
“Doubtful,” answered Wolf. “More likely a thaumaturge, along with a palace guard.”
From the corner of her eye, Cinder saw Scarlet casting a nervous glance at Wolf. “Is it safe for you to be—”
Before she could finish, Thorne unlatched the dock door and kicked it open, two guns pulled and aimed in the general direction of the podship.
They followed the captain inside, weapons turned on the still-closed door of the podship and its still-dark interior. For a moment, Cinder wondered if whoever was aboard had already exited the pod and she cast a fitful eye over the shadowed corners of the dock, until she realized that she could feel the presence of the person—the Lunar—inside the podship. Faint and weak, but not unlike the waves of bioelectricity she could feel from the crew members surrounding her. All but Cress, at least.
“Describe,” said Thorne.
Hiding behind the crowd, Cress whispered, “The ship is closed still, and dark. It’s definitely a Lunar ship, and it has the royal insignia . . . but I don’t see anyone inside.”
“Nor do I, but I can feel there’s only one,” said Dr. Erland, confirming Cinder’s thoughts. “It must be a Lunar, but . . . the gift seems weak in them.” He hesitated. “It does not feel like a thaumaturge.”
“Oh!” said Cress. “The camera! We should disable the camera!”
“What camera?” said Cinder, clenching her fists.
“All the Lunar ships have one, usually on the windshield . . .”
“Yes, here,” said Wolf, slinking forward with one hand gripping the gun. His opposite fingers disappeared into a small groove on the ship’s nose and Cinder heard something crunch. “That should do it.”
“Brilliant,” muttered Thorne. “Wolf, would you care to do the honors?”
Nodding, Wolf inched closer to the ship’s door, his free hand flexing and stretching. They all inched forward behind him. Cinder’s heart drummed against her chest, green gibberish filled up the bottom of her vision, warning her about increasing adrenaline. She raised her hands, aiming the tranquilizer dart at the passenger side of the pod ship, the gun at the pilot’s side as Wolf’s long arm reached for the pad on the ship’s side.
He pressed the tips of his fingers into thin film of pliable goo that took up a patch beside the door. It must have recognized him, either as a Lunar or as a soldier of the queen’s, for a moment later the pneumatics of the door hissed as the panel shoved outward from the ship and glided upward, revealing the pod’s small interior.
Cinder crept closer, recognizing the form of a girl half-slumped in the pilot’s chair. Shiny black corkscrew curls hid her face. The dress she wore was pristine, angelic white—except for the streak of dry reddish-brown blood on her hip.
Wolf jerked upward, eyes widening.
“Stars above,” whispered Dr. Erland, before pushing in between Cinder and Kai.
Wolf backed away as the doctor knelt beside the ship’s open door and felt for the girl’s pulse on her wrist, before gently tilting up her face.
The curls parted and the girl’s eyes started to open, squinting blearily at the doctor.
A mutual hiss of surprise passed through the crew—Cinder was surprised to find that one gasp had come from herself. It was impossible to tell what was more striking about the girl. Her beauty: the cutting cheekbones, the velvet brown complexion, the huge chocolate eyes flecked with shavings of gold and emerald and rimmed with thick black lashes.
Or the harsh scars that cut across her face, three pinkish cuts from her right eye down to her chin, marring what otherwise would have been perfection.
“What?” said Thorne, his fingers tensing on the triggers.
“It’s . . . a girl,” Cinder stammered.
In response, Thorne cocked the gun as if a girl were the most dangerous enemy that could have arrived in the ship.
“No, it’s the princess,” Cress said.
Thorne tilted his head, hesitated. “I thought Cinder was the princess.”
No one responded, watching as Dr. Erland felt the girl’s forehead and tilted her head back so he could peer into her eyes. “She appears to only be dehydrated,” he said, reaching for her chin to open her mouth, but she jolted away. Her eyes fluttered, the haze beginning to clear as she blinked up at the doctor.
“Hello, my dear,” he said gently. “How are you feeling?”
Without answering, she reached a shaky hand to unlatch the harness over her shoulders and half-climbed, half-fell out of the ship. Dr. Erland caught her, though his own small frame hardly looked strong enough as he struggled to lift her to her feet. Everyone watched on, stunned, as the girl steadied herself and looked up.
She met Wolf’s eyes first and glanced worriedly at the gun in his hand.
Scarlet pushed forward, the skirt of Cress’s dress swishing around her legs as she aimed the barrel of her own gun at the girl’s face. “Let down your glamour.”
The girl stared, licking her lips. Cinder could see her struggling to gulp. She looked like she was close to collapsing.
Dr. Erland raised his free hand toward Scarlet, coaxing the gun down though Scarlet held her ground. “My dear girl,” he said. “She is not using her glamour.”
Scarlet’s brow twitched and Cinder found that she was equally surprised by the statement, even though her optobionics would have informed her by now if the girl had been manipulating them. She knew it was true—this was the girl’s true face, her true scars—but it did not seem possible.
Scarlet’s jaw worked, surprised, before a pathetic “oh” slipped from them. She did not, however, lower her gun.
“Would someone tell me what’s going on?” said Thorne.
It took a moment before Cress dared to answer. “It’s Princess Winter. Isn’t it?”
“Indeed,” said Dr. Erland. “And she clearly needs medical attention. Come with me, child.”
Before he could take a step, Thorne moved to place himself between them and the door. “The queen’s stepdaughter? Sounds like a traitor to me. Wolf—kill her. Cress and Cinder—search the pod, make sure there aren’t any trackers or anything that could lead anyone here.” He hesitated. “How did you find us anyway?”
The girl stared at him. If his threats had frightened her, her serene face showed no sign of it, and Wolf made no motion to follow the captain’s order.
Princess Winter shook her head. “The ship—” She paused to wet her tongue before trying again, her voice less raspy. “The ship knew. Somehow.”
Cinder raised an eyebrow at the words—they hardly seemed comforting.
Then the princess’s gaze slipped off of Thorne and fell on her and the thoughts dissolved from Cinder’s thoughts. Princess Winter’s eyes widened, flickering with recognition. Cinder straightened her back, unaware that she’d lowered her weapons until she felt her shoulders scrunched in tight to her body, pinned self-consciously beneath the princess’s stare.
Strength returning, the princess extracted herself from Dr. Erland’s hold and took a single stumbling step before righting herself. Eyes never leaving Cinder’s. She inched forward, graceful even in her exhaustion.
Cinder gulped. From the corner of her eye, she saw Thorne tilt his head and found herself listening to the soft, almost imperceptible padding of the princess’s feet as she took two, three, four steps forward.
She paused two arms’ lengths away, her penetrating eyes burning into Cinder. She was a bit shorter, but she held a regality in her posture and expression that made Cinder want to shrink before her.
Then, suddenly, the princess’s face softened and glowed. Cinder lost her breath.
“It is you,” she whispered. Her eyes searched Cinder’s, hopeful. “Don’t you remember me, Selene?”
Cinder blinked. She had heard of Princess Winter before, the famed scarred stepdaughter of Queen Levana, but she had never seen a picture or video of her. She was sure she’d never seen her before—unless . . .
Unless she had known Princess Winter before the fire, before the murder attempt, before being put into her decade-long coma and stolen away to Earth.
She gaped, searching her memory, but there was nothing. Not even a dream.
Before she could respond, though, the girl dropped her gaze and dipped her head. Cinder watched on, stunned, as the princess collapsed onto both knees. Startled, Cinder moved to catch her before realizing that the princess hadn’t fainted—she was kneeling.
Fingertips grazing the floor, Princess Winter bent over at the waist until her black curls gathered dust on the dock’s metal floor.
“Your Majesty,” Winter said. “You are indeed my true queen, and I your humble servant.”
Cinder’s jaw fell, eyes glued to the top of the girl’s head.
“What’s happening?” Thorne hissed.
“She’s bowing,” Cress hissed back.
A hesitation, before Thorne erupted. “To Cinder?”
Rather than respond, Cress took a step forward and lowered herself to her knees, mimicking Winter’s pose. “You are my true queen, too.”
Dr. Erland and Wolf sank in unison, clasping fists to their hearts.
Thorne frowned. “Are you all—I am not bowing to my mechanic.”
Cinder felt panic rising inside her, looking around at the bowed heads, at Thorne’s crossed arms, at Scarlet’s stunned, uncertain face.
At Kai, lingering near the wall, looking at her as if he were seeing beyond her glamour—her cyborgness—for the first time.