She had taken the window seat overlooking the deserted city of Drommende. Her black skirt suit was exchanged for a long velvet gown of burnished gold, stained and creased from the ravages of time. She had received it as a gift from her father fifty years ago, when their clan had been prosperous enough to procure fine clothing. Around her neck she wore long chains of amethysts which glimmered in the late afternoon light.
"I have always wanted to work in a laboratory, father. I have always wanted to do good for our people."
His earlier storm and stress had dissipated, and he merely sighed. "A member of the royal family has never worked."
Cassandra glanced at him. "This is no ordinary laboratory, father. The scientists in Cristalle are capturing the wolves-our people-and putting them through a battery of tests, often killing and dissecting the animals, to understand how to defeat our race."
She met his shocked gaze.
"Then if they learn who-or what-you truly are, such an end could be your own."
"They know nothing of our people. They only know the wolves. They have no idea we can adopt human form."
"This is just another great reason the human race should be exterminated once and for all. Even supposing themselves to be tormenting mere animals for the gain of knowledge-"
"For their survival," Cassandra said. "Because their race is dying, like our own."
"So you are going to be among humans." He appeared to be assimilating the reality. "Working among them-making friends-"
"I don't know if I have the job. I have no real work experience," she reminded him. "Except for being a princess, and I doubt Dr. Thorn is interested in that sort of experience. But if I get the job, I hope I shall make friends."
"Ah. And when the humans direct you to torture or kill one of your own kind, you will-?"
"I will protect our people to my utmost. I will free them, and be fired, if need be. I know, father, I cannot participate in such a scheme without losing the esteem of our people. But while I am there, I will have access to all they have learned about our genetics, our similarities and differences to the other races. Perhaps I can find a way to keep us from becoming wolves."
"Why are we all to view our destiny as a curse? Humans fight vainly against age, never supposing it is precisely what they must learn to endure in their lifetime."
"Because in wolf form, father, we kill others-and will always be an enemy to other races. It is not a question of enduring a transformation, but of preserving our race. Because others will exterminate us eventually. When we are wolves, we are strong in body, but weak in mind, and will never triumph against intelligent beings."
"You have given this thought," he said with a chuckle. "You were always excellent in argumentation."
"One of my favorite subjects," she answered with a smile.