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In June of 2118, Lili O'Day's mirror universe counterpart comes home from boarding school for a holiday. She is met by her mother, Marie Helêne Ducasse O'Day, her little brother, Declan O'Day, and her father, Peter O'Day.
As they walk home, the little girl, called Charlotte, begins to realize that her parents are upset, and the car is gone. At home, nearly all of their possessions are missing. They have been sold, as her father has lost his job and her mother, a potter, can no longer sell her pieces. They are being shunned and impoverished, all due to her father accidentally criticizing the Emperor, Philip I.
And then there's a knock on the door, and Pete is being arrested as a dissident. Given a few private minutes to gather his things, one final act of defiance is performed, as the house and its remaining possessions and the family are all doused with lighter fluid, and Pete, all other options closed and damned if he'll let the empire getting anything else out of him or his doomed family, sadly strikes a match.