Overthrow and Pain

From the Story Arc: Hymn Of Breaking Strain

Previous Story in the Arc: With Loads We Cannot Bear by Belladonna Aura (Saturday, August 12, 2006)

Next Story in the Arc: The Load, The Shock, The Pressure by Belladonna Aura (Sunday, August 13, 2006)

(posted Sunday, August 13, 2006)

Bella filled out reports mechanically. In the back of her mind, the secret lurked. She should have pushed the “flush” button. But—

I can keep Bear on ice until I can find a way to fix him—

Except that the toxin report on her desk said that even if she could revive him and fix the broken neck, there would be no “fixing” him. If not even Thanh Ha could purge the neurotoxin from his system, then….

Then I’ll need the clone. A brain transplant. Maybe I can do a brain transplant. If the Clockwork King can be a brain in a bowl, surely…

But the neurotoxin would still be in the brain tissue. And no one had any idea how the Clockwork King had worked his bizarre trick.

There’s the soul-severing rite that the Circle of Thorns does…

Yes there was. She’d learned about it midway in her career as a hero. It was how the ancient mages of Oranbega managed to get themselves back from the beyond. By removing the soul from a living human and transferring their own into the body, leaving the now homeless soul to roam as a ghost. She’d seen the results with her own eyes.

…but Bear’s soul wouldn’t be homeless. There’d be the clone. It wouldn’t have a soul….would it?

Surely not.

And Vickie would do it for me, wouldn’t she? For Bear?

Or would she react with horror?

I can’t. I can’t lose another one. I can’t, I can’t I—

There was an explosive snap.

Bella looked down,

She had snapped the pen in her hand in two.

What am I thinking?

She put her face down in her hands and wept.