Accounting for Redemption

Prompt: "I got red in my ledger. I'd like to wipe it out." by Kabobbles. It's That Time Again


Liana Mir

Series Listing

16 — 02. Summer

When the Clock Strikes Midnight

16 — 02. Summer through 03. Autumn

Wake and Thrive

16 — 03. Autumn through 17 — 01. Spring

Its Own Absolution

16 — 03. Late Autumn

After the Grief

16 — 03. Late Autumn

Battery Acid

17 — 02. Summer

Accounting for Redemption

17 — 02. Summer

Counting Heartbeats

18 — 01. Spring

Song Between the Waking and the Dreaming

20 — 04. Winter

Echoes of Anchor Lost

21 — 01. Spring

Don’t Remind Me That It’s Over

21 — 02. Summer

Welcome

21— 02 Summer through 22 — 01 Spring

Name Me Another (or Glass Angel, Redux)

22 — 01. Spring

Glass Angel

22 — 01. Spring

Pause the Sonata

22 — 02. Summer

Without a Reason

22 — 03. Autumn

Learning Legato

23 — 02. Summer

Acceptable Cost

23 — 02. Summer

History Lesson on the Night Train

23 — 03. Autumn

Abyss Looking Back

23 — 03. Autumn

Collateral Damage

23 — 03. Autumn

Five Reasons I Love You

23 — 03. Autumn

Little Things

23 — 03. Autumn

Owning Beauty

23 — 04. Winter

Dream the Dance

23 — 04. Winter

Snow Day

24 — 02. Summer

As the River Breathes

AU 21 — 04. Winter

Normal written in coffee grounds

Accounting for Redemption

How do you account for redemption in a world where survival is the only law?

Justus once believed that his decisions were being guided by a God whose will was sovereign. Now he doesn’t. These sins were his own and he does not know what to do with them.

17 — 02. Summer
Kingdoms and Thorn Science Fiction
Flash Fiction Short Story

“Do you think God could ever redeem us after the things we’ve done?” Justus worded it carefully, threw it out right as he pulled out of his stretches and picked up the throwing knives.

Shift turned, glanced over her shoulder, but finished her own stretches before answering with exaggerated patience. “You’re asking the wrong person.”

“You have a better idea of who I should ask?” Justus aimed a knife at her heart and threw it. Keep it balanced. Straight follow-through.

“You’re the one who believes in God,” she pointed out, catching the knife and tossing it back over her shoulder straight for his lungs.

His reflexes were good. He caught it. This was one of the most nerve-wracking forms of practice she had taught him. His own growing ease with what he did on a daily basis bothered him, a lot. He covered it with a shrug that was anything but casual. “Lapsed, remember?”

Shift snorted, caught the knife at her hip, and retorted sharply. “If you didn’t believe, you wouldn’t be asking me that question.”

Justus sighed and admitted, “Maybe I don’t believe everything I used to. I can’t believe that God wanted me to choose to knowingly do what I do instead of die.”

It was weakness, this survival instinct that kept the blood flowing in his veins, that let him learn from the young woman standing halfway across the room on the training mats how to kill, seduce, assassinate, infiltrate, spy. It was his own failure and he couldn’t believe anymore in the faith he had learned from his father that this was somehow part of God’s sovereign will. This was Justus’ own sin and he bore it.

“I just…” He glanced away, then back again, realizing Shift had said nothing. “I don’t know what else to believe.”

She said nothing, just turned that knife over and over in her hand and he realized suddenly that it was one of her favorites and from his first lesson. She had forced him to plunge that knife into her body and wouldn’t let up until he was willing to do it. First blood. Only after, did he learn she’d had Meld on hand to heal her.

“I keep two sets of books,” Shift answered abruptly.

She turned the knife around and hurled it toward his gut. He caught it.

Hands free, she gestured with her words. “One is red and one is black. If I ever get an ounce of black in the first book, I see if there’s any way I can transfer the balance to the second.”

Justus tried to comprehend that. He had only one life to live, one set of deeds and choices for or against his maker.

“Don’t you say grace isn’t accounted for in works?” She lifted a skeptical brow, eyes scathing.

He nodded but held onto the knife. Make your point, make your point. This held the air of another lesson, something he wasn’t sure he wanted to know.

Shift studied him until she realized he wouldn’t respond, then her face hardened and he had forgotten she could look so unreservedly deadly and uncaring. “How can I hold my books out to your God and ask Him to wipe out the ledger I’ve written in blood when I don’t regret it?”

Breath. Breathing. Remember how to breathe. Justus stared at her, caught himself falling out the momentary shock he’d frozen himself in. They all regretted it. They all regretted the monsters they had become. Right?

“What’s the second book?” he asked.

She lowered her hands to her sides and stated calmly, “My exception.”

He hadn’t known she had taken one. Every single member of their team was allowed an exception, one rule or requirement of the government who leashed them that they were allowed to refuse. Sear wouldn’t have sex. Meld wouldn’t kill in the manner he healed. The Database didn’t get assigned to the front-lines unless her leader had no other alternative to mission success. Justus got to say no to a mission assignment if it crossed a line he wouldn’t. Each one… He went down the mental list and came to Shift. Shift did every single thing their handlers asked of her. There was no atrocity she wouldn’t commit, no horror she flinched at if her handlers ordered her into the field.

“I used to have black in my book,” he finally said. I used to live the way I believed. I used to be willing to die for those beliefs. He threw the knife, aim true.

Wrist flicked out, caught it. “I sold my soul to open a second set of books.”

Justus hadn’t learned to never flinch. “Don’t sell your heart to open a third.”

The moment between the words stretched out. She tilted her head at him in genuine compassion. “Justus. You’re asking the wrong person.”

She aimed the knife at his jugular. He caught it.

#


Kingdoms and Thorn Science Fiction

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2 Responses to Accounting for Redemption

  1. Beverly says:

    Ok, I think I should have read this one before the others one. I stil get the sense there's a lot about this universe I don't know, but at least some of the rules are explained here.

    • Liana says:

      Yes, it's a big, huge fat universe with tons of snippets and growing because I'm taking prompts and I have a reader who really gets this storyworld and keeps asking questions. The whole list is at http://lianamir.com/kingdoms-and-thorn.

      The rules are explained here because this is a standalone piece. The other was a follow-up, so I marked it as a serial. I'm glad you found it intriguing though!

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