Collateral Damage

Prompt: Is she [Rachelle] really going to die because of her abilities? by pygmymuse. Writing into the Abyss, Part II

So let’s just say there’s a reason Rachelle tries to stop her team members from helping her, and that reason has a name—Shift.

Liana Mir

Liana Mir reads, writes, and wrangles the muses from her mundane home in the Colorado Rockies and, occasionally, from the other side of the Barrier.

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


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

Collateral Damage

No price is too high...

Andre knows a young woman’s genes are killing her, but is saving her a lost cause?

23 — 03. Autumn
Kingdoms and Thorn Science Fiction
Flash Fiction Short Story

Andre found her at the back of a coffee shop in downtown Bellyn on the east side corner of Fifth Street. She looked like Jennifer with her hair in a dark auburn and pulled back into a braid. She didn’t look like a young mother in her early twenties. She looked like the teenage girl with dragon fire in her eyes who informed him years ago that she had forgotten how to cry.

Shift. The winds seemed to change with her moods.

She gave him a slight nod and dropped her empty coffee cup to the table. Her apron signified she worked there, but it was her absolute ruling demeanor that let him know he was on her territory, the real place she called her own. Even the top-ranked operative in the Department knew to tread with caution.

“Power outage?” she asked casually, a throwaway line, referencing last night’s chance encounter at his girlfriend Mira’s apartment. The question was direct and pointed: why are you here? how’s my girl? is she hurting? what do you know? Dark eyes snapped back up to meet his.

Andre looked at Shift calmly. He sat down across from her. “Communications,” he corrected evenly.

A long measured gaze, then another slight nod. “Always a lot of collateral damage when the Database goes down.”

She shrugged and to an outsider—as he wasn’t—it sounded like they were discussing the legendary law enforcement surveillance and tracking system several cities were known to make use of. To an insider—as he was—it was a bitter worry voiced that the special type human girl able to absorb another person’s DNA was hurting and out of control.

Special type humans were dangerous when they lost control. A telekinetic could shred a skyscraper with a few thoughts, a few moments. A healer could melt down the genome of any organism they touched—or lose their life to another in an instant. A processor, like the Database, could cause untold damage by utilizing multiple powers all at once, and Shift had told him there was a reason for this collateral damage, a greater reason to worry.

“Will she die?” he asked quietly, with a shared history of understanding between them. How long ago had she asked him, “You lost everything you ever cared about?” Almost everything. He had lost his son.

Shift didn’t move, but he knew his question shifted something inside of her as the space between them tensed and his instincts warned him she had gone predator. Her eyes looked up, the rest of her unmoved, and the fierceness in those eyes dared him to challenge her. “I never lose one of my own.”

Watcher’s words. Andre had to draw in a breath at that. He had known that quietly deadly one-time child soldier had essentially raised Shift, but he never imagined she had passed on her ruthless, brutal willingness to sacrifice anything, anything at all, for someone she loved. He had never imagined that Watcher would make a monster of a girl she had once protected.

“There will be a price to save her life, won’t there?” he asked, voice still even, not betraying his sharp recoil. He was an operative. She was an operative. They were both the best of their kind.

Shift tilted her head and shrugged casually, all the tension gone with that flicker of casual slide into her Jennifer Haller role as she stood and straightened her apron. “Break’s over,” she replied flippantly. As if she had ever taken a break.

Andre stood, wondering what it was she would want of him, why she had brought this problem to his attention at all if she didn’t want his help. Queen of the double entendre, he knew she meant her reprieve from her bloody work was at an end, and yet he wondered what price could save a woman whose very genes had turned against her. He had never known fear, but even he could almost feel it when he realized that no price was too high in Shift’s eyes.


Kingdoms and Thorn Science Fiction

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