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Aftermath

A time to mourn

Bren sat hunched over near the stockade as people gathered around. Medics carried Hans out on a stretcher and later, to the grim looks of the other infantrymen, Sam’s body.

Two army nurses sat with watchful eyes as Bren rocked slowly back and forth, alternately holding her stomach and burying her face in her hands. Going over and over events in her mind, she simply couldn’t believe her friend was dead.

Hours before, as Doc led Bren outside the destroyed stockade, she asked again, “What happened?” Bren, dazed and barely able to speak, related as much as she could of the incident, breaking down into sobs several times as she recounted the story. When she reached the part about the red flash of energy, Doc stopped her cold.

“What?” She said with a horrified look on her face.

I was just so angry!” Bren concluded.

Doc’s worried

“Bren, listen to me, you can never do that again,” Doc said holding her arms with a look of panic in her eyes.

“Ok”, Bren said meekly.

“No, you don’t get it, you can never manifest rage like that again… ever!”

“Ok, I won’t!” she said, finding an empty supply crate to sit on.

Doc’s big brown eyes, normally cool, calm and collected, seemed genuinely afraid. To be sure, nothing made any sense to Bren at this moment either. Everything seemed surreal and out of place, even more so than usual. Instead of rushing to Sam’s aid, her mentor went straight for Hans. Her anger nearly blew the stockade apart. Moreover, the shocking revelation of being sent to help Hans made her nauseous.

Coming back to the present, Bren noticed two important-looking men approaching her. One, a Colonel Barns, introduced himself while the other remained silent. Bren recounted the whole incident, minus the red flash, to both men. After she finished, they stepped off a few paces and conversed together, the strong silent one arguing forcefully with the commander. Finally, with a look of barely concealed disgust, Colonel Barns told Bren that she would be confined to her quarters until further notice.

Comforting a friend

Later that evening, Doc brought some food to Bren in her tent. Bren, lying on her cot with her face to the wall, didn’t acknowledge her. Setting the tray on a makeshift table, Doc sat silently in the gathering darkness while two MPs stood guard outside. Finally, she stood up, went over and laid down beside Bren on her small cot and held her most of the night.

The next days seemed a blur as different military officers interrogated Brenzel over and over. Indifferent to how she felt, those who questioned her seemed to be fishing for some further tidbit of information than she had already given. One in particular, a tall, thin man who looked unwell, quizzed her about how she felt and asked her if anything unusual had taken place. Bren immediately disliked him and simply blamed the state of the stockade on the heroic struggle that Sam put up as Hans attacked him.

Meanwhile, the tide of the war on the Western Front turned in the Allies’ favor with the success of the Battle of Ameins. Much of the camp now played a supporting role as American, Canadian, French, and British troops pushed the German forces further back towards the Hindenburg line.

The stars come out

Outside the camp, Doc approached her lover cautiously. “Hello, 3”, Doc said meekly as she peered up at him.

Strong jaw twitching slightly, 3 said, “Hello, Hatty”.

After a moment Doc said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t know,” gingerly taking his arm, laying her head on him.

Looking up at the night sky, 3 said, comfortingly, “It’s alright dear, we knew it was a possibility, however small.”

“Yes, but I never expected this.” Doc said softly, “I never really believed she would be an actual Recurrence.”

Turning, taking her in his arms and pressing her head to his chest gently, 3 said, “I’m sorry my love, but Michael spoke with me about Bren.”

Tears welling up in her eyes Doc said desperately while shaking her head, “No…no…they can’t.”

“I’m afraid they can and will, unless the Judge intervenes. I’ve been called to attend court. I promise I will do what I can,” he said with a note of finality.

“No, not Bren” Doc said over and over as the stars came out one by one.

Your Honor

“All rise” sounded a deep baritone voice as the assembly rose.

“Please be seated,” the Judge said.

3, fingers running some last minute calculations as quietly as possible, smiled to himself. Leaning over to the person sitting next to him, he whispered, “You know, He won’t go for it.”

Michael, scroll in hand retorted, matter-of-factly, “Yes, He will. Look sharp, we’re being called,” 3’s curly headed friend said as they both got up to approach the bench.

Going first, Michael said, “Lord, I pray you accept my petition regarding the Seraph Hunter, Brenzel. All the details of the incident are there. There is no doubt about it, Brenzel is a Recurrence and as such, she has been charged with being a threat to the peace and stability of the Seven Realms. We move forthwith that she be confined to hell for eternity.”

Reviewing the document, the Judge looked up, asking, “Are you sure about what happened?”

“Yes, M’Lord. She manifested rage without the aid of Dark Tech in the course of performing her duties as a Seraph Hunter and nearly killed her subject.”

Pausing to read further, the Judge asked, “Is there anyone to stand for the defendant?”

3, stepping forward, answered, “I will, your Holiness.”

“Very well, proceed,” came the Judge’s terse reply.

“Your Honor, there are several relevant facts to this case that mitigate my colleague’s petition. First of all, Brenzel did not, with forethought, manifest rage. She only did so after a heinous act of brutality that was committed by the Seraph Hans, her subject. Secondly, it is not her fault that she was born with this ability, and she is completely unaware of how to control it. Thirdly, as the court is well aware, she has not chosen yet, and by law a person cannot be condemned to Hell without having exercised their free will.”

Original sin

“I object.” interjected Michael, “Surely M’Lord, the gravity of this matter precludes the defendant’s right to choose. In the First War the kingdoms suffered terrible violence and Hades was completely destroyed. The seven remaining Realms can ill afford a Recurrence of that original sin.”

The Judge, looking sternly at 3, asked, “You are a mathematical seer, what is the likelihood of another instance of the original sin taking place through her?”

3, looking uncharacteristically nervous, said, “M’Lord, the probability is approximately 93.5423% that she will choose evil.”

“I see,” said the Judge gravely, “So less than a 7 percent chance that she will choose good.”

“If it please the court”, 3 hurriedly interjected, “the probability that she would even have the gift was infinitely less.”

The Judge, rising (as did everyone else) said, “It is my decree that Brenzel be allowed to choose her fate rather than have this court choose it for her. The Principle of Free Will, even in view of the likelihood of her failure, cannot be set aside.”

“However,” the Judge continued looking directly at 3, “since you have argued her case so eloquently, I appoint you to be her guardian until such time as she so chooses. If she chooses good, all will be well, if she embraces evil, you shall be her executioner.”

Aftermath

As they walked out of the Great Hall, past massive white pillars, Michael chided, “You really put your foot in that one.”

3, face serene as ever, simply said, “I like my odds.”

SEOISB.