FALL IN LOVE WITH your writing. That you should be willing to kill your children. All of that. Nevertheless, I think this might be one of the best scenes I’ve ever written that doesn’t come to a conclusion.
And, to paraphrase River Song: Spoilers, sweetie.
Post Graduate Housing, North Campus, East College, February 15, 1998
“What’s this, Babe?” Xe asked, a rectangle of white paper — a photo print — in her hand.
“Where’d you get that?” Rowan demanded, all defensive and bristling.
“It was in that drawer you told me to use.”
“Oh.” The big climb-down. “Sorry. I must have missed it when I was cleaning.”
“So who is that?” She in the photo was incredibly beautiful in an exotic way. Gypsy? Very romantic, nevertheless, with raven hair in ringlets and deep, dark, soulful, anime eyes.
“Wassa Morgan?” Xe wasn’t confrontational, just curious. She could tell instantly from the Elf princess’s reaction that she might as well have shouted a deadly insult and thrown down a chain mail gauntlet. “I’m sorry,” she blurted in a burst of sudden contrition. “Forget I asked.”
Rowan sighed. “No. I’m sorry. You should know. Morgan was my roommate when we were both getting our doctorates at the Thaum. I stayed to do post-doc work here; she went to work at Hephaestus Industries, taking a place on the Executive Action team — the Nine Walkers.”
“That was Mitchell Drummond’s bunch,” Xe realized out loud.
“Yes,” Rowan said. It was hard to imagine a word that could be freighted with as much weltschmertz and agony of the heart that wasn’t no. But Rowan didn’t cry. Only looked like she might. Quite a concession for the normally stone-faced Elf royal.
Light dawned in the dark dolly’s mind. “She was your girlfriend.”
“And I hers.”
“She was killed.”
“In Athens. By Astarté.” Rowan’s eyes remained hooded. She would not meet Xe’s gaze, no matter how sympathetic and loving.
“So you owe Gabrielle…”
“After a fashion.” Which might have been the only thing that had held her back from a full-on physical assault of Redpath and Drummond on being told that the Genesis undertaking had been officially unsanctioned work and she was unlikely to get course credit for her work on it — that the newly-born of the project, Gabrielle East had somehow managed to catch the Goddess Astarté in a distracted moment and take off her head with a Japanese sword. Even so, Rowan had left the mark of her hand on Redpath’s cheek. Xe hadn’t been there at that precise moment — only later that night — but she’d heard about it, nearly in real time. Albeit from sources less-than-reliable. She and Rowan were among a very select handful of folks who knew that the Gabrielle dolly had survived the night of her Genesis and was hunted by the Babylonian God Marduk. Wherever she was, she had yet to be found, (it had only been two days, after all), but were she to reappear on campus, it would be the death of her, for sure.