Love Guides The Wandering Star - Part Four - Holly_Gonzalez
She revived with a crash of mind and breath. Was it sweat or tears that dampened her cheeks? She was dead...forgotten, cast aside like the tarnished old car she'd once given to Fray. Of what use am I in a world that values only blind allegiance and conformity? Shall I bleed myself empty, as Brune did, and give them the defeat they want--to see me crumble and cower before tyranny, the very beast I've struggled against all my life?
The orgonite earrings shivered against her skin. Flecks of light shifted before her eyes like ethereal snowflakes, dreams between the realms of here and then, without and within. She carried Brune's pain and triumphs even now, sensed the futility of the fallen actress's aspirations and vanity. Brune had been an emulation of excess, the ideal of Margritte's achievements. Wings were made to be broken, it seemed. But, in the midst of such emptiness, where death beckoned with its promise of release, Margritte remembered Fray and the mysterious promise of the portal. Might this elusive gateway be a chance to set herself--and everyone else--free at last?
The patterns had appeared again. Words that echoed in her soul. The cigarettes she reached for when she craved solace. The Chrysalis and its resemblance to Fray's forgotten car. And always, when Margritte's multiverse alias collapsed in ruin, a friend appeared to help.
The overarching message seems to be that I'm ever alone. Life fights on, and so must I.
The judges gloated, seeming pleased by Margritte's outward distress.
"In the last trial we noticed promising signs," the female judge said. "Self-sacrifice for the benefit of the people is commendable."
"You showed more potential this time, Fraulein," another judge added. "Continue thus, and your fidelity gains merit. I suspect a patriot does reside in you, but I want more evidence."
The Professor wiped perspiration from Margritte's brow with a soft handkerchief. "You're brave to have come thus far. The next trial is of revelation. Secrets we often keep hidden will surface herein." He gave an odd grin. "Such lovely earrings. Good luck charms, I presume?"
Margritte studied him. What did he know?
She prepared herself for another foray into the Labyrinth. Heat seared into her veins when the interface serum flooded her system. The Psychometer's buzzing rays illuminated a cityscape within her skull. She gasped, each breath an ordeal. "Fire. Everything burns. Someone seeks to destroy...another seeks the destroyer. I hunt a mysterious inferno. My name is Nicholas."
She no longer dreaded the entrance storm. She'd already died in psi-space, yet had emerged alive. What could be worse than a vicarious death?
The next title appeared on the telescreen, licked by scarlet and amber flames. Foundations of once-proud buildings charred to ashes. A shadowy menace slipped down an alley, just out of sight, and someone chased it through the smoke. The hidden trail of keys called to her. Burning with conviction, Margritte stirred within the guise of a new persona.
The whole building was quite spectacular, the jewel of the city, and of its time. Or it had been, before they had had their way. Now a cracked mirror showed the truth: Nicholas Lott had made a mistake.
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