It was days ago that I finished the scene with Moira and Anna’s little machine but I am just now getting around to sharing it with you. I was quite surprised by the end. It’s not what I wanted at all but I can’t seem to reconcile what I wanted with what the characters have decided should be done.
Here, take a look:
Moira paled and tried again, uselessly, to remove her hand from the crusher. It ran through her head that it wasn’t worth losing her fingers over. No employer is worth losing body parts for. She pulled again and again, trying to get her hand out from under that weight. It didn’t work. Her breathing hitched, stopped, and then started again with a deep shuddering inhale. She opened her mouth. “Okay! I’ll tell you!” And she meant it. She watched as Anna put her left pinkie finger inside that little alligator’s mouth and started hyperventilating.
Anna set the feet very carefully into the joint. She applied just enough pressure that Moira would know the teeth were there but not enough to feel pain. “Alright,” she said. “Who do you work for?”
“Ballachulish Hotel.” Moira wailed as she realized what came out of her mouth. “No, no! Please! I’ll tell you, really!” Then she screamed. Anna had closed the alligator’s mouth with a snap and a thump of the side of her fist on the top of the snout.
The steel teeth cut cleanly through the joint at the base of the finger, separating the small digit from its owner’s body. Anna used her blue fire and immediately cauterized the wound to stop the bleeding. Then she set fire to the finger as Moira, whimpering and sobbing, watched. “You told me you were ready to tell me, Moira. Are you ready to try again?” When Moira nodded eagerly, Anna smiled. “Good girl. We’re going to try something different now, maybe it’ll help.”
Anna slid the alligator up Moira’s ring finger and closed the teeth around it, just tight enough to bite. Then she began twisting a screw that tightened the jaws. The tighter they got the deeper into Moira’s finger the teeth went. Anna stopped only when she judged that the teeth were almost to the bone. Moira was sobbing with little hiccupy screams here and there. Anna grabbed Moira’s chin and looked at her face. When Moira’s eyes began to roll back in her head Anna slapped her.
“Who do you work for, Moira?”
Moira’s head lolled loosely on her neck, even with her head in Anna’s grip. “Ballachulish Hotel.” Even Marcus groaned in sympathetic pain. In the next moment, Moira screamed again.
Anna pulled the alligator up Moira’s finger, the jaws still tight. The flesh began to shred. Strips rolled up into the torture device as Anna braced a hand on the crusher and pulled slowly. When she reached the middle knuckle she got stuck. As she pulled on the alligator she asked again, “Who do you work for, Moira?”
“Kristina Gedeon!” Then Moira threw up and passed out.
Anna jumped to one side but couldn’t avoid the splatter that covered her shoes.
“Oh gross!” Brock said.
Marcus’s question was dry. ‘The finger or the vomit?”
“The vomit. The finger looks kind of cool.”
“Gods Brock!’ Jules shot him a disgusted look then gazed at Anna in wonder. “What are you going to do now, Alpha?”
“Fix her finger enough that she’ll avoid infection but in such a way she’ll always remember, clean the vomit off my shoes and then drag you guys along to find this Gedeon.” Anna didn’t realize that this Kristina’s employers implanted triggers in the minds of their servants that all but destroyed their minds should they betray them.
Months later, Moira was still not all the way there mentally. It was like something had snapped and broken her mind. She often babbled about alligators named Kristina but nobody would listen to her stories. The only thing that disturbs her, because she can’t remember what happened to her left ring finger. It is missing stripes of flesh, exposing the myofascia, tendons and veins with hints of the bone. Skin grafts had been tried, and fallen off. It didn’t hurt, it was just her finger exposed. When she’d told the police she didn’t remember they hadn’t believed her and investigated every part of her life. It was only in her dreams that she saw the truth, the whole of it. And those dreams reminded her that no one was worth keeping her mouth shut, no one earned that amount of loyalty from her.
Moira worked from home now, building tiny alligators out of metal and seed bead weaves. It was all she could do anymore.
See? Moira was meant to remember it all. Anna wanted her to remember and left her finger to be an ever present symbol of her ultimate failure to hold to an oath. It’s too bad that neither Moira nor Kristina…well, ultimately Liliya… want her to remember.
And now, finally, on to battle! The most awesome thing happened! Anna got a letter from an old friend, the Irish Fae Nuada (Nuada appears in book two), giving them help in the battle against the Russian Bears. 😀 Fabulous! There will be a some harpy eagles, a snake or two and… I can’t remember. Panthers I think. It’s a good thing I make notes.
Have a good evening!