ladyfirestarter: (telling it straight)
[personal profile] ladyfirestarter
Had there been time to think about the long-term consequences of surviving the plan -- of surviving through generating a nuclear explosion in todash space, and getting home afterwards -- Charlie could easily have predicted that she would need time to recover. And knowing as she does that nothing worthwhile is ever done without cost, she would certainly have considered the risk that she might overstrain her power; that she might leave herself unable to do much more than light a candle, if that. For a time, or for all time. She would have counted it worth the risk, or even (though not without a pang) worth the certainty.

What she probably would not have predicted, even given time, is what happened.

Her power's completely unaffected. The firething is strong as ever, curled contentedly within her, eager to burn again. It's her own energy that's been drained, and that's frighteningly slow to return. Two days later she's still barely able to walk across the hotel room, step by careful step and bracing against the wall, without exhausting herself.

Nothing worthwhile is ever done without cost. She thinks of Nancy Deepneau, and of Marian Carver.

What she accomplished was worth this too. Even if it never goes away.

She makes it to the debriefing at the Tet building Tuesday afternoon by dint of leaning heavily on Charles Wallace and repeatedly stopping to rest between the door of her room and the cab waiting outside -- and then leaning heavily on Michael Copeland and repeatedly stopping to rest between the cab and the conference room. (A wheelchair might have been more practical, under the circumstances, but ... no. Under the circumstances.)

They're here to give their account of the events of Saturday night, to be assembled along with everybody else's accounts into something approaching a coherent narrative. During the debriefing she drinks black coffee and lets Michael do most of the talking, nodding and elaborating from time to time, until the point where his account perforce has to break off. He finishes the sentence, pauses, and then opens his hand to her. I think Ms. McGee can tell you the rest.

Charlie folds her hands on the table, keeping her eyes on her interlaced fingers, and starts speaking. There isn't very much to tell, really.

We had to get Black Thirteen out of the vicinity. Ideally out of any vicinity. Charles Murry, who's been informally assisting me at the Taos complex, is a teleport; we had some thought of having him send me to todash space with the ball, but in the event it proved unnecessary, as Black Thirteen took care of that itself. Charles was able to bring me back afterwards.

Why todash space? Because we knew that the amount of power it would take to destroy Black Thirteen would also wipe out anything nearby. Which meant we had to take it between worlds, where there wouldn't be anything nearby.

Yes, we were fairly certain. Enough to make the decision.

We? The good-mind. We were able to consult and discuss the matter very quickly, in that state. No, it isn't a continuing state, we aren't currently linked up.

I suppose you could say the decision was mine.

She's still exhausted, and has been for days, and the sharpness in her tone isn't intentional; it takes her until later that afternoon to realize why the tone of the interview suddenly went conciliatory at that point.

There isn't much more. Once I was in todash space with the ball, I burned it. And Charles brought me back.

Yes, I can quite definitely confirm that it was destroyed. Completely. It was in my hands at the time.
A pause, and she turns to Michael Copeland. I'm sorry about your coat.

He stares at her for a moment, and then begins to laugh helplessly.

Nothing of much import gets said after that.

By Thursday she's improved somewhat. Still tiring easily, but strong enough to be able to travel home with Zillah -- and with Charles Wallace, who's already stayed in this world three days longer than they originally intended, but refused to leave until he was sure she'd be all right.

Tet makes the travel arrangements. Charlie wasn't sure they would, after the last session with Armin Cochrane; he was very serious about wanting to reconsolidate the Irina Foundation under Tet (back into the fold, as he put it), and somewhat put out by her unequivocal refusal. Which must have grated even worse, coming on the heels of Michael Copeland's rejection of a very similar offer for himself and the Calvins. But apparently Cochrane isn't quite irked enough to make much of it ... or else Rose put her foot down sometime in the past few days.

Hobbling down the jetway, leaning on her new walking stick (oak, with a head carved in the shape of a rose; Zillah picked it out), Charlie finds she can picture that very easily.



May 2014

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