Current Transmissions:

20131226

FORGE

The blood from the cuts along Maggie's arms and back soaked into the clean white robe. She ascended the steps, through the smoky air of the temple. Howls and drums and screams and chants and laughter made music in the dark, twisting tunnels that branched off of the hidden chamber.

Crow looked down at her from the altar.

Maggie's eyes were cold and fierce, then suddenly sharp and playful. Crow saw the candlelight reflect silver in the blood dripping on the steps.

"You have faerie blood in you," Crow said with mild surprise.

"You're not accusing me of being a vampire are you?" Maggie asked with a smirk.

Crow's look became serious. "The bell is sounding One, I can hear it. It's time. To begin again."

Maggie nodded. Her voice dropped to a whisper. "I've done this before."

Crow looked at her with sadness. Maggie wondered what Crow knew about her, and what secrets Crow knew about Max... But that would only lead her to doubt and worry. Turn the stone of the stairs to sand.

Crow spoke. "And likely you will come here again, though it will look and smell and taste different. And hurt the same."

Maggie remembered the time this place was that weird sci-fi womb in the Professor's Study. It had felt like forever when she was inside, and now it felt like forever since she had escaped. The Professor had had coffee waiting for her.

"Each time," she said to Crow, "I've gotten a gift."

Crow nodded. Maggie couldn't easily make out Crow's features in the shifting light of the temple. A young woman. Hair blond then dark. Then older, with long blond curls spilling down her shoulders and back. Then younger again, dark hair short. Eyes playful then wise, innocent then cynical. Sometimes Maggie could see her wings, other times it looked as if fire raged around her. Maggie remembered the wings that once sprouted from her back, or that would one day, that had or would, white or soaked red with blood.

The gift that Crow gave her was one she already knew, had used for years, had lost and found a dozen times in a hundred worlds. But Maggie understood that this place, here and now, was where she first got it. That this was when it was first given to her. And so she recognized it, and welcomed its return like an old, trusted friend, even as her eyes widened in surprise, seeing it newly, for the first time, discovering it, having won it finally. Knowing she would lose it again and find it again. Knowing now where and when it came from, here at this beginning. Here in Death, here in haunted solitude.

From one of his messengers, one of his lessons to her, another gift and a curse too - did Crow belong to him or he to Crow? She imagined finding him again one day and having that answer for him. But she could never do that to him.

Maggie took a breath. The smoke in the air stung her open wounds. Each trickle of blood felt like an ocean. And she knew that they would heal and be never more.

She wondered if Crow had somehow been here each time before. It was easy for Maggie to hate her, for what she knew, for what she had done. Maggie didn't like easy so much. So she had started trying to learn how to forgive Crow and to love her. Maybe that's why she was here again, or maybe this needed to happen. Maybe Crow was making it easier, maybe harder.

Maggie took a breath. She remembered Max warning her about avoiding certain frequencies of thought - only Max would call them that - warning her that they were where the transmissions from the Lab lived. That you could get trapped there. Maggie wondered again what exactly Crow knew about -

She took a breath. All that in the moment that Crow handed her the gift. And it started to shine. Absorbing the candlelight. Becoming bright.

And Maggie's robe was white, her wounds were healed. Her wings spread. Her memories and thoughts were still.

She took hold of her katana.