when you don't see me: where is the edge: after the fight in boston

Naomi Bradleigh's Journal, 1 February 2112

We took down Alexander Liebenthal today. We won, didn't we? It hardly feels like victory. Sarah's lost a leg below the knee, and isn't taking it well. I've got a broken rib, and it would have been worse if that experimental armor Nakajima made for Morgan and me had failed. The armor didn't help Morgan at all, but I suppose that's asking a bit much considering that he used his body to break Liebenthal's fall from the top floor of City Hall.

He broke roughly half the bones in his body. Half of them healed crooked for lack of medical attention.

I should be writing this from Morgan's hospital room. Instead, I'm sitting in the hospital's cafeteria, drinking tea and waiting. I /know/ he's going to be all right. Desdinova himself did the surgery, working almost twelve hours to re-break and set the bones that healed crooked after Morgan had broken them the first time around.

But I can't bear to look at Morgan right now. Every time he puts himself in harm's way to spare me or one of our friends or a civilian I find myself seething. I want to grab Morgan and shake him until he understands that /his/ life matters as much as anybody else's, but I know it won't help. This is how he was made.

I want to go after the bastard who made him. I would love to grab Isaac Magnin and shake /him/ too, and then drop him off the parapet of the AsgarTech Building once I get tired. But is it his fault, either? He designed Morgan, edited his genome, supervised his gestation, selected his parents, and did everything he could to make Morgan's life a prison of his own design, but the sense of justice I've seen in Morgan was beyond Isaac's power to bestow.

Isaac made hundreds of einherjar. Most, to my knowledge, never came to understand or use their talents. Others realized their abilities set them apart from others and sought to rule. Precious few chose to put their gifts into service to anything resembling a greater good or a higher ideal.

Morgan had always tried to be discreet in the use of his abilities, but when Isaac Magnin himself showed up with a militia brigade armed with the electrolaser weapons Liebenthal had been selling I thought our end had come. There was no shelter, no cover, no way out of the line of fire. I thought Morgan had gone mad, to put himself between me and the guns aimed at us. I had seen him shot with /one/ of those weapons; he had placed himself between a Fireclown and Sarah and taken the shot for her. It would have killed her outright and should have bloody well killed him; as it is he was badly injured and took a couple of days to recover.

There was no way he could have survived a volley of fire from hundreds of such weapons, yet once again he stood against odds he might not survive because he knew nobody else could defy them.

I should have watched. I should have borne witness. But I could not bear to. I closed my eyes so that I wouldn't see him torn apart in front of me, and the world went white as Isaac gave the order to fire. The storm came, and when the guns ran out of power Morgan was still there. Though barely able to stand, he stood swaying on his feet. The air shimmered around us the way I had seen it shimmer around Morgan when he shielded himself against his enemies instead of simply taking a bullet, and that's when I realized that he had figured out how to extend the barrier he could project. He was protecting Liebenthal because duty demanded it.

But the barrier was fading, and the guns charging up. I was sure Morgan would not be able to withstand another assault, but I was bereft of ideas. I wanted to grab Morgan and drag him away to cover, Liebenthal be damned, but I didn't.

Instead all I could do was go to him, and put my arms around him. He had his sword held before him, as if it were a focus for his defiance, and I rested my hands on his. They were so cold beneath my fingers, the knuckles white. His breath came in shallow pants, and I thought I could hear a lyric repeated as a mantra, but he seemed to settle as I buried my face in his hair.

I don't remember what I whispered in his ear. Did I tell him that I loved him? Did I say that I would be there for him even if our bitter end had found us together? I don't know. All I remember was that the curtain of light before us had ceased to waver. Rather than threatening to flicker out of existence it seemed to solidify.

The storm surged again, and I rode it with him. He took everything they had to give, and I could feel the power beneath his skin threatening to consume him. His sword had shattered; he was left holding nothing but the hilt, but from the remaining jagged stump a new blade of deep purple flame extended.

"Let go of me now," he said, his voice gentle even though it came through gritted teeth. "Take Liebenthal. I will deal with /these/."

I did not take Liebenthal. I stayed and watched as Morgan disappeared before me. Lightning arced as militiamen dropped their weapons, and though I could not see what Morgan did the result was obvious; armored in ire and wielding the sword of his hatred he was destroying their weapons as an alternative to killing them. It wasn't until they had all fled that Morgan dropped back into sight. He had turned his fury on Isaac Magnin himself.

Isaac, unarmed, should have been defenseless. Yet he stood firm and when the unforgiving blade came down he caught it between the palms of his hands. It winked out of existence, and before Morgan could react he was suspended, helpless as he struggled against the white hand that grasped him by the throat. Morgan clawed at Isaac, chopped at his wrist, and even tried to gouge out those hateful blue eyes, but it was futile. There was nothing Morgan could do to stop Isaac Magnin the fiend who pretended to be an effete tech magnate, from hurling suspending him in midair like a recalcitrant kitten who insisted on clawing at the couch instead of using the scratching post.

Then Isaac turned to me. He said, "Will you defy me for /his/ sake?" Before I could reply, he hurled Morgan at me with a thrust of his outstretched arm. I should have gone after Isaac then, but Morgan was sprawled insensate at my feet, barely breathing.

Desdinova tells me he's patched up and recovering. I should be there with him. But I'm afraid to. I'm afraid that if I see him in that bed, sedated under a dosage sufficient to kill a dozen ordinary men, I won't be able to believe he's still alive.

He should be dead. I want to refuse this reality, but neither can I accept his survival. I'm afraid for him, yet simultaneously afraid of him too. My father is a demon, the man I've come to love is a titan, and am I to side with the latter against the former? Who am /I/ to do such a thing.

It's been twelve hours since I stopped writhing this entry. I should start a new one, but I can't be bothered because I'm still I am afraid.

And I have come to hate the man who has frightened me thus.

If Isaac Magnin is the devil, then am I not the devil's daughter? Does that not count for /something/? We will see, because I've finally forced myself to look at Morgan, and see the consequences of my cowardice.

Here in the intimacy of this eyes-only journal I can admit the truth. I could have saved Morgan. I could have armored him with the truth, or at least as much of it as I understood. I could have warned him against letting himself get caught up in Isaac Magnin's machinations years ago. I could have showed him the Starbreaker. Armed with that hellsword we might have defied my father together.

When the moment permits I will tell him everything, and then we will decide what to do. Our lives have been a prison of my father's design for too long. If we cannot break entirely free, let's at least have a riot in the dungeons.