This is Issue #150 of DeathWatch, an ongoing Serial. Click that link to go find ‘DeathWatch’ then go to ‘#0 – A Beginning’ and read from there, or go find the issue # you remember, and catch up from there!
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Jules stared down Gemma, tightening her jaw, hissing, “Let me out of here, and I’ll tell you wh–”
“Prophetia obligat, sicut voluisti, ut esset,” Gemma whispered, her face gray.
“Prophecy binds, as it is willed, as it must?” Jules said, looking baffled.
Gemma nodded, saying, “You do not know what will happen, if you change prophecy. Do your actions create it? Do they make it worse?”
Blanching, Jules shook her head. “No. No, fuck that,” she hisses. Fortified with her own unique mix of horror and need, Jules said, “Let me out of here, or I’ll make it the rest of my short and miserable life’s work to ruin everything you love.”
“I can’t help you.” Gemma’s voice cracked as she shrugged. “Tell her, or don’t tell her. If you saw her die soon, I cannot save her. And if I try to, I may make it worse. Prolong her s-suffering.” Gemma’s hands whiteknuckled as she struggled to master the panic that threatened to overwhelm.
“You really mean that,” Jules whispered, taking a step back from Gemma, looking worried. “You’ll just let it happen.”
“Fate is fate,” Gemma said. “This gift is not without its sacrifice. I just thought–” Her voice broke as she ground out the words, “I just thought I’d have more time.”
Lucida interrupted without knowing when she returned, looking determined. “It is done. They’ve gone to the grounds. The viewing will begin. He has gathered those who will watch in Immanis’s study. We will go there, now.”
Jules stared at Gemma, then at Lucida, then shook her head, clenching and flexing her fists. “No,” she said, turning, bolting for the windows. She’d gotten only four steps away when she felt her legs go numb. The small of her back burned as she looked down, feeling her knees buckle. Her tongue felt heavy, and she tried to speak, but then her bones were liquid, and she dropped to the floor. A dark patch pooled under her thighs as she spasmed on the rug, her teeth clenching together. The smell of ammonia warred with the perfume-heavy scent of the room itself, and Jules was dimly aware she’d pissed herself. In the back of her mind, she wondered if this was another awful vision, but then a foot turned her over roughly.
Lucida stood over her, holding an aetheric taser, looking angry and bored all at once. “I tire of your antics, little Krieg. You throw punches at the world around you but you are fighting no one. You are wasting time and energy. You are here now. This is where you belong. I own you. You are mine.”
“Skrimsli,” Jules gasped, panting. “I belong to no one.” Her hands twitched and grasped at the floor as she struggled to roll herself over and push herself up, coughing, struggling to gain control over her body again, the simplest of movements. Hand to floor, push. Lift. Harder.
“Get a collar, Gemma,” Lucida said, tears in her eyes. “It’s time to go watch. I hope he gets every one of those ilegi Westlander spumae before it’s over.” When Jules finally got herself rolled back over to her belly, Lucida brought the taser down on Jules’s spine, between her shoulder blades, touching lightly.
Jules’s eyes rolled back up into her head. She hit the floor again, her teeth clacking together hard enough the click was audible to Gemma, in the next room. She uttered low animal noises as the taser’s charge made her muscles spasm, made her body buck against the floor. Grunting, gasping, Jules writhed under the taser as it pinned her to the floor, like a butterfly on black velvet.
She could taste smoke. She could taste blood.
Everything looked black.
Lucida watched as the contacts of the taser burned into Jules’s flesh; she carefully lifted the instrument and let Jules go still for a moment, shuddering. She brought it back down and watched Jules’s entire body tense up again. She slowly left a long trail of burned circles down either side of Jules’s spine, scarring her bit by bit, touching her only briefly — but still, the device left red weals as it moved down her back. The muscles in Jules’s back tensed and quivered; the striations of them could be seen beneath her pale flesh, beneath the navy lines of the tattoos her body bore beneath the constellations of her freckles.
Jules moaned lowly, And struggled for breath.
Lucida examined her, knelt down next to Jules as she tortured her with the device, and let her dark eyes wander over Jules’s naked skin, briefly enchanted with the woman’s exposed body.
Until she pulled the taser free one last time, and brought it back to Jules’s skin.
And didn’t lift it up again.
In that instant, Jules contorted — her jaw locked open after the fourth set of burns; a low cry began in her throat and crawled upward, louder and louder. Her eyes rolled back, and her feet began to drum the carpeted floor. She retched, gagging, wrung out like an ill-used washrag, and the rictus grin of her jaw tightened, teeth clenching harder, and harder.
Gemma returned with the collar, then, and stared down at the way Jules seemed wound tighter and tighter, and tighter still, because of Lucida’s torment.
Lucida didn’t seem to notice Gemma; she held the taser down until the aetheric charge was used up, until the stick no longer lit up, sparking against Jules’s back. When she finally pulled the thing away, it smoked, dripping black with burnt blood. Jules’s skin was blackened as well, smoking in the cup of her lower back; blood welled up there, pooled as Jules remained on the floor, trembling, drooling blood from having bitten her tongue, her eyes wide and glassy. Tears ran unchecked down her cheeks, dripping to the carpet. Her skin fairly glowed; the tattoos shimmered, while her sweat writhed and danced, glimmering in faint patterns all over her skin.
“Put the collar on it. It can be brought in and chained in front of the grouping,” Lucida said, her voice low, toneless as she looked down at Jules’s skin, staring at the strange silverblue patterns, wondering if they were real, or if, in her grief, she was imagining things. “Perhaps they’ll be entertained by its pain.”
“Yes, Lucibella,” Gemma whispered, eager to please, to have Lucy’s misery abated, even if it was only in fury, in distraction. She darted forward, scuffing over the thick carpet, and leaned in, moving to put the collar around Jules’s throat. The instant she touched Jules’s pale skin, there was a flash, a sudden throbbing blast of light, and a crackling peal of thunder.
Lucida staggered back with a cry, dropping the taser, her heart in pieces–
–Gemma lay motionless on the floor.
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