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Stories from the Verse
For Better or Verse
Chapter 59: Hastings 112
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Lauren had gone to bed discouraged. She'd had high hopes that she would fix this broken disintegrator. She had thought it through, come up with some genuine insights into how it was supposed to work and what she had to do to repair it, and done everything as right as she could do. It had all failed.
As she read her Bible that morning, she was still discouraged. Part of her wanted again to throw the pieces in the volcano. After all, she didn't really need it; God had given her so many more strengths. Another part of her did not want to admit defeat, and would keep those pieces to the end of all the worlds in the stubborn determination that eventually she would succeed, even if after that she discarded it. Part of her just wanted to understand why she had failed.
She had failed, perhaps; but it was not a disaster. She remembered that the last time she had attempted to fix it, she killed herself in her mistake. This time nothing happened--and nothing was a far sight better than killing yourself. She had been afraid even to try to fix it, because of the disaster that had befallen her on the previous occasion. She had tried, and although she had not succeeded it was not a disaster. This wasn't really failure; it was setback. She needed to recognize the difference. She needed to remember that not everything worked on the first try, and to be patient enough to try different things, different ways of doing everything. That had long been one of her philosophies: to try many different ways of doing everything, so that in an emergency one of them might work. This time what she tried did nothing; but it was really only the second thing she had ever tried, and it was a lot better outcome than the first. Setback wasn’t failure.
She spent that day on other tasks, doing her exercises, practicing her psionics and magic, repairing her shelter. As she worked, her mind frequently returned to what she had learned and what she had done in trying to fix the rod. She insisted that she would not try again today; whether that was the wisdom of allowing time to understand the lesson or merely a superstitious desire not to tempt fate she could not be certain, but the possibility that it might be wisdom gave her sufficient cause to defend that choice. She stayed up later than usual, looking at the now familiar stars, and fell asleep with her thoughts still drifting in and out of the problem.
The next morning she pulled the broken pieces out of the cart before she had even changed from the sweat suit in which she slept. She was determined not to hide from the problem; the staff was going to sit out where she would see it, where she would think about it. She would not be afraid of it. It was there while she prepared her breakfast. It was there when she washed. It was there as she read her scripture for the morning.
It was then that she had a new idea. Could she use magic to repair a psionic device? She could pray, ask God to fix it. This was a fascinating idea. She realized that she had compartmentalized her life. She had everything neatly divided up, soma, psyche, gnosis, pneuma, logos, she could label the many things she did, put them in appropriate boxes and keep them all separate. But so long ago it was barely in memory she had tried to combine them. She had tried to make a weapon that would whip as a chain and also strike with mental force. She had not been successful; but then, there were examples that worked. Joe's artificial eye showed that machines could function as body parts. In that sense, she used her kau sin ke as an extension of her own arm when she fought. It was a mistake to think that magic and psionics could not work together. It was like thinking that spirits and bodies couldn't work together, and every person who ever lived was proof that they could.
She wasn't quite sure, however, how to approach this. Most of her appeals to God's power were based on His word; she quoted scripture expectantly. Off the top of her head she could think of no passage in the Bible that was about repairing a psionic weapon--the closest she got was when Moses picked up the snake that had been a staff and it again became a staff. Merlin had taught her to draw magic from the supernatural realm that was unattached--sort of like using the waste heat from a power plant to do something else, she thought. She had learned many ways to tap that power; but none of them were anything at all like this.
But was she making it too complicated? After all, the Bible said that whatever she asked, God would do for her. She had spent years of her life learning to qualify that, in short, learning to doubt it, to tell herself that God would not do this or that, or that she could not expect Him to do this or that. When she faced the vampires, though, she didn't hesitate to believe that God would act against them; it was almost as if she believed the power was in the words themselves, or in herself, that she didn't have to worry about whether God wanted to oppose the vampires--that was it, perhaps. She didn't worry about whether God wanted her to fight the vampires, so she didn't worry about whether He would give her the power she needed to do so. It wasn't that He promised nothing would ever go wrong--three times she had died fighting them. She had killed Horta in a rush of flame that engulfed her with him. Horta had killed her with his bare hands in a pitched battle just as the tide had turned against him. Jackson had broken her neck when she fought Tubrok. She had died in battle while relying on God; but He had never not come through with the power she needed during those fights. She had trained herself to expect that power, relying on scripture as her assurance. Scripture told her to pray and believe, and God would answer. Could it be as simple as that?
Kneeling in the dirt beside her broken weapon, she began to pray. She thanked God for letting her stand with Him against the darkness. She thanked Him for providing her with the weapons she needed for that warfare. She remembered in her words His faithfulness to her. Raising the two pieces of the broken rod, she prayed that they might be mended, that she might continue to use this weapon in her stand against evil wherever she faced it.
As the ends of the rod touched each other, they fused, turning in her hands to align themselves. She felt the familiar power of God moving through her, a healing power perhaps, certainly a power of restoration. The two again became one. As God had sundered man into male and female and brought them back into one creature through marriage; as He had declared to Ezekiel that the dry bones in the wilderness would come together and live; so too He had taken what had been broken and made it whole.
Somewhere in the back of her mind the question was raised: did it work? She did not test it. She did not doubt that it worked. God had repaired it; it was repaired. She continued to pray, to thank Him for all that He had done. He had done what she could not do. She had tried to repair the weapon, to restore it to what it had been before it broke, and had perhaps found the limit of her ability; He was beyond that limit, and was again reminding her that all things came from Him, whether she thought she did them herself or knew that it was only by His grace that anything at all was ever done.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with ten other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #183: Verser Transitions. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: