Quinn went from Enforcer to Balm of Death in a matter of years. With her life locked into taking the pain of death from those entering the void, she had no choice in where or when.
As death claims Quinn after a sudden attack, arms she has dreamed of for the last two years lift her and take her Home.
Iskanu has been waiting for the moment that Quinn breathed her last, while mourning the pain she would be in before she released her energy and ties to her universe. He sweeps her Home to bring her back to him and then has to explain the hardest thing in his life.
Two of her years ago, Quinn held his hand and comforted him while he died. He was now holding her hand as she woke with the power of the Orb inside her. How would she take the reversal of their positions and would she agree to her post as his partner and Sentinel of Time?
Quinn Lios made her way out of the medical bay and sat in one of the few gardens left untouched on Recodan IV.
Her soul was numb, and she buried her head in her hands as she ran through the final thoughts of those she had just eased into death. Ninety percent of the population of Recodan IV had died immediately from the pathogen dropped on their world by the U’kadi, five percent were immune, and the other five percent were dying at a slow and painful pace.
The U’kadi were being interdicted while the Sector Guard tried to help the population of Recodan IV deal with the bodies of their loved ones. Scorchers were taking care of the dead, counselors were helping the living, and then, there were balms, or easers, like Quinn.
She could take the pain, ease the panic, but not stop the inevitable march to death once a living being was headed that way.
Tears crept through her fingers as the pain-filled sighs of her patients echoed in her thoughts. Three years as an Enforcer had put her on the active side of disasters, and when her talent for helping the dying had surfaced, it meant training in a job she had no interest in pursuing.
“You have helped many today.”
Quinn jumped and pulled her fist back in a reflex from her battle-ready days. A tall figure in swirling robes was standing a few feet from her bench.
“Helped them? There is nothing left of them. I took their consciousness and let it drift into the afterlife. How is that helping?” She sniffled.
“If they have any surviving family, their family members will know that they did not die in pain and fear. It means a lot to know that.” His tone was low, but the shadowed interior of his hood kept her from seeing his features.
She analyzed what she could of his clothing, but she had no idea where his robes were from. “Are you with the Sector Guard?”
“No. I am with an observational body.” He shifted and took a seat next to her. “If it hurts you, why do you do it?”
Quinn snorted. “I wasn’t given any choice. Besides, if I don’t help them, their last thoughts on this world will be of pain. It isn’t something that I would wish on anyone.”
“Why don’t you have a choice?”
She looked at him in surprise. His curiosity was not something she had run across before. Most folks called her a reaper and gave her a wide berth.
She didn’t know if it were the sympathetic tone or simply that he had asked the question, but she told him how she had ended up in her peculiar assignment.
“I was an Enforcer sent to Wallu during the height of terrorist acts. We were guarding a disarmament team when a blast sent us flipping through the air, crushing three of the men in my unit. The captain was dead and the second in command was lying next to me, breathing more blood than air. He asked me to hold his hand, to help him keep calm while we waited for help. We both knew that he was not going to make it, and my mind reached for his and his for mine. I wanted to keep him calm, so I put that into my thoughts.
“His features straightened, his body relaxed and a light filled his mind. I felt him go, and the moment he did, hands pulled me from him as a pair of beings lifted him and disappeared.”
She snorted. “Everyone attributed my memory of the disappearance to shock, but I know what I saw.”