The devastation around them was unimaginable, but when the last of the fires burning around them faded to embers and the force-field that had protected them from the blast flickered out of existence, Myka’s mind was focused not on all of the priceless manuscripts, books, artifacts, gems, and paintings that had been destroyed, but on the loss of one extraordinary, beautiful, irreplaceable thing, the life of the woman she loved.
She stepped forward, heedless of the glowing debris that was still alight around them. She felt fingers on her arm, but she shrugged them off and continued forward until she reached the spot where she had last seen Helena. She looked down, looked for some sign of the woman who had made her heart sing, but there was nothing left. No lock of hair remained, no scrap of clothing smoked on the ground, no necklace lay charred amongst the debris. There was nothing. Nothing remained of Helena Wells, not even ash.
She was gone, Myka realized with a crushing clarity that robbed her of breath. They had just found each other again. They had just made peace with the ghosts of their past and now ... she was gone. No, not gone, Myka corrected squeezing her eyes shut against the stinging tears forming in them. She was dead. Helena was dead.
A sound that Myka had never heard before escaped from her, and she lifted her hand and pressed it against her mouth to stop another such wail of anguish from being released. Tears streamed down her face, and she wrapped her arm protectively across her clenching, churning stomach as her shoulders hunched over. Her body spasmed with the force of her silent despair, and for once, Myka simply let it. She was aware, on some level, of Pete and Artie were standing just behind her, but she couldn’t compartmentalize what she was feeling. She couldn’t wrestle her feelings down into some deep, dark part of her so that she could remain professional until she was finally alone and could let herself grieve. At that moment, with the memory of Helena’s melodic voice still in her ears, Myka couldn’t be strong; she couldn’t do anything but weep for the bright, beautiful, brilliant life that had just been snuffed out of existence.
She wasn’t sure how long she had been standing there, clinging to herself for comfort, as tears streamed down her cheeks, but Myka had just started to pull herself together and was beginning to wipe away the tears that had dampened her cheeks when she felt a hand on her shoulder and turned her head to see Artie standing beside her.
“All’s not lost,” Artie said softly, gently, as he looked up into Myka’s red, shimmering eyes.
Myka looked around her at the vast nothingness that had once been the Warehouse and for a moment a crippling desolation settled over her. Before long however, a surprisingly intense flare of anger rose up in her, and Myka found herself clenching her fist so tightly her arm shook in order to try and contain the furious outburst she could feel building inside of her, screaming for release.
“All’s not ...” Myka began to sputter, her voice angry and incredulous, before she forced herself to close her eyes in an attempt to try and control the overwhelming rush of emotions that were crashing around inside of her.
“No,” Artie replied lifting his hand up to display a pocket watch Myka hadn’t noticed him holding before the Warehouse went up in flames. “Not yet,” he whispered, gazing at the watch for a second before he turned his attention back to Myka and Pete.
Myka looked from the watch to Artie and then back again, her posture straightening and her eyes narrowing with focus as understanding started to dawn.
The Warehouse was gone. They stood in a smouldering ruin. Over two thousand years worth of work had vanished before their eyes, but not every artifact in the Warehouse had been destroyed.
Despite all odds, one artifact remained. One faint, staggering, belligerent ray of hope endured cradled in Artie’s palm.
“What does it do?” Myka asked, voice firm and eyes determined.
“It turns back time.”
Myka’s eyes closed, a single tear escaping from the corner of one as her lips curved up the slightest bit.
Though it had seemed impossible to her a minute before, Artie was right. All was not lost.
Continued in chapter 2!