Before All Is Lost

Lady Henrietta Wickes was rich, pretty, and happy. Lord Benedict Wickes was rich, handsome, and evil. When Henrietta found out, she blindly ran. Now she's stuck in the cutthroat underbelly of society known as the Crease. Henrietta is rescued by the group called Temper Mints and finds refuge in the patchwork family of illegal magicians, mechanics, and thieves. Henrietta trades her social savvy for street smarts. Benedict plans to replace the aristocracy with a tyranny. Struggling with the ethics of law versus humanity, Henrietta must protect her new friends, fight off a new love interest, and save the country from her husband.


10. Rebuilding Pi

The mechanic heart that replaced Hettie's old one clicked.








It wasn't real, of course. It was still a real heart.








But it doesn't have to be.




She wondered how long Geneve's heart had been like this.




She wondered if Becca's heart was the same.




She wondered if she was going mad.


Something went wrong.








A part was missing. Not replaced. Just... gone.










Hettie watched, horrified, as the heart in her chest began to rust, bits and pieces falling away until nothing was left but a single spinning gear.












She woke up.


* * * * *


Becca arrived the next morning.


She was tall. Taller than even Hugo, who was no short man. Her hair was thick and curly, a dark frame for her beautiful face.


Hettie inspected Becca as she moved into the kitchen. Becca removed her cloak and shook water from her hair.


"Beccers!" Hugo said.


Becca glared and said smoothly. "Hugo. Mina. Drake. Strange girl."


"Hettie. My name's Hettie."


Becca nodded once and turned to Carl. "I think I've found one of the missing elements."


Carl raised his eyebrows. It was a larger display of emotion then Hettie had seen since she'd been here. Carl promptly rose, setting down his napkin. "Thank you for the meal, Mina." He said calmly, starting off for the machine shop. Becca walked after him, her willowy figure was a sharp contrast to his hunched form.


Hettie looked to Hugo and Drake with wide eyes.


"That's Becca?" She asked.


"You know, I'm thinking about calling you Purple-Face." Hugo said, swallowing. "You seem to be bruised half the time." Hettie glared. Hugo had the nasty habit of ignoring what you had said and taking the opportunity where attention was on him to bring up another subject.


"Becca's had a hard time, same as us." Drake said.


"You all aren't prickly as a hedgehog." Hettie muttered.


"Her best friend died." Hugo snickered. She smacked his arm.


"That's hardly something to laugh about!"


He shook his head. "You don't understand. The died bit. That's funny. Her friend couldn't 'die'. He was destroyed."


Hettie opened her mouth, closed it up, then opened it again. "That makes no sense!"


Drake sighed. "He's toying with you, Hettie. Her friend was an automaton."


"I- what?" She blinked.


Hugo started to speak, but Mina smacked the back of his head. He rubbed it indignantly.


"That's Becca's choice as to whether or not Hettie gets to know." She said with finality.


Hettie put her napkin on her plate and stood up. Mina frowned, but said nothing as she whisked the plate away.


"Thank you, Mina." Hettie murmured. She went into the hallway, out of their sight, and pressed her ear to the door.


At first, she only heard the sound of breaking glass, and then Becca cursing.


"-econd one today!" She ranted.


"Calm yourself. Your emotions affect the tremors in your hands."


There was silence, and then scraping of glass.


"You're right."


"What is you have discovered?" Carl asked.


"In Nemo, he can only do the things he's programmed for."


"Yes. That's how automatons work."


"Whoever created Pi didn't program him." Becca said, earnestness filling her voice.


"Becca," Carl said gently. "Pi, however human he may have appeared, was an Automaton. He was programmed."


"NO!" Becca screamed. Something metal crashed against the stone floor. "You don't understand!"


Hettie stifled a gasp. She realized what Becca was trying to say.


"You don't mean-" Carl sounded truly aghast.


"Yes." Becca said confidently. "I do."


"That would be inhumane." Carl said stiffly. "And no person would be able to replicate another perfectly. And the magic and mechanics involved would be impossible. I'm afraid that can't be the answer."


"It's not impossible. I thought he was human for months. And it wouldn't be inhumane. It would be more humane than confining him to this."


Carl was silent. Hettie assumed the Becca was showing him something.


"Where did you find it?" He asked wearily.


"I always had it. As soon as I escaped the asylum I dug up the framework and took it. I wish I'd kept the whole thing." She said bitterly.


An asylum? Hettie thought. So she's mad! But why would Carl humor her? Unless he's gone mad with age as well...


"Becca, dear. Even if we can rebuild him, even if this works as you say... you know that it-"


"I KNOW!" She yelled. "Don't you think I curse that every night? Every day I wonder why I bother?! But I don't care, Carl! I have to have him back!"


There was silence.


"Very well. But I suggest we focus on rebuilding the body properly for later. For now, we must worry about channeling his..." Carl was at a loss for words.


"Soul." Becca finished for him.


Hettie felt like she might throw up.


Becca was going to put the soul of her dead friend into the body of an automaton? It was... mad.


She really does belong in an aslyum.


"We can do it, Carl." Becca whispered. "We can rebuild Pi."

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