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Thirteen steps wearily out of Zahara's room, flexing his hand idly, then frowns. He begins retracing his steps, returning to the workshop to recover the spear he left behind.

Belladonna is waiting a little ways outside, and the relief she had showed earlier at both herself and Thirteen remaining alive is gone, replaced with a livid glare. "You did WHAT?" she shouts, before leaning against the wall to rest for a moment.

Thirteen "Donna, when I arranged for you to be my head of espionage, the intent was for you to practice that capability on others."

Belladonna 's face turns red with rage and she sputters for a second. "That was rhetorical, you... shitsucker!" It's clear that Belladonna is not particularly used to being so angry that she is forced to swear.

Thirteen pauses.

Thirteen "I did what I had to do, Donna. I won a war, using the resources available to me, and I did it without killing anyone."

Belladonna "Is that all that ever matters to you? Winning wars? Pieces on the board? ARGH!" She clenches her fists and shakes them a little in anger, then shouts unhappily as one of her angry motions pulls at her recent injury painfully.

Thirteen "Are you all right, Donna?"

Belladonna "I'm fine!" she hisses between clenched teeth, though she is visibly leaning against the wall.

Thirteen pauses.

Thirteen "I only ask because it occurs to me that it is inconsiderate of me to treat my colleague's wounds while making no provision for...others."

Belladonna "I don't WANT your help." She coughs a little. "What the hell is wrong with you?"

Thirteen "What do you want?"

Belladonna glares at him in shock. "You sent the Bone Dagger Kings to Xara!" She seems to be clearly aware that this is not answering the question.

Thirteen "What would you have preferred I do?"

Belladonna "Not sicc them on my people because it's more convenient for you than letting them fight yours!"

Thirteen "There will be no war. The people of Xara are well prepared to receive expatriates. I do not understand your dismay."

Belladonna makes the blank expression of sheer stupefaction before realizing that it is wasted on Thirteen. "Of course you don't! If you did, maybe you wouldn't run around destroying people's societies! OW FUCKING GODSHIT!" She swears rather loudly as her bandage tears a little, and stares at it for a second before dropping to the floor and putting her head in her hands.

Thirteen "Donna."

Belladonna "WHAT."

Thirteen "I am sorry."

Belladonna There's a pause, and Donna -- her face wet, and smudged with blood -- looks up. "You are?"

Thirteen "I...."

Thirteen frowns.

Thirteen "The things that I have done, I have done because I saw no better way to do the things that are required by my responsibilities. To the Sunlands. To humanity. To all Creation."

Thirteen "I came to you to tell you, before I did what had to be done, because I did not want you to be hurt. I wanted you to be safe, in the chaos that would come."

Thirteen "Perhaps...there was a better way. But I did not see it."

Thirteen "Things happen quickly, and we do what we can, in the face of the end."

Thirteen "If I were there again, I would try to proceed in a different fashion."

Thirteen "But I cannot promise that I would succeed."

Thirteen "How, then, may I make amends? To you, and Xara?"

Belladonna sighs. "I'm..." She notices that she is bleeding again from her side, and, mumbling briefly, takes a fresh bandage from her bag and stands, handing it to Thirteen.

Belladonna She continues. "I... understand, I guess. I am not the only person in the universe. But." She pauses for a moment.

Thirteen absently shakes out the bandage, placing his other hand on it and muttering quickly in Wasirran; the air becomes redolent with growth. Carefully, he binds her wounds.

Belladonna "It's just that... the crystalgrove, where I had my First Life Promotion... it's in ruins now. The Azure Redoubt neighborhood where I spent my first three years of government employ was afflicted with Essence poisoning. My first sifu died in our third day of battle." She's passed through anger and grief into a sort of reflective haze.

Belladonna "I used to have a home. And we didn't know that the Fifth Lineage pulled the strings, or that they murdered people to maintain the order, or any of that, but..." she trails off.

Thirteen "The world is at war, Donna."

Thirteen "I cannot promise you that you, or your friends, or the things you love will not be hurt."

Thirteen "Today I have lost a dear friend and two more lie injured."

Thirteen "This was in spite of all of my preparation and maneuver. There was nothing -- there is nothing that I can do."

Thirteen "I promise that I will do what I can to make things right, once they have been thrown awry."

Belladonna nods. "It wasn't fair. I shouldn't be angry at you for this." She shakes her head a little.

Belladonna "I just haven't known what to do..."

Belladonna She pauses. "You lost a friend?"

Thirteen "You have the right to be upset."

Thirteen "I knew when I went to Xara that the things I would do might be unforgivable. But I did them."

Thirteen "Casualties are a price of war."

Thirteen "Cerin the Wolf is gone."

Thirteen "I use the term lost advisedly, for we will not let him evade us and his responsibilities for long."

Thirteen "But we have so little time, and there are so many preparations we must make before the eclipse."

Belladonna nods a little. "I'm... sorry for that."

Belladonna It is clear that a certain sense of shock has set in.

Thirteen "I, as well."

Thirteen reaches out, tentatively, to touch her arm.

Belladonna doesn't shy away.

Thirteen "Help me, Donna. Tell me what I can do to help those I hurt, in making war, and remind me of those that are beyond help."

Thirteen "Proper generalship requires such awareness, and I am still learning."

Belladonna nods again. "I... will help you. If the whole world has to be at war, I would rather that you be ruling it when the dust settles." She shudders a tiny bit. "I think perhaps I should go lie down."

Thirteen nods, slowly bringing his hand up to stroke her cheek.

Thirteen "Rest, Donna. If you need me, I will be in the library. I have much to do."

Belladonna nods. "...thank you," she says, as she gets ready to depart. "I guess you must care after all."

Thirteen "If I must, then I must."

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