bea ransacks her flat

This scene was deleted as it felt a little too much like an exposition dump, and the same information could be conveyed more neatly. Equally, it didn’t quite fit the timeline (four weeks after the end of The Academy).

It would have been the first scene featuring Bea, after catching up with Seven.

Despite what Bea had been led to believe, the trouble with coming home after an adventure wasn’t that the old world seemed small and distant in comparison. In fact, she was delighted to be back in her little one-room flat.

No, the trouble with returning home after an extended absence was all the bloody dust. Everything she owned, which wasn’t exactly a tremendous amount to tally even by the most generous descriptors, was covered in the stuff. It was like she’d come back to find her bedsit had been burned down and then refashioned from the ashes.

Where in the five hells had it all come from, that’s what she wanted to know. She was harbouring very severe suspicions about secret parties populated solely by dust monsters. It was an idea that she would have once thought was ridiculous but which, considering her recent experiences, she was now inclined to believe was at the very least plausible. After all, she’d fought a dead woman from another world to stop her turning people into ghosts. After that, dust creatures squatting in her flat seemed, if anything, rather dull.

Still, she’d ignored it as long as she could, but there was no more putting it off. It was time for a spring clean.

Given that her flat was really just a room divided mentally, if not physically, into a sleeping area, a living space and a small kitchen, it took much longer than she’d predicted to clean. This was in no small part because once she started picking through her possessions she couldn’t help stopping to reminisce, or to rearrange, or to relocate them to the rubbish. In fact, some three hours later, the dust was obscured under even more mess.

Mortal gods! Somehow, she’d managed to uncover piles of useless tat. It was quite impressive, in a way. Bea had spent almost all her time in the human world of Thaiana, Plot-watching – a job which certainly didn’t offer much in the way of disposable income. Apparently, what little it did provide had been spent on random nick-nacks and, judging from the bottles she’d found in a bottom cupboard, a lot of cheap wine. Disappointingly, they were all empty.

She picked up a small paper bag and peered inside.

“What in the worlds is this?” she muttered, shaking out its contents. Little bits of metal and cloth landed on the bare wooden floor. Frowning, Bea searched for the words to describe what she’d uncovered. She cleared a wider space on the floor and laid all the pieces out. The material was easy – tightly woven wool, dyed brown, and fluffy cotton – but the bits of metal gave her more trouble. Little flat, round disks, some with smooth edges and others with edges like sharp teeth… thin, long cylinders turned into spirals like curly hair… and something which looked like a key.


Bea sat back on her heels. It was the little clockwork mouse she’d bought during her first few weeks in Ænathlin.

She rubbed her eyes with the heels of her palms. Then she swept the materials and mechanisms back into the paper bag and dropped it onto the pile of things to take to the markets later, to trade for GenAm vouchers or, even better, a large bottle of wine. Or maybe even two. The metal would be worth be quite a lot to the right person. There was always someone, somewhere, who would trade. There were many words Bea could think of to describe Ænathlin, most of them four letters long, but one benefit of living in a city that survived solely on refashioning old things into new was that there was always a place for everything.

And everything in its place, Bea thought.

She looked around at the dust and mess and old memories with their sharp, scratchy feelings, and made the only sensible decision she could think of.

Grabbing a bag of things to trade, she set off for the market and one trader in particular.

It was time for a change.