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Story Notes: Follows the events of the post-Nemesis novels

I bet you're getting pretty sick of me writing about Tomalak and Co. by now, huh? :)

There is a name for the surviving half of a severed marriage bond.

He’d never put much stock in it.

Then again, he’d never put much stock in the rumour of marriage bonds, either.

He is a telepath. Possibly one of the strongest in the Empire. He’d suffered; endured days of torture to spark the ability, to bring it out, to make it usable. And when the physical pain had ended, then came the mental pain of hearing a thousand thoughts that weren’t his own, endlessly assaulting him day and night until he wasn’t sure just what his own thoughts sounded like anymore.

How could simply falling in love with someone result in the same thing he’d suffered so hard for?

He’d never believed in marriage bonds, until it happened to him. Not on purpose, mind you; he’d never had any intention of loving anyone; let alone his first officer, a hellraiser who’d gone on to rip the entire Empire apart. It just sort of happened one day, and suddenly he understood.

A subtle, glowing presence in the back of his mind. Something to cling to when the voices got too oppressive and he couldn’t shut them out. Something that reminded him of what he was fighting for, each day in Tal’Aura’s service, playing the loyal Proconsul while all the while plotting to bring about her fall from the inside.

It never got that far.

He knew the instant she died. The glowing ember went out, extinguished forever.

The voices stopped.

The doctors and psionic specialists explained it as ‘psi shock,’ caused by the abrupt severing of the bond. They said his ability might come back on its own. Or it might never come back.

He should be angry about this. All the pain, all the suffering, and in the end, it was all for naught.

They call him one of the lucky ones. Most people who go through the ordeal of a severed bond go insane within the first year. Others fall into a catatonic state, never to come out.

He calls those ones the lucky ones.

He supposes this is what it’s like to be mundane: to be normal. He laughs at this cruel designation. There is nothing normal about this stillness, this silence. They might as well have rendered him deaf.

He wonders if he might be going insane after all.

There’s a reason they call the survivors of a severed marriage bond Broken.

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