Ella would never in a million years be able to describe accurately the feeling of bonding with the Aurem, she felt full, yet hungrier than she had ever been in her life. She felt like she was seeing things with new eyes, there were new colors, new sensations. Even the pain she felt from the wreck was a different experience, before it was horrifying as she faced her own mortality, but now it was exhilarating. All around her was twisted metal and twisted bodies, and yet she could feel each breath coming easier and easier, and with those breaths she could feel herself recovering and mending. “I am alive,” she whispered, and her voice shocked her a little. There was the faintest echo to it.
As she began to move herself from the wreckage she heard something faint, like skittering, but not from insects, it sounded like metal skittering across metal.
A voice called out, hollow in the darkness, “Is anyone in there?
“I'm here,” she said with force. She was shocked at her own energy. She was no longer scared and alone in the night. the night had become more than dark, more than blackness. It was a tapestry of overlapping colors, shades, and light. How could she have ever been afraid of this? Her smile was all joy when something heavy hit the ground behind her.
The thing was shaped roughly like a man, but the dull gleam showed it to be covered in metal of some kind. It was very slim, and hunched over in a way that implied motion, even in stillness. Blue light glowed coolly where a human's eyes would be and a steady ticking came from within it's chest, like the radiator pipes in winter. It was a machine man; it was a Doll.
“Are you alright? Do you require aid?” it's voice was reedy and high. “Do not be alarmed, We are here to help, we work with the fire department. We are called Lear.” It tilted it's head, as if waiting a response.
Fear had surged through her for a moment, yet now all Ella had were questions. She normally would have suppressed them, but found the words leaping unbidden to her tongue. “I'm Ella, why do you say 'we'? Are there more Dolls helping the rescue? How bad is the crash? What happened to the train? Is anyone dead?” her eyes were wide in shock, she had never been this forward before,. She didn't act this way.
Lear cocked his head, as though it could not really grasp what was going on. “you appear unharmed, though we notice a stress differential in your voice.” it moved quickly across the room, a blur even to her improved vision. Then the light from it's eyes was shining directly into hers. “Interesting! Unanticipated. You are not human. It could explain-,” it stopped there, pulling it's face away from hers and stood perfectly still.
“Explain what? What do you mean?” her mind whirled trying to piece the information together, and then, “You mean because of the Aurem?”
Lear stepped back from Ella's verbal assault. When it moved there was the skittering of metal on metal. Ella noticed for the first time Lear's hands and feet. They each had long fingers and toes that ended in small, delicate almost, claws. When they passed over metal the noise was a faint skittering.
Lear said, “This train wreck was not an accident.”