Story by Lunati with Art by Tacoma.
So cold, it was so cold, moments of blackness took her.
When she awoke she saw a familiar face looking down at her, that of her sister Cassandra.
"How did you get so big?", a small tinny voice came out of her throat, much more high pitched than expected.
"I'm sorry to tell you little sister, that you had a bit of an, accident. I wasn't able to recover most of you," a small pout on her lips passed for a brief moment, and then she continued with a grin, "You did make such a delightful test subject, you even came out fully sentient, at least you aren't a drooling mess."
In a moment of shock she looked down at herself, small paws and a small white ermine body greeted her. Slowly, she glanced up at her sister once more.
"What happened to the rest of me?!" she inquired, a small bit of shock creeping into her voice.
"Oh it's over there, I just used your soul."
She glanced in the direction her sister pointed, and she saw herself, her fur falling off and mottled. Her extremities were turned to a dark blistering black from the cold, and her mouth opened with a ricktus scream.
She balked at the gruesome sight, fear forming in her beady eyes, that glowed with an effervescent sky blue.
"I'm-I'm dead?!", she screamed.
"Not quite," Cassandra replied, with mirthful glee. "You wont die, you wont feel pain. You can exist happily forever as long as you keep yourself repaired. I do hope you paid attention as I led you around my shop, my dear little sister."
"I'm one of your little clockwork weasels?!", Cenia replied with a bit of terror slipping into her voice, the obvious nature of her predicament still sinking in.
"One of my Zengre, yes, although I made sure you were a lovely white matching your former self. It wouldn't do to make you a common brown," she spit out the last words with obvious contempt.
She continued with a slight glee, "Only the best for my little sister, you will help me get what I want, you will help me get revenge on that bitch that stole my love! She was supposed to be mine! She will be mine, and if anyone dies on the way, we can have fun with them still, their screams and pain will be so delightful,"she finished with a dreamy sigh.
Shaken, a tremble of fear in her voice, the tiny ermine replied, "You mean, I can't die again, the cold won't get me? I was lost, I should be dead! I am dead! It hurt and burned and then, it was warm and I fell asleep, I couldn't get out. I was too far from our base camp, and-and-a-" she stammers, and takes a deep breath, calming herself. "How long until you found me?"
"Only a few days before we found that awful frozen corpse in the snow, it took me a couple weeks to make sure I properly trapped your soul, and got you up and running again. You're just running off of a tiny crystal embedded inside of you. It wont break and you wont have to worry about that frail fleshy body again."
The thought sunk in slowly for Cenia as she looked down, and she began to cry.~~~~~
In the following months, Cenia worked with Cassandra, learning to cope with her fate and how to take care of her new form. Over time Cenia started to build bigger bodies for herself, since she was sick and tired of being small, and for other sentient Zengre that came into the fold.
In turn, Cenia trained others to build small minions, massively accelerating their output.
Cassandra's army continued to grow, raising from merely a handful to dozens of sentient Zengre, and thousands of small woodland creatures.
While leading raids, Cenia gradually grew more and more reckless. Her former bodies laid shattered and broken, yet her small weasel-like mechanical form would crawl out and continue on. Death slowly lost its meaning to her. Anyone who died would simply be raised as a new minion.
"Nobody has to die any more," she thought. "Nobody needs to worry about being hurt. Injured flesh can merely be replaced with superior clockwork. With time, anyone who gave up their flesh could join them, and be free of pain and misery. They could live on with immortality, if they gave up their frail and weak bodies to join the Zengre."