Sometimes, years later, Nihlus would lie awake in his cot and stare into the gloom and think: damn, I could’ve saved her.

The room is false. All of it. The walls are a sterile white, easy to keep clean, just throw on some bleach every time. And varnished with some kind of plastic, so the vomit doesn’t stain. The smell of it hangs in the air, though; any krogan or trained soldier would be able to smell it. Not the natural vomit you heave up after being punched in the guts by the squad’s best hand-to-hand specialist. The long-suffering, sour, sticky-hot kind. The kind brought on by slow and methodical pain.

The tawny-skinned girl turns. She’s wearing a sickly green robe; her long, ragged hair done up in green ribbons. She has black eyes. Or just very dark. The light is too dim even for his eyes. He glances at Saren, who tilts his chin to indicate that he should examine the girl, then goes straight ahead and circles behind her, perhaps to look at the wall panel. There isn’t much space. Saren’s spur brushes her arm as he steps past her stained cot. She doesn’t even flinch. An unfathomable expression stirs on her childish features. Spirits. She’s about twelve.

Then she drops her robe. She’s naked underneath. Skin patched to artificial smoothness. Tell-tale needle marks. She stretches her bony arms, grasping for his waist. He takes a step back. She keeps stumbling forward, bare feet rubbed raw on the concrete floor. “Please,” she whispers. Nihlus laughs. Hollow. So hollow. She’s begging to be filled. He’s too horrified to be nauseated.

“Saren…” He whispers. “Saren, she’s…”

“She’s chipped.” Saren’s touching the back of her neck, touching something he can’t see. Not bothered at all, it seems. Oh Spirits. Oh Spirits. And then he suddenly has a gun to her head, and she doesn’t notice, and her pitch black eyes are fixated on Nihlus, without desire, without lust, but without innocence.

Saren shoots.

“Nineteen to go. Come.”

He can’t move. A bleeding little body on a concrete floor. He can’t even move.

Or maybe–

I should’ve shot her first–

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