Virmire

BY MISFIRE ANON

He stoops, picks up a stone, and flips it nervously between his talons. The stone is oval and a curious shade of blue-grey. He thinks that if he were to wet it with water from the ocean, it would perhaps turn a different colour. Darker. The waves lap at his feet. He is too anxious to try.

Saren Arterius does not like to speak, not with words. That would be Nihlus, who could convince a krogan into believing he was a hanar and a hanar into a krogan. He prefers action. But it would be rude indeed to ignore the Matriarch that stood not three paces before him, and she expects words. Sovereign breathes down his back. Almost literally, since the ship hovers above them, nestled in the stratosphere. His spine tingles. Another watches from behind his cybernetic eyes.

WILL YOU FAIL?

“Will you depart, Benezia?” With Sovereign’s urging, it is almost easy. His tongue is dry. The sand is not. Another calming wave approaches.

And she turns and looks at him—she had been gazing into the distance this entire time—and he sees something in her eyes. A glimpse of eternity, perhaps. Is that what they say? Nihlus would know how to describe it. She is so much older than he. His heart tumbles into the ocean and struggles to surface.

A damned eternity. The tingles grow stronger. Sovereign waits impatiently. Every second must seem like an eternity to the Reaper; every eternity, every asari lifetime—a second. And how much smaller that division for a turian lifetime? How much smaller still, that piece of forever inside Benezia’s eyes? His talons are pressed tightly against the stone. And if it were to become his?

He closes his eyes and opens them. A blink in painfully slow motion; the darkness remains, for a while, for too long. But how can it, when his eyes are electronic, surpassing the pitiful limitations of flesh and blood? He breathes when Benezia’s image reappears. How can it be? Oh, to be a wholly synthetic life form. To shatter this last barrier.

The stone in his hand is the same colour as her eyes, and his universe collapses towards it. Its mass surpasses that of any sun, that of the sum of all suns, all planets, all glittering nebulae. A tiny relay in his palm, to send a signal into the unknown places of the galaxy, calling for aid. Why? He breathes again. His heart drowns.

“I am not leaving.” You.

He wakes up, heart back where it belongs. Under his feet the sand is warm. It always is, on the beaches of Virmire.

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