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The Great Hall feels imposing and impersonal with only a few of them there; their voices don't even echo, the room being too large to pick up and return the sound back to them. The conversation is muted, anyway, and it occurs to her that the world may as well already be dead, for all that's left in it; they speak quietly because they don't need to shout to be heard, because they're already mourning, because there's nobody else to talk to.

She's very aware she has nothing to add here; she's not that kind of problem solver, and it's not what she was chosen for. Instead, she watches and listens, waiting for something she can do, even if it is just running or packing - not that there's much to pack, since even she didn't think they'd be leaving quite so soon.


With their destination set, the group drifts apart; this is the last moment they'll have of rest, while remote preparations are made on the Starblade and the last few issues are dealt with. The biologist ends up near her, both of them by a window, looking out over the hazy golden sky and the city below. It's nearly dark, there, where it used to glitter day and night. There are fewer ships now, and very little in the way of life.

She thinks she sees the biologist - and for the life of her, she should be able to remember but she is terrible with names - wipe a hand across her face, and this, this is something she can do, so she shuffles close enough to talk without the others hearing.

"I remember when they first called us here," she says. "I thought we were going to fix everything."

The biologist looks up, and then back out of the window. "It feels like that was so long ago."

"It does." She can't really say much else; the way her voice falls flat when she speaks annoys her, and the biologist isn't fully listening anyway. She moves closer though, and she recognises it for what it is; they watch the world stay still until it's time to go, making their last memories the most beautiful ones that they can, and better for not being alone.




It took less time than she thought to make it from the Great Hall to the Starblade; once they made it out of the city proper, out of reach of the raiders, it was a matter of not falling behind. The biologist fell back to run with her, and she felt stronger for it. They were the last to reach the dock, and the chemist looked reproachfully at them before hurrying them to the pods. Everyone was almost businesslike and clinical, and for a moment she wanted to comfort them; they were all losing so much, and choosing it didn't make that any easier. Almost as if triggered the thought of everyone else's loss, she felt breathless and hot, as if the walls were suddenly much closer together, and she was drowning and flying at once. She blinked and focused on her breathing, on experiencing this moment and grounding herself, and by the time she had it under control half the others were in pods and the biologist was watching her, leaning on the edge of her pod. She looked pale and just as shaken as she felt.

She reached out and the biologist took her hand and squeezed. It didn't change much, so she leaned in and kissed her gently; it was not a long kiss, not quite a ghosting of lips, but barely enough to taste, to smell. She pulled away before it could become more, in case it became something she could hold on to and stay for.

"When we get there," she said.

"When we get there," she replied, mustering up a smile that was shaky and yet somehow determined, for all that it wavered and never quite fell.




It doesn't take long for her to change; the biologist braids her hair for her, and she clings to the feel of hands on her scalp, a warm body so close, and wonders how they got so far away from appreciating these small, beautiful things that this had to happen. It doesn't last, either; it's only a few minutes and they have matching braids, matching clothes, and they're lying next to each other, separated only by the walls of their pods.

She settles as best she can and looks to her left; the last thing she sees before her pod closes is a flash of black hair and a quick, fluid red smile. The Liquid Eternity floods her system, water begins to rise around her and the last thing she feels is cold.

The last thing she thinks is I'm not alone, and then she dreams.


She dreams of being free, where there's all the time in the world and no need to take it.

She dreams of being at peace, where there's enough food and water and people can love however they want, in a world that has more room for them than they can reach.

She dreams of a never-ending sky and a never-ending sea, forever in the stars.

She dreams of waking up in someone's arms, and then she does.