Darkest Hour – Chapter 2

They say we are the lucky ones, we who survived the first cataclysms. To live a life alone amid so much loss is to die a hundred thousand deaths. Those who perished in the beginning and did not know this suffering, they are the lucky ones.

– from The Cycle of Rebirth, Chapter 1, Verse 8

Chapter 2

Three days ago Leah and I had dinner with Rachel and Elani across the hall. Rachel was a biochemist working for the University of Pennsylvania. She was an amazing cook, blending local custom with off-world traditions in ways I couldn’t begin to understand. We had prime cuts of sirloin marinated with butter and Seguthi sauce from Thessia, Elani’s home world. I could still taste it if I allowed myself.

We found them in the bedroom, Rachel’s hand still grasping Elani’s. Ebony skin intertwined with light blue, coated in dark blood. They’d put up a fight but it was clear they’d been overwhelmed. Several husks lay around the bed, and I could feel the latent residue of eezo in the air. Elani’s biotics weren’t strong by Asari standards and Rachel was only a lab tech. They hadn’t stood a chance.

I finally tore my eyes from the sight when Leah put a hand on my shoulder. A deep sense of loss came over me, not just for losing new friends but that two lives so intertwined would be removed without reason or need. Elani spoke with me just last night about their plans to travel once Rachel had sabbatical. She wanted to take her to Thessia and then to the Citadel. I reached for Leah’s hand, reflexively, but she moved away.

“Come on,” Leah said and we left the room. On the way to the door I found an image recording of the two of them in John Kennedy Park, standing in front of some old piece of art that simply said “Love.” The simple cliché of the image made me smile and I tucked it away into my belt. If there was ever a memorial here in Philadelphia, I’d make sure it was added. Continue reading