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Memories etched in light

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"Shepard."

Her tone was even, her voice collected and calm, the culmination of a millennium of meditative effort. The air ebbed and flowed, shifted with tides of biotic resonance. It was a dance, gentle and condensed. It usually reminded him of atomic orbitals, felt like answers when it washed over him. Lately, it was disturbed.

Not a surprise.

"If you are here to ask how I am feeling," she preempted and the light faded from around her limbs, twinkled out and fizzled against the floor, dropped away from the air. Similarly, her hands dropped away from her knees, broke her lotus position and lighted on her folded ankles. "It is unnecessary."

She was watching the window, the motionless stars in the distance, fixed and shining. They were an echo of the universe as it was, a distant memory etched in light. Her eyes reflected in the glass, but her gaze was unfixed, unseeing.

The doors hissed closed behind him. The sound of his boots on the floor eclipsed everything else, cut the silence like gunshots, but an apology would crack across the air like broken glass, rip through the stillness and violate the space itself. He didn't bother, just took a seat on the ground next to the Asari.

"My focus is available for the mission at hand, have no concerns," Samara added, though her eyes did not shift to him. They were open, clear in a way he didn't quite recognize. He'd often wondered if she was just Asari, or if some race had eyes with her sort of clarity, with Morinth's. He'd probably never ask.

"Morinth's fate..." she continued and, somewhere, in the depths of her ancient voice, her almost immortal tone, there was a hollowness. "Was...unavoidable."

He looked away from her, out at the stars, and tried to remember how they'd looked yesterday, half a galaxy away. There was something inherently beautiful in the sheer distance. Somewhere in it, his places, people, things long forgotten with problems and legacies written only in silence. This was the picture of that quiet place, the oldest memories of the galaxy before they faded into true, unending oblivion.

In half a billion years, someone might be looking back, remembering them as they were.

The hum, the embrace of biotics had faded from the air. It left a vacuum, made the room feel tighter, smaller, less luminous. There was so little between them and space, between them and eternity. It was a monolith and it was difficult to keep from embracing it.

"I do not lament it," Samara continued and filled the silence up. She didn't sound old here, in the presence of the endless ages themselves, the weight of her voice was warbling and small. Anything he might have added would have been the flash of childhood, hollow and offensive to the infinite procession of time.

Instead, he moved his hand from his side and carefully laced it with hers. She was cool, organic, and soft to the touch. Her fingers didn't shift as he slid his between them, her palm didn't flex as he closed his hand and squeezed.

When her eyes closed, when her breath caught and the first tears rolled off her cheeks, he was watching the stars.

Maybe somewhere out there, eventually, someone would see Morinth as she was.