Neda epilog: Aftermath of war

It was late as the shuttle landed on the frozen ground of Nishah. The moonless sky was still bright enough to see the now-vacant house that once belonged to her parents and, later, to her and her sisters. The roof had seen better days and the large garden around the back had overgrown since her sister left the Empire after being accused of being a Sani Sabik. A small Achuran woman stepped out of the shuttle and stood there beside her, looking at the sad sight. She took her hand giving it a small squeeze.

“Come, let us get inside. It’s too cold out here.”

Both of them followed the overgrown pathway towards the main front door. She questioned herself again, for the hundredth time since leaving the Gala earlier. Was it a mistake to leave Neda? Was that old fart right, was it wrong of her to socialise, to try to regain her focus, to see her fiancée for the first time in months?

Another squeeze to her hand followed, washing the uncertainty away for a moment. Her companion looked at her, worried, and she realised with a flush of guilt that she had been crying.

“I’m… I’m okay, but it seems the power is gone… There should be a reactor somewhere in the workshop out behind the garden. I’ll go restart it…”

She started to leave, to get away, to do something but another tug of her arm made her turn again. Flashes of rage and anger at someone having the audacity to be right returned but were doused as soon as she saw the face of the women besides her. Her expression was scared and concerned but her voice still calm enough to dampen the anger she felt.

“C-can I hug you? You look like you need one.”

But before she could even respond to it, the smaller women hugged her tight and looked up at her, her face still worried.

“L-let me handle it, you go inside and sit down and rest a little. I’ll be back in just a bit.”

And with that, she was alone again. She walked into the house after having unlocked the front door, the inside looked very much the same as before but the motes of dust swirling in the faint beams of starlight betrayed how long the place had stood empty. Pictures and other mementoes of days long past filled the living room. Clothing was scattered on the stairs, abandoned by a fleeing mother and her children. Cleaning drones were lying defeated by the lack of power in their battle against the innumerable armies of dust. She walked over to a shelf near the large window looking out to the garden and picked up an old framed picture of women with a smile so bright that it almost outshone the glittering uniform of an Imperial Admiral that she wore. She looked at it for a while, thinking of a better time, a simpler one, but it was in the past now. She wasn’t the young woman in the picture anymore, free from worries and doubts about the Empire and her faith.

She opened the glass door and walked out onto the porch. It has seen better days too and some of the wooden planks groaned as she walked over to the railing to look out over the sea. The stars shone brightly on the cloudless night sky. She sighed this was once her favourite place, the stars and sea always helped to clear her head, to think. She thought back to landing on Khanid prime, to how simple things were supposed to have gone. Get captured, expose the corruption and get back home. But everything was more complex than anyone could have imagined. While she had been fighting her Aunt, the real mastermind pulled the strings, making them sabotage each other, and now worst of all, now Neda was on fire and both of her aunts were dead or missing. She moved a hand over her belly. She thought back to the argument she had with her sister before leaving, and how much it pained her to agree with her, a pregnant woman had no place on a battlefield. Besides, being here instead of Homroon gave her the advantage of not being watched. From here she could do her work without the rest of the Sorn family looking at her like she was the black sheep of the family.

The house lights flickered on and soon after a few lights sputtered to life in the garden as well. She stood there still looking up at the stars, one hand still on her belly.

“We will figure this out, won’t we, my Little Light.”


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