I imagined the smell of burning electronics as the ground hissed. The sound cut through the wind.
How many planets had I done this on? Seven? I counted on my fingers. Before Maura, it was…
Images bled into my mind, but none of them were right. Isolate. Remove. Identify. Fractured memories of centuries.
I could see the white and gold structures of the capitol. Giant arching edifices, like the petals of a flower. Open courtyards. Soft music carrying over the air.
“You’re willing to give it all up, just like that?”
She was beside me, but we were leagues apart. I reached out for her. It was the last time I’d feel the soft touch of her skin.
“It’s my duty.”
“You’ve done your duty. You’re a senator. Stay with me.”
“I’m not cut out for the quiet life. I’m going to serve.”
“How many more decades?”
It would be forever, and I knew it.
I had outlived my master. I am a tool, just as ancient and old as the graves we’re robbing now. Ancient and old as whatever’s here.
Yes. It is my memory, but not right now. Isolate.
Something churned in the darkness. Something malicious. Fear, atavistic dread. Something I’d let in, but not mine.
Each step down the shaft led me closer to the machine, but the gears weren’t turning. The cooling pipes were cold.
I was an idiot for saying anything; now they’d know I was here. If they existed. A child alone in the dark.
But the voice is wrong. It’s not my memory. Something slithers in the darkness, but it’s no business of mine.
I’m still getting used to this body. It’s a fresh memory, and mine.
“… join the expedition… Maura… identify…”
Hopelessly fractured. If I were my memories, this would bother me. But I knew that I was not mere memory.
The marker burned on the horizon. Nothing else to do but carry on.