Title: Day's End

Rating: PG.

Status: Complete.

Season: Way off future.

Warnings: Main character death.

Summary: "It's finally happening. The end game is here, the pigs are flying high with the birds, and Beka D. Valentine is dying."

Disclaimer: I don't own Andromeda. If I did I'd own Harper as well. And then contemplate doing naughty things to him. :)

Author's notes: I haven't stolen this plot from Stargate! Can you believe it? It's actually original! Har har!

I don't know where this idea came from really. I just started writing it one day. Any mistakes are purely my fault and prove why I shouldn't be an edit. Also, I began this before the finale,so things are a little different.Thanks to Echo of course. Everyone else ENJOY!

…Day's End…

I anticipated this day coming. It's one of those things that's truly inevitable. But no matter the amount of foreknowledge or mental preparation, I can't believe the time is finally here. The simple idea of it is incomprehensible. I keep trying to rationalize it in my mind but my stubborn brain refuses to believe it.

Why today? But then again… when? Is today worse than two weeks from now? A month? Hell, a year? What's one more year of life in the grand scheme of the cosmos? What's a life? A millisecond of a spark and then… nothing. Dust to dust, ashes to ashes, and all that jazz.

And now today, it's happening. The end game is here, the pigs are flying high with the birds, Lucifer's shaking in his thermal-lined parka, and Beka D. Valentine is dying.

After so many years of running from death and ruin, loan sharks and intergalactic bad guys, it's almost over. All because of simple bodily frailty. The average human lifespan is now ninety years, discounting of course death by your ship being blasted into oblivion or eaten by a Parvanu space slug. Beka, not to be outdone, will do that statistic three better. When she finally leaves this universe, she'll be 93 years-old.

I know I'm not that far behind. I'm only ten years her junior, but some nights I can almost feel Death's clammy hand clutching my shoulder. I'm generally surprised I've made it this long. My immune system has always been crap and old age hasn't helped. I've managed to say healthy though, taking my vitamins and fiber and all the other junk the elderly are supposed to consume in order to stay alive and kicking.

I glance over at my bedridden friend and smile forlornly. She's unconscious now. Probably won't wake up before it's over. The doctor who stopped by a week ago said that I could take her to a nearby hospital and try to prolong her life.

I'd declined.

Beka Valentine wouldn't want to spend her last days on some overly sterile white lump of a mattress. She'd want to be at home, on her bunk aboard the Eureka Maru. That is where she'd want to take her final breath, and come hell or high-water, I'll guarantee at least that for her. It's the least I could do, after everything we've been though.

I'd sent out messages to anyone who might like to know she was dying. I know Beka wouldn't want me to make a big deal out of this. There wouldn't be a real funeral or a wake, but she deserved to be remembered, even if it was only by a few close friends. There were many who couldn't be here. Some of most important people in her life were already gone.

Her Uncle Sid, the bastard who in his own way had always seemed to care for her, had died long ago. He had left Beka a lump sum of money that she'd ended up donating to an agency on Sela that dealt with flash addicted teenagers. She'd shrugged off her act of charity off as a necessity. "What do I need it for anyway?" she'd said. "I have enough stored up from our last few hauls to last us a couple of years at least."

Her bother Rafe had ended up pissing off the wrong people about twenty years ago and got himself whacked. Beka had taken it all in stride after hearing the news. She had loved Rafe, but their relationship as adults had always been strained. She mourned, but always in private, never talking about the incident to anyone, myself included.

Some of the worst loses suffered by both of us probably came nearly fifty years ago during the Commonwealth Wars. After escaping from the Seefra system, Dylan used what little time we had left to once again resurrect the Commonwealth. The Magog and the Abyss had already destroyed a dozen worlds during our unexpected jaunt in Seefra and the galaxies once again found hope in Dylan. In a few short months he managed to join hundreds of planets and races under the tattered banner of the High Guard. He even successfully created a treaty with the Nietzscheans, most of which had already been decimated by the overwhelming Magog hordes. The few remaining prides were eager for blood.

In the final battle, above the decimated world of Tynna Prime, many of our friends lost their lives.

While Beka, Trance, and I had been on the Maru, Doyle, Rhade, and the newly reconstructed Rommie had been in the slip fighters picking off the last contingent of enemy ships. Over half of the Commonwealth fleet had been cut off from this fight and were trying desperately to rendezvous with us.

Doyle was the first personal casualty in that war. As good a fighter pilot as she was, her craft hadn't been able to escape the three Magog swarm ships on her tail. Try as we did to help, we were also swamped with enemy vessels. We could only watch as she and her ship were destroyed, a bright fireball amongst the darkness of space. My biggest regret after her death was never getting to show her the galaxy. She spent her entire life in Seefra, never knowing what else the universe could offer. It was such a shame, and such a waste.

As our small fleet was pounded and the Andromeda began taking PSW hit after PSW hit from the World Ship, we thought it was over. The rest of the fleet hadn't arrived and time was running out.

That was when Trance had stood up from her console on the Maru and simply told us, "The Abyss has to be stopped. I'm the only one who can do it."

She smiled at us, but said nothing else, even as Beka and I opened our mouths in protest. She was just gone, vanishing from where she'd stood not two seconds before. Three minutes later the enemy base on Tynna Prime was gone, disintegrated in a sphere of fire so bright that I had had to shield my eyes. I knew the Abyss was destroyed. I don't know how, but I could sense it. Trance had succeeded but sacrificed her own life in doing so.

Sometimes, just sometimes, I get the feeling that she's not really gone. It's just during certain moments of peace, right before I sleep or when I'm thinking of a good memory, I can almost sense her standing behind me smiling brightly and beautifully. She was my enigma to the end.

The last sacrifice to come that day was Dylan's. The Andromeda was failing, her systems nearly fried and her hull had more gaps in it than a piece of Swiss cheese in a blender. We knew the other half of the fleet was coming, but all would be lost if we couldn't disable their point singularity weapon. I had come up with a modified electromagnetic pulse bomb that would cripple their shield and give us a window of opportunity in which we could finally destroy the World Ship. Our only dilemma was that the hit had to be precisely over the shield generator, conveniently located below the PSW. We couldn't even get close enough for a direct hit without being targeted ourselves.

Dylan knew we were lost if the weapon couldn't be disabled. And lacking the rest of the fleet and with Andromeda in such a weakened state, it would be impossible to take the World Ship. Even if the rest of the ships arrived, the death tolls to the Commonwealth would have been catastrophic.

Moments before the comm channel was opened to the Maru, I knew. Even as he thanked us for all our years of friendship and told us the Commonwealth would need us after the war was over, I knew. Neither of us pleaded with him to reconsider. We understood in our hearts that, like Trance, nothing would have changed Dylan's mind in that moment. He was willing to sacrifice his own life for the Commonwealth. The perfect solider. The perfect friend. The perfect hero. That was Dylan Hunt, even at the end.

We watched in muted grief, my hand resting on Beka's shoulder, as the Andromeda Ascendant plunged into the World Ship like a blazing dagger to the very heart of our enemy.

Neither one of us cried that day, just did what needed to be done next. The PSW was gone and the generator lay in the open, the shield it created too thin over the actual weapon to withhold our attacks. Bekatook no time in taking it out. My electropulse fried the systems and the massive Magog infested ship, for the first time since its creation, was vulnerable.

And wouldn't you know it, the rest of the fleet arrived in that moment to help us take it down.

What we did that day would become the stuff of legends. Dylan's sacrifice would be forever dictated in text as one of the most extraordinary shows of courage to ever grace the known universe. Beka, Rhade, Rommie and I were dubbed heroes, whatever exactly the hell that meant. We were just like everyone else, trying to survive in this big, scary thing we call "Life". The Abyss and his fury minions had just been standing in our way. The options at that moment had been pretty much nil. Fight or flight. We chose to stand… and just happened to kick a little ass.

Until now. There won't be any more ass kicking for Beka. Her fight is finally over and all I can do is sit and watch her fade. Death is a damn disconcerting process.

I won't be alone for much longer I imagine. I'd gotten reply messages from both Rom and Rhade earlier today. Rommie was teaching at the High Guard Academy on Tarazed and Rhade was retired from the field, leisurely spending his time with his dozens upon dozens of grandbrats and great-grand brats. Both said they'd be here as soon as possible. It would be nice to see them again. It had been several years since Beka or I had visited Tarazed, though we all kept in frequent contact.

If I'm totally honest with myself, it will be a relief to have them here. I don't know how I'm going to react when this is finally over. I mean, I think I'll be okay. I know Beka is 93. She's had a good, healthy life before these last few weeks. We all have to go some time. I've lost a lot of people I loved over the years but this… this is Beka. My savior, my sister, my business partner, and my best friend rolled into one brazen package. A guy couldn't ask for anything more.

I sit down next to her on her bunk and play idly with the overly large bracelet she's still wearing. Beka had written a will a couple years ago. The Maru would be mine, at least until I was gone too. Then it was going to Jara, Charley's daughter.

Beka met Charley after the Wars. They were together about eighteen years before Charley died. They were never officially married or had any children, but they'd been happy. Jara was Charley's from another relationship. Sweet kid. She'd been five or six when Beka came into her life. Over the years she become a surrogate mother to the girl and they remained very close, even after Charley's passing.

I tried contacting her, but Jara, like Beka in her heyday, is a hard one to track down. Eventually she'd get the message and come. Perhaps not before Beka was gone, but I would be able to give her the few personal items Beka wanted her to have anyway.

I notice a few stray strands of hair on my friend's pillow and push them gently back into place. Beka had never been too concerned with conforming to fashion, but she'd always been vain about her hair. Mine went totally gray a few years ago, but thanks to the wonders of nanobots, Beka's still had a tint of blonde mixed into her silver mane. I'd considered getting some 'bots of my own, but Beka told me I shouldn't. She said my gray finally made me look like I'd hit puberty.

I can't explain it, but that memory of us together makes me suddenly lose it. This is the first time since I found out she was dying that I've shed any tears. It's been painful and hard, but I haven't cried. Until now. And it's just a stupid memory of her teasing me that did it.

I wipe my hand across my cheeks, catching the falling streaks of water and rubbing them away. I try to calm myself but it only causes my feelings to intensify. My chest tightens and I realize I'm sobbing. I don't want this. I don't want her to go. I'm not ready for her to leave me. I need more time. I don't want to be alone. Why is this happening now? Beka can't go yet.

For a few moments I'm lost in my grief. Her bunk is large and I lie next to her, careful not to jar her. Her chest moves up and down slowly, erratically. She isn't making much noise but I know her breathing is labored. There's an oxygen mask over her mouth easing her lungs and an IV drip with painkillers attached to her other arm.

I take a slow, deep breath. My misery, for the time, has subsided. It's now just a waiting game until the end. Even though she probably can't hear me, there are things I do need to say.

I tell her how much she means to me. That she's the closest thing I have to family. I admit too that I know I sound mushy, but she should bear with me. I tell her she saved me from a meaningless life on Earth. She allowed me opportunities I would have never had. She trusted me, no matter how crazy the plan.

She taught me that coffee was worth its weight in gold and that hot water falling from a faucet was not, in fact, the work of the devil. She showed me a real home, no matter if it was a flying one. She trained me never to walk in on a woman changing. She gave me hope, and laugher, and tears, and adventure. She let me make bad jokes, hone my mechanical skills on her "baby", and cry on her shoulder when I needed it. She changed my life.

Lastly, and most importantly, I tell her I love her. I know she already knows this, but it probably doesn't hurt to reiterate it once more for old times' sake.

I stop talking then, because I don't think I can find any more words. There are too many memories and too many thanks a lots possible.

Instead I simply take Beka's hand in mine and hold on, wishing she and I could last forever, but knowing deep down that some things, no matter how much we want them, cannot last.

Dust to dust.

Ashes to ashes.

And all that jazz.


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