The Seraph's Broken Wings
"Is that really how it happened?"
"So that's who you named me after. But . . . why did you name me after . . ."
"Because she would have loved it."
A Spartan-bred girl watched her mother's face carefully, seeing the pain still there. "How did Auntie die?"
"She saved your Uncle John's life. We were fighting the Covenant in the last big battle, right in the front lines to help the Marines keep things in check, and she took a grenade to the chest for him. She survived long enough to tell her husband that she loved him and that she would wait for him up in heaven."
"That's where all the good people go?"
"Yes, little darling, that's where all the good people go."
"Auntie musta been really good."
"Hah. She was as big a troublemaker as they come."
Another Spartan looked in on the two. "Hey, you're still up?" The small girl nodded, and her father picked her up to sit next to his wife. "Your brothers are fast asleep."
"I wanted to know why I have my name."
"And did your Mum tell you?"
"Uh-huh. I would have liked to meet Auntie."
Westin smiled. "Yeah. She would have loved you, kiddo. She was a real gem. A real sweet lady." He set her back in her bed, tucking her in. "Now. You get yourself to sleep before you wake your grouchy grandfathers up."
The Spartan lead his wife back into the hall, closing their daughter's door softly. She smiled at him. "So."
"So. You told her."
"She wanted to know, Wes."
"Aah, I know, I know." His eyes met hers, and he heard the door open again. Turning with a smile, he picked his daughter up. "You, little missy . . ."
"Can I stay with Granpa Rilly?"
Chuckling at the name they had given to her adopted father, Pandora laughed. "Sure. But don't you bug him with questions, you hear? Not about your name or nothing. Okay?"
"That's my girl."
As Westin brought their youngest child down to where the elderly Sangheili resided, she sighed, looking down at her hands before walking out to the balcony. Smiling, she pulled the blanket around her biological father's shoulders tighter. "Dad, you'll catch yourself something if you don't keep yourself warm. You're not young anymore."
"Pan, you stop coddling me . . ."
"Daddy . . ."
"Aaah . . ."
"Come back inside and I'll make you some tea to warm those old bones of yours."
She helped the old man inside, settling him upon a chair to move around the kitchen easily in her forty-seventh year of life. She heard the now-soft voice of her father. "I miss her."
"There are three 'hers' that you can be missing, Da."
"All of them."
Sitting next to John with the tea, she smiled. "I know. I miss them all."
"Aah, Miranda was too young . . ."
"You know that it wasn't your fault."
"Yes, I know that, but . . ."
"You still miss her terribly."
"I do. And your sister."
Pandora pulled her hair back. "Yukae chose her time. I'm honored that Boratamee and Torilian allowed me to call my own daughter after the sister who loved us. And I'm grateful that you allowed me to call her after Miranda, too."
"She would have loved to see your children." He paused. "Nobody will tell me how Willow is."
"Tiring. She says that her time will be soon, and is spending her days with the children."
"And Boratamee's youngest?"
"Still sickly, but otherwise she's doing well."
Pandora sighed, sitting against her father's arm, resting her head upon his shoulder. He raised a large hand to brush through her hair as Phaedra and John Orion walked in. They sat together in silence before Orion whispered, "It's been seven years, Pan."
She nodded, still resting against her father. Seven years since she had lost her sister. But . . . also . . . seven years since her first daughter, who would have been ten, was killed. Her name had been Rosaleen Aidana.
Three boys came into the room. The eldest was eighteen, the younger two boys were twins at fifteen. All of them remembered little Rosie, as she had been known, and stood around their mother. Their five-year-old sister Yukae was a blessing, it was sure, but each would have a special place for their other sister that they had lost.
And for their aunt Yukae. And their adoptive Grannie Mirandy, who always got them to smile and laugh.
Willow came in upon a specially-designed chair that had been partially-derived from what the Prophets once used. It was utilitarian and less ornate, and it did its purpose. The mother sighed. "Where's Yukie?"
"With the old man."
"You let him hear that . . ."
"And he can't do nuthin'. He's slower than I am."
Willow chuckled, and the hovering chair came to rest beside the man who had fathered her children. And they talked long in the night, remembering friends gone and past, alive only in memory. It was a good long talk, with many happy times, many sad times, laughter and tears.
And where their story ended . . . how they lived their lives to their ends . . .
That is for you to decide.
Final Author's Note: Thank you for reading this. I really appreciate it, and I hope that you enjoyed it. I hope that if you have any final questions or comments or speculations, that you'd get in contact with me so that I can answer whatever you'd like to know. Again, my most sincere thanks for reading this story of mine.