Bury the hatchet

Flashes of black and white still danced in his eyes at the remembrance of the bright, hot light that had engulfed the research facility on Virmire's surface. As his vision cleared Saren turned his gaze toward one of Sovereign's portholes. A deep, dark scar now marred the planet's beautiful perfection and he knew that, where the labs once stood, only ashes and molten metal remained. His research, all the information he had gathered on the Reaper's indoctrination had been destroyed. Loss filled him, even more strong than the rage he felt towards Shepard. It was not the pain of mourning, he was experiencing: he had lost several valid helpers, but others would be ready to occupy the empty places, others who shared his thirst for power, others he could use to achieve his goals.

No, it was not this that anguished him so.

He felt as though a part of him had been consumed by the explosion; he had not suffered any physical damage since he had been already on his ship when the destruction began, but something had been burned away by the fires that still raged below him.

"No more hope for you," a cold, tiny voice whispered into his ear, "how can you resist the Sovereign's influence without your precious data?"

Saren cradled his head between his hands as the veil of unshed tears blurred his vision.

"Naughty, naughty Saren," the unknown voice said, mockingly, "don't you know that Turians do not cry? Your father would be very disappointed...oh wait, he already is." Mad laughter filled his ears.

"Shut up!" He mouthed silently, trying to silence those whispers- his conscience.

He fell to his knees as the laughter increased, until it seemed that his brain would explode. The voices were right. The Sovereign's control over his actions had become more and more pressing and he was aware that the barriers he had managed to erect were thin and unstable. How much until he collapsed under the pressure? Days, maybe weeks if he was lucky. In the beginning he had convinced himself that he could resist her and turn the Reaper's presence to his advantage, but one by one all his plans had fallen apart, leaving him exposed to her desires like a leaf at the mercy of the wind.

It was all Shepard's fault. Not for the first time he wondered what would have changed if she had died on Eden Prime.

"Oh, so easy to lay the results of your doings at another's feet. You're the only one there is to blame. The only one."

"No!" With he taloned hands he clawed at his cheeks, leaving bloodied paths behind. Pain cleared his thoughts, banishing the voices, "she is. I should have killed her!"

"What held you hand, then?"

He hated Shepard but, at the same time, he had to admit that he admired her. He envied the way her team watched her with respect and even affection. The only emotion that his comrades showed, when their eyes met his own, was fear.

"Wasn't that what you wanted, Saren? "

Still on the floor, he shook his head.

"I wanted power. I wanted greatness," his voice was hoarse and tired. He felt the urgent desire to lie down and rest and he prayed that sleep would showed him a way to bury the hatchet of war that he had so ingenuously unearthed.

"It's too late for that. Now that you have the power you wanted, you must pay the price for it."

Before sleep claimed his exhausted spirit, one last image drifted through his mind,

He saw Shepard's face, her outstretched hand. "We can battle this together," she had said. If only he had not dismissed her offer so lightly. If only...

Secluded into her quarters, Kyla Shepard stared glumly at her half full glass. First Liara, then Ashley had taken turns outside her door, trying to draw her out of the isolation, until she had yelled to them to go bother someone else.

She knew that she was being rude and that they were only worried about her, but she really needed to be alone.

"Well" she thought, chuckling dryly, "I ain't really alone since Mr Whisky is keeping me such a good company." She lifted the bottle again, refilling the glass. Her hand shook, and a good half of the ambrose liquid finished on the floor.

"Damn," she rose unsteadily, searching for something to dry up. The room swayed around her, and she had to lean on the nearby desk. Her legs gave way and she fell on the metal floor with a loud thud.

"Ow," Kyla gingerly rubbed her bruised back, "I'm totally drunk."

Usually she did not drink that much, in fact she barely drank at all, but she had thought that the whisky would ease the pain that gripped her chest. She did not even remember that the bottle was among her belongings. She'd found it while tidying up her cabin.

Kyla frowned in confusion.

"Why was I doing that in the first place?" She was a tidy person, but she did not value cleanliness the way her gunnery chief did. Then memory hit her. She'd tried to keep herself busy so she would not think about Alenko's death.

"Oh Kaidan," she whispered, her voice thick with remorse, "I didn't want to leave you behind. Forgive me."

It was such a stupid thing to ask forgiveness since he could no longer hear her; he could not, could he? Probably, wherever he was now, he did not even care. It felt good though, voicing her sadness. She had thought that alcohol would help her forget her suffering.

"I've been an idiot."

She rose and grasping the bottle, she emptied it on the pavement, then smashed the container against the table. Shards of glass scattered everywhere, some cutting her hands, making her bleed. Her heart was shattered the same way, but she did not know if she could gather up its pieces ever again. She had loved Kaidan. Like a brother.

She heard footsteps approaching rapidly, then someone began to knock violently on the door, shouting her name.

If only she had been faster. If only...

"We cannot hold much longer, Lieutenant!" The Salarian was forced to shout so that the human could hear him over the sounds of battle.

"I know," he shouted back, "but we must give them the time to get away from here!"

He pressed himself against the thin protection of a metal wall, as more bullets rained on their hiding place. He knew that they would not be able to reach the Normandy; he'd known the moment he had volunteered for the mission. Suddenly his former ship obscured the sky above them and the piercing sound of her engines filled the air.

"They've made it!" Some of the Salarian commandos raised their weapons in triumph. His heart jumped too. "She's safe," he thought. Relief washed over him and he sagged wearily against the wall. It did not matter that he would fall. Death had never scared him.

He hefted his gun as he swept his gaze over the battlefield. Few Salarian still stood and a large part of them were badly wounded, but a fierce gleam still shone in their eyes. They would not go down easily.

"We'll bring them with us!" he bellowed, gesturing with the gun in the direction from which the Geth were approaching, "charge!"

He left his position and run toward the enemies, trying to shoot as much of them as possible. Something hit his right leg, and he faltered, but didn't slow. Another shot hit him squarely in his chest. This time he fell on his knees and his rifle clattered on the ground. It seemed to him that a gigantic hand was squeezing the air out of him and he coughed, fighting to gulp down some air. His lungs did not work properly though, and the salty taste of blood filled his mouth. Time froze, then the air turned white and hot. There was no pain as his body was engulfed by light and consumed by it. There, in that white void that hung behind the horizon, there was just time for one last thought.

"I love you Kyla."

If only he had found the courage to open his heart to her. If only...