Han’Gerrel visited the memorial more often than he’d readily admit to anyone. He’d taken to going early in the morning, before anyone but the geth was around to see him - just a brisk walk to stretch his aching legs before the heat of the day set in. He was still limping even now, months after the injuries he’d sustained fighting the Reapers had been healed.
The memorial, a great sweeping silver thing that echoed the ancient architecture preserved on Rannoch, had been placed near the place where the Qwib-Qwib had gone down - terribly close to where Zaal’Koris had died. The admiral’s name was the most prominent, engraved in full near the top: Admiral Zaal’Koris vas Qwib-Qwib. Han’s lips twitched in spite of himself. Many of the war’s casualties had been posthumously granted the name vas Rannoch as a sign of respect, but Zaal wouldn’t have wanted it. There was even talk of naming a settlement after his ship. How many times had Han needled the man about that name? And now it was being passed on to another generation of unlucky quarians - probably geth too. Zaal would have appreciated that.
Zaal’Koris had been a thorn in Han’s side for years, but with him gone… something was missing, a void that wouldn’t be filled. They’d replaced him on the Admiralty Board, of course, once the quarians got their feet back under them after the war, but the woman who’d taken over civilian governance had none of his spark. Everyone was disgustingly civil these days; there was no one who’d give him a good fight the way Zaal had. Or maybe it was him, Han thought, maybe he was getting old.
Maybe he’d retire one of these days, make a life on Rannoch, try to make amends with Tali and Shala - they were the closest thing to family he had left, after all. “Tali’Zorah forgave you willingly enough, didn’t she?” Han found himself musing aloud. “Though I suppose you weren’t the one who nearly got her killed.” He chuckled, bitter. The things he would’ve given to destroy the geth back then--
But here they were. Living on Rannoch, rebuilding a civilization, coexisting with the geth. It still made him jump to see those things walking down the street, and he knew he wasn’t the only one. More than one quarian soldier had drawn weapons on the synthetics out of sheer reflex. It was fortunate that the geth weren’t as easily startled. Han still couldn’t quite believe that the treaty was still working, that it had been over a year since blood was shed. Peace was difficult to stomach after three hundred years of hostility.
“You bosh’tet,” he muttered. “This is everything you wanted, do you realize that? You didn’t even stick around to gloat about it, and now I’m the one who has to deal with this mess.”
Mess, indeed. Han glanced away from the memorial, out over the stunning vista behind it. The colors of sunrise still streaked the sky, casting dramatic shadows over Rannoch’s mesas and canyons. Out this direction, there were no settlements yet, but he could see the gleam of some ancient structure in the distance, and he caught a glimpse of movement along a distant river bank as geth went about their business. Back in the city, most of the quarian settlers would still be sleeping, families housed safely in homes they’d helped build with their own hands. Children, breathing easily in the new cleanrooms, growing stronger by the day thanks to geth technology.
“And you said Rannoch was a lost cause,” Han said. He had that much over Zaal, at least, regardless of his other failures. “Look at it now. Look at what we’ve made of it.” He faltered, and glared up at the sky. “Keelah, I hope you can see this.”
His voice shook a little and Han frowned, turning away. It was getting late anyway. Nearly time to check the morning reports, respond to messages, coordinate ship movements and patrols in the Perseus Veil. He ignored the tightness of his throat as he always ignored the dampness in his eyes. Something about the brisk morning breeze up here always seemed to set off his allergies.
Han nodded a curt farewell as he always did, as if Zaal himself was standing there instead of the hunk of metal that served as a reminder of his absence. Then the admiral turned and limped away, back towards home.