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and then, and then

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One year later
They want Mako to speak at the commemoration. She was there, they say; she visited an alien world for those few brief moments. She powered the Jaeger that become the bomb that saved the Earth. It’s a memorial, too, they say, for Pentecost and Chuck Hansen, for the Kaidanovskys and the Luus.

It’s at the Shatterdome, they say, and so she goes.

The Shatterdome is empty now. Oh, there are people enough gathered on the ground floor, still gleaming – forever gleaming, now, with no carts or machinery to scuff it – but the walls and bays are bare, like an abandoned ant hill. No workers. No Jaegers. It’s cavernous, where it was only big before. It still holds that damp concrete smell they could never eradicate, but of the overpowering odor of grease and the stray fumes not caught by the scrubbers, only faintest hints remain.

They guide her onto a platform, tiny in this vast space. She ends up next to Raleigh. His knuckles bump hers, and he sneaks her a smile. She carries it with her to the podium, and she opens her mouth and tells the world about her parents, and about the Jaeger program, and about Stacker.

Two years later
There is another ceremony, somewhere. Mako comes here. The Shatterdome is locked tight, but the guard knows her face. He lets her in. The only lights are for security now, and they are impossibly far overhead, a constellation of dying stars too distant to shed any real illumination.

She's thought a lot about stars lately – living, not dying. About what it'd take to get there. About how many minds in the same drift it would take to sail the currents of space.

She walks the floor with a flashlight. Her steps echo. The walls jut forward and fall away unexpectedly in the near-dark, but she knows this place like she knows her own body, and she finds her way to the clock. Its numbers have gone dark, too, of course. She stares awhile at the fuzzy shadows cast by her flashlight before she turns back towards the door.

Ten years later
Where the Shatterdome was, a hotel towers out of the ground. It's called the Shatterdome, too. It glints and shines, all chrome, except for the enormous red eye near the top, glowing from behind a stilled turbine. The lobby has displays that tell of Gipsy Danger, her pilots, her heroic demise.

Signs lead her down the broad hallway to a ballroom. Chrome gives way to retro chic. The Shatterdome's clock holds pride of place, its numerals lit again, all ominous zeroes.

It's a Thursday afternoon. The ballroom is nearly empty. There is no one to look twice at Mako or point out that she looks like the girl in the lobby's display. She doesn't really, anymore. She looks more like the woman soon departing for Alpha Centauri, but no one comments on that, either.

And no one remarks at all when she squares herself to the clock and bows.

[end]