Sara Ryder: Pathfinder.
This is not what she had signed up for.
In reality, she isn’t entirely certain what it was that drew her to the Initiative to begin with.
Except that’s a lie.
It wasn’t so much about wanting to go, but being unable to stay.
Her mother was gone and her father had all but ruined any chance she and Scott ever had at normal lives or even steady careers. The Ryder name had been irreparably tarnished, and that’s what made saying fuck it and jumping goddamn galaxies so simple.
She never wanted to lead the way, though.
For all his faults, Alec Ryder was a natural leader; most people were easily swayed by his confidence and conviction and he seemed to effortlessly inspire these traits in others.
This role was meant for him, she had to admit.
But she feels nothing over losing him. She was surprised to hear it, and she still can’t wrap her head around his having died to save her life or why, but she doesn’t actually care that he’s gone.
She doesn’t care enough to question what that might say about her, either. She doesn’t have time.
Because she’s Pathfinder now. And she also had to die—albeit temporarily—to make this happen.
And there is no turning back.
Cora’s lucky she isn’t mourning, though. Someone in Sara’s shoes whose father had ever bothered to be a real dad might not take her obvious offense at not being chosen to succeed Alec with such aplomb.
Sara doesn’t want this any more than Cora wants her to have it.
But there is no turning back.
She has no idea how Scott is going to feel, and she doesn’t look forward to having to tell him (fuck, she hopes she’ll eventually be forced to tell him).
It’ll be justified, though, whatever it is. She’ll be there for him, she’ll listen. Even if she can’t relate to his response, she’ll do her best to understand. She will owe him that much.
She will owe that to Scott and only Scott.
The role of Pathfinder was meant for Alec, and she fears how well she can do when she has always seemingly been the only person ever to have immunity to his charisma and influence. Scott got some of it, but she could never be swayed. For a long time she wanted it, wanted to be the kind of person made better for having been under his wing. She longed to understand why people like Cora could feel the way they did under his leadership. But she never had, and never will. She supposes she simply knew better, grew up too close to the bullshit to see what so many others could.
No, Sara didn’t have an inspirational figure. She had only an absent father who didn’t give a damn about the consequences of his actions and how they would hurt his family.
Cora could fucking have him.
But Pathfinder. Sara is the Pathfinder. And if she’s being honest with herself, Cora could have that, too.
There are no golden worlds, after all. How many had just travelled 634 fucking years only to find out they’ve lost everything?
She doesn’t want to have to be the one in charge of this mess. She doesn’t want this responsibility. She isn’t made for it.
But the process is irreversible. Lexi said SAM was now a part of her in ways they don’t truly understand. And she’s already learned her SAM is special as a result. And that means no looking back. What’s done is done and no one can fucking fix it.
There is no turning back.
So she can’t tell anyone. There are people looking to her now, and none of them want to hear how scared she is to take the job. None of them want to hear how much she hates being compared to her father. None of them can take learning they no longer have a real leader.
And she’s panicking. Oh god, she’s panicking. She’s not allowed to do that anymore. Fuck.
“Hey, Ryder,” Liam reminds her she isn’t alone. He must have heard her, having been asleep on the floor beside her in SAM node since their return to the Hyperion. He hasn’t left her side the whole time, his presence so consistent it had become easy not to even notice it.
“Please don’t call me that,” she replies hastily. “Why does everyone keep trying to call me that?”
“We went from a Pathfinder Ryder to a Pathfinder Ryder,” he answers nonchalantly. “Still sounds natural, I guess.”
“Please,” she sighs, “Sara.”
“Alright, Sara,” he switches easily enough.
She almost laughs. She spent a long time trying to call herself Sara Harlow, even though it always made Scott uncomfortable for reasons he could never figure out. Unfortunately even before Alec’s dishonorable discharge, everyone knew who her father was and she couldn’t get anyone to refer to her by her mother’s maiden name even informally. And after the discharge, well…
“Thank you,” she says quietly. She is grateful he doesn’t ask her to explain.
All she wants is to curl up in a soft blanket with a Blasto marathon. Maybe a stuffed animal or two. That sounds nice.
And she can still fucking hear Alec’s voice telling her to grow up at just the thought.
Alas, she already knows no one’s going to call her Harlow here, either.
“How are you holding up?” Liam asks. He means well. And even in the short time they’ve known each other, all they have already been through together seems to have forged a strong bond.
“Not sure yet,” she admits.
“This has all been…a lot, yeah?” Liam responds refreshingly casually. Like she’s actually a person, not only the new Pathfinder. “What a mess to jump into.”
“Literally,” she laughs. “Got to say, though, Kosta, it was nice to have you there to jump down with.”
“Back at you…Sara.”
It sounds even easier when he uses her first name this time, but he puts a slight stress on it which almost seems to indicate he wants her to know he’s listening.
Neither of them are looking forward to reaching the Nexus. They have to pray they’ll find answers there, that they’ll find survivors.
But apparently not even trekking for over half a millennium across dark space could prepare them for the long journey which lies ahead.