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Voices in the Deep

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Cnasius couldn’t focus. His body felt like one giant ache, and his left side burned. He could see them, see it all, but it was blurry and faded. He slips in and out of consciousness, dreams and reality combining before him.

Anlonia, her light green facial markings standing out on her dark carapace, pausing to look back at him, broken and dying on the ground. Her eyes look sad, like they had a few hours before. Her voice reverberates around his skull, echoing like it’s coming from some distance place. I’m tired of living like this, Cnasius. And you want to bring children into it?

Behind her is Kabalim Salotia. Thier leader. She doesn’t look back as she boards the Scavenger. He can hear her, too, from another time. We make the choices we can live with. Sometimes, we really pretend that we can.

His eyes flicker, unable to focus. He sees Tertinus. His mentor, more of a father to him than his own. His eyes have rolled back. The asari woman did that, killed him somehow as he ran out to help. In the beginning, Cnasius had resented being left out of some combat situations. Tertinus had advised him then. All I need to know is that I’ve kept my men alive.

There’s smoke and ash everywhere now. They set off explosives to destroy the building. Whatever purpose it had held, it was no longer necessary. Blinking the sting from his eyes, the dying turian saw another member of his unit.

Serbius, his rival. They had always been competing, from sparring to women. There was now a bloody blue gash where another asari woman had ripped out his heart with biotics. They’d sparred before this mission. Cnasius could still picture the arrogant glint in his eye. You’re going to have to do better than that to keep up with me, Cnasius.

Past Serbius is a turian corpse further away. Cnasius can’t make out the details, but he knows who it is. Veratia, his long time best friend. Gunned down by Anlonia as she tried to make a run for cover. Cnasius feels sick looking at her, even as a happier image of her pops into his mind. Come on, are you just going to mope in here all day?

He looks away, only to see Sercus, laying next to her. The sniper’s body stands up like a macabre card tower; his body snapped cleanly in half by a biotic blast. Cnasius can see his eyes, wide and staring in shock. Just remember to breath, kid, and you’ll do fine.

Someone is crying nearby. Another asari. She’s leaning next to him, staunching his wounds with biotics. He lost an arm. He looks away from that, sees Octavius. There’s not much left of the heavy weapons and explosives expert; his weapon had been overheated and blew up in his hands. Cnasius could still hear his booming laugh, even as his eyes were drawn to the turian next to him.

Tullvius. Octavius had gotten off a shot with his rocket launcher, but the asari had redirected it. The blast had taken off Cnasius’s arm, but it had killed the cabal’s field medic. The man had never been pleasant, but he hadn’t deserved this. It’s nothing personal. I think you’re all annoying.

That left Publimus. Cnasius could see him, but his mind recalled the way Salotia had shot him in the head as soon as the technician had hacked into the building’s defenses and disarmed them. The man had always been odd, wired a bit differently, but it had made him effective. Cnasius closed his eyes as he remembered something the hacker had told him before. Loopholes, alternate paths. Look hard enough, you always find one.

The turian’s mind replayed these memories, but it focused on one. Anlonia, his former lover, looking back with those sad eyes. She’d broken things off just before they’d landed. He could still see it in her eyes, her last words to him. I’m… sorry, Cnasius. Or maybe I’m not. Just… good bye, Cnasius.

Cnasius couldn't stay conscious much longer than that, and fell into a black sleep.