Destiny - Part 3
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
Go, Crovax willed Gerrard. I’ve brought this on us. On myself. I’ve failed.
Yet the Weatherlight descended toward them, even as the Mirri-thing tore and shredded him in a fury that neither Mirri nor Selenia could have conjured alone. Crovax could not imagine why she prolonged his murder; he didn’t resist.
The Predator turned, a hungry shark in the sky.
“Grab hold,” Gerrard shouted from above. Crovax looked up at the ship floating above him, its wood gleaming with promised salvation. Gerrard was at the rail, his head pivoting rapidly as he watched the enemy ship approach and the one-sided battle below. His face was a wreck of emotions, a battlefield after the right but before the dead have been claimed. Whenever he looked at Mirri—which was only in fleeting glances, Crovax could see—he looked as if he might start screaming and never stop. Nearby, Tahngarth dropped a rope ladder that was nearly within Crovax’s reach.
“Go,” Crovax cried back.
“Not without you,” Gerrard answered. His voice was mechanical, flat. “You’ll kill us all if you don’t come on. You have to hurry.”
The Mirri-thing hesitated, watching, seeming to will Gerrard to bring his entire crew voluntarily to their graves in Volrath’s gardens. The trap closes, Crovax thought, and thought again, Oh, Selenia. What have you done?
He reached for the ladder.
“Don’t leave me,” Mirri said. Selenia’s voice. “Not again.”
Crovax closed his eyes one more time, seeing the angel’s face as he listened, knowing his saving grace was dead and gone now.
“Goodbye,” he whispered, but he doubted she heard; Tahngarth was already reeling him in like a fish back aboard the Weatherlight, back where he would have to explain to Gerrard all that had led to his best friend Mirri’s death.
He almost let go of the ladder.
* * *
Later, in the darkness, his wounds bound and sleep desperately far away, Crovax couldn’t look up at the misery in Gerrard’s face as they spoke. The Weatherlight was so far gone from Rath and the undead thing Mirri had become that even Gerrard’s reckless nature was reined in by distance. They couldn’t go back.
“That’s all I can say is true,” Crovax finished. The lightless cabin where he rested was as cold as a graveside while he spoke. He shivered and clutched the white feathers he’d brought back from the bridge battle. “Then I was back on board with you. She was gone—they both were gone. This is what I know.”
Gerrard was silent for a long while, so long that Crovax wondered if he simply couldn’t find words to convey his horror, his pain, his disbelief.
“I didn’t want to, but I had to leave her,” he finally said. It sounded as if he was trying to convince himself, his own jury. "You can’t rescue someone who doesn’t want to be saved anymore. And there was no time—there was just time to get you.”
Crovax said, “I understand. Destiny is fickle and inevitable.”
“Let me tell you something.” Gerrard’s voice was soft, deliberate, and—to Crovax’s mind—menacing. He rose from the side of Crovax’s bunk, his face receding into the shadows once more. “And don’t ever forget this, Crovax. There’s no destiny. You chose for all of us.”
“I promise you," Crovax answered. "I can’t forget.”