It's quiet in Zavala's office, save for the sound of clicking as the tiny steel pendulums on his desk swing back and forth, hitting against each other. Rahool once told him that they were a "Newton's Cradle"; a pre-Golden Age relic named for one of humanity's greatest scientific minds. The trinket is all that remains of a life's work lost to time, consumed by the Collapse and the ensuing Dark Age.
Like so many other things.
As he stands at the window, brooding in shame and guilt as he silently contemplates the Traveler, Zavala hears a knock on his door.
"Come in," he calls over his shoulder.
A moment later, Amanda Holliday steps into the room. Dark circles frame her eyes, and her shoulders slump with a weight unseen. No Nightmare hovers behind her, hounding her every step, but she seems haunted, nonetheless. Zavala is certain that, given his own ordeals, he must look much the same.
"Hey," Amanda says quietly as she crosses over to his desk. She leans against it and joins him looking out over the City.
They stand in silence for a long time and watch a small fleet of civilian ships weave its way between the buildings. The clicking of pendulums marks the time as it drifts past them.
"The Last City," Amanda murmurs. "Wish my folks had lived to see it."
"As do I," Zavala solemnly replies.
"You would've liked them," Amanda says with a sad smile. "As stubborn as they were kind. They gave everything to make sure I reached the City. Bravest people I've ever known."
"Devotion inspires bravery," Zavala says, almost absently. He turns from the window and glances at a low shelf, where a cracked white mask is displayed under glass. "Bravery inspires sacrifice. And sacrifice…" his voice quavers as it trails off.
"…is worth it for the ones we love," says Amanda. "My parents didn't have the Light. But they had me."
She meets his eyes, her own filled with a light all their own. "We can't all live forever. But being remembered? That's the next best thing."
Amanda laughs and sniffles at the same time. "Didn't mean to talk your ear off. Sorry about that."
"Don't be," Zavala replies with a small smile and a sigh of sadness. "I just wish I could return the favor."
He moves from the window and leans on the desk next to her, gazing out at the Traveler and the Last City as they settle into a comfortable silence. The pendulums on his desk continue to click and clack, the echo of a life lived long, long ago.
Total Character Length: 2438 | Total Views: 8K