Commander Zavala's voice sounds distorted, as if he were underwater. The chill running down Sloane's spine only adds to the sensation.
She knows she had been gone for a while. For how long, she isn't sure— Síocháin's internal chronometer had glitched out shortly after Titan disappeared and took them with it. Sloane had been left to measure the passage of time by feeling it in her bones.
The universe moved on without her. That was to be expected. But Sloane still can't believe Zavala's debriefing… the words crash into her like one tidal wave after another, threatening to knock her off balance and fill her lungs with brine.
Stasis. Caiatl. The House of Light. Savathûn. The Lucent Brood. Neomuna.
Sloane's thoughts drift back to the wake of the Red War. Call signs and banter as Holliday's Hawk flew overhead. Small talk between sorties. Quiet moments and shared laughter between the staccato of gunfire and roar of jet engines. A friendship chiseled into marble, one stroke at a time.
Amanda was always fearless. The first to stand up, the last to go home.
Why did she always have to be such a damn hero?
"Sloane," Zavala says again.
She realizes she's been clenching her fists. She might have been shaking. Sloane's eyes focus once more, meeting those of her commanding officer.
He looks different than she remembers. His eyes seem older, wiser, and filled with something that catches her off guard.
Is that… pity?
Can he see it? This pit growing in her stomach, this yawning chasm that yearns to swallow her whole. Is he questioning her resolve? Her ability to see this through, to do her duty back on the frontline so others don't have to?
DOES HE SEE YOUR WEAKNESS?
Sloane clenches her fists again.
"Sir," she replies. Her voice holds steady. "Understood, sir."
Zavala's brow furrows. "It's a lot to take in. If you need to—"
A moment of silence passes. Sloane does not let him see anything. Zavala nods.
"Very well," he says. "Dismissed."
Sloane salutes and returns to her station.
She would be the first to stand up.
And the last to go home.
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