To Say Goodbye

Her angry expression could have been directed at the Nietzschean fighter, at him, or even at herself. Especially at herself, he knew, and he took a hesitant step forward. "Sarah, it wasn't--"

"Don't tell me it wasn't my fault," she snapped. She stormed off the Bridge, leaving him to fill the breach left by Khalid's absence. But all he could think about was how familiar this conversation suddenly seemed…

"It wasn't your fault, Dylan."

Andromeda's holoimage looked every bit as calm as he didn't feel, and he resisted the urge to slam his fist down on the console in front of him. "You keep saying that!"

He sighed. This wasn't going to work. Sarah wasn't going to be able to free the Andromeda Ascendant, no matter how many twelve-hour cycles she waited. She couldn't do it, because she hadn't. The Andromeda had still been inside the event horizon when the Eureka Maru came for it three centuries later.

The truly awful part of it was that, the longer he thought about it, the less sure he was that he *wanted* her to succeed. After all, he was too late… a year too late, now. The damage had already been done. The Nietzschean attack had gone ahead while he was trapped by the time dilation of the black hole, and there had been no one to warn the High Guard.

The war was well under way by now. Earth had fallen. The conflict was almost a year old, and there was no longer anything he could do to turn the tide. He couldn't prevent the coming of a Dark Age that would last for the next three hundred years--he knew it would, because it had. The reasoning was infuriatingly circular.

He had to face the fact that there was nothing he could do. He couldn't go back, not to the life he had left. Even if Sarah was successful, the Commonwealth he had known no more existed now than it did in the future he was broadcasting from.

If only she could come with him, instead of the other way around… Together, they could make a difference to the known galaxies. Together, they could accomplish something that they had no hope of achieving here. Together…

He had to find Harper.


"I can't do it, Boss. I'm sorry."

Andromeda was under attack. His precious ship was under bombardment from the Nietzscheans, and his people might die to get him this last minute with Sarah.

*When did they become my people?* he wondered, pulling her closer. When had the dream of a restored Commonwealth become more real than his memories of the old one? And more importantly… when had it become more real than his own fiancee?

Damn it, when had Rommie become *right*?

"You have to think about the Commonwealth." She sounded as upset as he felt, but he didn't turn around.

"Sarah is my Commonwealth," he answered, frustrated but not pausing. He couldn't expect her to understand. What did Rommie know about love, after all?

"I can stop you, you know!"

She should have, he reflected, touching Sarah's hair sadly. But she wouldn't, and he was as certain of that now as he had been then. She wouldn't keep him from doing something he thought was right, no matter how disastrously it turned out.

"The only one you'll make a difference to is me," Sarah told him quietly, her pleading gaze fixed on his.

He didn't doubt that those words would haunt him for a long time. He could already hear them in his mind, imprinting themselves on his memory so that he could never forget. It was true… utterly, inarguably true.

And it wasn't enough.

The future needed him. The future needed him more than he needed Sarah, and certainly more than she needed him. He'd seen the way Khalid looked at her. He didn't know why he'd never noticed it before. His best friend would make sure she stayed safe… and, in time, he would make sure she got over him. That was the Nietzschean way. He didn't begrudge them any happiness they could find together.

He took a step back, and she pressed her palm to his as he signaled Harper.

"I love you," he whispered as she faded from his sight.

His path, it seemed, was destined to be a lonelier one.

Run Away