Epilogue: Until the Last Star Falls

From the Story Arc: The Body Electric

Previous Story in the Arc: Part Seven: For the Love of You by Krasniy Oktyabr (Tuesday, August 15, 2006)

(posted Monday, August 21, 2006)

If there was one constant in Aleksandr Stanislav's life, it was loss. The loss of an eye, an arm, his mind and his reason. But that all paled when compared to the loss of love.

The one woman that he had truly loved now lay in the ground in a suburban cemetery overlooking Paragon City, killed by a man suffering from the loss of honor and Sanity. Kurt Jacobson, the heir to the title of the Electric Knight and akin to Aleksandr in many disturbing ways, had freely confessed his guilt. The legacy of the Electric Knight had been shattered.

A steady breeze kept the heat of the August afternoon from becoming stifling. Aleksandr walked solemnly along the grounds with Nataliya at his side, soft singing parts of the Orthodox Requiem. He had donned his dress uniform, the jacket draped over his left shoulder to accommodate the cast and sling around his wrist. His niece wore the simple black dress and jacket that she had worn at the memorial service for their fallen comrades scant months ago.

They came to the headstone, new grass freshly laid, and gazed down in respectful silence. Sarah's parents hadn't invited Aleksandr to any of the services. He wouldn't have come even if they had. Burying one's child is a grief no one should have to bear, but one that happened all too often. He had given them their time to grieve and remember, and now Aleksandr took his.

After a long moment that she judged to be respectful, Nataliya looked up and out towards the city. "Sarah Jaqueline Whitmore," she read from the tombstone, "< A beautiful name, >" she added in Russian.

"< She was a beautiful woman. >"

Another moment of silence passed between them.

"< So this man, he let you take the armor? >"

"< Kurt said that he did not want it, was not worthy of wearing it. It only turned him into a monster. Comrade Petrograd is looking it over, seeing if he can repair it. >"

"< Thahn ha did a wonderful job on your wrist. >"

"< Yes, she did. Should be fine in no time. >"

Another long silence fell.

"< Tasha, I have never been one to talk to God. But something... something should be said. Perhaps you know a prayer? >"

Nataliya had been going over the requiem on their way here and in her mind as they stood in fron of the grave, but another thought entered the girl's mind. "< I could, if you like. But I think there is something else more appropriate, something penned by C.S. Lewis. >" She looked up towards the sky and recited from memory, "'I'm not sure God wants us to be happy. I think he wants us to love, and be loved. But we are like children, thinking our toys will make us happy and the whole world is our nursery. Something must drive us out of that nursery and into the lives of others, and that something is suffering.'"

Aleksandr thought on these words for a moment. "< Is that the purpose for all of my suffering? For all the torments I've been through? >"

"< And look what it has gained you, uncle Sasha, >" answered Tasha, "< You have the support of all of your comrades of the CCCP. You have our allies of the Rebuild Paragon Congress, as well. >" She met her uncle's gaze and smiled from behind her mouthguard. "< And you have found family. >"

Aleksandr nodded mutely. Tasha was right, he could see that. For all of his losses, what he had gained exceeded them. Not that it made the pain any less, standing here at Sarah's grave. "< The price is awfully steep, though, >" he whispered.

Nataliya shook her head sadly. "< It always is, uncle. But I think that the price is what makes us appreciate the moments of happiness all the more. >"

They looked on in silence for awhile longer, each in their own thoughts and reflections. Aleksandr took a deep breath and let it out, taking with it some of the grief and frustration pent up inside. From his coat he pulled a single rose and walked up to the tombstone. He placed the rose on the top and closed his eye, resting his cybernetic hand there.

"You showed me so much Sarah, gave more than I could ever be asking for. You lived, and you loved. Will always be remembering you." Aleksandr leaned forward and kissed the tombstone. "Ya budu vsegda lyubit' tebya.*" He straightened up and turned to face Nataliya, nodded and began walking back towards the entrance. Tasha fell into step beside him.

After walking in silence a ways, Tasha said, "< I can only imagine how hard it must be to lose someone you love. >"

"< Loss is part of life, Tasha, >" said Aleksandr, "< We cope the best that we can. But like you said, I have the support of many. I will not be alone. >"

A faint smile spread across Nataliya's face. "< I know that I asked you this once before, at Christmas, but you were likely in no condition to remember. >" There was no need to say why that was**. They both knew and carried their own scars for it. "< So tell me... Tell me about Sarah. >"

Aleksandr sighed heavily, looking down at his feet. "< I really don't know what to say. Should I tell you how she died? >"

Nataliya shook her head and took Aleksandr's cybernetic arm in hers, knowing no harm would come to him for the gesture. "< No, uncle, >" she replied as they approached the gate, "< I would like you to tell me how she lived. >"

* - “I will always love you.”
** - See Upon This Winter Night and O True Apothecary