Winds of ChangeBy Alicia Ann Fox
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|They no longer had Dayna's disintegrator pistol, so the body had to be burned. It would have been useless to carry a corpse up the nearly endless metal stairway of Xenon Base for surface burial.|
Vila didn't want the job; Avon didn't particularly care. The task was left to Tarrant, and Dayna volunteered to help him.
Avon and Vila had gone back to work on the hangar doors by the time Dayna found more incendiary clips for Dorian's guns. Once again she and Tarrant ventured into the depths of the base, twisting along the stairway which spiraled through many levels before reaching the cave.
The young man's body still lay there, though all traces of Dorian had evaporated. Dayna knelt beside the corpse and carefully covered it with a throw blanket she'd found upstairs, a red one embroidered with gold thread.
Tarrant hefted his new weapon experimentally. "We're just going to burn that, Dayna," he commented. "Why bother? We don't even know who he was."
Sitting back on her heels, Dayna looked back over her shoulder at him. "Even the savages on Sarran have respect for the dead," she stated flatly. She turned back to the body and pulled the makeshift shroud over the youthful face. "And besides--" her voice caught "we can't bury Cally, so why not him?" Dayna's voice had hardened again by the end.
After a long anguished moment Tarrant replied, "I miss her, too."
Dayan rose slowly, staring down at the corpse. "It seems so long ago, now...." She drew her clip gun and rammed in the incendiary forcefully. "I can hardly believe that she's gone, but from the pit of my stomach, I know...." Stepping back to Tarrant's side, she pointed the gun at the body. Tarrant did the same.
"We consign this man to the nothingness from which he came," Tarrant said, and together they fired. Two brilliant white flashes ignited the shroud, momentarily blinding them in the cave's dim light. After a few moments, however, their eyes had adjusted, and they watched the rapid hungry flames in silence. There was little smoke; Tarrant realized that it was being sucked out by the ventilator system.
When the body had burned to ash and partially calcined bone, Dayna shielded her eyes and set the remains alight again, to completely incinerate them. "When Lauren and I were young," she said, "we would have pet rodents, and when they died and we buried them my father used to say, 'ashes to ashes and dust to dust'." She spoke softly to the flickering flames. "But I couldn't bury him--" She turned blindly into Tarrant's embrace. "We've lost so much, Tarrant! All of us."
"I'm sure Deeta had a state funeral," Tarrant said Wearily. "But it's no substitute for a brother, Dayna."
At long last the flames died away. Dayna pulled back from Tarrant and straightened her spine. "Servalan has paid. She's dead."
Tarrant sighed. "And so is Blake." He walked over to the foot of the stairs. "We'll have to do it ourselves, now. First thing, we get off this ball of dirt."
After a moment, Dayna nodded and decisively followed him.
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