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I rise into darkness, away from the garden they watered with the blood of my friends. The Golden man who killed my wife lies dead beside me on the cold metal deck, life snuffed out by his own son’s hand.
Autumn wind whips my hair. The ship rumbles beneath. In the distance, friction flames shred the night with brilliant orange. The Telemanuses descending from orbit to rescue me. Better that they do not. Better to let the darkness have me and allow the vultures to squabble over my paralyzed body.
My enemy’s voices echo behind me. Towering demons with the faces of angels. The smallest of them bends. Stroking my head as he looks down at his dead father.
“This is always how the story would end,” he says to me. “Not with your screams. Not with your rage. But with your silence.”
Roque, my betrayer, sits in the corner. He was my friend. Heart too kind for his Color. Now he turns his head and I see his tears. But they are not for me. They are for him. For what he has lost. For the ones I have taken from him.
“No Ares to save you. No Mustang to love you. You are alone, Darrow.” The Jackal’s eyes are distant and quiet. “Like me.” He lifts up a black eyeless mask with a muzzle on it and straps it to my face. Darkening my sight. “This is how it ends.”
To break me, he has slain those I love.
But there is hope in those still living. In Sevro. In Ragnar and Dancer. I think of all my people bound in darkness. Of all the Colors on all the worlds, shackled and chained so that Gold might rule, and I feel the rage burn across the dark hollow he has carved in my soul. I am not alone. I am not his victim.
So let him do his worst. I am the Reaper.
I know how to suffer.
I know the darkness.
This is not how it ends.