For days after their improvised funeral service, it was all Emmanuelle could do to get Siani out of bed and keep her functional. On good days, Sharon managed to cajole the girl into having breakfast and dinner. On bad days, Siani lay in bed, crying and singing that same damned song over and over.
As there was little else Sharon could do, she attempted to actually translate the song's lyrics. One day, after consulting several different guides to the Imerian dialect, she finally managed to translate the first four lines of the bridge:
- Death, you are waiting,
- Death, you will meet us,
- Death, you console us,
- Death you complete us.
At that point, she lost all desire to translate the rest of the song. Her codex mentioned that the Imerians, due to their long lifespans, viewed death in more positive terms than did humans or even other asari, and supposedly, the song was from a time when the latter decades of an asari Matriarch's life were viewed as a burden. In those days, according to her sources, the oldest Matriarchs would hold ceremonies in which their daughters, granddaughters, and great-granddaughters would place them in open sarcophagi. The Matriarchs would then imbibe a drink called quiesia, which would send them into a sleep from which they never woke. This scared the shit out of Sharon. She knew she would have to force Siani back into the land of the living.
And even without her concerns that Siani might try to kill herself, there were still batarians to deal with. The deaths of Arine, Mirole, and Thedala had apparently emboldened them; they were sending scouting parties into the city every day. Sharon knew that she could not defend the city on her own.
And so she began forcing Siani to get out of bed and tried to teach her how to fight more effectively. It was a frustratingly slow process. Siani had appallingly bad aim, and her hands shook every time she tried to fire a gun. Her biotics and melee skills were somewhat better, but still not something Sharon would put her trust in. Still, she kept at it, and found that Siani was not so terrible with a sniper rifle... so long as someone else held the barrel steady and told her where to aim and when to pull the trigger.
And so it was one morning that they ended up on a cliff overlooking a clearing that the batarians liked to use for landing their transports.
"What do you see?" Sharon asked as Siani observed the scene through the rifle scope.
"One of the transports is a tanker. Four others look to be carrying metal rods and... tarpaulins, I think." She paused. "I think they're planning to set up a camp."
"If they manage to set up the camp, things will be much worse." This hardly needed to be said, but Sharon found that when she gave Siani objectives, it helped her figure out where to shoot. "Are you ready?"
Siani nodded. "I think so... I mean, yes. I am."
Sharon crouched behind Siani and took her barrel hand into her own, guiding it to the barrel and holding it there. Her other arm coiled around Siani's waist, just under her ribcage, to measure her breathing. She leaned in close, her lips near Siani's ear. "This is your first time with live targets. It's sooner than I would have preferred, but I think you're ready. You've come a long way from where you started."
"I won't miss."
"You won't. I'm right here. I'll guide you through it if you need it."
"Where should I aim?"
"Well, how many troops are there?"
"Four... no, wait. Five."
"That means if you shoot one of them, the rest will still be alive to shoot back." She regretted saying that almost immediately; she felt the change in Siani's breathing.
"T-two of them are facing each other. If I shoot the one with his back to us, the bullet might go through and-"
Sharon interrupted her. "Babe, how many barrels of fuel are there?"
"Eleven. Each one holds-"
"Each one holds enough to kill a few of them if struck properly. Altogether, they hold enough to kill all of them. Find the center of mass."
Siani calculated in her head for a minute. "I know where to shoot." She aimed the rifle. "My hands will shake."
"No they won't, babe. Breathe in. When you feel my arm squeezing you, pull the trigger."
Siani took a deep breath, Sharon squeezed her stomach, and she pulled the trigger.
Miles away, the barrells exploded and turned the batarians into walking candles. One of them managed to avoid the flames, but Sharon got out her own sniper rifle and finished him off.
Siani was elated. "I did it! I didn't choke!"
"Of course you did it, babe. You're much more competant than-"
Siani interrupted her with a kiss that nearly bowled her over. It was a clumsy kiss; Siani had probably intended it to be on the lips, but it landed an inch or two below Sharon's lower lip.
Sharon wouldn't have minded it so much if it wasn't so awkward. She tried to gently dislodge Siani from her, but instead ended up pushing her to the ground. Siani looked up at her with a hurt expression, then fled down the path back to the house. Sharon tried to follow, but realized the path was too treacherous for running. Out of breath, she leaned back against the rock wall.
"Goddamn it.," she cursed.
Siani did not rematerialize by lunch, not did she make an appearance at dinner. Her whereabouts weren't a mystery - the Pantaphon platform was up all day, indicating that someone was in the chamber - but Sharon still felt concerned, and after dinner, sat waiting to see if she re-emerged. Finally, after midnight, Sharon gave up and went off to bed.
As always, her dreams offered no comfort. The living, the dead, and the imagined all menaced her, but this time, she felt no fear, only a sort of resignation. She'd never be free of the nightmares, her sleep would always be tormented, and she would only harm those who tried to help her. Somehow, she found this oddly comforting.
Sometime later, she awoke to find someone standing in her doorway.
"I'm sorry," Siani said. "About earlier, I mean."
Sharon got ot of bed and crossed the room. "It's alright, babe. I'm just glad you're okay. You are okay, right?"
Siani looked away and shook her head. "No. I'm not." She started to cry.
Sharon pulled her into her arms. "What's wrong, babe?"
'When Arine and the others died, I realized just how out of my depth I am. I have no business being here. I should have been killed when the batarians raided this place. I'm alive only because that stupid chamber kept me sealed away while they got..." She couldn't say the words, but instead sobbed for a good minute. Finally, she said, "The point is, I'm an idiot, and a child..."
"No, you're not, babe. Stop saying that."
"You weren't very kind to me when you first arrived here."
"I didn't know you back then."
Siani nodded. "But now you do, and yet, you've only become kinder and more patient with me. You're even trying to help me to learn to fend for myself. I've... never had people like that around me." She pushed away from Sharon, hesitantly. "And that's all I meant when I kissed you earlier. I was... grateful, that's all."
"You're a terrible liar."
Siani blushed. "I might have feelings for you. Slight feelings."
"I-I mean, you're strong... and beautiful... and probably not the least bit inclined towards someone like me... And that's okay, honestly. I can live with that."
Watching Siani try and get her words out was almost too painful to bear. Emmanuelle decided to put her out of her misery, and kissed her lips. It was a long kiss.
"Oh, thank the Goddess," Siani breathed, when they finally broke the kiss. "I feared I was making an ass of myself."