Castiel held Ishaan with his eyes through 3mm of vacuum-hardened plastic. It may as well have been 10 meters of lead.
They’d been as close as brothers, once. But the tides of time erode brothers as easily as shorelines; it’s not a measure of virtue or desire, or even grit, but of the accelerating expansion of the universe. All points must drift apart, be they captains, or carriers, or continents.
The tick-tick-tick of the clock in the otherwise deadly-silent hanger bay brought to mind bootheels on the concourse, practicing formations beneath triplet suns. Back then their prospects seemed limitless—they’d only been kids, after all, not yet having shackled themselves to so many choices. But now, for Ishaan, his whole life was behind him. The march of armies was the closest man had come to replicating time’s abstraction, for it held in its cadence and its rhythm the inevitability of destruction. And death.
Well, Ishaan had brought the destruction. Now Castiel must respond with death.
“Ishaan—” Castiel held back the conflicting emotions roiling in his chest. “Just tell me why you did it. Help me understand.”
Ishaan was steely; a man who accepted his fate long ago. “Your question contains the answer. Why? Why, Ishaan? Why did you do it? Always why, never if!” His voice swelled behind the sealed airlock loud enough for some of the officers standing at attention to just hear.
“Have you changed your mind, then? Do you want a trial?”
Ishaan scoffed. “I have a trial, but you misunderstand. You are the defendant. You stand accused. All of you! And history is the harshest judge of all. You may live today, but your legacy lives forever.”
“Ishaan, my friend… Did you sabotage the Westerhout?”
Ishaan pressed his nose against the partition which fogged as he spoke. “No. I sabotaged your soul, Captain, and you’re no friend of mine. My friend Castiel died a silent death long ago.”
Castiel looked away. “Then join him.” He pulled the airlock override and turned back to watch Ishaan tumble soundlessly into the void. He dismissed his officers, but stayed by the airlock mouthing silent prayers for a long time.