With her tale finally completed, Sarah breathed out a sigh, a sigh that carried a deep sadness and exhaustion. Iris and Lily continued to watch her, the three ladies sharing a comfortable silence. Iris opened her mouth, as if intending to say something, but she stopped herself and settled back onto the ground. Lily closed her eyes and carefully digested the torrent of information she had just been given. Still with eyes closed, she broke the silence.
“I understand… so many things now. What Iris is, why she was in the wasteland, why she knows so much. I don’t know whether I can trust you or not, but…” She glanced at Iris, who quietly nodded. “Iris believes you, and that’s enough for me.” She opened her eyes again, fixing them on the angel’s own eye. “So, how and why are you suddenly awake after four hundred years of hibernation?”
Sarah made a strange motion with her torso – Lily was confused for a moment, before realising it was supposed to be a shrug.
“I don’t know. My hypothesis is that the power finally ran out. This facility was built before they could effectively draw in magic from the surroundings. Magic batteries last a long time, but they’re hardly infinite. My guess is that they finally ran out, so the tech that suppressed my magic stopped working. With my wings this damaged, along with my status as Fallen, I can’t exactly use it properly, though.”
Lily nodded. It seemed a plausible enough explanation, and it did not seem to indicate there was a threat to their lives, in any case. So then the only question that remained was…
“So, what will you do now, Sarah? Your wings may be clipped, but you’re still alive. Where will you go?”
As Lily spoke, Iris’ fingers brushed against her hand. Lily looked down to Iris, who was still sitting on the ground. Iris regarded her with a look that sought permission.
“Can she come stay with us?”
Lily raised an eyebrow. It seemed Iris was wholly convinced that Sarah was, indeed, her mother. Still, if her friend was alright with it, Lily could see no reason to refuse. She turned to Sarah again.
“Would you like to come live with us? Iris, at least, believes that you’re the person you say you are, and that means you’re more than welcome to come with us. We have a little house in the forest a little south of here. It’s nice and isolated, so you won’t have to worry about humans. Not that there are many humans on this continent any more, it’s pretty much the land of demons right now. There isn’t much to do in the woods, but both I and another member of our little family are inventors, so maybe your knowledge and intellect might be able to help us make some breakthroughs.”
Of course, the main motivation for the offer was that it would make Iris happy. But Lily did not admit this, not to Iris, nor to Sarah, nor to herself. Sarah looked at her for a while with a gaze that seemed to see right through Lily’s justifications to her irrationality, then chuckled.
“You really are just like Liliana. What I intend to do now, you ask…”
Sarah paused for a long while. When she next spoke, it was addressed to Iris.
“Iris. Indulge an old woman and kiss me on the lips.”
Iris blinked rapidly, flustered and confused.
“Come on. Please?”
After a few more moments of hesitation, Iris pushed herself off her position on the ground and did as she was asked, her eyes flashing bright pink, confusion evident in them. However, the moment her lips met Sarah’s, her eyes flashed a myriad of colours, rapidly changing between every colour in the visible spectrum. An immense burst of magic surged through the air, saturating the very air with magical energy.
Alarmed, Lily stepped forward and grabbed Iris by the shoulders, forcibly pulling her away from Sarah and on to the ground. However, even when the contact broke, the magic continued to circulate around them. Iris’ eyes continued to flicker.
“What the fuck did you just do?”
Sarah was unable to answer – she was in a similar state. Her body was arched, her eye flashing and changing colours, mirroring Iris’ eyes. Loosing a shout of frustration, Lily picked up Sarah by the neck and slammed her into the wall.
“I said, what did you do to her?!”
For a few seconds, Sarah did not say anything, her eye flashing a myriad of colours. Then, as abruptly as it had started, the surge of magical energy stopped and her eye reverted to its unsettling red colour. She seemed to be slightly surprised by the fact that she was being pinned to the wall by Lily, but she soon broke into a chuckle.
“Calm down, child. I wouldn’t hurt my daughter. I simply gave her my memories… and my power. Ask her.”
Lily turned to Iris, who was on all fours, panting and shaking. She tilted her head up to meet Lily’s gaze, and showed that her eyes had stopped alternating colours, settling into a single colour. Her right eye had returned to its regular green, but her left eye was now the same shade of unsettling red as Sarah’s. Lily froze when she saw the red eye, but promptly relaxed when Iris smiled at her reassuringly. It was the same smile. It was the same Iris. Getting to her feet, Iris looked at Sarah, but addressed Lily.
“She shared her memories with me. I now know who my parents were. I know the kind of world we lived in. They’re not my own memories, but they’re a good substitute.”
Lily blinked. She had not thought the transference of memory was possible. Was this the power of magic? She recalled something else that Sarah had mentioned.
“You said you gave her your power. What did you mean?”
Iris was the one who answered.
“Exactly what she said. She gave me her power, her magical power as an angel.”
“Iris’ core was incomplete.” Sarah spoke up to supplement some information. “Her core was made using mine as a basis, but it wasn’t a complete replication. She didn’t need that much energy to function, and Liliana decided not to allow her that much power – it would have been too dangerous if she were to be captured. A decision that was rather prudent, in hindsight. Now, I’d like to continue, but it’s a bit uncomfortable speaking like this.”
Lily loosened her grip on Sarah’s neck and slowly lowered her to the ground.
“…I’m not going to apologise.”
Sarah smiled at Lily’s statement.
“Naturally. Thank you. To know there’s someone who cares so much about Iris… It’s the best thing to happen to me in quite some time.”
Sarah tilted her head in gratitude, and Iris continued the thread of explanation.
“When we kissed, we shared memories. So now I have hers, and she has mine. She also gave me her power, upgraded my core, if you will. But,” Iris turned her attention to Sarah while she continued speaking. “Are you sure it’s okay? For me to have this power? Didn’t you say it was dangerous?”
“It was dangerous back when you were still a machine, shackled by your programming. You’ve proven that to be no longer true. You’re a real girl, Iris. Nobody can control you. Nobody can make you do things now. And so it’s safe. And so it’s only right that you should be complete. Think of it as your inheritance. A gift from a mother to her daughter.”
Iris placed a hand on her chest, bowing her head in gratitude. When she lifted her face again, it bore a look of uncertain sadness. As if on cue, Sarah spoke again.
“Miss Lily. You asked me what I plan to do. Now that we’ve shared minds, Iris knows.”
Lily turned to Iris, who was walking over to the shooter that lay on the floor a bit away. A chill ran up Lily’s spine as Iris picked up the weapon. Cradling the weapon, Iris spoke, addressing Sarah.
“…Are you sure?”
Sarah smiled and nodded.
“I’m sure. My age is over. I’ve lived four hundred years too long. It’s time for me to join Liliana. I’ve kept her waiting far too long. She’ll be mad at me, I suppose. Ask me why I let you do this. It’s selfish, I’ll admit. Hypocritical, even. Here I am, saying I never wanted you to be a killer, then asking you to kill me.”
Iris shook her head as she walked over to Sarah and placed the muzzle of the shooter on Sarah’s chest. She smiled even as tears began to fall.
“No. Right now, I’m not going to kill you because someone is making me do it. This time, I kill by choice. This time, I kill for love. Let your daughter do this one duty.”
Lily could only watch the scene unfolding without saying a word – she had no right to stop Iris from pulling the trigger. It was her decision. Sarah closed her eyes and leaned her head back.
“You’ve become free. You’ve found a family. You’ve found someone to love. You’ve found someone who cares about you deeply. I’m glad. As your mother, nothing in the world could make me happier.”
With a final sigh, Sarah allowed herself to relax.
“Thank you Iris. I’m sorry for forcing this duty upon you. I’m so tired. It’s been so long. Thank you, Iris. I love you.”
“I- I- I love…”
The tears and sobs which overtook Iris’ voice caused her to choke up, unable to finish her sentence. The hand which held the weapon quivered. Iris clenched her eyes shut and forced herself to say the words.
“Thank you, mother. For everything. For creating me. For giving me emotion. For giving me life. I love you, mother. Thank you… Farewell.”
She pulled the trigger.
There was no sound. A silent ray of condensed magic lanced through Sarah’s body, leaving a wide hole. Sarah’s lips curled into a grateful smile. Then the angel moved no more.
Iris quietly stowed away the weapon, her lip quivering. Tears flowed uncontrollably from her mismatched eyes. She knelt down and wordlessly embraced the lifeless figure of the fallen angel. Though she wept, no sobs left her lips.
In that space, where an android shed tears over the body of a fallen angel, a requiem of silence rang louder than any sound.