He lay on his back, his legs still in the water.
The control linkages for his prosthetics bypassed his spinal column. Except for that, he would already be dead.
His neck was broken, and probably some ribs, some of his vertabrae; his pelvis was shattered from the loose way his metal legs were flopping around. It was hard to say if the damage had been done by the explosion, or by his impact with the water afterward.
The force of that impact had jerked his arms hard enough that the vest had inflated, dragging him unconscious up from a watery grave.
His prosthetic legs and arms still worked....he had managed to drag himself out of the water, mostly with the strength of his metal arms. Perhaps that had been a mistake....drowning might have been a more pleasant end. Certainly it would have been faster.
But with his pelvis shattered, even his cybernetic legs couldn't carry him far.
Not that there was anywhere to go.
The electronic linkages kept his heart still pumping, his lungs still filling, but his kidneys and bladder had never been modified....he would die slowly, poisoned by his own wastes, if dehydration didn't kill him first.
The water would have been warm, if his legs had possessed temperature sensors. The sand under his back was even warmer, baking in the sunlight. The sky overhead was blue as glacier ice. The small waves rushing up the tiny beach rustled with a sound vaguely reminiscent of dry leaves, moving forward and back, forward and back, with metronomic regularity. The salty odor of the ocean tickled his nose.
He wondered why he had never spent much time looking up at the clouds. They were so beautiful.
"I guess I was just putting it off.....until now," he told himself, the barest hint of a smile parting his lips.
He wondered how long it would take.
"I'm sorry....." he whispered.
Sorry for everything.
And this was what it all came down to.
The young life he'd lost, the older life he'd never known, the new life he'd created.
All hurtling him like a blazing meteor toward oblivion.
To end like this.....lying on an unmarked beach on an islet far from any mainland, far away from the City of Heroes, far from the Medicom grid. No whisper tickled his brain, asking if he wished to be transported to the hospital, there were no hospitals out here, and no teleporters.
Alone again. As he had started this journey in Steel Canyon, so it would end here. Full circle.
How peaceful the little islet was. So quiet, with only the roar of the surf and the calls of sea birds. He wished that he could show someone the scene....tell someone about it. Share it with someone.
Faces drifted through his mind. All of those that had crossed paths with his, the kind, the caring, the bitter, the angry, the brutal.
"....you have all the time in the world," Linuial had told him, in a quiet moment. Unbidden, her face swam to the forefront of all the others. "There's no rush, Jon. You stand to live a long life. There is time, time to make friends, even time to find the right girl...."
No, no time, Lin, he thought. No time at all. There never really was.
Would I have done anything any different? he asked himself.
You knew when you asked Quake to get you in front of that plane that you would not be coming back, was the only reply. You did what you had to do.....what you *knew* you had to do. There was never any doubt, any choice, any possibility of it ever being any different. This was the way it was meant to be, right from the very beginning in Steel Canyon.
The flashdrive was probably still in its pouch....he didn't have the strength to reach for it to check. The chances that someone would find it...find him....seemed astronomically small, but there was always that hope. It would be his tombstone, his epitath....the Crey file on Beta 1403 would tell his story, when he couldn't.
His only regret now was that someone else would have to follow those clues, someone else would have to find the Alpha and Beta labs and shut them down.
The clouds really were beautiful.
Tiny dots danced among them. Sea birds, he guessed, the tiny islet was too far from the coastline for it to be much of anything else. He watched them, fascinated.
There was nothing else to be done. His tasks were finished. Now he could rest....and watch the clouds and the birds. For as long as he had.
It was enough. He smiled slightly, all that he had left in him. He didn't even have the strength to concentrate, focus his monocle, try to see the clouds and the birds a little more clearly.
One dot detached itself from the rest.
He watched it spiraling downward, amazed at the grace and beauty of its pirouettes.
It began moving back and forth, as if wiping the blue of heaven clean.
As it gradually drew nearer to his islet, it also grew larger.
On its closest approach, he thought he saw a flash of pale blue.
Suddenly, the blue dot swerved. Must have spotted a fish in the waves, he told himself, waiting for it to dive.
It veered again, then again, then turned and headed straight for his islet.
How strange, he told himself. And it must be a very large bird....he struggled to remember if he'd ever read about a sea bird with pale blue plumage.
It was hurtling toward him now, moving at great speed. There was only a fraction of a second for recognition, before it dived to within feet of where he lay, and then gracefully arced upward, to hover for a second.
The blonde elven woman in the pale blue dress smiled down at him, a little sadly, and settled to the sand.
She kneeled beside him, placed one hand on his chest, pulled out her cell phone with the other. "I found him," she spoke into the phone.
Laying the still-connected phone on the sand next to him, she chanted ancient words softly under her breath, a green glow spreading from the hand she had rested on his chest. With her other hand, she brushed fingertips across his left cheek, stroking away tears that he hadn't even realized were there.
She leaned forward, ever so lightly brushed her lips across his forehead, whispered softly.
"You cannot die, my love."
Copyright terraforming.com, November 26, 2012