#74 goes back to visit her friends when she can. Well, as often as her duties allow. She watches their children grow, have children of their own, and then…
Then she goes back to the city in the mountains. Mont Saint Michel was a good place to rally; a good symbolic gesture, a beautiful shining place for angels reborn. But as the heresy withers, her people start looking for a more permanent place to live. So they build their cities at the top of mountains, clean, orderly places with hothouses and libraries and places where any homunculi can put down their obligation to serve and just be. Find themselves. Some of them keep their numbers. Some choose names. But they have a choice.
After that, she goes back.
She’s astonished to find that people remember #74, but not Lady Athena Kain. The latter’s name is inscribed on her father’s opulent mausoleum, notably without date of birth of death. At some point they Lady Athena was gone from the world, and got on with the business of forgetting her. But on Skye, some of her barns still stand, each with their little plaque inscribed with the name of their maker.
Then she goes to visit her friends one last time. All of those markers, whether small stone tablets, names on a memorial or glorious monuments, still have fresh flowers laid reverentially on them. That makes her happy. Perhaps humans will remember after all.
New Westminster Abbey has many of them.
William Donnolly, Prime Minister of Britain, Prime Minister of Scotland. His wife. His sister. His grandson, killed on active duty.
It’s a new kind of pain, #74 thinks, watching your friends grow old. Watching their children grow old. Watching them forget. #6’s words echo in her head.
How long will they remember what we did for them?
Then, one day, the city in the mountains has a few human visitors. It’s a long trek, and humans seem disinclined to make the journey these days. But they have come, and one asks for her by name. Or, more accurately, by both names.
She searches the young woman’s face, notes the brilliant blue eyes, the stature. A rangy, red-headed man stands next to her, with such a familiar smile that her heart hurts. They want to know about Skye. And she remembers everything, so they hear.
“The first thing you should know,” #74 begins, “is that they were always loved.”