The next two years were agony for Seven.
Everyday some kind of test was preformed on him. He had strange, glowing solutions and noxious poisons injected into him, ones that attacked his lungs so he couldn’t breath and burned his veins. His bones were broken to see how fast they would mend, and electricity became his constant partner. Andan seemed to enjoy that test the most.
If he was not in that white room strapped into a chair, he was either unconscious in his room or forced into a room alone with Andan for “training.” Only, for Andan, it was more of a venting spree. Seven couldn’t tell if which was worse, the testing or the training, and if he learned anything at all from those lessons, it would be how to dodge.
When Andan had seen Seven’s levitating ability, his sadistic grin was so ferocious it gave chills to everyone that saw it. The sergeant, by nature, was a hunter, and now he felt he had been given the perfect prey, one that could move in ways he could never have imagined previously. He was going to have fun.
Suited up with guns and knives, Andan was disappointed that the first lesson hadn’t even lasted two seconds. Seven was down the instant a bullet punctured his lung. The boy hadn’t even moved. He had stood there in confusion as the bullet came flying at him. Andan stalked over and picked the boy up by his shirt, then said in a low, angry voice, “Next time dodge, you cur.”
Though Seven had only ever hear those words once, they became ingrained in him for every lesson that followed. Even if you’re tired, dodge. Even if you’ve been given poison only an hour ago, dodge. Even if your limbs are burning with exhaustion, and you haven’t been allowed to sleep for days, even if you feel live you would never be able to move again, dodge. It’s the only thing you can do to make your world hurt less.
The personnel of Pandora slowly grew more and more disquieted over the years. If Seven had been quiet before Andan had come, now he was dead silent. Hektate had not heard a word out of him in seventeen months, and that was just a simple, indifferent, “I’m fine,”after a difficult testing period.
The look of betrayal Seven had given him when he had returned with Nero and the sergeant was so palpable he could feel the bile rise in his throat. The guilt had caused him heartburn. He forced it down and berated himself for feeling ashamed. Now, he was not so sure his decision had been correct.
Seven’s eyes were dead. He had lost the light of curiosity and innocence. He no longer used his blue screen. At first, he tried to use it to escape reality, but there was no hope to be had there. Lex Palming had never responded. After a while, he gave up. He became numb and couldn’t gather the motivation to do anything but stare at the ceiling. Even sleeping became hard. He’d stay awake until his body couldn’t take it anymore and forced him into unconsciousness. In a way, it was a boon. He didn’t have to dream.
Every person in the complex knew he was fading away, but no one tried to stop it. A type of apathy had inundated Pandora. It was a shame, they would think, but it was impossible to do anything, not with the USCU hovering over their shoulders.
Late one night, something sparked the beginning of a change for Seven. He was curled up in his bed, staring at nothing in the dark room. A bullet hole that went straight through his thigh was steadily healing along with the various cuts and bruises that covered his body.
All of a sudden, his blue screen popped up and a notification dinged at him. It took him several minutes to surface from his desensitizing state, but the incessant dinging forced him to. He read the words.
He pressed accept. Instantly, new words filled the screen. Seven stared at them for several minutes before he could reply. A feeling he couldn’t identify filled him. It contained shock and confusion, but mostly it swirled with hurt and betrayal.
Cakeman entered the group (1:20am).
You entered the group (1:20am).
Cakeman (1:20am): You still alive?
You (1:27am): you never came.
Cakeman (1:27am): You’re alive!
Cakeman (1:28am): Don’t worry. I’m coming to get you now. There were some complications, that’s why it took two years. Forgive me.
Cakeman (1:28am): We’re getting close though, a few days from where you are. Be ready.
You (1:29am): you’re here?
Cakeman (1:30am): Yeah, it took a while. You’re in the middle of freaking Siberia. Not an easy place to get to. Don’t have much time, or else gonna run out of battery.
Cakeman (1:30am): Will contact you when we get there.
Cakeman left the group (1:31am).
Seven sat in shock. Lex had come for him. He felt an emotion he hadn’t felt in a long time bubble up from within him, excitement. He also felt anticipation and anxiety, but it couldn’t overshadow the euphoria he felt. It was overwhelming after feeling numb for so long, he couldn’t hold it in. Lex was coming for him! He accidentally floated up to the ceiling.
He felt that something that had always heavily weighed on him had finally been lifted off his shoulders, something that he hadn’t noticed until now. It was the feeling of being betrayed and abandoned by everyone he had ever tried to reach out to, but now, even though he was hesitant to put his trust in a man whom he had never met, who he hadn’t even had a conversation with until this moment, he couldn’t help but have hope kindled within him. He read through the conversation once more. He wanted to make sure that it had really happened. Someone really was coming to take him away from this nightmare.
And so, he sat on the ceiling deep into the night shivering with excitement.