They found Lex in Biscotti’s navigation theater. He was carefully charting the ship’s course on the holoscreens while researching weather forecasts and projecting recent events.
“Is that Moscow?” Seven asked as he and Heva walked in. Lex turned to them.
“Yeah, it is. Surprising, right?”
“I thought it would be more…”
“You would think, huh? But no, it looks perfectly normal after the nuke. Only way to tell it even got hit is all the bodies that collapsed where they stood. It’s almost scarier that way.” Seven could only nod.
“How are you feeling?”
“Hime, he needs a place to sleep. I thought of putting him up in Oliver’s room, but I wanted to ask you first.”
“Ah. Right. Place to stay. No, don’t put him in Oliver’s room. Don’t touch his or David’s. We didn’t manage to bring back their bodies. The best we can do is leave their rooms untouched if only for a little while. I don’t want to feel like they’re gone just yet.” Lex gave a pained look and then sighed. “Seven can stay in my room. I’ll just sleep on the couch in there. He can have the bed.”
Heva nodded. “I’ll scrounge up some clothes for him. Probably be over-sized,” she said as she left the room.
“When are we getting to India?” Seven said after a second.
“Probably tomorrow, mid-afternoon. By the way, kid, you never told me what your plans are.”
“I-I hadn’t really thought about it. I was just so focused on getting out.”
“No need to rush. If you want, stay with us for a while, just so can get your bearings.”
Seven thought for a bit, then said, “Alright.”
Lex smiled, “Good! You’re gonna enjoy it here. I promise.”
The boy hesitated. “Lex, can I trust you?”
“I can’t really say. That’s up for you to decided.” Seven pursed his lips, but nodded again. “Let’s close up shop for tonight, though,” Lex continued. “Come. I’ll show you my room, just don’t laugh.”
Seven gave a confused look as he followed Lex through some short passageways to another room. He looked within. He was greeted with a fairly normal room with a large holoscreen, a sleek coffee table, and a comfortable leather couch. Clothes were strewn about in a haphazard manner, but that wasn’t what caught Seven’s eye.
“A canopy? Is that really a princess canopy?” Seven awkwardly laughed.
“I told you not to laugh. It’s not a princess canopy for roat’s sake. Why does everyone always think that? It’s a mosquito net!”
“That’s not any better, Lex. There aren’t any mosquitoes inside.”
Lex sighed. “It’s a habit. I spent a lot of time in places swarming with mosquitoes, and for some reason the habit of putting up a mosquito net stuck. If it bugs you that much, I’ll take it down.”
“No, you can leave it up. I think this might be a reason why they call you that one word. Hime, right? It means princess or something?”
“Shut up. Go lay down, you punk.” Lex laid down on the couch.
Seven smiled as he pulled back the net and slid into the bed. The strange sense of security that the net and Lex’s presence brought caused him to feel a warmth within him. It was an unfamiliar feeling, but a good one. It wasn’t long before tiredness overtook him, and he drifted off.
Lex, however, had a hard time sleeping on the couch. He knew it would be hard. He always had a troubled sleep when he wasn’t surrounded by the mosquito net. His sleep was always light without it, which wasn’t a bad thing when on missions. But he never had this much difficulty just falling asleep.
After staring at the ceiling for a few hours, he pulled out a glass tablet and browsed the interweb. News coverage on the war was updated every few minutes. Several more important cities in USCU territory around the world had been bombed by the CNA. Devastating to the populous, but not detrimental to the country at whole. The USCU’s government and military operations were all holed up in top secret underground facilities. The war would continue.
Lex refreshed the page. He was surprised by the next article. The CNA had begun sending forces to invade. Many New Poland mercenaries were hired by both sides as contract workers. However, a vast majority signed under the Confederate. That was to be expected. The scenes from key battles were strange, though. They did not seem to follow the usual flow of war.
Lex zoomed in on the scene. The soldiers on the Social-communist side were acting strange. They seemed to disregard defense completely, allowing potentially fatal blows to rain down on them without moving to block. And yet, even with these wounds, they still managed to continue to push forward at an unimaginable rate. The CNA was loosing ground. Lex paused it and looked closer. It was almost as if… He glanced at the bed.
He zoomed in on a People’s Army soldier. Crazed eyes greeted him. They reminded him of the eyes of suicide bombers. He looked at several more soldiers. Each had the same eyes. Shivers crawled down his spine.
“They don’t feel pain, do they? And regeneration? Is this what Pandora was trying to do? They’re basically zombies.”
He heard Seven begin to toss in his sleep. The boy suddenly jolted up.
“No! Mom! Please! I’m not a monster! I’m not!” he screamed. Lex scrambled off the couch and ran to the bed. He jerked aside the curtains and wrapped Seven in his arms.
“Hey, hey, it’s alright. It’s just a dream. Just a dream. You’re here now. You’re okay. You’re okay.” He cradled Seven as the boy bawled.
“It was the same. It was that dream again. Only before Mom disappeared, she-she was choking me. She kept calling me a monster, a monster, over and over and over again. And he just laughed in the back ground. He wouldn’t stop.”
“Who? Who was laughing?”
“I killed him. I killed him, and now he won’t leave me alone! He keeps bringing Mom into it! Make him stop! Please!”
“Calm down. It’s alright. He isn’t here. Can you tell me who it was, though? Was it Andan Bach? Were you the one that killed him?” He felt Seven shudder.
“It’s alright. It’s alright. Seven, he’s dead. He isn’t coming back. Yes, you may have killed him, but realize that that guy is better off dead. He’s different than you are. He killed many people and took pleasure in it. He was insane.” Seven’s shaking lessened.
“Killing someone is something that you have to deal with, but don’t let it drown you. You’re a good kid, Seven. You’re no monster. You’re no monster.”
End of Chapter 4