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Chapter 3

The pellets of warm water rain down on me. Providing comfort for my aching muscles. I always feel like this after a mission. Like my muscles are ripping themselves apart. Normally a warm shower helps.

I turn the handle to stop the water and wrap myself in a towel. I quickly glance in the mirror. My black hair clings to my olive-toned face. My green eyes look slightly down and depressed, but that’s normal.

I quickly throw on my normal ‘casual clothes’ of a white tank-top and jeans. General Asshole also insists that we wear ‘dog-tags.’ He says that normal soldiers do, so we should as well.

I exit the bathroom to find Calix reading a book. What he normally does while waiting for me to finish taking a shower. He can read about a book a week doing that.

What? I take long showers. Don’t judge, I’m sure you do to.

“You feeling better?” He asks.

“Yeah. What book this time?”

“The Art of War.” He says.

“Again?” This is probably his third time reading it.

“Yeah. It’s actually very informative.” He replies.

“But why again? How do you get more info from reading it a third time?”

“Things you don’t remember or missed. You glance over things when looking the first time. That’s why you should always read the manual twice. Like when we were setting up your Xbox in 6th grade.”

He makes an understandable comparison. In 6th grade I won an Xbox in a raffle and Calix helped me set it up. When I first read the manual, I misread something and got really upset when it wasn’t working. And Calix, being as cool-headed as he is, re-read the manual and pointed out where I had missed something or misread it. And then he helped me figure out how to do it right.

He was always the more level-headed of us. I tend to explode when I get angry or upset. He’s much better at keeping himself calm. I actually made him teach me how to stay calm and collected in difficult situations (not that it really helped).

“Breakfast is in 20 minutes.” He says.

“Yeah.” That’s 20 minutes left to sleep before General Asshole comes banging on the door and gives me a headache for the rest of the day.

I flop on my metal-framed bed. The mattress is too thin and the blankets are only just thick enough to keep me warm in the winter and cold as hell in the summer (you see, they freaking BLAST the AC in the summer). Calix’s bed is on the opposite side of the room. It’s identical, except his is neat and all his belongings are neat and organized while mine are really just thrown in boxes and my clothes are the only thing I even bother to keep organized. Our clothes are kept in our respective foldable closet things that we were expected to bring when we moved here.

I pull the covers over my head and try to fall into the dark bliss of sleep but, sooner than I hoped, General Asshole rips the blanket off me, leaving me freezing and I almost roll off the bed right there.

“Get up, Govain!” He shouts.

‘Jesus Christ! What the hell! Why the hell do we have to get up at 5 in the goddamn morning!? We just kicked an alien’s ass for you! LET ME SLEEP, GODDAMN IT!’

Which is what I’d say if I A. had a death wish B. didn’t value my position or C. didn’t value Calix’s and the other pilot’s opinions of me.

So I just get up, put on a sweatshirt, and wait for Calix to leave the bathroom while General Asshole leaves with a really pissed off look on his face.

YES! I pissed him off! DAILY GOAL ACHIEVED!!

Once Calix finally leaves the bathroom in a sweatshirt and sweatpants, we walk towards the cafeteria. We stay silent the whole walk over, preparing to fend off the attitudes of the other pilots who we’re required to sit with during all meals.

The majority of the other pilots are already there. The only ones who are missing are the pilots for Gungrams 5 and 6.

Moya Albany, the pilot for unit 3, is probably the nicest of all of them. I met her once before we ended up here. She lived on a base that was relatively close to ours and her family came to visit once I think.

Unfortunately, her partner is General Asshole’s son. Whom I have lovingly nicknamed Asshole Jr. His real name is Cade Dubois. He takes after his dad, with just the sweetest disposition.

So, of course, Asshole Jr. gets lots of favoritism. I’m pretty sure that General Asshole has never once actually gone into his room to wake him or Moya up. Which PISSES ME OFF! I don’t even think Asshole Jr. volunteered. I think his dad just said ‘son, I want you to pilot a giant robot to fight aliens’ and Asshole Jr. said ‘Sure Daddy, anything for you!’

The pilot for unit 7 is okay. His name is Elihu Dastan. He spends a lot of time staring at the ground pouting. I remember him telling me about how his big brother was a soldier and was killed by one of the aliens. So, he took it upon himself to take them out. Not too different from me.

But the pilot for unit 8 has every right to her attitude. She’s an orphan because of the aliens. They killed her parents, her big sister, and her little brother. I’ve never seen her smile once, while Elihu lets himself have a sense of humor every now and then. I get the feeling the only time she ever smiles is when she’s killing the aliens.

I don’t even know her real name, but she introduced herself as Diva.

The pilot for Unit 5 is an outright bitch if I do say so myself. Probably why she and Asshole Jr. get along so well. She’s only here because she thought it would be ‘fun.’ This isn’t supposed to be fun. We’re here to protect people. Not have fun. So when Akira Haven starts bragging about ‘getting more kills’ it REALLY pisses me off.

And finally, the pilot for unit 6 is Akira’s younger sister by two years. And I feel bad for her. Having to grow up around someone who just acts like that ALL THE TIME. It must be horrible. She’s nicer, although she always seems like she doesn’t care about anything, like nothing is ever a big deal for her. She’s the youngest of all of us. Only 15.

Calix and I sit at the table, across from Moya and Asshole Jr, whose chewing quite loudly and talking to his partner while he eats.

“...When do you think the next attack in our area will be? I hope it’s soon. I’m really bored.” Asshole Jr says loudly.

“Shut up Cade.” Moya replies, noticing Elihu’s new expression of anger and disdain and Diva’s death glare.

“Why?” He asks, obviously clueless.

“Just shut up!” Elihu declares, slamming his hand on the table and successfully knocking Asshole Jr’s cup of water onto his lap.

“Ah! What the hell man!” He shouts, standing in an attempt to intimidate Elihu. Which doesn’t work.

“Cade, shut your goddamned mouth!” I stand and shout at him.

“Why should I? This little asshat yelled at me first!” He replies.

Is he freaking serious right now? Does he not know what he said? Does he not understand that Elihu has every right to be mad for what he said? Damn. If he wasn’t General Asshole’s son I’d probably have already beaten him half dead. Hell, I still want to.

“Because you’re being a dumbass!” Moya shouts at him. She’s basically the only one he’ll listen to (other than Akira and his dear-old-daddy). Probably the only person whose opinion he actually cares about other than his dear-old-dad and Akira.

And, as far as I care, both of them can go die in holes.

Holes created by the goddamn aliens that Asshole Jr takes so lightly.

Anyway, after Moya yells at him, Asshole Jr calms down almost immediately, sitting back down with a grumble and an angry expression.

“I’m really sorry Elihu.” Moya apologizes for Asshole Jr’s simply amazing attitude (again).

“No Moya. Don’t apologize for him.” I say. “He should apologize for himself.”

“And why should I do that?” He asks, now he looks bored.

“Because YOU offended Elihu AND Diva. Moya didn’t do anything wrong, therefore she shouldn’t be forced to apologize for your screw-up!”

“What’s your problem Lux?” He asks, as if an attitude is something unusual at this table.

“My problem? My problem! My problem is that you act like an insensitive asshole all the goddamn time! It’s like you don’t even care that these things KILL PEOPLE and HAVE KILLED PEOPLE. You’re just like Akira. You make these KILLERS into a goddamn game! Well, guess what Cade! It’s NOT A GODDAMN GAME! And it will never be a game.” I slam my fist on the table. Entirely surprised that he looks surprised at my outburst. All of them do. Even Calix, who I’ve known for 12 years looks surprised. And he knows how terrible I am at keeping my cool.

Hell, Asshole Jr even looks a little scared. And I appreciate that.

I sit back down and take a deep breath.

Alright. Daily outburst done. Now just gotta stay calm and not rip Asshole Jr to shreds for the rest of the day and I’ll be fine.

This is gonna be a hard day.

Never mind. Every day is a hard day around here.

Finally River shows up, but Akira isn’t with her.

“Hey River,” Moya calls, “Where’s Akira?”

“Infirmary.” River replies, sitting down.

“Why is she in the infirmary?” Moya follows up.

“Because there were three of them in our area and two of them attacked her while only one attacked me.” She explains in her normal ‘It really doesn’t matter’ tone.

“Is she okay?” Cade asks with some kind of almost urgency.

Huh, never knew he really cared about the wellbeing of anyone other than himself and his dear-old daddy.

“She’ll be fine.” River replied, beginning her assault of the waffles on her plate.

And now I remember how hungry I actually am.


“So, I’ll be back in a bit.” Asshole Jr says, standing from the table.

“Where are you going?” Moya asks.

“Getting some fresh air.” He replies.

No he’s not.

He’s going to the infirmary.

Why would he want to visit her?

I guess he has visited Moya when she was in the infirmary, but that’s expected. When your partner’s in the infirmary, you’re not going out into the field anytime soon, so you’re expected to spend some time in there with them.

But you’re not expected to visit other pilots, and normally Asshole Jr only does what’s necessary to satisfy his daddy.

Maybe it’s a genuine concern for the wellbeing of someone he cares about.

Is that even possible?

I mean, is a member of General Asshole’s family even capable of feeling care towards anyone not in their family?

Huh. I’ll have to think about that one.

But, today I’m calling my parents.

Right after I finish my food.

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