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Chapter 6

The doctors insist I stay in the infirmary for a few days, even though I want nothing more than to get up and call Calix’s parents. Just tell them so I can stop worrying about it.

Because I think I broke my promise. And I’m worried what they’ll say.

Because, for SOME DAMN REASON, no phones are allowed in the infirmary!


None of the other pilots have come to see us at all, except River, who only came to see Akira. I spent about 10 minutes screaming at her for having her Gungram calibrated weirdly, which made it harder for Calix to control the damn thing, and during one of Akira’s 20-minute spans of consciousness, I yelled at her for eating while fighting in her Gungram. Because MAYBE WE WOULDN’T HAVE HAD TO GO OUT THERE IF SHE DIDN’T EAT WHILE FIGHTING ALIENS!!!


Another doctor shows up, carrying a clipboard.

“You don’t seem to have very many injuries. Just a few scrapes and bruises. Nothing worth keeping you here for a few days. You can go back to your room.” She says as I sit up and practically launch myself off the bed and run back through the halls of the base. I find my and Calix’s room and slam the door behind me.

I practically rip my phone out of my pocket and scroll through my contacts. I find his little brother’s name. Holden Brymer. Four years younger than Calix, only 14. I’m sure he would’ve volunteered if they had gone to his class first instead of mine and Calix’s, though Calix would never have let him actually go.

I suck in my breath before pressing his name and putting the phone to my ear. The 3 times it rings are 10 of the most stressful seconds of my life. I don’t want to have to leave a message. This isn’t something that should be relayed via a message.

He finally picks up just as the fourth ring begins to sound.

“Lux? Lux, is something wrong?” He asks, obviously questioning why I would be the one calling him. Today is Saturday, the day Calix and I usually call each of our families. He probably expected this call to come from Calix, not me.

“Hey Holden.” I say somewhat quietly.

“What is it? Where’s Calix?” He asks, not even bothering to ask me anything about myself.

“In the infirmary.” I reply.

“WHAT? IS HE OKAY?” Holden shouts into the phone.

“He’s... unconscious...” I reply.

“WHAT HAPPENED! Wait, nevermind, I know what happened. It was those damn aliens.” He reasons.


“Is he gonna be okay?”

“They... They don’t know.”

“Okay. I’m coming.” He states.

“NO! NO YOU ARE NOT COMING HERE YOU DUMBASS!” I shout back into the phone. I probably scared him into dropping the device.

“Yes I am.” He replies.

“No, you’re not.” I counter.

“Yes. I. Am.”

“Listen to me Holden.” I say, more seriously than I’ve ever talked to him, “You are NOT coming out here. I will NOT allow you to put yourself at risk like that. Calix would never forgive me or you. Don’t even think about it. I know you would’ve volunteered, but even then Calix would’ve said no. He would’ve gone instead of you. Because this is dangerous, and he doesn’t want you in harm’s way. I won’t allow you to come here and get yourself hurt.”

“But it’s my responsibility to take his place...” He begins.

“NO IT’S NOT!” I interrupt, “You have no responsibility in this situation. It’s my responsibility to visit him daily and stay emotionally and mentally stable while you stay there and focus on your grades. If you come here I promise I will have you arrested.”

“You can do that?”

“Yes. Yes I can. And I will.”

“I owe it to Calix...”

“NO, HOLDEN! HAVE YOU NOT BEEN LISTENING TO A WORD I’VE SAID? You don’t owe Calix anything. Nothing. Nothing at all. If you owe Calix anything, it’s to stay there, where the Gungrams can defend you and you’re relatively safe. If you came here your chance of dying will increase so fast you won’t even be able to keep up. And it’s not like we’d have the time to train you as extensively as they trained the rest of us. You will die. And I will not allow that. I owe that to Calix.”

“If he doesn’t wake up, I’m coming and piloting his robot.”

“He’ll wake up. I’m sure he’ll wake up.”

“I-I’m gonna tell Mom and Dad.” He says.


“Talk to you later.”



He hangs up and I hold the phone to my ear for a few seconds, as if he’ll ask me another question before my arm realizes that he’s hung up and I lower the phone.

I sit on my bed, staring at the metal floor. The smooth metal that chills your feet at night because they refused to put in a carpet and they don’t provide slippers or warm socks.

And suddenly tears slip down my cheeks.

Because Calix has left me alone.

And I don’t want to be alone.

“Dammit Calix...”

“If you don’t wake up...”

“I’ll smash the damned xbox...”

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