I wrapped the bandage around my hand as Astral walked into the room. I turned to her as she walked over to the stall.
“You know I'm here right?”
She stared at me as she opened the glass door.
“Does that matter?”
She walked into the stall and closed the door behind her. I was still a bit pissed from that morning’s events, but I’ve known to be the forgiving type. I turned on the faucet and let the water run to distract myself. I filled my hands with the water and splashed some on my face. I ran my hair back as well. I stared at myself in the mirror. My dog tags dangled from my neck, drips of sink water weighing it down. My scars covered my chest and abs, with patches of skin sewn on to cover up the hybrid parts.
The comment the Handler made earlier entered my mind, The Pyramids of Giza. I felt a cold chill run down my spine as it forced a groan out of my throat. I tried to think of something else but all I could think of was the sand and the savanna trees. The gold that covered the sky and the blood-soaked water hole.
I cupped another pool of water and splashed my face again. I felt mud on my face as the sound of rifles rang out. The sweat pouring down my face seemed only to weigh down my dog tags. The gun in my hand was only a prop as I coware behind a small tree. The bullets that hit the tree rattled my body. Yet through the sounds of chaos, a nightmarish cry that came from in front of me drowned out everything else. Luke was holding on to his gut as blood soaked his uniform. The medic was the first to get killed so Luke just laid there, propped up against a rock, screaming. As I listened, he cried for my help. He begged for it, but I couldn’t do anything. He kept screaming and screaming for me. My breaths quickened as Luke kept screaming.
Another soldier ran towards me before he was knocked down by enemy fire.
I saw the soldier's brains covered by the sand
His blood was everywhere.
“Shut up! Just shut up you idiot!”
I gasped for air as the tears mixed with the sink water. I stared at the sink which had overflowed with water. I turned off the faucet but I refused to look up, still trying to calm down.
“When was the last time the Order gave you a brain scan?”
I looked up at the mirror to see Astral behind me staring at me with a look of concern and confusion.
“Before the mission.” I said, still trying to regain myself.
“You should get another one after this mission.”
I let a soft chuckle out as I managed to relax myself.
“I’m afraid that it’s not really something a simple scan can fix.” I grabbed the towel and dried my face off.
“Jeremy, come with me.”
I put down the towel and turned to face her. “Why?”
“I’ll explain when we get there. But for now, can just put on a shirt and follow me?”
I followed her through the hallway outside into stairwell and up three flights. She walked a lot faster than I did, so once we got to the door she let it slam in front of my face.
“Thanks for that.” I mumbled as I pushed open the door. The sky glowed as the sun set in front of us. The all clear from the radiation storm never came so no one was supposed to be outside without protection, yet Astral was standing in front of me looking out at the city. The sun seemed to intensify her beauty tenfold and even with her radiant blonde hair gone, she still looked like a goddess. I felt my cold breath leave my body as I stood mezmorized for a moment. All my internal defenses fell as I looked at the literal painting in front of me, and the angel in the foreground that took all my attention.
“Why are we up here?” I was still mesmerized by Astral. She didn't reply. I just watched as she stood on the edge of the building. I slowly crept to her side as she continued to watch.
“Are you afraid?” She asked quietly
The question caught me off guard. There are a few things that I’m afraid of. As a hybrid, we are not supposed to fear. It’s in our code.
“I’m not supposed to.”
“But do you?” Her voice was harsher than before.
“Yes.” I felt every single beat of my heart. The blood that flowed through all the flesh and metal in my body kept speeding up, and I had no idea why.
“I had a fight with the Handler this morning.” Her voice was soft and gentle. “He talked about my family, and how they don’t care about me.”
She turned to look at me. Her eyes were wet. “I don’t want that to be true, but I’m afraid.”
“Look, Astral, I am not the person you’d want to go to when it comes to family.” I put my hand on her shoulder. “But, don’t kill me for this, I read your mom’s email. It’s something that I wish someone can tell me. Your mom does love you. And I know because even though she runs Alphacom and is 2, she put you as her top priority and email is proof.”
A small smile crept up on her face. My heart continued to fluster as I smiled back. “I can’t believe I just complimented 2.”
Astral laughed. “Now you realize that,”
The sun continued to sink away as we stood outside. Astral took her leave but I stayed outside. Astral had no idea what was happening to her. The entire conversation we just had should've never happened. We are under Orders and yet Astral can feel. Soon, she’ll be able to think. And with one final push, she’ll be like me: A Rouge.
A sharp ding rang across the city, followed by two more. The all clear had finally come, not that it mattered. Astral is still thinking about the mission. She doesn’t realize she’s in the crosshairs and I’m afraid.
I’m afraid of the crossfire that follows.
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