United Terran Government Academy #9

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Chapter 27

Before the wheelchair moves Étaín into the bathing radiance, Wei sits aside from Jean and Étaín who are waiting for him in front of the glass doors. Étaín is fast asleep in her chair, while Jean is browsing the Konsohkius Plane, his body gently resting on the ground beside Étaín's wheelchair. Wei is about to end his conversation with Hector but it ends up dragging longer than he originally planned.

"Jean and I are about to enter the operating room now. Talk to you later." Wei speaks into his Personal External Communicator.

"Wait, who's Jean?" Hector asks—his voice directly transmits into the speech recognition network of neurons in Wei's brain.

"Jean is the big guy who carried Étaín back from Pater using the harness Angelus made using his suit." Wei replies into his PEC.

"Ah, I see. Well alright. See ya on the first day of eighth year. Don't forget, it's a week from today." Wei hears Hector's voice inside his head once more as clear as Hector's dated PEC can receive and transmit Hector's voice.

"Okay... Don't be late," Wei quips.

"—I won't be!" Hector shouts, but when Wei receives his reply, there is only a slight difference in his voice. Wei's eardrums are circumvented so the audio of Hector's shouting sounds almost identical to when he speaks normally, as well as it would if Hector whispers. After years of using the Personal Internal Communicator to relay voice transmissions directly into his brain, Wei knows the subtleties in the audio when someone is shouting or whispering. Wei smirks.

"Riled up so easily. I can't wait to see your face when I beat you in our martial arts match." Wei speaks aloud.

"Don't be too confident. I was only there for three days, but I've learned a lot from those FCTC cadets." Hector replies.

"Don't assume you're the only one that learned anything. I was there too, remember?" Wei says.

"Yeah, yeah," Hector says dismissively, "shouldn't you be ending the call soon? Aren't you about to say goodbye to Étaín?" Hector says but coughs at the end of his question realizing what he's just said.

There's a long pause before Wei manages to respond.

"Yeah I should." Wei replies, and as he ends the call abruptly.

Wei rejoins Jean and Étaín. He sends a message to Jean without having to enter the Konsohkius Plane himself by sending a voice message through his PEC. Jean disconnects and the three of them enter the operating room through the glass doors that suddenly disintegrate.

---

Hector sighs in response to Wei suddenly ending the call. He turns over on his bed to lay on his back and his long hair lays messily on his face. He moves it away and sighs once more. He brings the back of his left wrist to the front of his face and touches the clunky looking metal PEC with his right index finger—he thinks about receiving the dated PEC from Mr. Teech on the first day of his schooling at Academy #9. He touches the clunky dated PEC around his wrist and a warm but mellow glow indicates its vitality. He thinks about calling Alexa, and suddenly the PEC vibrates to indicate it receives his thought command via the wireless transmitter from his PIC.

A moment passes—he hears long monotone beeps in his head until—"Hello? Hector, are you there?" Alexa's voice fills Hector's head. He smiles when he hears it and he can't help but think about her image—the time she bust into his apartment on the day of his race with Wei.

"I'm here Alexa thanks for taking the call. Can I come see you before you leave? Your departure is today right? What time is your flight anyway? I was going to ask if you could cut my hair before you left. It would me an awfully nice going away present," Hector bombards her with questions.

"Hector slow down..." Alexa says as she pauses to recollect her thoughts. 'How do I break it to him?' She wonders, not daring to say another word. 'The note!' She excitingly thinks.

"Hector... I need to go, but do me a favor and wear a a white shirt today."

"What? What are you talking about?" Hector asks confusedly.

"Just do it okay. And don't call me back until you do. But I'm really busy right now... uh... getting ready. Yeah. So please... just do that for me. Wear a a white shirt. Specifically one from the top left drawer of your cabinet, the one with the wide screen display on it. I'll take to you later, okay. Ciao!" Alexa abruptly ends the call.

"Dammit!" Hector says aloud. "That's the second time someone has hung up on me in the middle of a conversation!"

Hector sluggishly creeps out of bed and across the small room until he finds himself opening the top left drawer of his cabinet—curious to see why Alexa wants him wearing a white shirt specifically from this drawer. He slowly opens the drawer when he finds a note. It is a single piece of paper that is folded in half—on the top half it reads, 'To the one and only person I don't want to say goodbye to...' written in blue ink.

"Alexa's hand writing..." Hector whispers to himself.

Hector takes the note and sits on his bed, sulking the entire time. He reaches the end of the note when tears roll down both of his cheeks. He wipes them away with the back of his forearms, and he throws the note to the ground on his right while he falls backward onto his bed. After a moment, he curls up into a ball and quietly falls asleep from using every ounce of energy to fight the cold draining feeling of the void growing in his heart.

---

Hector opens his eyes and he sees large tree trunks all around him, shooting upward toward the sky. He lays on the hood of an ancient style car and he sighs.

"Another lucid dream. How tiresome. Why am I having these?" Hector asks rhetorically to the open air. He realizes at this time that there is a man to his left.

"As usual this guy doesn't have a face." He says. "I wonder where the woman is..."

He promptly slides off the car and hangs his head against the back of his neck. Looking straight up, he can't see anything except the branches and the leaves of the gigantic trees of the forest. These trees are not normal trees, they are extremely large and he can't even see the tops, let alone the sky beyond.

"Pheeew!" Hector whistles. "These are some monster sized trees. I wonder how they stack up against the Eco-City's outer wall. Ah well. I'm probably over exaggerating my imagination of the forest we held the Survival Camp at. These trees are unreal." He takes one last look at the extraordinary view of the gigantic trees until he turns his attention back at the man sitting on the car. He has both hands behind his head. "He's resting," Hector whispers. "Hmm... Where is that woman?" Hector says, when his stomach clenches and he falls to the ground, curling up into a fetal position. He closes his eyes and starts wailing. Darkness begins to swallow up the forest around him, and as he continues to wail even louder, the darkness quickly swallows everything up, until Hector is the only thing left in the void.

Eventually he calms himself down and embraces the darkness—his mind empties and he falls peacefully asleep. When he awakens his apartment is dark save for the shimmering lights of the city finding their way into the room. Hector yawns and commands the display on his cabinet to rise. In the meantime he shuffles toward the kitchenette and opens the refrigerator door. He looks upon the bare shelves and sighs. He shuffles back to his bed that is on the other side of the kitchenette's wall and falls backward onto his bed. The display is finally fully risen and it displays something, anything, just as long as it's able to take his mind away from reality. He's content with watching reruns of the most popular space operas. It lulls him into a waking unconsciousness that can be described as going into auto-pilot, but this doesn't last long as he falls back asleep with the display still on. His room flashes with lights from the space opera on the display while across an ocean, Alexa falls asleep after finalizing the arrangements of her stuff inside her new apartment at Eco-City #1.

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