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~Chapter 7B- Nirivo~

There’s a brief celebration at base with the success of the mission. Raul excitedly reports to General Lena about my work with the Survival Suit. With how effective it was today, I can see why they might mass-produce more of them.

Before heading out for the weekend Ilyana stops me, “Good work out there today.” She says.

“Thank you, Corporal.” I answer formally.

She rolls her eyes at me, “I told you. You can call me Ilyana.”

I laugh a little, “Ha, sorry Ilyana.”

“What’re you up to on your time off?” She asks.

“Probably going to hangout with Eu-” I stop myself, “Hangout at the house.” I quickly correct myself. I can’t believe I almost said Eugenio’s name.

“Do you want to do something?” Ilyana says hastily, her face turns slightly red.

She caught me off guard, it takes me a moment to say anything, “Umm. Sure,” I blurt out, “If you want to.”

Ilyana nervously nods, “Yeah, yeah I do. Ok, umm, do you know the plaza in town near here?”

“Yeah. That place is nice.” I respond, really unsure of myself, “Do you want to meet there this weekend?”

“Yeah. Sure! Sure. How’s the evening on Saturday sound?” Ilyana asks, sounding equally unsure of herself, “Maybe 6?”

“Yeah, that sounds great!” I say, trying to seem more confident than I truly am, “I’ll see you then.”

“Yeah, see you.” She smiles.

There are a few bruises on my body from the points where I took the most impacts. They’re a point of pride for me. I can do a lot of good with the Survival Suit. Maybe, I’d get the chance to bring down Eduardo Santoro personally. I like to think that would do my dad justice.

The news stations cover the events at the train station, citing it as a huge success of the military. They cut to footage of me in the Survival Suit. Eugenio and mom watch in amazement as they see me charge through gunfire at the train. Eugenio glances at me in excitement, knowing it’s me.

~Nirivo saves hostages~

Nirivo? I guess they’re using the name of the previous Survival Suit users for me. As long as they don’t name me, I’m fine with it.

The news station speaks to some of the soldiers outside of the perimeter. Rico comes on screen with one of the interviewers and my heart sinks. Please don’t say anything about me. I’d rather not have people know that it was me.

“Can you tell us anything about Nirivo?” The interviewers ask.

“Nirivo?” Rico asks.

“The one in the white and blue armor.”

“Oh yeah, I work with him. He’s a good kid.” Rico announces. I sink into my seat, “He’s a good kid. I don’t think he’d like me talking about him though. He’s a bit shy.”

I’m not shy. But he knew better than to out me. I see the time on the TV. It’s almost time to go meet Ilyana. I rush to my feet and for the door.

“Where are you going?” Mom asks.

“The Plaza.” I respond quickly.

Mom raises her eyebrow at me, “Oh, does my Juaquin have a date.”

I pause for a moment... Do I? I mutter, “Maybe.” as I walk out the door.

After taking the tram and reaching the plaza, I find it empty. People might be frightened after what happened at the train station the other day. But most of the RLA in Uneva is gone. There’s nothing to worry about. I take a seat near a picturesque fountain, sitting at the center of the plaza.

A tan girl in a summer dress comes towards the fountain, “Hey! Glad you made it.” She smiles. It takes me a moment to realize it’s Ilyana. Her hair is down to her shoulders, and it even looks like she’s wearing makeup. I’ve never seen her like this. She takes a seat next to me.

“Hey. Glad you did too.” I say, still a little stunned by her, “So, what do you want to do?”

Ilyana shrugs her shoulders, “I’m okay with anything.”

I glance around at the plaza and spot the movie theatre. Dad told me his first date with mom was to the movies, “Want to see a movie?”

“Sure.” Ilyana hops to her feet.

Fifteen minutes into the movie, I realize I made a mistake. I can’t help but fidget in my seat as the film goes on. I can’t remember the last time I sat through an entire movie all at once. There are scenic views of the countryside where the characters are traveling, and I just wish I was there myself.

Ilyana continually glances at me throughout the movie. She leans over to me and whispers, “Are you enjoying this?”

I look blankly at her for a moment before asking, “Are you?” If she’s enjoying herself, I don’t want to ruin it.

She rolls her eyes and smiles. “Let’s go.” She stands, takes my hands, and walks out of the theater with me.

“I could tell you’re not a movie-goer.” She exclaims as we leave. “I’m not much of one either honestly.”

I’m such an idiot. “Sorry, I dragged you in there. I’m sure we can find something else to do.”

Ilyana takes my hand, “I have an idea. I want to show you something.”

We head south of town and find a slope with large and rough rocks, leading down to a river. “When I was little, my siblings and I would play here a lot.” Ilyana let’s go of my hand and hops down to one of the rocks on the slope, arms fanned out to balance herself.

“Be careful!” I impulsively say.

Ilyana looks back at me with a raised eyebrow. I should know better than to doubt her. She can handle herself. I hop down to a rock next to her, and then to another beneath it. She follows close after. This is the sort of thing Melissa and I would’ve done when we were little.

When we finally reach the river at the bottom I look at Ilyana, she has a big smile on her face. For a while, we just walk along the river as it gets dark, allowing the waters to wash against our feet as we go.

“Do you have a girlfriend Juaquin?” Ilyana looks at me inquisitively, all nervousness around me has left her. I feel more comfortable too.

“No.” I say, watching her reaction, “Do you have a boyfriend?”

“No.” She says simply, “It’s been a while at least. It’s hard to find good men. Most men are terrible.”

“I hope I’m not one.” I comment.

“No no, you’re not. You’re one of the good ones.” She said. She looks at me for a moment before taking my hand as we continue along the river. She gives me a kiss before we part ways that night.

For a moment, I think about telling Ilyana about Eugenio. But I’m not sure how she’d take it. I’d like to think she’d understand, but I’m pretty sure she’s a strong supporter of the PCC. There’s a possibility she’d go as far as reporting him. No, she wouldn’t do that. I’m sure of it. But, I still don’t tell her.

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