"Isugoro. . . ."
A calming voice lulls through my ears, one of the only things that holds some type of presence in this void I find myself floating in. Darkness has consumed my consciousness. . . . I can't tell you what day it is, what time it is . . . or if I'm even still alive. Hell, for all I know, this is my own personal purgatory, and this is a messenger coming to send me to my final destination. Heaven and Hell have never been my top priorities, not since I was younger when my family would go to the services at the local chapel.
I remember feeling like I didn't belong in such a holy place, honoring a God I couldn't comprehend, not to mention see. I was a one-track minded kid, and for me, if I couldn't see it or feel it, than it obviously didn't exist. I mean, all things in the universe are feasible, even air can be contained. So, how can a God that I can't see physically truly be there? Invisibility is an idea that is too broad to place His existence under, and a different dimension is a ludicrous argument. To exist, but at the same time not is impossible, for the divine who watches over us must be within our reality to create it. It's a simple notion.
Without warning, I feel chilled air surround me, and in mere seconds, the darkness lets in the light of the true world. My eyes snap open with a surprise, and I look to see where exactly where I am.
Quickly, I assess I'm in a medical room, laying down with an IV and all the shit that you expect after what happened. The space is eerily familiar, but I can't put my finger on it.
"God dammit, Goro, you're an ass."
I blink, looking over to see Cent staring at me, grinning at me. I chuckle. "How am I an ass . . . Mr. Leprechaun?" I ask.
Cent laughs, and he pats me on the shoulder. "Dude, do you do all you can to give me and everyone else a heart attack?" Cent asks rhetorically, before continuing, "When I heard that you'd been beat to a pulp in the Detention Sector, I had to do a lot of coaxing to get Captain Sumpti to let me come check on you."
"I'm sorry man. . . ." I trail, "How bad are my injuries . . . anyway?"
"You are probably the luckiest idiot I've ever seen," Cent comments, "The doc said that you hadn't actually broken your leg, and only one of your ribs were broken, and it was about a half-inch from stabbing into your lung. The rest that were thought to be broken were just fractures, though the asses did break your nose and give you one lovely black eye. Arms are fine, just bruising, and there were no wounds to your neck. As for organs, your liver and spleen were bruised, with some minor injury to a few others, but that's it."
"You make it sound . . . so forgiving," I reply.
"That's because you're already half-way healed."
My eyes widen, shocked. I raise my head cautiously to look at him better. "What . . . do you mean I'm already half-way he-" I start.
"I mean exactly what I said, you're already half-way healed up," Cent interrupts, "You've been out for about nine days."
If it were possible, I'm sure my eyes would have popped out of my head after hearing the news. Nine days?! I've been unconscious for nine days?!
Cent watches my reaction, his smile fading as his thoughts turn to something more serious in contrast to our interactions before. ". . . You scared the shit out of her," he comments bluntly.
It only takes me a moment to know who he's referring to, and I sigh.
"How'd she find out?" I ask.
"Kasami told her, she's been under his care since you were sent downstairs," Cent answers, "Yeah, she apparently had a fit, and begged Kasami to let her see how you were doing. . . . She said that you remind her of her older brother."
"Did they let her come?"
"Yeah, a few days ago. . . ." Cent trails, thinking back to the incident, "I think four or five officers escorted her up from the pre-registration section of the Jeweloid Sector, but they allowed her to come in alone. I was around when she came in, and shit bro, she saw you, and her skin went from white to translucent."
My brow furrows. This is not what I wanted to be hearing.
"At the time, you were still on a ventilator for safety measures, so you looked like you were on the brink of dying, even though we'd all been assured that you'd make a full recovery in a few months. . . . It was messed up, she just kept apologizing for what happened," Cent continues, "I think she blames herself for everything that has happened."
"It's not," I comment.
"I know, I told her that," Cent replies, "But she just shook her head, and said "Those bastards beat him up 'cause they thought he did something to me. This is all connected to me, so even though it's not what you want to believe, I do hold some responsibility for their actions." . . . I didn't know what to say to that."
"I wouldn't have either. . . ." I trail, thinking over the events Cent has described.
Silence takes over, and the atmosphere stiffens as we both review the past few days. Though, Cent being Cent, sighs, not allowing the conversation to end on a chord as bitter as it could have.
"Well, she'll be happy to know you're awake and doing well," Cent says.
I grin, "I'd hope so."
"So, he's awake?"
Cent and I blink, turning to see two people standing in the doorway; a man and woman. The man is a doctor I've become well acquainted with, Dr. Stronos, though the woman is someone I've never met before. She's pretty, her built average, her skin tanned, her hair dark, thick and full of volume. Her eyes are dark green, and shine from an inner power that resembles her obvious confidence. She follows Dr. Stronos in, and when she catches my eyes, she smiles, her countenance warm.
"Yeah, how're ya?" I say, chuckling.
Dr. Stronos smiles. "Mr. Jintez, I think I've had more interaction with you in these past two months than I've had with any other soldier in the past ten years," he comments, grinning, "I swear, you're just a magnet for injury, aren't you?"
I shrug as best I can, feeling the high tension in my arms from being dormant as I try to use the muscles. Dr. Stronos seems to notice my struggle, and takes hold of my right forearm, careful to not place his hand near the large purple and yellow bruises which have dotted my skin. Slowly, he bends my arm, the pain small until he gets to a 45 degree angle, a sudden jolt causing me to grunt. He notes the reaction, nodding at the woman to write down in his evaluation. He lays my arm back, then does the same with my opposing arm, the pain coming much soon than the other.
"Seems they focused more on your left side," he comments.
"They were trying to beat him to death," Cent says under his breath, looking away. I glance towards him, and catch his expression before he turns back. It's easy to tell that he's infuriated by what happened, and even more so by the fact that he wasn't there to do anything about it. I wish he wouldn't feel that way, but at the same time I guess it can't be helped. I mean, if our positions had been switched, I probably would be just as pissed, if not more.
"Isugoro, I'm going to have a look at you abdomen," Dr. Stronos says as he pulls down the covers. I nod, and lean my head back, not wanting to see the brunt of the attacks. I can sense that I'm badly bruised, made clear by the awkward sensation I get as I try to breathe out. To my surprise, I get a look at myself off the reflective metal shelf above my head (why they placed a shelf there of all places I don't understand).
I look awful. Holy shit, Cent wasn't joking when he said 'lovely black eye'. The skin surrounding my right eye looks to of just recently begun to go down in swelling, the weird purple tint making the blue of my eye seem more distinct than usual. My nose is all taped up, due to the fact that it's apparently broken, and mini bandages cover up other scratches and cuts. I groan in irritation as a thought passes through my head.
"Dear God, she saw me looking worse than this?" I say, my voice stronger.
Cent laughs. "Yup, saw you when that black eye was truly black, and your nose was even more bandaged up," Cent replies, "She said you looked like a battered mummy."
"Wonderful," I sigh, turning to look over at the window. I blink, surprised to see the woman right in my line of vision, staring at me. For that moment, she and I just looked at each other, all else disappearing. Something pulled at me, telling me that this woman had something important to say, but couldn't find the words to explain herself. Her eyes called for attention, yet lacked their previous fire to really state anything. Before I can say anything, she turns away, her back now to me.
Suddenly, my mind is overturned by a stabbing of pain. I jerk, causing further torture to my body as I let out a short yell. Dr. Stronos and Cent back up, startled by my outburst as the woman looks back over her shoulder to see the dilemma unfolding.
"W-What the hell?-" Cent stutters.
"I pressed too hard on his bruised liver. I apologize," Dr. Stronos interrupts, looking perplexed, "It must really be damaged if only that slight of pressure causes that reaction."
"Can you do anything about it?" Cent asks.
"Yes, but that's my distinction, not the doctor's."
Cent perks dramatically as we both hear a familiar voice. Looking over, I grin as I see Sammy leaning against the wall parallel the bed. She's in the attire she was wearing the first time I saw her, her bright orange locks in the side ponytail I remember from our first meeting. She seems to be in a good mood, her eyes of the same hue burning with a warmth as she spots me, chuckling in a way that I'm aware is all her own.
"Well, Mr. Goro, looks like you gotten someone riled up," she laughs. Cent blinks in surprise, not aware of my previous interactions with Sammy.
"How does she know your nickname?" he asks.
"I've run into her a few times," I answer, "Though she's usually yelling at me."
Sammy smirks, though she doesn't seem to be very interested in me anymore, she's turned her focus on Cent. "So, red head, what's your name? I didn't catch it," Sammy asks, walking over to the opposite side of the bed beside Dr. Stronos.
"Cent. Cent Armasons," Cent replies with a grin, adoring the attention she's giving him. Sammy smiles in response, making it rather obvious that she's flirting with him, even to Dr. Stronos, who's just watching out of boredom.
"QUARTZ, you were called up here for a reason," Dr. Stronos says, tapping Sammy on the shoulder. She looks back at him, and nods.
"Sorry about that," she apologizes, her orange eyes burning a bit cooler now. She glances back at Cent, before returning to me. She sighs, looking over my battered body, "They got you good . . . those damn idiots. There's a reason those fools are down there."
"QUARTZ," Dr. Stronos repeats.
With that, Sammy falls silent, closing her eyes as she places her hand over my sensitive liver injury. I cringe some as some pain jolts through my body, but I breathe calmly, trying to distract myself.
. . . You are one lucky idiot.
My eyes widen as I hear Sammy's voice trace my mind. Though, I relax and grin.
I'm aware, I've been told this repeatedly.
You could of been killed by those guys! . . . You're lucky none of those idiots pulled their Soul Weapons out on your ass!
I blink. That's true, none of them did use Soul Weapons. I didn't even notice that. Why didn't they use their weapons against me? If they had, they could have done a lot more damage to me, if not killed me.
Did they not want to kill me?
Sammy seems to hear my inner debate, speaking clearly in my mind.
I don't know what to make of their actions, I just know that you need to be a whole lot more careful if you think you're gonna be a partner, or go back down there to finish your sentence.
I'm surprised as she knows my intentions of returning to the Detention Sector, but then I get the reminder.
Ability of Mind, dumbo.
"Ok, here we go."
Without warning, I feel something changing in my body. My eyes shift quickly, looking down to see a warm yellow light over my abdomen. Within, I sense a difference, not a painful one, but it's something quite unusual, and therefore, uncomfortable. I begin to wiggle a bit, causing Dr. Stronos and Cent to hold me still as Sammy continues messing with me.
After about ten minutes, she stops, and the light vanishes. With it, I'm surprised to find that the pain has vanished as well. I look over, discovering that the large bruises have disappeared. My eyes widen in astonishment.
"H-How-" I stutter.
"QUARTZ healed you," Dr. Stronos explains, "Most Jeweloids with the Ability of Mind have the power to heal. QUARTZ is one of our stronger, and faster, healers, so we thought it'd be ok to help speed up your healing process."
I look back at Sammy, who's panting, sweat beads formed on her forehead. Healing me must of used a lot of her own energy, as she looks like she's about to pass out. I glance over to Cent, using my eyes to communicate to him to check on her. He quickly picks up my message, and hurries over to her side.
"Hey, you alright?" he asks.
She nods, still breathing rather rough. "I-I'm alright," she answers, "It just takes a lot to heal organs and bones. Skin and cartridge is a lot easier, and takes a lot less energy."
She then turns, and brings her hand up to rest over my eye, surprising me.
Without warning, the glow returns, now consuming my eye. Much faster than previous, the sensation takes over, and I sense the skin sinking back into normal appearance. Only a minute or two passes this time before she releases her touch, and the reaction from the three others is that of shock. I look back up at the reflective shelf to the surprise that my eye has returned ot what it normally looks like, all swelling gone. I turn back towards Sammy, and smile. "Thanks," I say.
She laughs lightly, "You're very welcome-"
Before I know what's happened, Cent is now kneeling on the ground, Sammy unconscious in his arms. It seems that doing both healings back to back were not the smartest ideas, and have zapped most of her energy. I lean over some, a bit worried to see beads of sweat formed on her forehead, her breathing heavy as she lays her head in the crook of Cent’s neck. Dr. Stronos requests a Jeweloid to assist Cent and him in taking her down to the Jeweloid Sector living quarters to lay her in her room. He turns to the curious woman. "Will you keep an eye on Mr. Jintez for me Ms. Hurrans?" Dr. Stronos asks.
She nods. "Of course Sir," she replies, her voice sweet. My eyes widen, realizing it was her voice that I heard just before I regained consciousness.
With a final nod to both of us, Dr. Stronos leads Cent, who's cradling Sammy in his arms (and enjoying it), out of the room, and disappears down the hall. Ms. Hurrans closes the door soon after, letting it go quietly. She moves silently about the room, going from the window to a chair in the nearby corner, back to the window again, then to the sink to have some water, before returning to the chair. It seems I'll have to be the one to break the ice.
"Who are you?" I ask simply, my tone flatter than I had intended.
She looks up at me, surprised that I'd actually speak to her. Though, it soon turns to cheerfulness, as she stands, and hurries over to my bedside. "I am Corporal Hurrans, though you can call me by my first name; Syria." she says with a warm smile.
I watch her for a moment, a bit unsure despite her aura being quite friendly and harmless. "Are you his assistant or something?" I ask.
"Yes, I'm currently learning to be a nurse, so I'm following the Doctor to see what the normal relationship between a nurse and a doctor is," she explains, "Though if I do say so myself, I am a pretty good shot."
I chuckle, feeling the previous barriers I had set were unnecessary. There's that confidence I saw lurking about in her eyes.
"Sorry you had to be involved with my issues," I apologize earnestly, "It seems I can't do anything but get injured."
"Don't apologize, I was actually asked to check in on you."
I blink. "By who?" I ask.
Syria smiles as she replies, "A friend of yours from down below, COBALT."
Did I mention that I really like that guy?
I grin, and lean back to look up at the pale blue ceiling. "Is that so?" I say.
"Yes, he seemed quite concerned when he asked me the last time I was down there," she replies.
A thought suddenly comes to mind, making me question her. "Why were you down in the Detention Sector?" I ask as I sit up enough that I can look her in the eye.
"I help out with weekly check-ups," she answers without a second spared, "I usually have COBALT, Mally, CITRINE-"
"He's one of the guys who beat me up," I state bluntly.
Syria catches her breath. "Oh, I-I'm so sorry. Damn it, he told me that too, I shouldn't of said that-" she starts.
"No, no, it's alright," I interrupt, "You didn't mean to. You have nothing to be sorry for, so don't apologize."
She watches me for a moment, then smiles. "I see why COBALT likes you, you seem to be a down to Earth kind of guy," she comments.
"I'll take that as a compliment," I chuckle.
"I mean it that way though. There aren't that many guys around this place that really treat Jeweloids as equals, so to see someone like you is a nice change," she replies, before she falls quiet, "May I ask you a question?"
"Shoot," I respond.
She hesitates to ask, but sighs. "The girl you and your friend were talking about . . . is that the new Jeweloid that got you sent to the Detention Sector in the first place?"
I pause as I register the question. I can understand why she was a bit reluctant to ask, Maggie could easily be a touchy subject if I allowed it to be. I fall back, finding the ceiling again as I make the decision to speak. "Yeah. . . . Her name is Maggie," I trail, rethinking our conversation from minutes ago.
Syria relaxes some, stepping back to the window as she speaks, "Ah, I hear she's a handful."
"She is, but it can't be helped. She has no idea what's going on, or where she is, not to mention she's dealing with the realization that her family and friends are gone. . . ."
The two of us fall silent, the atmosphere still again. This time though, she's the one that gets enough backbone to say something. "COBALT told me that you're wanting to finish out your sentence in the Detention Sector," she comments.
". . . That's correct," I reply.
A moment of silence passes. I know the thought of me going back down there after everything isn’t the smartest idea, but at this point I don’t see a better solution. I’m pretty sure if I was to abandon my sentence, Maggie would be sent down to finish it in my place. I don’t want to put her through that. I focus on the stagnant surface above us, beginning to fall into my thoughts. Syria seems to sense the seriousness of the decision I’m making as well, her expression showing her understanding as she looks back to the window.
Then, she finally speaks, "Would you do something for me?"
"Depends," I say, turning my head so I can look over at her.
She doesn’t speak quickly, before she looks over her shoulder to meet my gaze. Her expression is strong, her eyes unwavering. "Would you . . . " she trails, cautious, "keep an eye on him for me?"
My eyes widen, perplexed by her request. I don’t know what exactly I was expecting, but the thought that she’d request me to watch COBALT for her never passed through my mind. "Why?" I ask earnestly as I raise myself slightly.
". . . Let's just say . . . he's in more trouble than he makes it look. . . ." she replies.
"Wait, do you know the reason he's down there?" I ask, suddenly very intrigued by Syria.
Suddenly, her expression falters. A crack shows in her strong gaze, and she diverts her eyes, biting her lip slightly as she turns away. "Yes, but I can't tell you, you have to gain his trust so he will tell you himself," she responds, shutting down my hopes of discovering his secret, "He's of a society where trust is gained through support and mutual friendship."
"Isn't that still how it's made?" I say.
"I wouldn't say so, trust is just a nice way of saying "I'm using you" in our world," she puts bluntly, "The U.S. seems to of had some nice morals sewn into its people, at least the majority."
"He's from the U.S.?" I ask, honestly interested in learning more about COBALT.
"Born and raised in a suburb outside Washington D.C., he told me," Syria replies with a smile, "He said his home was along the same body of water that ran past the house of their first president."
"Uh . . ." I trail, finding myself drawing a blank, "It was . . . uh . . . I know this. . . ."
Syria finds my eyes again as I search my eyes for the information, and puts a hand over her mouth, trying to mute a laugh. Finally, after a few more moments, she gives. "George Washington, Isugoro," she laughs.
"I knew that!" I retort, causing her to laugh harder.
After a moment, she relaxes, and her countenance becomes more serious, but kind. "But will you look after him?" she asks, "I'm not able to go down there except for the checkups, and he's a good friend of mine, was before he even got put in that place."
I watch her a moment longer, before I grin, "I'll do it, I promise."
Syria smiles, her emotion bright as she bows slightly, "Thank you very much."
My expression brightens to a full smile, speaking warmly, "No problem."
After, we don't really speak anymore, it's actually spent of her making fun of me for forgetting who the hell George Washington was. I enjoy this though; interaction with normal people, human people, is scarce in my new chapter of life, so I appreciate any second I can get of it. Jeweloids aren't human, I've accepted that fact, but even so, I want to believe that beneath their almost immortal bodies, they do still hold on to their very human souls. COBALT has shown that, and like me, it seems Syria sees that too . . . but at what cost is our vision?