RECOVERED MEMORY; WEN-1
JUNE3/10:43AM The walls are shaking again. Like thunder. I wonder how deep they've gotten now? Good thing we're so far in. This room was meant to hold. Too thick to breach, supposedly. We'll see if it crumbles under the weight of the Vex. "You're worried they'll get in here." It's almost like he can hear what I'm thinking… Then again, who knows what kinda dirty tech he put in our heads? "There are only two places on Europa I built to be impenetrable, and this room is one of them. Stop worrying, and activate the new model," he says. He's breaking protocol again. Every Exo and human in this room can see it. "Dr. Bray explicitly stated we were to wait for her return—" "I am the only Dr. Bray you take orders from now. We have to assume Elisabeth is dead." The talking robot head is just as cold as the old man was. What else would you expect from the psycho who died and made himself into an all-seeing AI? Here's to hoping the unconscious Exo in front of us is nothing like the real thing. "Now activate him immediately, or I will promptly deactivate you." Okay, okay. I trigger the Awakening Protocol. The Exo's eyes light up. It's confused. I remember that feeling. Who am I? Where am I? Where'd my skin go? At least we woke up with protocols in place. This guy's entering a war zone. Can't be pleasant. "Who am I? Where am I? Am I… metal?" the new guy asks. Called it. The AI takes the lead. "The answers to those questions are rather complicated, and our usual methods of easing you into this reality are not currently at our disposal. So I will attempt simplicity in my responses." The AI goes on to quickly explain where we are, what Exos are, how they work, and why they're important. "…And once you've completed your training, there will be a shiny new toy waiting for you to commemorate your accomplishment. Why? Because you're special. Unstoppable. A fighter and an intellectual—better than the rest. Nothing in the whole universe will be able to stop you," the AI finishes. "I see. That sounds… good. And who… what are you?" the new guy asks. "I'm glad you asked. I'm Clovis Bray. And you and I are—" "Why is he awake?" a voice demands. Dr. Bray—she's alive! Came in through the tunnel. This should be good. A couple Exos trail behind her: Noe-2 and Mia-9. "I thought you'd died, Elisabeth," says the AI, "So I asked Wen-1 here to wake him up." Dr. Bray flashes me an angry look. I ought to unplug the AI bastard. "So you broke protocol," she says. "I put the protocol in place, Elisabeth. I can break it. I only need someone I trust to initiate the signal." I can sense Dr. Bray's frustration. "The Vex are everywhere. We should be evacuating Europa. There's a group of survivors pinned down in Bunker E15. I need help rescuing them." "That can wait. I've equipped Charon's Crossing with an advanced signaling technology connected to the Warmind and his bunkers. If we match that to the communication signal used by the Vex, we could theoretically lead them off-world and salvage what we've built here. But the Vex have cut off internal communications channels and Cloud Memory Collection. You'll need to do it manually, Elisabeth," the AI says. "That'll lead the Vex straight to Mars. Earth. You've said it yourself: the Vex desire only annihilation. You're talking about billions of lives lost. I'll play no part in that," she says. "My sweet naive granddaughter. Humanity never stood a chance against the Vex, and those lives are expendable. Besides, each one lost is an Exo gained. Another soldier to fight against the Vex. The future is Exo. It's Bray. Our legacy—that's all that matters," the AI replies. The new guy's listening in. He may be a bit of a blank slate, but he's not digging any of this. Dr. Bray's jaw is clenched something fierce. Looks like she's gonna attack. I don't blame her. "Perhaps our legacy should be burnt to the ground," she says. "Elisabeth… are you planning to activate the Morning Star?" "Once I get everyone I can off-world, I'll do whatever I have to. We won't lose any more lives over this." Hell yeah, lady. "Everybody, listen up. Exos and able-bodied humans—I need you. Grab any weapons you can, and let's go," she says. We're all in. Weapons in hand, we start piling into the tunnel. Even the new guy, but Dr. Bray's not about it. "Hold on there. You haven't gone through any initiation protocols. You're not ready," she says. "If there are lives to be saved, that's where I need to be," the new guy replies. He's oddly determined. "Where you need to be," the AI interjects, "is with your family. Me." "Every instinct I have is telling me to reject you," the Exo retorts. Nice, new guy. I bet if Dr. Bray could smile, she'd be doing it right now. She grabs a gun out of a cache and tosses it to the new guy. "Perhaps you're ready after all," she says. New guy stands steady. Handles the weapon well. He's definitely ready for this; protocols be damned. "Elisabeth," the AI says. He wants the last word. As usual. "I will protect our legacy." "That makes two of us," she says and closes the tunnel door behind us. Badass.
RECOVERED MEMORY; KNOX-4
MAY19/5:00AM Another day, another Forage into 2082 Volantis. It's always the same. Every time, we enter into the Glassway where the portal resides. Defensive protocols go into effect. Portal gets activated. We take out any Vex that come through, then Dr. Bray leads our unit inside for further resource collection and exploration. I hope they don't make me go first this time. Front line usually gets picked off immediately. "Knox, you're taking lead today," she says. Of course. "Understood, Dr. Bray." Portal's activating. Next step should be— "Dr. Bray, we have a problem," Dr. Ruiz interrupts. Great. Wonder what's wrong? "Talk to me," Dr. Bray replies. "Noe-2 noticed a critical error in our surveillance tech on the alien side of the portal. The sensors are offline. Can't tell what's coming through without them." "Has that ever happened before?" "…No." Dr. Bray takes a pause. Then, "Shut it down." "We'll need authorization." "I'm authorizing it." "His authorization." Clovis doesn't trust her to make the big calls. It drives her insane. "Listen, Esteban. Clovis is currently on a respirator in a coma. He's likely going to be dead within the next 24 hours. So, with all due respect, I am making the calls now—" *LOUD MECHANICAL NOISES* What was that? Came from the portal. Everyone's looking. Something's coming! *LOUD EXPLOSION* "MINOTAUR! FIRE ALL CANONS!" Dr. Bray yells. She's got this. The Minotaur's coming through. We're firing. Nothing's working. Maybe she doesn't got this. "ROCKETS!" another Exo screams. Dr. Bray's trying. We're all trying. This thing is something fierce. And it's not alone. "We've got Goblins!" someone exclaims. They keep pouring through. Non-stop. I'm firing away. This isn't normal. It's too many. "Incoming!" Dr. Ruiz screams. What the hell is that?! It's like a Vex Hydra but… WAY bigger and with a wraparound shield. It's destroying everything. Shards of Exos rain down on us. They just keep coming. No end in sight. I'm firing every last bullet I have, but it's not enough. "Ruiz—shut it down, now!" Dr. Bray yells. He isn't shutting anything down. He's just a mangled corpse now. Dr. Bray sees it. "Evacuate immediately! Go, go, go!" she shouts as she and a few others run, barely escaping. I try. I run as far as I can, but it's no use. They're on me now. Ripping out my arms. Pinning me to the floor. This is it for me. Maybe I'll be brought back as Knox-5. But if not? Well… I close my eyes. A woman smiles at me. She's cooking pierogis. Must be Mom. Can't wait to try them. It's good to be home again.
RECOVERED MEMORY; WESLEY-3
JUNE3/2:12PM Haven't been here in a while. Had me working on that satellite dish last time. "Where are we?" the new Exo asks. He always has so many questions. Fine, I'll bite. "Charon's Crossing. Main comms station for Eventide to connect with the rest of the Sol system," I say. "This is the place that AI mentioned… I thought we weren't coming here." Dr. Bray steps in. "We're just making sure Clovis can't get what he wants. I'm sending a distress call, and then we're jamming all external comm links. We'll meet back up with the others when we're done here." New Exo's still a bit confused. He's got a million questions. When it comes to the Brays, we all do. "Wesley. Did you forget why I brought you?" Dr. Bray interjects. I didn't forget. Just distracted. "I was waiting for you to send the signal, Dr. Bray," I reply. "Drop the formalities, Wes. Just prep the jammer, please." Okay, okay. Getting to it. New Exo's standing guard at the door. Dr. Bray brought him as extra muscle, she claims. I think she just doesn't want him out of her sight. "So… the AI called you granddaughter," the new Exo says. He's not holding back anymore. Wonder if she'll tell him. "That he did," she says. "And he called me family. So… you and I are related?" "Something like that." "You don't want to tell me?" "We shouldn't discuss an Identity Upload without proper protocol because it could cause unwanted side effects." "I may've been activated today, but I'm not stupid. What aren't you telling me?" We all know the truth. Just tell the poor guy. Dr. Bray sighs. "Unlike Clovis, I have no intention of guiding your fate. If it were up to me, you wouldn't exist in the first place." That was… harsh. New Exo looks hurt. "I just want to understand why I'm here." Dr. Bray lets up a bit. "Look… I'm sorry. But you should realize how lucky you are. You have a second chance here. Trust me when I tell you you're better off not knowing." "So you're deciding for me too. Like Clovis." Got her. "I am not Clovis." "My attention switches back to the task in front of me. Uh oh. Something's wrong with these systems. "Sorry to cut this exciting chat short, but our whole comms system is being overridden," I say. "Clovis." Dr. Bray is furious. "That damn liar… Our internal comms systems aren't down at all. He's going to get billions of people killed. Screw this. We have to get everyone on that evac ship immediately. Then, I'll deal with the Vex and Clovis. End this for good." My god. She's actually going to do it. She's gonna blow up the whole damn moon. This family is insane. I have to get out of here. And then I never want to see another Bray again.
RECOVERED MEMORY; REBA-3
JUNE3/5:01PM Elsie, er, I mean, Dr. Bray just arrived with some bad news: the Clovis AI is sending the Vex off-world. She's got a plan to stop it but won't pull the trigger until we're all safe. I admire her. We had some bad news of our own to give in return. We tried to evacuate everyone in the Bunker E15, but it was too late. Vex had killed everyone in there. It was… horrific. RIP, friends… Dr. Bray says she's forming a plan to reach the evac ships, but she's been sitting in silence for the last five minutes. I think she's feeling guilty. For not getting back to the bunker in time. Or maybe she's thinking about how this whole Vex takeover is partly her fault in the first place. Facilitating the forages to Volantis. Killing countless Vex. If only she knew the truth. What Clovis did to her. I've been dying to tell her. But I haven't. Because, well, I didn't want to end up like her. But I can barely stand it. We were friends. Good friends. Now she only knows me as Reba-3. Oh, here she goes. "Listen up, everyone. The Vex have to be in the tunnels by now. So we're going by foot in the snow to get to the ship. Our destination is 55°52 N, 44°11 W, in case you get lost. I want every Exo to turn their Infrasensors on and ensure their weapons are loaded and ready. We will get all of you off-world. I promise." Dr. Bray has always been eagerly empathetic, but she's never been in a place to act it. Until now. She takes the lead position, with that new Exo at her side. Here we go. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- It's dark. And windy. The Infrasensors help us see Vex every few meters through this snowstorm. We get the drop each time, but for how long? *GUNFIRE* Spoke too soon. I've got two on my left. *GUNFIRE* Got 'em. *GUNFIRE* Got me. "Reba's down!" *GUNFIRE* Thanks for the cover, new Exo. But you're about 10 seconds too late. And I can't move anymore. Dr. Bray kneels next to me. "Reba… I'm sorry." "It's what we signed up for, isn't it?" I say. Not really, though. We signed up to live forever. I'm just trying to be supportive of others as I lay dying. This damn empathy protocol. It's what made Elsie and I such good friends. "I'll recover your Memory Bank from the Archives. I promise," she says. I doubt it. But if she does manage to get back into the lab… "Elsie. Bank E1-815. It's in his office." That's the best I can do for her. Because it…s a…ll….fadi…….ng……to……em…ptine….ss…no……w…………………………………………………………………
RECOVERED MEMORY; HECTOR-6
JUNE3/9:34PM Can't believe we're back at Eventide. The place is in ruins. Sad to see it this way. But I need to get off Europa. Rumor is Dr. Bray's going to blow up the whole place. "Evac ship's in sight at 11 o'clock." Thanks for the callout, nameless Exo. "Everyone. Hold!" Dr. Bray says and points out the Vex around the evac ship. "We're going to have to do this carefully," she tells us. "Everyone—" "Elisabeth," a familiar voice says. Oh no. It's the AI. He's overridden all our comms. We can all hear him. "Do not set foot on that ship." "Piss off, Grandfather," she snaps. "And you, my new friend? What will you do?" the AI asks. He's talking to the nameless one now. What the hell is he planning? Dr. Bray looks to the nameless Exo. She shakes her head, signaling him not to say anything. But he looks mad. Seemed mad at her since they got here. "Tell me who I am, and I'll stay behind," the Exo says. Really? Family drama? Dr. Bray's furious. "We don't have time for this!" "My friend, I'm surprised you haven't figured it out by now," the AI responds. "I'm Clovis Bray. Like you," the Exo says. "That's right. Clovis-1," the AI says, sounding almost giddy. "But I can't remember anything about my life." "By design. You were stripped down to your most basic emotional form, like all Exos. But help me keep your friends from leaving, and I will tell you everything about your life." There's a pause. Dr. Bray shakes her head at Clovis-1. "Please," she starts, "we don't need another Clovis." I've seen her speak sincerely before, but this is way beyond that. This feels more like… begging. Clovis-1 and Dr. Bray share a look. "Piss off, old man," Clovis-1 says into his comms. Dr. Bray is utterly thrilled. We all are. Phew. "So you still refuse to acknowledge your god. So be it," the AI says. What the hell does that mean— *HUGE EXPLOSION* SYSTEMS OFFLINE
RECOVERED MEMORY; UNA-8
MAY19/8:00AM Something's happened. They won't tell us what just yet. But Elisabeth Bray is here now, looking beaten up. "Wake him up," she demands. Wake him up? He's practically dead. "Are you okay, Dr. Bray? You don't look so good," I say. "Una. Wake him up, right now." That tone. She's not playing around. Fine. "He's beginning to wake." "Thank you, Una. Grandfather, can you hear me?" she asks. "E…. Elisabeth?" the man wheezes from his respirator. He can barely breathe let alone speak. Why is she bothering him like this at the end of his life? "Don't try to speak. Just listen. The Glassway has been compromised. We were ambushed by the Vex. They just came through and… killed them all, Grandfather." Uh, what? "I managed to trigger the remaining defenses on my way out, but they won't hold. The portal is just sitting there, open. They're pouring through. I'm activating the evacuation protocol. Please give me the codes to do so." "My… backup," Clovis chokes out. "Activate it." "But that means…" "I die. Yes. But my… time is not yet… over." I clean up the blood spitting out of his mouth as he talks. Everyone deserves a little dignity on their death bed. "There's no time, Grandfather. We have to evacuate, or people die." The old man's eyes say he knows. "Legacy first… Elisabeth," he says. She's a bleeding heart beneath it all. Doesn't matter how many times they reset us—can't lose the essence of who we are at our core. Every Exo knows that. Dr. Bray stands. She turns to leave. "Fine." That can't be it, can it? She stops at the door. "You'll regret this. Whether you live or not."
RECOVERED MEMORY; MIA-9
JUNE3/9:45PM *Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee* The ringing… It's starting to even out. I get back to my feet. Our evac ship… It's gone. The AI destroyed it. Nearly killed us all in the process. In fact, I think he got some of us… He did. Oh god. Hector… He's not the only one. "What… what did he do?" Clovis-1 asks. We're all wondering the same thing. All experiencing the same shock. He helps Dr. Bray to her feet. She's pretty beaten up. "Grandfather… you monster," is the only thing she can bring herself to say. He's on our comms again. "A necessary evil, Granddaughter. Now, as I said before, the Vex will follow the signal off-world, and when they're all gone, we can close the portal and resume production. If you want to survive in the meantime, I would suggest coming back to Exoscience. To me." I don't think any of us are eager to do that. Especially not Dr. Bray. She's leaning on Clovis-1 for support. I've never seen her so defeated. "He won," she utters. Don't say that. "Not yet," Clovis-1 replies. He's got some fire in him still. "There's nothing more we can do. The AI outplayed us." "We can shut off that portal." "And how do you think we're going to do that? Look at us. We're barely standing." "When Clovis woke me, he told me I was special. Said he had a powerful weapon for me. Called me unstoppable. But that I need my training first." She stares at him like he's crazy. Not yet convinced. "This is our fault, Elsie. Regardless of what we look like now, we're Brays. Without us, these people would all still be alive. We owe it to them to fight to our last breath." Guy's got a point. Dr. Bray nods. Hell, I'm nodding. Everyone still alive is in. Let's do this.
RECOVERED MEMORY; ANJOLI-7
JUNE4/1:05AM So the AI doesn't care if we live or die. Okay, then. Let's take matters into our own hands. It's hard to stay quiet with all of us packed into Clovis's office. Didn't get here without a fight, though. Even the secret tunnel we snuck through was rampant with Vex. Lost more of us on the way. They're everywhere here too, but fortunately, the walls and windows of Clovis's office are reinforced to handle this kind of thing. Spare no expense, he always said. Though it only ever seemed to apply to himself. Clovis-1's been strapped in, running through the Exo Training Protocol. His stats are beyond what we've ever seen. Breaking records. Nearly breaking the programs themselves. Then again, of course he is. Clovis built him that way. The guy wanted to be the best, alive or dead. "If I were Vex, I'd be turning tail and running for my life," Clovis-1 says, rising from the training module. "Let's put you to the test then," Dr. Bray says and points to a locked weapons cabinet. Inside are two weapons. One's a glimmering Pulse Rifle, the other a brilliant Sword with a blade like a chain saw. Thing looks like it could cut through titanium. We tried to bypass the cabinet's security while Clovis-1 was training, but no luck. The weapons cabinet scans Clovis-1 as he approaches. "Welcome back, Clovis," it says as it unlocks. He takes the Sword in hand and smiles. "You should take that one," Clovis-1 tells Dr. Bray. "Should I, now?" "How else are we gonna look awesome taking the Vex down together?" She nods. Grabs the rifle and slings it over her shoulder. Looks badass. Dr. Bray grabs something else from the cabinet and pockets it. Looked like a memory bank. Why does she need that? "How's it feel?" Dr. Bray asks. "Like it was made for me," Clovis-1 says, admiring the craftsmanship of the Sword. "In fact, it was," a voice booms over the PA system. The AI again. Always watching. Always listening. "You should know, strong as you are, this is likely suicide. The Vex truly have disrupted the Cloud Memory Collection system, so your memory banks are no longer transmitting data moment to moment. Anyone who dies out there will be rebuilt here from their previous imprint." "Then we take imprints now and live with it. Some will stay here. To keep bringing the rest of us back," Dr. Bray says. She makes a good point. "Rapid Memory Degradation aside, the Vex are many, and they are cunning. It won't be long before they catch on and come after you here. If you're to do this… you'd best fight with everything you've got." Something lights up outside the office and down the hall. "I've unlocked the armory. Foolish as you may be, I'd be the bigger fool not to support you in trying." "This doesn't forgive what you've done. People died. People we can't bring back," Dr. Bray says. She doesn't back down. "I seek no forgiveness. Only a promise." Always an angle. "Do not destroy the portal." "Who said anything about destroying it?" The AI sighs. "You. The first time you tried." "…First time?" "The memory bank you just slipped in your pocket. That belonged to Elisabeth-1." Dr. Bray just shakes her head. "Why?" "Because I wanted you on my side." Clovis-1 is mad. "It's too late for that." Dr. Bray puts a hand on his shoulder. Calms him down. "We won't destroy it, Clovis," she says, winking at Clovis-1. "Well, then. Stock up, everyone. You have quite the fight ahead of you."
RECOVERED MEMORY; NOE-2
JUNE4/6:00AM We storm Europa with everything we have. I've never seen anything like it. His strength, agility—unmatched. Vex after Vex, sliced through like butter, that Sword of his wailing like a banshee seeking vengeance, carrying the weight of thousands of lost souls. It seems like a pain lingers inside Clovis-1. As if he fights not just for those we've lost, but to fill a void that was occupied by fear in a previous life. Likely the same fear that brought every one of us to Europa and opened the very gates of hell. That void begins to fill once again, this time not with fear, but with love. Dr. Bray stands valiantly alongside him, rifle in hand, leading the charge with ferocity and strength of will. These are the leaders we needed. Leaders guided by hope. We fall. We rise. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. We fight alongside them. Those of us who can make our way across Europa and into the Glassway where the portal resides. We fall. We rise. 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20. Over and over, we fight. We fall. We rise. Rinse and repeat. 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30. Every time, we get a little bit closer. Every time, more and more Vex bodies pile up. It infuriates them. They flow faster, they fight harder, the numbers increase. They know now what we're after. They throw everything at us. But Clovis-30 and Dr. Bray are unrelenting—Sword slicing effortlessly, stroke after stroke. Rifle blaring like thunder, bullet after bullet. We fall. We rise. 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40. The constant reboots aren't without sacrifice. A number of memory banks begin to fry from rapid overuse. A few of us are never coming back. We know this. We rise. 41, 42, 43. We finally make it to the inner chamber of the Glassway, where the portal resides. It's barely visible, blocked by the horde of Vex that defend and pour from it. In the midst of it all is a giant Vex, the one Dr. Bray told us about. A floating doomsday Vex with the wraparound shield that resembles a Hydra. There is no fear in their faces. In the midst of all this, the two Brays stand strong. They rally the few of us that remain. Lead us towards a task far beyond daunting. One that should by all rights be impossible. But they show us the truth. That with enough courage and compassion, anything's possible. Together, they're the lament that carries the voices of every soul lost to these mindless machines. With Clovis-43's final strike, the blade shatters into pieces. He doesn't care—the deed is done. As the final piece of that monstrous Hydra hits the ground, we burst into cheers. The very few of us that remain. Dr. Bray lets me do the honors. After all, I was there when this all started. The command runs. The portal shuts off. We did it. "And now, we destroy it," Clovis-43 says. He wants it gone for good. "No," Dr. Bray says. What? I thought she would agree. "You know what this did. It has to go." "Clovis. You, me, and every other Exo… we deserve the life we were promised. If this portal falls, and we die, we lose that life. And if we're gone, and the Vex find some other way back, humanity is doomed. So, let's shut it down. Hell, let's swallow the damn key. But the portal stays." Clovis-43 sighs. "I hope I don't live to regret this." "Same goes," she says sincerely.
RECOVERED MEMORY; CLOVIS-43
JUNE13/3:46PM "So it's come to this," I say, trying to be cheeky. "Come to what?" Elsie asks. "I didn't bring you back to Exoscience just to take a stroll through a snowstorm," I say. She laughs. "No, I didn't think you did." "I have a gift for you. Through those doors." "He's through those doors." "Exactly." I pat her on the shoulder before we walk inside to find the Clovis AI all alone. "If it isn't the saviors of Europa. Done cleaning up the rest of the colony?" the AI asks. "Just about," I say, nodding to Elsie. The AI knows what's coming. "You don't have to do this, Clovis-1." "It's 43, now. And my name isn't Clovis. Not anymore," I say and look to Elsie. "Do the honors?" "Gladly." She steps toward the main console. Scans in. "But I—" he tries to plead. We're not letting his snake oil words land on slick ears ever again. She enters a series of complex code into the console. Then says the final magic words. "Deactivate artificial intelligence." The light in the giant Exo's eyes goes out. If Elsie could smile, I know it would be huge. "Well then," she says, "can we finally get off this icy hell moon?" Not quite yet. "I've got one last request." ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- "You're sure about this? "This is the last of the radiolarian fluid, you know," she says. Many of the souls we lost at the hands of the Vex and the terror of Clovis were gone for good. But we managed to bring a few back. Got them all off-world. Now it's just us. Soon to part ways forever. I get her apprehension. Elsie finally gets a grandfather worth her time, and now I'm about to get a fresh reboot. She deserves to know why. "When we added Bank E1-815 to your current imprint, all those memories came back to you. About your family. Sisters. Brother. Mother and father. About the pain. The loss. The guilt." "Yeah…" "Elsie, I caused that." "You're not him." "I'll always be the ghost of him. No matter how hard we try to ignore it. And you… you deserve to be free from that person." She bows her head, which tells me she agrees. It pains me to no end. There was a world where we were a happy family. This isn't it. We both know it. I place a tablet in front of her. "What's this?" "It's his journal. Yours if you want it. Lock it away if you don't. It's mostly encrypted, anyway. I read a bit. The kind of person I was… fear driven. Obsessed with legacy. I won't become that. Not again. It's time for you and your siblings to rebuild the Bray legacy the right way. Or tear the whole damn thing down." I can see how badly she wants to. Maybe she will someday. "All right then," she says. I don't really know how to say goodbye. But she does. She pulls me in for the first hug I've ever had. Holds me tight. We share the moment. A reverie of what could have been. A passing glance through the looking glass. Wish I could shed a tear right now. Doesn't matter—I feel it anyway. She does too. "Do me a favor?" I ask. "Anything." "That nickname the other Exos gave me… add it to my imprint? With my number?" She laughs. It's good to hear it one more time. "You really like it, don't you?" "It's growing on me." "Okay then, Banshee." I step into the pod. Doors close. I give her a little wave. Let's see what 44 has in store.