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Nov 16, 2019 8:48 PM
Erol struggles with the concept of being a person
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"...He'll win this. He has to."

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Val laughs. "Like having to will make it happen."

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"If the kid is him, his past, then the kid survives. And for the kid to survive..."

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"...Yeah, I see it. So we win, we just have to deal with all the other metal heads. So just a few tens of thousands more to go!"

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Ashelin doesn't pass any of that on to Erol.

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And Val heads back to where he isn't alone, where there are other people to watch his back and make him feel less like a lost child. Of course, if anyone asks he'll say he's just going where he'll be the most help.

He flies low next to a cliff that overlooks a relatively empty space near the fighting. He's looking down. He doesn't see the metal head on the cliff until it's already jumped onto his cruiser. Val panics. There's a metal head next to him and he doesn't know what to do. He jumps up out of his seat, starts backing away over the wing. He has to get away from it, he's too focused on the threat from the metal head to wonder why it backs away and waits on the opposite wing.

Val shoots. The metal head goes over the edge and falls. There's a crack as the impact breaks its back and knocks its gem out of the socket.

Val is the only weight left on the cruiser. It flips. He falls. His neck breaks on impact.

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At least his fall was easy to spot; one of the medics finds him almost immediately.

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His helmet's wrecked. He's not moving. He's not breathing. It's possible he's technically dead at this point, but it's probably nothing several doses of green eco couldn't help with.

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Neck immobilized, helmet off. One dose of green eco. Revised assessment?

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There was brain damage, too much of the glow is concentrated around his skull for that not to be true. He starts breathing again but shallowly. "My gem?"

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It ended up right next to him, so it’s no problem at all to grab it and tuck it into a pocket.

”I’m going to get you off the battlefield now, okay?”

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"Fine." It's not like he can resist being taken home now anyway.

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It’s only after the fighting is done that he can think again, can wonder where Val is, no, don’t think about it, just find him.

Can’t find him, not on the ground or in the air. Not among the bodies, either (what if he got eaten?).

Doesn’t matter who knows anymore. Has anyone seen 858678? Does anyone know where he is? The last time he saw him was on a hellcat cruiser near the start of the battle...

No one recognizes the number but someone mentions seeing someone fall from a cruiser and if he isn’t dead then maybe he’s been moved and is getting medical attention?

Erol doesn’t stay to deal with the aftermath. The only thing that matters is Val.

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Val is at the hospital by the time Erol gets back to the city.

The medics ran out of green eco stabilizing everyone they could save. The hospital ran out of green eco getting the most important people back on their feet. They have the facilities to keep people alive during eco shortages, they have rooms and rooms of not-too-gratuitously-uncomfortable hospital accommodations, and they're still doing intake but those are almost all full with people whose lives are in danger on a scale of minutes to hours.

Val is at the hospital on a floating stretcher in a waiting room and no one seems to be paying much attention to him. Besides his ruined helmet they haven't taken his armor off. Someone taped a note to the stretcher for whenever someone gets to him.

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It takes Erol a while to find him but once he does someone is definitely paying attention to him.

”V...al, Val can you h...ear me?”

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"Yeah. Hi."

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“I c...ouldn’t find you, I though...t you were—eat...en and gone f...orever...”

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"Nah. I'm fine. I'll be fine. Soon as they find more eco."

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“You’d b...etter be.”

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"Is that a threat?"

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“N...o, I’m just sc...ared.”

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"It's fine. We won. What happened to... the dark warrior?"

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“...I d...on’t know. As s...oon as I could thi...nk I just tried t...o find you.”

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"You're sweet. I love you. You okay?"

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“I l...ove you so mu...ch. If you’re o...kay, I’m okay.”

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