Ru stayed at the house while I went out to look for another victim for her. She's so lazy... but I can't disrespect her. I'm terrified of her... and what she would do to me if I didn't listen to her. I should have never opened that book all those years ago. As I was walking towards the fairgrounds which was the prime location for finding unsuspecting men, a bright light above me broke through the trees. I ducked down and covered my head but watched the light zoom across the sky. Everything went dark again but then I heard a loud crash and the sky lit back up. The bright white turned into a bright orange then a darker red... Fire? What was that thing? I quickly started heading in that direction and could already feel the heat coming from it. I got to the edge of the woods and stood behind a tree, peering around it at the crash site. Some giant metal spacecraft had crashed just outside the woods. No one else was around and I didn't want to get any closer. Even at this distance the heat was almost unbearable. I was about to shrug it off and turn around to head back into the woods when a door on the vessel burst open. I saw a dark figure standing in the doorway then toppling to the ground. I don't know what came across me, as I normally don't care about others, but I ran over to it. It was a man. He was in some spacesuit with a helmet that was all clouded up from the smoke so I couldn't see his face. He wasn't responsive so I tried my hardest to drag him away from the wreckage. His suit made him unbelievably heavy but I guess my adrenaline was pumping and it gave me the strength to move him. Just in time, too. As soon as I got him into the woods and sat him up against a tree, his ship exploded. More like the inside exploded. It wasn't like a nuke went off or anything but it still blew the trees back a little. Mmph.. the man mumbled. I was kneeling in front of him but scooted back a little. I wasn't sure how he would react when he woke. He mumbled again. I was going to wipe the ash and dirt off of his mask but his arms twitched and slowly he lifted them to his head. He struggled to get his helmet off because he was so weak from the crash. His hands collapsed back to the ground and his head hung forward. I hesitated at first but then I placed my hands on the sides of his mask and gently lifted it off of his head. His dark black hair swung down and covered his face again so I still couldn't see him. I placed his helmet on the ground beside me and tilted my head to the right as I stared at him. He looked like a normal person and not some alien monstrosity... I went to brush the hair away from his face but as soon as I touched him, his hand shot up and firmly grabbed my wrist. I gasped and tried to get away from him. Who are you? he said in a deep voice without lifting his head. I.. my name.. is Vao.. I was trying t-to help.. He let go of my wrist and his hand fell to the ground again. I could tell he was incredibly exhausted. If you'd.. just let me.. help you.. I can bring you back to my place so you can rest for the night. He murmured some kind of response and held up a shaky hand. I grabbed it gently and helped him stand up. He was starting to black out as soon as he stood up and it took all I could do to hold him. He leaned against me and I tried hard not to fall over. I should mention that this man was a good foot and a half taller than me. I managed to get his arm around my shoulders so I could walk with him. I used my tail to pick up his helmet and bring it with us.



It seemed like ages but I finally got him back to the house. I had completely forgotten about Ru and was nervous to see what she was going to do. I got him inside and shuffled over to the couch where I slowly and carefully placed him. I had him lay down and when I turned around Ru was in my face. Is this my dinner? she asked as she pushed past me. She was examining him when I yelled Ru, stop! and quickly covered my mouth. My heart was racing. What.. did you just say to me? she stopped and turned around. You will never tell me what to do, Vao. Understand? Y-Yes ma'am... I said, shaking. Ru turned back around to the man on the couch. She leaned over him and pulled her arm back, extending her nails as well, preparing to rip out his heart. Her hand flew forward and I covered my eyes because I didn't want to watch. Then I heard a loud thud and Ru gasping in pain. Her hand had hit metal and wasn't able to go through his body to his heart. She grabbed her hand with the other and looked at me, confused. I shrugged and walked over to examine him as well. I unzipped the suit he had on to reveal a metal chest. It wasn't skin. He wasn't human... Ru's eyes glowed red because she was so mad. What did you bring me, you idiot?! I stayed focused on this... man. I put my hand to the metal and leaned over to rest my ear on his chest. He had no heartbeat! My eyes widened and I looked back at Ru who was still holding her hand. Get that monster out of this house, Vao! Right now! she yelled at me. No. I said. I have no idea where it came from but I just said no. To Ru. A demon. She looked absolutely puzzled and her eyes glowed red again. She went to strike at me with her powers but nothing came out of her hand. She was too weak since she hadn't eaten any hearts that day. You're going to leave this man alone, Ru. Or I won't be going out to get you anymore hearts and you'll keep growing weaker. I said, crossing my arms. She huffed and disappeared into a cloud of black smoke. I sat on the edge of the couch and stared at that man again. I ran my hand along the exposed part of his metal chest. I moved my hand inside the zipper of his suit to see if his entire chest was metal and to my surprise... it wasn't. I felt soft, warm, skin. I quickly pulled my hand back and looked up at his face. His eyes were open and he was staring right at me. I felt my heart sink into my stomach. I stood up fast and apologized to him. I'm so sorry... I uh.. I don't know what to say. His voice was shaky and weak but he softly asked You've never.. seen a cyborg.. h-have you? A.. cyborg? I responded. H-Half man... half robot... he said in an exhale and closed his eyes again. He needed to rest... Ru wasn't going to be able to do anything to him so I should have felt comfortable leaving him there alone for the night but instead I decided to sleep in the other chair in our living room just in case.

- ❧ -

When I woke, the man was still sleeping on the couch. He looked untouched and Ru was nowhere to be seen. I used the hairband on my wrist to put my hair up and walked into the kitchen that was connected to our living room, opened the fridge and got out some bacon and eggs and placed them in a pan. When they were done I put them on two plates and walked back into the living room. I guess the smell woke him up because he was somewhat sitting up on the couch, his hand on his head. Are you hungry? I asked politely. He shook his head to tell me no. You should really eat something... it will make you feel better. I tried handing him his plate. I don't eat. he replied. Oh... o-okay... well may I at least know your name? He rubbed his head a little more, clenching his hair in his hand and wincing a little. I felt bad for him knowing he was probably in a great amount of pain. I put the plates down on the coffee table and sat down next to him then placed my hand on his head. Here. I said calmly. My hand glowed bright teal and I saw his eyes widen. The glowing stopped and I removed my hand. Feel better? I asked. Yes... I do. Thank you. What was that? he asked, staring at my hand. I've practiced magic for a long time. That was just a spell to heal any head injuries you had. Well I appreciate it... thank you. My name is Recon. Or Adam. I go by either. I smiled. I like Adam. There was a bit of awkward silence... I straightened out my skirt and tried to think of something else to say. So... how did you become a cyborg..? I managed to ask and was facepalming on the inside because that's such a personal question. I live on a pretty technologically advanced planet named Basilon. he started. Apparently he didn't mind the personal questions. I was an average guy working in a science facility. The creator of the plant had an idea to make a superhuman cyborg but no one was willing to be his test subject. I had nothing going on in my life and was somewhat in a dark place so I volunteered. He put me to sleep and when I woke I was half robot. I still don't really know how the old man pulled it off but here I am. He created me, or, well, the improved version of me, to gather information about other planets and their inhabitants. Hence the name Recon. I was very much intrigued. What made your ship crash? Honestly.. I don't remember. I don't even really remember crashing so I must have blacked out before my ship hit the ground. I do remember blasting the door open and then waking up in front of you. I had completely forgotten about the food on the table that was obviously cold by now. My stomach rumbled when I thought about it so I got up, picked up the plates, and carried them to the kitchen to microwave them. While I was out there waiting for my food to heat up, Adam asked What were you doing out there that late at night anyway? Is it typical for people on this planet to be out at night? I bit my lip and tried to think of an explanation but I couldn't think of anything that sounded plausible... so I just turned around and told him the truth. I kind of work for a demon... and she needs hearts to survive here so I... lure people home for her so she can steal and eat their hearts. It's crazy I know but don't freak out, please! I stared down at the floor, looking ashamed. Well she's not going to have any luck with me. I don't have a heart. Quickly I responded I didn't bring you here for her I swear! He laughed a little then winced and placed his hand over his stomach, sitting up completely on the couch. Are you.. still in pain? I asked shyly. It's nothing, I'll be fine. I'm just glad my head doesn't hurt anymore. Slowly, he stood up. I seriously need to stretch these muscles... I'm not completely robotic after all. he said with a slight chuckle again. He looked a little wobbly and it seemed like he was going to fall so I rushed over to help. Haha, I got it, I got it. I'm fine Vao. he said, placing a hand on the arm of the couch to steady himself. I appreciate everything you've done but I need to get back to my ship to see if my transmitter is still functional so I can try calling home. Mind walking me back? Sure. I replied. I didn't want him to leave though. It was nice having someone other than Ru around... and this guy was so... fascinating. I wanted to study him since I had never met a cyborg before and learn about his planet and his past. He looked down and saw the top half of his suit was still unzipped so he zipped it back up and grabbed his mask that I had placed on the coffee table last night after bringing him home. He wiped the ash off of the front of it and held it under his arm. We started walking towards the door when he grabbed his stomach again.

- ❧ -

I couldn't help but worry about him. Adam, please sit back down. You're still hurt. Let me heal you. I'm fine... he started to say then his words faded as he got a little woozy. I softly pushed on his chest, guiding him back to the couch. He plopped back down and wrapped both arms around his stomach, clenching his teeth from the pain. I have to unzip your suit to get to your body, okay? He slightly nodded and moved his arms as I slowly moved the zipper down it's track. I got it down to his stomach and gently placed my glowing hand on his skin. My glow started to fade quickly however and he coughed hard and brought up blood. Adam! I gasped. Why didn't my healing spell work?! I exclaimed. I tried it again with both hands this time. My glow flickered and faded again without healing him. Vao... he muttered, grabbing my hands. No, Adam, you're not fine. I'm going to get Ru. I bolted down the hallway to Ru's bedroom where I found her reading from some weird book that was glowing a dark, blood red. What are you doing?? She looked up from her book at me and smiled. You weren't getting rid of him so now I am. Ru, stop! I yelled. He was trying to leave! This is what happens when you disobey me, Vao. Ru, please. I'll go out and get you like five hearts today if you just stop what you're doing and let him leave. She rolled her eyes and put down the book. Only because I'm starving, you got that? Thank you. I said and ran back to the living room. Adam was still coughing up blood but wasn't in pain anymore. I knelt in front of him and wiped the blood leaking from his mouth. I am so sorry... I managed to say even with the lump I had in my throat. I had just met this guy but already felt so bad for him. I tried my healing spell one more time to stop the bleeding and it finally worked. That was all Ru's doing... She wants you out of here. Vao... you need to get away from her. I can't Adam... She's like.. connected to my soul. I read from a book and it brought her to life and attached her to a piece of my soul. If she dies, I die too. I looked down at the ground again... That's why it is my job to feed her hearts so she can survive. She can go a few days without them but she'll eventually die. He placed his hands on my cheeks and stared deep into my eyes. I'll find a way to save you, okay? I promise. Why...? I asked softly, trying not to cry. You've been doing everything to keep me alive. I want to keep you safe as well. You're too sweet of a girl to have to deal with that demon your whole life. I blushed and smiled as I closed my eyes and a tear ran down my cheek. He wiped it away with his thumb and held out his hand. I took it and we both stood up. I do need to get back to my ship though. My creator is probably worried about my lack of transmissions. Okay. I replied and this time we actually made it out the door.

- ❧ -

We didn't really talk much at first while we were walking to his ship. I didn't really know what to say to him. He experienced so much crazy nonsense in such a short amount of time. I didn't know how much more he could take mentally.. or physically. I knew Ru was watching us through her crystal ball thing she keeps. I could feel her presence so I tried not to talk about her. A lot of thoughts were racing through my mind then Adam interrupted them. So how old are you? Because you look pretty young but you're out here living.. pretty much alone. Thank you for saying I look young, I giggled. But I'm 24 already. That's still young. I should know, I'm only 27 and I definitely don't consider myself old. I've always liked older guys. They made me feel safe and secure and I kind of liked feeling tiny compared to him. There was just this... aura around him that radiated strength and courage and I felt happy being with him. So.. uh.. what is life like back on your planet? I asked, curious if there was anyone special to him back home. Pretty boring, honestly. I'm not home all that much. The old man has me traveling around visiting different planets to study them and report back. He's much too old and it's a pretty daunting, stressful task having to travel the universe without returning home. Oh... So have you met anyone so far that stood out to you? Other than you? Not really. Most planets aren't inhabited. We've known about this one for a long time since it is so similar to ours. It's exactly like ours except maybe a few hundred years in the past. It's definitely interesting being here. For example, these trees. We don't have any. What do you mean you don't have trees? I blurted out a little louder than I meant it to be. Well they were all cut down many, many years ago to make many different things that are actually obsolete now. We don't use things like paper or wooden products anymore. Everything is made out of syrolene which is like a very strong metal. And of course we have holograms and things like that. Like I said, very technologically advanced. We were almost at his ship when I started getting really nervous about him leaving. I think he could tell my mood was changing because he asked what was wrong. Oh, nothing. I said unconvincingly. We stopped walking and he looked at me. What's wrong, Vao? he asked, sounding so concerned it was adorable. It's just that.. you just got here.. and you're already leaving. There's so much I'd like to know about you and your home. A little sideways smile appeared on his face. My ship is most likely way too damaged to make it back home right now. We're only going back to it so I can see if my transmitter is still working so I can contact my creator and let him know I'm still okay. My heart fluttered with joy but I could sense that Ru was furious. I knew I couldn't bring him back to the house. She would destroy him as soon as he walked through the door. We eventually made it to his ship and I stood outside as he climbed through the doorway. He came back a few moments later with nothing in his hands. Well it turns out my transmitter was destroyed in the crash. He jumped back down out of the ship and walked over to me. He then turned around and stared at the crash site. I heard him sigh. At least you made it out of that alive. I said, pointing at it. It really looks like he shouldn't have survived that. Yeah, that is a good thing. But this ship is beyond repair and I have no way to contact home. If the stupid thing wouldn't have exploded I probably could have fixed it within a few weeks. I could tell he was upset but I was so happy that he wasn't leaving anytime soon at all. I can help you find a place to stay. I told him, and I knew of the perfect location. Ru's little ball could only follow me so far. There was a cave outside of it's range so she wouldn't know where he would be.

- ❧ -

We made it to the cave just in time because I was starting to feel extremely weak. I knew Ru was starving. Adam could tell I was tired but I don't think he really knew why. I told him I would be back tomorrow to bring him some necessities but that he could stay there without Ru knowing where he was and that was good enough for him. I wish you could stay here with me, though. I know my cheeks had to have been bright red because I could feel them burning. Maybe I'll spend one night with you sometime soon, okay? I said with a smirk. He winked at me and made my heart skip a beat then hugged me tight and let me go. I waved goodbye and started heading back towards the fairgrounds to find some hearts for Ru. I was growing weaker by the minute and getting disoriented pretty quickly. I made it to the fairgrounds but was very lightheaded and dizzy. A young man noticed my wobbliness and rushed over to help me. Are you okay, miss? Oh I'm fine, just a little woozy is all. I said with a cute fake smile. It was hard to keep my eyes open. Four of his buddies ran over to see what was going on. Five guys, five hearts, what a coincidence! I was just on my way home when I started feelin' all lightheaded... I don't know what came over me. But I'll be alright. Don't you worry none about me. Where do you live, miss? We can take you home. His buddies looked a mixture of confused and curious. I really don't live that far. I could probably wal- I cut my sentence short as I made my knees give out. We'll get you home safe and sound. Okay, miss? The original guy said as he scooped me up in his arms. I wrapped mine around his shoulders. Please, call me Vao. I said and rested my head on his shoulder. I could hear his friends giggling and whispering to each other. It was hard for me to focus on these guys when all I could think about was Adam. I'm sure he would hate me if he knew what I was doing right now. But I tried to keep him out of my head. The guys finally got to my house and I told them the door was unlocked. One opened the door while the other carrying me brought me inside. My bedroom is at the end of that hallway.. I just need some rest is all. I really appreciate you boys bringin' me all the way home. The one carrying me softly placed me on my bed and they all said their goodbyes and started heading towards the front door. There was some silence... then I heard their screams. I knew Ru was out there doing what she does best. I was instantly feeling better and regaining my strength. I didn't feel like going back out there though to clean up the mess. I decided to just get under my covers and go to sleep. I wanted tomorrow to come quickly so I could go see Adam again.

- ❧ -

The next morning I woke up excited to go out and see Adam. I was trying to think of everything he would need. I grabbed some blankets and one of my many pillows. The pile was as big as me but thankfully I remembered a levitation spell I had learned a few years back. I piled everything on the floor, said a few magic words, and the pile started floating. I mumbled a few more to have it follow me. I managed to sneak out without Ru seeing me and I didn't feel her presence through the ball so I assumed she was still asleep. I saw she actually cleaned up after herself last night which was a nice surprise. I finally made it to the cave which was a good distance away so I was pretty out of breath. I may be skinny but I am definitely not in shape! When I got to the cave, Adam wasn't there. I dropped the blankets and instantly started to panic. Did Ru find him after all? What would she have done with him? I ran out of the cave, searching frantically for him. I was calling his name but trying to stay out of the radius of Ru's ball. I tried to calm myself down by reminding myself that Ru doesn't really leave the house. But it was still weird that they were both gone. I was looking every which way for him. I ran through some bushes and tripped over something large. It was Adam! I toppled with him down a small hill until we came to a stop at the bottom with him on top of me. Oh, hi Vao! he said excitedly. I tried to catch my breath. What were you doing out here? I asked sternly. He got up and sat next to me. I was just doing some research. I'm sorry. I didn't expect you here so early. It's okay... you just had me worried. If you bring me some paper I'll be sure to leave you notes when I leave the cave. he said with a laugh. I shoved his shoulder in a playful manner and laughed with him. What were you researching? I asked. I found an interesting insect. I scanned it with this thing on my arm to take a picture and typed up some notes about it. Ooh, that's cool! I said, gawking at the device on his arm. He was still in his suit and I figured he'd have to get hot in that thing after awhile. Do you want some new clothes while you're here, Adam? Heh, that would actually be great. I can't remember the last time I was out of this suit. There's this little town near here called Neovia. They have some pretty sophisticated clothing but it's the closest town to get some. That sounds perfectly fine to me. He followed me to Neovia which actually is a pretty deserted town... Not many people want to live there plus it is far too expensive for most people. We walked into a clothing store and weren't even greeted by anyone. The store was open but there was no one in sight. Which was kind of good... because unfortunately I had no money on me and I knew Adam wouldn't since he's not even from this planet. I told him he could grab whatever he wanted and we'd go back to his cave so he could change. The least amount of time in that store the better. He picked out this black and teal suit-type-outfit and we started heading out of the store. Don't we have to pay for this? he said, holding it up. Shh, no, it's fine. Let's just go. He looked a tad disappointed but went along with it and followed me out. Even though no one was following us we still ran out of town until we got back to the woods. The cave wasn't too far away from there, we didn't need to run anymore. We made it back and I plopped down on the blankets I had brought for him. I really need to work out... I said, breathing heavily, and laughing at myself. Adam chuckled too and tossed his outfit over a large rock inside the cave. He unzipped the top half of his suit and pulled his arms out of the sleeves. I noticed that half of his chest was metal and his one arm was robotic while the other was normal, human skin. He had his back to me but peered over his shoulder and looked at me. He made a little circle with his finger telling me to turn around. I rolled my eyes then smiled and turned my back to him.

- ❧ -

When he told me to turn back around, the sight of him took my breath away. He wasn't in a futuristic space suit anymore. He was in a very flattering black suit with a tie and everything. He was tightening his tie when I got up from the pile and walked over to him. I ran my hand along the tie and pulled his jacket closed a little more. You look.. amazing, Adam. I said with a happy sigh. Thank you. he said, smiling. He looked so much better than I did in these ratty clothes. I should've picked myself up something while we were there too. I went back over to the blankets and started laying them out along the ground so we had somewhere to sit without getting all dirty. We both sat down and just stared at each other in more awkward silence. It was hard to keep eye contact with him without blushing so I kept turning away and every time I did he would laugh. So how was your night last night, Vao? he asked. I looked down and didn't really want to answer. It was okay. Just okay? Did Ru do anything to you? he asked, seeming very concerned. No, she's better now. So you fed her? His voice was deeper and more stern. I sighed and wrapped my arms around my knees, tucking my face in my arms. I had to. I mumbled. If she dies, I die. I tried so hard not to cry but the tears started flowing anyway. He scooted closer to me and softly took my arms away from my face. He lifted my chin with his hand and calmly said We'll figure out a way to detach her from you. I hugged him, even though there was no possible way to separate her from my soul. I had already been looking into it for years. When I read that curse and brought her to life, she was sealed into my soul and that seal can't be broken unless I die. How exactly do you bring victims back to your house alive? he asked, putting air quotes around the word victims. Other than saving them from a burning space ship. he laughed. I... don't really want to talk about that.. okay? That's fine. What do you want to talk about? Do you want to go out and do anything? We can do whatever you want to do today. I looked around trying to think of something. Then my eyes drifted to his space suit. What are all the gadgets on your suit? I asked quietly. With a smile he stood up and walked over to get the suit then sat back down with it. First he stretched out the sleeve to show me what he was talking about earlier. This device here takes pictures and allows me to write notes. It's useful when I'm recording information about things I find on other planets. And if I hit this button, he tapped a button with his finger, you can see all of the pictures I have taken during my travels. I swiped through the pages looking at everything. It was amazing seeing what the other planets looked like. Some were made mostly of lava, some of ice, some didn't even have any land at all. He turned the suit around to show me the back of it where there were two spheres attached. He pushed a button on one of his sleeves and these amazing.. transparent wings popped out. I tried to touch them but my hand went right through them. I drew my hand back quickly and my eyes widened. These are advanced holographic wings. They help me hover in the air which can be very useful on some planets. They are probably my favorite part of this suit. I poked at everything on his suit and he showed me every gadget he had. It made me want to visit his planet more and more but I know I can't. I mean, I'm not even sure if he himself could ever make it home. We talked and talked until the sun went down. He told me everything he could about his planet and I couldn't even fathom some of it. He said our planet would most likely eventually turn into one like his but it would take hundreds of years. He said we were on the right track though. My stomach started growling and I knew I had to at least bring one heart home for Ru. I have to get going, Adam... I know. Please be safe on your way home. If Ru tries to do anything to you, you know where I am. I hugged him one last time and set off to the fairgrounds again.

- ❧ -

To be continued...


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