"So, how was it?"
Zenith looked up from the bench he was sitting on in the garden of Sector 6. The vibrant colors of the teeming plant life in the garden were a huge contrast to the world outside. Was it really possible that the whole world had once been filled with such colors? And if so, why had they disappeared?
"You went back home for the first time in a long while, right? How was it?"
"Oh, it was alright." Zenith replied.
"Quit teasing me, Seris." Zenith jibbed. In response, the other Eden Guard threw her head back and laughed, her silvery hair flowing freely behind her.
"But Zenith, I wasn't teasing you!" Seris smiled.
"Yeah, I know." Zenith closed his eyes. "It was just that… I don't know."
"You don't know?"
He was happy to see Kye and Mr. Leo again. He was happy that they recognized him and talked to him as if nothing had changed. He had been overjoyed, really, that there were still people in District 34 that would welcome him back, despite what he had become.
But in the process, he had hurt Reina again. He could recall the angry and hurt look on her face, literally, as the visual records were still fresh in his memory system.
"Reina got mad at me again."
"Your sister?" Seris asked.
"Well, I guess she did have good reason to get mad at me, though." Zenith smiled wistfully.
"Why are you apologizing?" Zenith asked, surprised.
"Because I was the one who killed you in the first place." Seris said, looking at her feet. "If I hadn't been there at that time…"
"Stop." Zenith stood up. "It's not your fault, Seris. You were only doing your job. I was the one who was stupid enough to think that a generator was Eden's main computer in the first place. If I wanted to point fingers to blame someone about my death, I'm sure we could go a long, long way. There's no point to it. What happened happened, and it couldn't be helped."
"You're right." Seris smiled and followed stood up as well and flatted out the creases in her uniform. "I guess I was still just feeling guilty about it.
"So, tell me more about your sister, Zenith," Seris inquired after a brief pause.
"About Reina?" You should already know a lot about Reina. Zenith thought sadly. "Where to begin…"
"Did I ask something strange?" Series questioned. "You don't need to tell me if you don't want to. I don't remember anything from before I became an Eden Guard, so to be honest, I'm a little curious. There are times I wonder to myself, how does everyone else deal with everything?"
"Yeah, I know how that feels," Zenith assured, remembering all too well the conversations he shared with Aya and Elliot on the topic.
"I guess I'll just tell you everything from the beginning," Zenith continued once he was done pondering. "It's really the only way I can think of telling you about her.
"Reina is around five years younger than me. We were abandoned by our parents when we were really young. It wasn't really something too uncommon back then. Small children are nothing but extra mouths to feed to the people on the outside. We wandered around the streets and did everything we could to survive for a while. Being as young as we were, it wasn't exactly easy to do. Actually, looking back on it now, I don't think we would have survived if we were forced to live that lifestyle any longer than we did.
"The person who saved us was Mr. Leo, the leader of FLIGHT. He took us in and gave us a place to live. He gave us, two wayward orphans, a place to belong and a means to live in the world outside. I'll forever be grateful for that.
"Growing up in FLIGHT, I learned how to fight. At first, it was only to defend myself and Reina. When I got better, I wanted to use my skills for FLIGHT and Mr. Leo. Of course, at that time, Mr. Leo wouldn't let me fight because I was way too young to be on the battlefield.
"One day, Mr. Leo brought us an expansion to mine and Reina's little, two-member family. She was another orphan and was about my age. She was a little shy at first, but after living together with her for a while, she became an irreplaceable part of our family. It was always the three of us, together."
"That sounds great." Seris added in.
"Yeah, it was." Zenith carried on wistfully. "Those were… great times.
"But it ended only five years after we began living together. There was a large scale clean-up of the District that we were living in. Everything just, fell apart and went to pieces. Buildings crumbled like sand before Eden's forces and people were screaming and running in every direction. It was all so chaotic. Lots of people that I knew from FLIGHT died that day. Including her. We never found her body."
Seris gasped. "I'm sorry. I don't know what to say. You were very close to her, right? You called her an irreplaceable member of your family…"
Zenith suppressed a wry smile at the irony of Seris' sympathy over her own death. "It's fine," he told her. "But yes, I was very close to her.
"I remember that Reina wouldn't stop crying after I told her what had happened. There was nothing I could do to console her. After all, to Reina, she was her first friend, her sister, and probably the closest thing Reina had of a mother figure.
"It was just Reina and me again after that. FLIGHT moved headquarters to another District, and we continued our lives there. I mean, what else was there to do? What else could we have done? There was nothing we could do to bring her back. And there was no way we would let someone else replace her.
"And then, two years later, I died." Zenith looked away and rested his gaze on the flowers before him. He really did want to show the sight to his sister one day. "I wonder how much Reina cried afterwards. She had only just recovered from losing someone she loved dearly. I'm sure she cried for a long time. Who knows? Maybe she's still crying. And I caused all that."
"You care for her a lot, huh?" Seris asked gently.
"Yeah, I do. She's my sister after all."
The two Eden Guards sat in silence. It was a peaceful silence, one that wasn't awkward or uncomfortable in the slightest, at least to Zenith. Once again, he looked at the flowers. What would have been if he could have seen these same blossoms on the outside?
What would have been different?
What would have stayed the same?
"Seris, you know…," Zenith started. But then he stopped himself.
Seris, too, had been staring at the flowers in silence. But something felt… off. The lenses of her eyes did not reflect any sort of emotion. They felt empty, not quite unlike Eve's eyes. It was as if she was not actually looking at the flowers. In fact, it was as if she wasn't looking at anything at all.
"Seris…?" Zenith asked.
She didn't respond. Instead, she kept staring as if nothing had happened.
"Seris, is something wrong?" Slightly disturbed, Zenith turned to face her. "Seris, hello?"
She continued to stare at seemingly nothing. It was as if time had simply stopped for her. She refused to respond no matter how many times he called her name.
"Seris!" He called out once again.
Finally, she responded.
"Oh, sorry about that," she said in her usual pleasant demeanor, "I must have blanked out for a second or so."
"Are you alright?" Zenith asked, still worried. She had definitely been spacing out for more than 'a second or so'.
"Of course I am!" Seris announced, laughing, as if Zenith had told her a cute joke. "Why wouldn't I be?"
"Ehhh? Did something happen? Did I miss something?" Aya waltzed into the room and proceeded to glomp Seris.
Already used to the treatment, Seris simply ignored the other Eden Guard and calmly asked, "Is something the matter?"
"Alice called us down. She told me to come fetch you two." Aya announced.
"She could have just called us through the ICS." Zenith pointed out. After all, that was what she usually did.
"But it's more exciting to come pick you up myself!" Aya responded happily. "So," she continued without missing a beat, "what sort of gossip did I miss?"
"You didn't miss any gossip, Aya." Seris informed her.
"So, what did I miss?" Aya asked, completely ignoring her.
"We were talking about…" Seris paused and scrunched her eyebrows in slight confusion. "Huh? What were we talking about again?"
Zenith was taking back with a mix of emotions, ranging from surprise to worry. Surely, she couldn't have possibly forgotten already. They had been talking about Reina for quite some time.
"It probably wasn't anything too important if you've already forgotten it, Seris," Aya reassured in a light tone.
"Y-yeah, it wasn't." Zenith agreed tentatively, trying not to appear worried.
"But, I shouldn't have forgotten it already!" Seris exclaimed, slightly troubled. "I mean, we were talking literally less than ten minutes ago."
"Seris, it's fine, just let it be," Aya sighed.
"I brought them for you, Alice!" Aya cheered as they entered the equipment room. Elliot and Alice abruptly cut off their conversation as the other three Eden Guards came in.
"If that's all you had to say, I'll be taking my leave." Elliot remarked, exasperated. Contrary to his usual cold demeanor, he appeared to have been arguing with Alice only moments prior to the others arrival. "You can do whatever suits you best, Alice. I'm sure I've already made my stance on such matters clear."
With that, Elliot briskly strode out of the room, not even bothering to acknowledge the other's presence.
"What's up with him?" Zenith asked.
"Oh it's just Elliot being Elliot as usual," Alice brushed off the matter regarding Elliot as she gestured with her free hand. "I asked him a stupid question, that's all."
"A stupid question?" Zenith asked. The thought of Alice, the genius that ran Sector 0 and created all of the highly advanced technology here, asking 'stupid questions' was absurd to him. But then again, it was Alice after all, with all of her unpredictability and uncanny love for teasing others.
"But I haven't seen Ellie being that upset in a long while, huh?" Aya remarked.
"It's fine; don't worry about it." Alice confirmed. "Moving on, I didn't really call you down for something too important. It's just that there was an increase in reports claiming that Contaminoids have been appearing around the Districts more frequently than they normally do. Although they usually stay away from human civilized areas, you should be ready to dispatch them again at any given time, should they decide to stray too close again. I'll send you details later."
"Is that it?" Seris asked.
"Well," Alice grumbled, suddenly looking annoyed, "there is one more thing on the agenda. Actually, it's more of an annoyance than anything else. I don't really feel like explaining it in person because it's too much of a bother, so I'll just send you information regarding it later. That's about it."
"If that's all, we'll be taking our leave, Alice." Aya said as she dragged Seris closer to the door. Apparently, she had found nothing wrong with Alice's refusal to explain what the 'annoyance' she mentioned was.
"Sure." Alice approved. "Wait! Zenith, I need to ask you something," she called out just as Zenith was about to follow the two girls out the door.
Alice waited until Aya and Seris were long gone before asking. "I received a strange signal from Seris just before I sent Aya to fetch you two. What happened?"
"I'm not… really sure." Zenith admitted. "We were talking normally, and then she kinda just, blanked out. It took me a long time to snap her out of it. And then she completely forgot what we were talking about."
"Really now…" Alice pondered. "What were you two talking about?"
"Seris asked me to tell her about Rei."
"Your sister, huh?" Alice unconsciously bit on her lower lip. "Could it…? No, that shouldn't be possible."
"Is something wrong?" Zenith asked tentatively.
"No, it's nothing. You're dismissed." Alice told him briskly before leaving the room herself. She seemed to be in a hurry.
What was that about? Zenith thought as he left the room.