It had been about a week since Jeran, Silvia, and Zolurious had boarded the passenger ship. The week had felt even longer then it should have with the three of them together. Jeran and Silvia didn’t get along well with Zolurious despite the agreement between them. They often argued about inconsequential things.
Ever time that the ship docked on some space station the three of them left to check the records of arrival at the port. They had to go over much of the record by hand just to make sure that they didn’t accidentally miss Null’s arrival in a port. As the ship continued to get closer and closer to it’s final destination Jeran feared that Null might have gotten off on a pervious stop and they just didn’t noticed it.
It was a breath of releaf when they arrived at the Ongul Orbital Station and found a departure record of Null. They even knew for certain that this was Null because she had returned her hair color to it’s normal rainbow color. It was Silvia that managed to find her while they were looking through the records but it was Zolurious who managed to get permission to watch the port recordings.
The recordings showed Null leaving the ship with a few of unknown people. She was followed by a tall well dressed man who Jeran thought must be there to prevent her from escaping. In front of her, surrounded by bodyguards, was a short chubby man, Jeran decided that that man must be the mastermind behind the operation. He must have lied to Null to convince her to come with them. Zolurious obviously had a different interpretation of who those people were but he didn’t voice it.
Silvia pointed at the two strange men in the recording and asked Zolurious, “Do you know who those two people are? I believe you said that they were using fake names for the boarding registration but to you have any real information about them?”
Zolurious shook his head, “No, it can be time consuming to find information about a particular person because of data transmission speeds and I am still under a certain probation so there is a limit to how I can search.”
“Well, you should figure it out.” Said Jeran impatiently. “We need to know who those people are to find out because that will help tell us there they have brought Null.”
Jeran checked the schedule for the orbital drop shuttles, “They would have had to stay here for at least seven hours before going down to the surface. Might I suggest that Zolurious begins the search for information about those people while me and Silvia ask around to see if there is any information about Null. A planet is a big place so we need to find out where their shuttle brought them to on the surface. Is that alright with you Zolurious?”
Zolurious thought for a minute before nodding, “Since I have to assume that this planet is their destination I should be able to find out something about who those people are. It is harder to hide information about yourself on a planet you live on. Remember to tell me anything that you find out about Null, even if you think it might be inconsequential.”
“Yes, we know.” Said Silvia. She wanted them to start soon before Zolurious and Jeran began to argue. One thing that Silvia had learned from spending more then a week with Zolurious was that he was a lot more human then she thought an ANGEL would be or at least a lot more annoying then she thought an ANGEL would be. It didn’t help that Jeran kept biting at Zolurious’ bait.
Silvia then grabbed her dad’s hand and lead him out of the room before something happened. Once they had left Silvia asked, “Do you have any good ideas about where to search for information about Null?”
Jeran nodded and the said, “Yes, but we are unfortunately going to have to split up. Some of the places that I’m going to search do not allow minor to enter. Instead, how about you check with the people working for the drop ships. Since Null changed her hair back they might remember somebody with rainbow hair. See if you can find out where she headed off to.”
Silvia pretended to gasp in horror, “You don’t mean you intend to go to one of those place do you? I didn’t think Null was into those sorts of things.” She waited for her dad’s face to contort and flush red. Then before he could reply she continued, “I’m joking. You don’t need to take me so seriously.”
Then Silvia turned and began to run off. She waved back at Jeran, “I’ll check the drop ships. Let us meet back up in the hotel in a few hours.” Then she was out of sight.
Jeran sighed deeply. He didn’t know what to do with that girl. One minute he though that he understood her and then next he had no idea what she was doing. Null was like that too. He paused, actually it had been like that for almost everybody that he knew well, it must be part of what it means to be human.
When he had been on Ark-Neon with Null she had visited many of the different bars and clubs in the space station. This small station wasn’t as big as Ark-Neon so it should be easier to search for the clubs and ask if any of them had seen Null.
For the next several hours Jeran went from bar to bar and from club to club seeing if anybody knew anything about Null. However at every place it was the same. Nobody remembered seeing a woman with rainbow hair a week ago. Normally he would have attributed that to memory but Null was fairly hard to forget.
Eventually he had visited all the bars and clubs in the space station, all fourteen of them. He was surprised there was that many in a space station that mainly functioned as a transport point for the planet. He was disappointed to find that nobody had heard or seen anything about Null.
He returned to the room and waited for Silvia who took another hour. As Silvia shut the door she asked, “Since you are here before me does that mean you didn’t have any success in finding Null.”
“Unfortunately not. When we were in Ark-Neon she spent a lot of her free time having fun but she didn’t do any of that here. It is strange. If she was just being tricked then she would have certainly visited at least one of them. However, since she didn’t that would probably that she is doing this against her will. But I don’t know how somebody could make Null do anything against her will.” Said Jeran.
There was the click of the door closing again, “You are forgetting another option.” Came the voice of Zolurious, “It could also be that the Null that you thought you knew wasn’t the real her and she was the one who was tricking you?” Zolurious walked into the room and while ignoring Jeran’s glare sat down on one of the chairs.
“She would have equally no reason to do that,” Said Silvia. “If I had to guess why she did not visit any bar it would be punishment.”
Zolurious nodded slightly and said, “Ah, I see.” However Jeran didn’t see so he asked, “Zolurious might understand but I certainly don’t. What do you mean that it might be punishment? Are you saying that those people with her are punishing her by preventing her from having fun?”
“No, she is the one who is punishing herself.” Said Silvia in explanation. “It is probably because a feeling of guilt. She probably thinks that she is responsible for what has happened to us and wants to punish herself. It could have been made worse by the people who are traveling with her though.”
“But…” Jeran began to protest. Then he stopped. Null shouldn’t have anything to feel guilty for but Jeran knew that people are not rational all of the time. With the power that Null had it was a burden that probably made her feel responsible for everything. “Your right, it is possible that Null is punishing herself.”
In an attempt to cheer Jeran up Silvia said, “On the bright side I found out which drop ship Null took and where it will be landing. The next shuttle is in two hours so we should probably get ready to go.” Then she turned to Zolurious, “So both of us have reported, is there anything that you have discovered.”
“I looked into the identities of the people who were traveling with Null. The short one’s real name is Malistar Friec. He as rich businessman whose company is one of the largest on Ongul. While much of the success is due to his grandfather he had kept the business running smoothly since he inherited it.”
“However there are no records of him leaving to planet recently, so his trip to pick up Null is total secret. While his bodyguards are simply his employees, I was unable to find any information about the tall person. He is an enigma and there don’t seem to be any records of him on the planet. The problem I’m having is that I can’t seem to find out what their motive is other then the power and wealth somebody with forbidden technology could bring them.” Continued Zolurious.
“And you find that strange because Malistar Friec already had plenty of power and wealth. If he got too much more then that could bring attention to him and the fact that he is using forbidden technology might get out.” Said Silvia, who was trying to puzzle through the events.
“Exactly,” Said Zolurious as he nodded.
“Well, we won’t figure out what the reason is if we stay here. We should go down to the planet and investigate further. We can’t really do any more while stuck in orbit around the planet.” Said Jeran, “Silvia, you said the shuttle is leaving in two hours right? Then we should make sure we have everything that we need.”
“Is there anything wrong?” Asked X. He was standing just inside the door to Null’s room. The lights were off and the blinds closed, the only light come from the lights beyond the door. Null was laying on her bed at an angle and was staring up at the ceiling.
“No.” Said Null. X continued to watch her for a couple minutes before speaking again, “It is just that you haven’t left your room all day and you have kept the lights off all day. “Normally this is not an activity that people do if nothing is wrong.”
“Can can see just fine with the lights off. To me it makes no difference if they are on or off, so you can see there is nothing wrong.” Relied Null.
“Still, while I have little experience with it, you look sad.” Said X. “Do you regret leaving those people?”
“No.” Said Null softly. There was a long pause where neither of them spoke. Then eventually Null spoke again, “X, why do you serve me?”
“Because I was born to serve you. I told you that before didn’t I?” Said X.
“Yes, I understand that part.” Said Null without even looking at him. “But why do you serve me? There must be a reason, something other then the fact that you were born into a certain family. There is the life one chooses and the life one doesn’t choose.”
X hesitated, like he didn’t want to answer Null’s question. Eventually he said, “Are you ordering me to tell you why I serve you?”
Null turned her head over to look at X for a moment. She stared into his eyes and then returned to staring at the ceiling. “No, it is not an order. I was simply interested. It is just that if you decide not to serve me then you can leave. I don’t really care one way or another.”
X stood there thinking for a while. Null remained silent until finally X spoke again, “Did you choose to be Null?” It was a strange question, even X didn’t know exactly what he meant by it.
“Yes,” Said Null, her voice quiet and flat, “I choose to become what I am although I didn’t know what that would mean until it was too late. My other option was to surrender, give in, and die. Instead I choose to fight for my life, even if that meant countless casualties.” There was a moment of silence before Null asked, “Tell me X, what is your life worth? If I ordered you to protect me with your life would you do it?”
X stood there quietly, not answering the question. Eventually Null spoke again, “I see. You do not have to answer. Even I am uncertain how to answer that question. Would I choose the same paths if I had to live my life again? I do not know. However in the end I keep risking the life that I sacrificed countless people to keep just to protect a single person. I could not keep doing that but I don’t think I would have been able to stop myself if I stayed with him. What is one of the reason I had to leave.”
“Why are you telling me this when I do not answer your questions?” Asked X. Null was telling him more then he had expected her to tell a simple servant.
“You might not realize it but we are similar. I do not think I would have been able to tell other people what I told you. I especially do not think I would have been able to tell him. What would he think of me if I expressed such sentiment to him.” Said Null.
“I do not know. I was trained to hide my feelings completely so that even if I feel something about what you are telling me I will not show anything.” Said X.
“I see. Then your world is like this room. The lights are off and the windows closed. My world is like that too because it is much too bright outside.” Said Null, “What do you think you happen if we went outside?”
“I don’t know if I can imagine that.” Said X.
“Neither can I. I caught a glimpse of it recently and it made me afraid. That is why I am staying in by dark room. Now if there isn’t anything else could you please leave me. I would like to stay alone in the dark a while longer.”
“Of course Lady Null.” Said X as he stepped back and closed the door. X looked at the closed door. Null was now alone in her dark room without even the light from the hall to illuminate her. Still X knew that there was more light in the room in her heart then in his. The light didn’t even manage to seep around the cracking in the door in his heart.