[ T H E _ H A N G E D _ M A N ]
unknown location
867 ABY

The whisper of gentle droplets swarmed the tin roof where he slept. He lay a recluse for some time now, keeping his nose to the ground and his sights on his discharge and time away from war. This quiet village was a far cry from the steel beams, and snow that encased his home all those years. Now he worked odd hours, tending mostly to the villages of refugees and displaced bodies that relied on his aid. It was tiring, not even the slightest bit rewarding but at least it kept his mind at bay.

“Would you like me to stay the evening, Doctor?” A whirring voice broke the silence from where it lurked on the other side of the tin roof shanty.

“I’m fine...Lody, get’on home.”

“One must remember that Lody Six has no home, Doctor. We will retire into our station.” Julian glanced over at the monotone echo, half paying attention, while he swirled the glass of whiskey in his hand and replaced it with the cigarette he balanced between two fingers. “You do what you gotta do...reckon we won’t get many calls this late at night as is. Get ya some...rest? I dunno, Lody, jus unplug for the night.” A soft puff escaped briefly, soon after he found himself inhaling disruptive air into the rebreather of his mechanized lungs. The medical droid beeped twice, wheeling its white metallic body over to the holding where it slotted itself into.


The idle hum of the night was his partner. Two bottles lay beside him, his head buried deep within the nook of his arms. He wasn't just tired...he was exhausted, yet no matter how much he prompted sleep he could never hold onto silence long enough for his thoughts to give him peace. A quiet tap tinked on the metal inlay of his skull. His metal onyx fingers pulled a line into the array...this was his first time in so long he’d managed to stomach the connection and with light-years between them, would there even be a sound to reach her?

<<“Darl--Noel...I miss you.... I can’t think of a time when I don’t look up at the stars and wonder if you’re out there..lookin’ too. I wonder if you're eatin’...if you’re hurtin’. Wonderin’ if someones taken the time to make you smile’er make ya laugh...fix your drink the way you like. Wonderin’ how many times ye gone an thrust yourself into a barrage of bullets or broken that damn gyro I kept havin ta fix..I..I hate what the world did to us...most of all…hate what I did to us…hate that I didn’t take the time ta listen when ye was hurtin’...wish you could read my thoughts then....wishin I coulda just had the fucken balls to be honest wit ya…I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I miss you darlin’. Ani’t no other way of putin’ it and i’d be a damn liar to say this metal heart a mine ain’t hurtin’ from all the sh*t I put you through. Love ain’t jus an emotion...love is an action my heart won’t stop doin……all this time apart hasn’t changed the fact that I love you... Don’t think I’ll ever stop….>

He paused, allowing a breath to fill his lungs…seems at some point all he could do was remind himself to start breathing again.

<<“I hope yer well Starz...thinkin’ of you always. This is Jules...signin’ off.”>>

He tapped the relay, listening to the gentle bleep of the receiver notifying him that message was sent through the encrypted line he never removed. Out of habit...he spun his ring again.

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