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Luan sat cross-legged in her and Max’s underground hideout. She was on the couch, with Max sitting next to her. There were morning cartoons on the little television sitting on the desk in front of them. Luan had gotten it to work; it had been her mother’s, the kind where you have to turn a dial to change the channel. After these cartoons were over, though, it would be back to the news, all day, until the next morning, because this TV didn’t have cable or anything.
The hideout smelled faintly like metal, the kind of smell that stays on your hands after you’ve been holding onto some coins for a little while. It was a little stuffy, because they didn’t have any windows, lest someone should discover they were hiding here and just whisk them off their feet to some horrible orphanage far away in the mountains of Arkosha.
Luan wasn’t really watching the cartoons. She was more of a news kind of person than Max was.
She decided to check to see if it was time to recharge. She reached to touch her right hand with her left. It felt like it was starting to slow down. The way she could tell this was that when her hand was fully charged, she could feel it humming a little bit, like a computer. It was also warm when it was fully charged. The humming was very soft now, and her hand was starting to feel kind of cold.
“Time to recharge. I’ll get the batteries,” she announced.
“Good for you,” Max replied, obviously still absorbed in the childish cartoon he was watching. Luan sighed.
She held out her hand, keeping the image of those two batteries in her mind. She saw a blur of black and gold, and felt a light smack on the palm of her right hand.
“Excellent.” She closed her eyes and shut her hand tight, and she felt the batteries melt through her skin as her muscles relaxed. It was true; she was extremely afraid of losing all of her memories. She was even afraid of losing some of them. She was actually more afraid of this then she was of dying, and all because she was terrified of losing all traces of memory she had of her father.
She was lucky to have Max there. He knew a lot about technology, and he was the one that bothered to do all that research that even made her aware of how to control her powers and what the risks of having them were. She was tempted to thank him, but she didn’t know how. Obviously, it would be kind of weird if she just randomly waltzed up to him and said, “Thank you! Oh, thank you Max! You’re my bestest buddy in the whole wide universe.”
Ugh. Shut up. Snap out of it. She mentally slapped herself for sitting there all spaced out like a total freak-show. Even though that was what she knew she was, and she accepted that fact. She knew it wasn’t the reason she was in hiding. The reason she was in hiding was because she didn’t want some insensitive jerk to come along and send her off to some kind of freak-show hospital, where they'd dissect her and study her insides.
This wasn't fair. This wasn't fair at all. She shouldn't even need to be hiding. This wasn't her choice, after all. It was all that crazy doctor's fault. She still remembered how ugly everything had looked, after the apartment had been bombed. There was debris everywhere; it was all gray but for the blazing fires surrounding her. And the blood. How could she forget the blood? She hadn't been sure what it was at first. But when she looked at her hand, everything became clear.
It had been blown off by that bomb. It was disgusting, and appalling. She could even see the bone sticking out a little bit, dry and charred skin, some black even, decorating her searing wrist. But she didn't care, because all she could concentrate on was her father, who was about twenty feet away, covered in rubble.
The doctor was the one who screwed up. He was the one who used the incomplete, prototypical mechanical hand by mistake, the one with magnetic properties and a week-long battery life. The one that wiped all her memories if it wasn't charged in time. Like a machine, like people treated her.
"Luan!" She mentally slapped herself again. She hadn't meant to zone out like that again, but she couldn't help it. "You okay?" Max looked concerned.
"Yeah, I'm fine." Luan smiled to herself. For now, at least, she had someone to make her feel human.