They thought I was dead. And, supposing the circumstances I'm in right now, I guess that death would be a favor.

I've never been afraid of death-there are very few things I'm afraid of anyhow-since I have been trained as the perfect soldier for close to all of my life. Yet, dying is something that I don't welcome with open arms either. There's that sense of unknowing; the stupidity and blindness that your entire being is in someone else's hands. Whose? I don't know; the religious field was Ben's interest, not mine.

They say that all the events in your life lead up to one traumatic point, and from there, it's downhill. For most people, it'd be death; for me, it was myself.

Perhaps saying that the damned X7 clone was myself is too sentimental, so I'll state what fact is unarguable: X7-599 shot me. There's the macabre event of my life, the pinnacle where everything slides down from there.

I guess I had figured that I could take on the many X7s on at once while Krit and Syl ran for safety, leaving the dying Manticore building behind us. I was drunk on adrenaline, I suppose, leading me to believe that I was unstoppable. Max was dying only a couple feet away, and I couldn't bear to see her perish so close to me.

I was doing pretty good-considering the odds against me-when that little monster shot me in the back. It took a moment for my brain to realize that I was on the ground, bleeding from a wound I could not reach unable to move from the agony. By the time I had comprehended all of this, I was staring up the barrel of X7-599's gun. His gun. My gun.

I barely remember what happened after that. Somehow, I ended up in a Manticorian hospital with Max dying, and I strapped to a gurney. Two guards were trying to hold me down as I thrashed against them. I had to free myself. I had to save Max.

Yet, when the lady of the house of Manticore, Renfro herself, told the doctors to put Max "up for harvest", I snapped. Screaming in blinding rage, I killed the guard closest to me, grabbed his gun, and went after the fleeing Renfro. She claimed, that, for Max to live, she'd need an X5 heart. We all knew that I was the only X5 in the room, but I couldn't assume that Renfro was lying about the similar hearts or else Max would die.

Shoving Renfro aside, I knelt down to Max and whispered words that I hoped she would hear from beyond the grave, "Fight them, Maxie, promise m you will fight them." I stood up and face the room of doctors, daring any of them to try and stop me. Then lifting the heavy black pistol to my head, I announced, "X5-599, I've got a heart for you." And I pulled the trigger.

I didn't expect to wake up again, but I did. Now, I'm nearly naked, my organs sold to the highest bidder as if I was merely a cow at auction, while I lie, spread eagle, on an operating table next to machines that never die.

Renfro shows me to Max, trying to break her into a worthless piece of shit. If I know Max as well as I think I do, she won't crumble. Three months in Manticore has taught her well. I'd like to think that I've taught her well, but I don't that overestimating on my part; I didn't teach Max anything.

Silently, I blink, trying to make her remember my words. If Max recognizes, she shows no sign of it as the metal doors slide close, shutting me off from her. Once again, I am left alone in my own wretched humiliation.

Yes, I suppose that death would have been better.