Eli pottered about the car park contentedly, picking up pieces of metal and putting them back down. The war rig was built now, but spare parts would be useful.
He wasn’t entirely sure how he knew what was important and what wasn’t. He just… did. The others had told him to help built a war rig, and so he had. Cornelius had done a lot of the big bits, and between them they had created a large and functional transport. It had taken a couple of days, but Eli didn’t mind. He liked being useful.
He picked up another chunk of scrap and then abandoned it again. This floor had been depleted of useful materials, and the next few up as well. He would go up to the roof and see what was left up there before they moved on. He headed up the stairs, Snowy following along behind. The man had seemed confused and a little thoughtful after their conversation about lies. Eli didn’t pay attention anymore, since Snowy wasn’t saying anything to him. He didn’t know where the others had gone. They would tell him if they wanted something though.
The view from the roof was strangely beautiful, if you were fond of wide open spaces that mostly consisted of varying shades of brown and a few patchy shrubs in the distance. The road cut through it all, a long line stretching off into the distance on either side. There appeared to be somebody else up here, sitting slumped at the edge of the building. Eli ignored him. He hadn’t felt anybody else arrive, but the others hadn’t given him any instructions on what to do in that eventuality. Besides, he had things to do and he headed straight to the nearest scrap pile to see if there was anything left.
“Eli, get behind me.”
He turned back obediently at Snowy’s command and went to stand in the shadow of the doorway. The man’s voice was wary and concerned and his eyes were trained on the other person. He wasn’t sure why. The person on the roof wasn’t throwing off any feelings, so either he was very good at suppressing things or he was dead.
Snowy moved slowly forwards towards the limp figure, as if he was expecting something to happen. Eli started to move forward too when he felt a feather-light touch on the back of his neck. A woman’s voice whispered softly in his ear.
He did as he was told.
He curled in the corner of the war rig, facing the wall. There was a small hatch that slid open to let light in, but it was dark now. He stared at the outside world through the tiny gap, watching the lonely desert pass them by. The hatch was too small for him to see the stars. He wished he could see them.
They would be in Megaton in a few days. The last couple of weeks of travel had been quiet. Sometimes the others brought him food or tried to talk. Mostly they left him alone because he got upset if they tried to ask him about…
The Duke had said he thought Lili was in danger. He’d asked Eli if he could find her. But he couldn’t find her, not when they were far away. He had been so sad he hadn’t been able to handle it and he’d had to shut down in the corner to try and cope. Every time he thought he had pushed it all back down, it just came rising back up again.
Eli didn’t understand. Was the Duke punishing him? Was Lili being taken away because he had done something bad? He had done everything they had told him to do. He had tried so hard to keep control when the emotions had become overwhelming – although he had slipped up a couple of times, maybe that was it. Or perhaps it was because he had been healing people. He had been careful to try and do it at times when they weren’t paying attention. The only one who seemed to have any idea about what he was doing was Snowy. But maybe they had figured it out, and they were mad because he wasn’t supposed to do it without permission.
Eli felt tears dribble down his cheeks again. He wiped them away quickly, glancing behind him. The others were sleeping at the front, save Snowy who was driving. This was probably a test too. The Duke might have asked if he could sense Lili because they knew where she was. He’d find out when they got to Megaton.
Maybe Lili would be there, waiting for him. He smiled hopefully, face streaked and damp. Maybe that was why they were going here.