Royce’s Apartment Veteran’s Barracks Martian Congressional Republic Royce awoke screaming. This was the fifth night he has awoken in this state, drenched in sweat, eyes like saucers, his mind still on that hell hole Eros listening to his marines die, broken and shredded by the protomolecule that had killed over a million people. The asteroid was gone now, impacted into Venus and destroyed, along with whatever the hell that abomination was. But that didn’t stop the nightmares. He sat on the edge of the bed and rubbed his face. The clock on his phone said it was 4 am, almost time to wake up. He hadn’t been afraid like that since he was young. His father, an amateur movie historian, once showed him a film called The Shining. It was from a time before even computers rose to prominence, nearly a cave drawing all things considered. But the brilliance and the claustrophobia of the film shook him to his core, and he didn’t sleep for a week. He had long forgotten that feeling, a dam that was broken by the horror that was Eros. Panting, he looked over at Ashley. He had met her in the med bay of the Caladbolg, after he had made his escape from the asteroid. The corpsman comforted him, helped him. She spent nearly every day of her shore leave with him in the quarantine. He fell in love with her quickly. He had asked her to marry him a week ago after several months of dating and she accepted. Royce was grateful that she slept like the dead, snoring semi loudly. He hadn’t disturbed her. Royce stroked her hair for a moment, looking at the splendor she radiated, smiled grimly, then stood and stride across the room to the balcony that overlooked Meyoberket. Even at the early hour, the city still fair bustled with life. Ground cars moving along from the clubs or to and from work, buildings with their office lights off and on like Morse code made of light, and the glorious marvel of the simulated night sky on the massive dome that protected them all from the dead zone that was the Martian surface. He stood there for some time, shivering. MCR kept the atmo at a brisk 70 degrees all year, an eternal artificial autumn that made Royce always feel like he was in the Systems largest office building, which it kind of was. He stood there until 5am, lost in his thoughts, until both his and Ashley’s alarms cried out in the dark. Her snoring stopped Abruptly, followed by the stumbling and moans of the freshly awakened.