“Someone gave it to him?”  inquired Chel.  “Claudia?”

“No.  Someone from the ADC Academy.  A parting gift when she graduated,.. at least that’s what the note said.”  Stealth chuckled.  She had always been a particularly nosey dice and had gone through every inch of the ship, finding out every little secret she could.  After all,… that was her purpose.

Meanwhile, Lexx was busily rearranging boxes in one of The Rift’s small holds.  His personal belongings were in most of them.  He paused, hands resting on a steel container marked with the ADC’s emblem.  There was a second one identical to it sitting nearby.  Rewards for the first and second sets he had won.  They had never been opened.

Lexx stared at the first one, running his hands over the smooth surface.  What was inside?  He tapped the lid and could not hear an echo.  It was packed.  Most likely stuff he wouldn’t even care about.  He recalled the reason he had not opened the first one.  He was insulted.  They gave him rewards for winning a game he didn’t even want to participate in.

Some reward.  They paraded him around, poked and prodded him after each set and experimented.  Lexx shivered at the thought.  He would not have to go through that again.  Worse was remembering the other things they had tried to persuade him to do.  The interest they had in his future children, if that ever managed to happen, was frightening.

They had sent him beautiful Rishan women, that a male would have been crazy to turn down.  Then, they had sent others to him, Kourwine, Sairah and Littan.  That had confused Lexx.  As far as he knew, Rishan could not interbreed with the other races, being from humans and not whatever base served the other humanoid races.  But,… how did that explain Maelinn?  How could a completely alien race, even with the benefits of the Kourwine’s adaptive cells mix successfully?

The rewards were worthless to Lexx.  He had been in the company of other players, friends, who had gone on about the wonderful rewards they had received, the sex they had and attention they received.  They never quite understood why it was that Lexx did not enjoy any of it.  But there was one important thing that separated Lexx from them.  He remembered.  He was older than they were when he had come under the ADCs ‘care’.

It was true that every one of them had been treated with drugs to advance their aging.  The humanoid races grew too slowly on their own.   Lexx was an exception.  While they had mostly come in as infants and toddlers, small children who could not remember any care beyond what they received at the academy, he remembered a mother and a father.  There was a difference.  He knew what it was to be cared for by someone who did not want anything in return.

Lexx remembered and desperately wanted that sense of security again.  Maybe it only existed between a parent and a child, but he had seen many parents who treated their children like property, to be sold for this or that purpose.  Some even ended up in the ADC, some as black market dice.  Riley did not want anything from him and more importantly, neither did Chel.

Lexx moved on to a smaller gold box, flipping the top back.  He had come down here looking for the extra remote to the door.  He had never had a use for the extra.  Inside this box, cradled in gold cloth were several items, adornments for his tracking ring, jewels that he never bothered with.  More prizes… and the gleam of a gold bloodstone encircled in a ring of platinum.

“I wonder,…”  Lexx reached inside the box, curiously lifting the bloodstone out.  “Has your song changed?”