Chapter 5
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I’d never been able to put on a binder as quickly as I did that evening. I caught the first shuttle back to Neptune and ran to the fields. There were groups of boys playing soccer, basketball, cricket and other sports. I spotted the cadets training in the field below.

I ran to them, then stopped at the edge of the field. Malakai was leading a group of them through drills. There were a few girls in the group, only the ones who came here for classes. The girls at the girls’ school had their own training with the boys who went there for classes. There was joint training on Sundays.

I shifted my weight from one foot to the other. I wanted to call him but I didn’t dare interrupt.

I saw when he spotted me. He said something to the boy next to him then grabbed a bottle of water and walked over.

“Aster, what’s wrong?” he asked.

I looked around. There were too many people nearby. He seemed to notice my discomfort. He pointed to a bench by the stream nearby.

The words spilled out of my mouth as soon as we sat down.

“Someone has been in the apartment,” I said.

Malakai choked on his water. “What?”

“I noticed it when I went home this evening. I was searching for the notebooks, then I noticed that the furniture had been moved and his clothes in the closet had been tampered with.”

“Was it a robbery?”

“They didn’t take anything and Melody won’t answer my questions,” I said.

“Are you sure?”

“Does it look like I’m joking?” I asked, struggling to keep my voice down. “Someone looked through his things, put them back where they were and possibly wiped Melody’s security records. When I arrived last week, the apartment was covered in dust. That means that whoever had entered the apartment, did it after February but weeks before I came to visit him. That would explain why Gideon never showed up in the footage even though I know he came back in June.”

“Did you ask maintenance?” Malakai asked.

I paused. “No. I left as soon as I realized someone had been inside.” I should have thought of that. I stood. “Maybe I’m reading too much into this. I’ll head back.”

Malakai grabbed my arm. “I don’t think it’s anything serious, but I’ll go back with you just in case. Training is almost over.”

“You don’t have to.”

“I do. Wait here.” He jogged over to the other cadets. He spoke with a man who had impeccable posture then made his way back to where I was. “Come. I need change first,” he said.

“I can go home alone.”

“Wait for me in the lounge.”

I didn’t bother to argue with him. The truth was that I did feel better now that I would have company.

I sat in one of the reading chairs in the lounge while I waited. I was so lost in thought that I didn’t even notice when Malakai had returned.

We took a shuttle back to the city, then headed to my apartment complex. We stopped by the maintenance office first. I let Malakai talk to the engineer. I wasn’t in the mood for anyone to bring up my boyish looks.

“What did he say?” I asked.

“They did the regularly scheduled maintenance in April and it was just done in the bathroom. He says that none of the workers are allowed inside bedrooms unless there was a request by the tenant. No one has gone up there since then.”

I frowned. I’d really hoped that he’d say there had been maintenance recently.

We took the elevator up to the seventeenth floor. Malakai watched as I typed in the password.

“You changed it?” he asked.

“Yeah. I thought it made sense regardless if anyone has been in here or not.”

I sat on the couch as Malakai made his way through the apartment. When he was done he fell onto the couch next to me.

“Apart from a shifted bed, I can’t find anything that would suggest someone came into this apartment besides you,” he said.

“I’m telling you someone did. Listen. Melody, has anyone besides me and Malakai been in this apartment since June?”

“There were no intruders,” the computer said. “Melody, has anyone entered this room since June?”

“I have no record of unauthorized persons entering this apartment.”

“What about authorized persons?” I asked. There was no answer. “See? You can’t tell me that’s not suspicious,” I said.

“Melody, bring up the security footage for all of June and July,” Malakai said. “I want it on nine screens.”

The wall opposite us lit up. Nine panels appeared, each showing a different time. Malakai stayed silent for a while watching the screens. I tried to do the same but I could only concentrate on one at a time.

“Melody, I’m done,” he said. The panels disappeared. He looked at me. “There’s nothing that suggests someone was in here.”

“What about looped footage?” I asked.

“Think, Aster. Why would someone go through all that trouble for Gideon? Yes he’s smart, but we go to Neptune. That’s an entry requirement,” Malakai said. He stood. “I’ve already checked under your bed for monsters. I’m going back to school.”

“I know Gideon. I know this apartment. Someone was in here,” I said.

“He may be your cousin, but I’ve lived with him for longer than you have. I don’t see anything strange in this apartment.”

“But Kai—”

“I know I told you to call me as soon as you found something out but I don’t like my time wasted. Call me if something really does happen. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

I heard the door lock behind him. I leaned back on the couch and held my face in my hands. I know someone had been in the apartment but I had no concrete proof.

“Melody, why can’t you just tell me the truth?” I asked.

“You have not asked me the proper questions.”

I lowered my hands. “What was that?”

“I am a program. I execute instructions. You have not given me any.”

“So if I told you to !nd me proof that someone entered this apartment, could you do it?”

“That depends.”

“On what?”

“That depends on whether or not someone had entered this room.”

I sighed. “You’re not making any sense.”

“I am a program, Aster, and I am now your program. If I am not making any sense to you, then make me make sense.”