like cold machines, we're marching on.

There was a different between ‘alone’ and ‘lonely’, one Kang had been aware of from an early age when alone had become a routine.

Being alone, one was solitary, but it didn’t always hold a negative connotation when time alone could lead to a mental recharge, concepts found in the difference between introversion and extroversion, and productivity, as shown in the time he had spent alone, hitting the books and concentrating on his studies at the University of Arcadia, an ever-present figure in the library when there was an exam around the corner; work that was proven in high scores and top honors, all of which he expected would make his mother proud when she was able to frame copies of those accolades among her own. Alone had a lot of positive qualities for certain people who relished their time to themselves and saw nothing wrong with watching a holo-film on their own or finding some deep introspection to soothing melodies played through holo-records, something one might have found difficult to do if there were other people present; and Kang found those moments helpful even when he was surrounded by people, the clinic always alive in some regard with staff and patients even when Kang sat quietly in his office, reviewing medical records or decompressing after a long day that was sure to get longer.

Being lonely, on the other hand, wasn’t so solitary and wasn’t so positive, a dark depth that made even the most primed and conditioned minds wither in a way far more emotional that public perception might have led on to. It was what made those moments alone more difficult, often turning productivity into procrastination under the weight of such a burdening feeling, flipping logical thought into emotional wading, and leading to, at times, unlikely situations with unfortunate consequences if one attempted to look in the wrong places for something to fill that void. For many, the destruction of such a feeling was why they connected with others, why they socialized and dated and opened themselves up to people in hopes of finding someone they could connect with, and even Kang supposed that was why he had dared fallen for someone in the first place, a stranger on Terminus with little to his name aside from a prestigious parent—one which surely could have gotten him any position in any hospital on the station with enough pulled strings—and a military background immaculate of any trouble which he supposed was too good to be true to many who didn’t hold the Alliance Defense Force in such a bright light, no matter his medical-aligned profession.

“No one is that good,” he had someone say to him once upon a time, and had it not been for how things turned out, Kang wasn’t so inclined to believe such an opinion; but then he had opened himself up to him, to someone with such alternative beliefs and ulterior motives that it could become dangerous, a few drinks over intellectual enough socio-political conversation leading to many meetings of the same in a friendly debate over who was right, who was wrong, and who was the real victim in the ways of the world which had certainly found some points of agreement among the wealth that didn’t line up. It was welcome—he wasn’t alone and he wasn’t lonely, and for the time to follow where evenings weren’t spent indoors, among the safe confines of his Lowtown apartment with its adjacent clinic security or the clinic itself with its concealed weaponry and extra security features given the higher risk of crime in the area he had set its roots into, he wasn’t lonely, able to share his time with someone who wasn’t all they had appeared to be—something he viewed as a good thing just as well as it could be bad as retrospection had it.

And no one was as they seemed—not even Kang as he found the seam in his shoulder to start pulling at the silicon replacement for skin that hadn’t been there in some time, revealing the full expanse of his arm in a dark grey steel, smooth and streamline, however branded with the make and model number from along the back of his elbow. At one time, it wouldn’t have expanded so high up his shoulder, now merged seamlessly with what organic physical structure remained in his back and shoulders, veins replaced by hydraulic hoses and pumps, nerve endings consisting of electronic nodes to send the necessary signals from his brain to such extremities, bones constructed of durable metal composites, and joints the work of mechanical socket designs, all of which had been perfected over the years from their rather crude origins; but the idea of being close, of not being lonely, had left its mark in nano-carbon dilatant composite plating and arterial shielding to make sure that the circulatory functions required to survive remained protected—be it from malfunction, injury, or someone finally pulling off their mask in the worst sort of way to threaten his beliefs and very livelihood.

The tuning necessary might not have been much, something Kang could easily accomplish on his own given the tools and knowledge to do so, but it was troubling—not in the action itself, but in the accompany wash of loneliness that came with it, the fact that he didn’t even trust his employees enough to help in the event he did need assistance, and a gut-reaction to always keep himself hidden and his thoughts secret, knowing just how easy things could be turned around.