" You're still sitting around reading old books?"

Mordau came into his study, scarcely hours since they had departed for the front.

Nova did not look up at him.

" On Earth, there used to be a strategy game called chess. One of its great masters called to Arjun, and said he would stake his life on their game," he said. " They both sat down at the table, and made their first moves. Arjun, who had not played it before, was shocked by the man letting out a cry, and killing himself at the table. It was explained to him that in the way of its great masters, it could be told who would win the battle within the first turn. This is the lesson he recorded as how he learned of the dangerous nature of assumptions about others."

" Humans are just overly emotional and presumptuous like that," Mordau commented. " It's why the DASS never accomplishes anything. They've got too many of them."

Nova stared off into the cold expanse of space, the window behind Mordau.

" The game has been lost to time, same as its home," he said. " Perhaps Arjun really had mastered it at a glance."

" ...You're acting strange."

" Am I?"

" Before, you seemed a lot whinier. Now you're waxing philosophical."

" ... I like to read about Arjun," Nova said. " These were the first books Lyena lent me."