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They were all separated after their meal.

 

TO, DH, and GiDi were just leaving their dormitory to go to their mental training when they all got messages on their implants.

 

“This is weird.” DH said, frowning as they read their message.They looked up to TO, their ears twitching down slightly, “I'm supposed to go to programming.”

 

TO knit their brows and their ears pinned back as they checked their own implant. They weren't supposed to go to programming with DH, they were to head to the incubation laboratory. They looked at GiDi, “Where are you going?”

 

“Uh, weapon fabrication.” they said. Their wide, frightened eyes flicked from DH to TO, “Any idea why?”

 

TO shook their head, “No idea.” They wished that they had eaten in the cafeteria because then maybe they’d have been told something, or perhaps another synth would have information. Of course, even if any synth had information, TO doubted that they would share it. “Best to just go where we’ve been told.”

 

GiDi looked from TO to DH, their eyes wide and dark, their ears practically limp at the side of their head. Well, they hadn’t been alone in a while now, not since they had met in the first place. They slept in their own pod, but they no longer spent any time with other synths unless they were around either TO or DH.

 

“It’ll be fine.” TO said, Though they didn’t know and while they managed to fix their expression and tone into one of confidence, their ears signaled the uncertainty they were actually feeling. “At the very least, I’m sure this isn’t a disciplinary thing, otherwise we’d either be sent to the same place, or we’d be called away one at a time, not separated like this… We’ll bring our food to the flight training room afterwards-“

 

“Why there?” GiDi asked.

 

“Because I didn’t get to fly today.” TO said. Their wings felt stiff from not being able to fly and they missed the feeling of soaring through the air. “And there shouldn’t be any other synths there; they’ll all be at the dormitories or showers, so we can speak freely and get some flight practice in.”

 

To TO’s surprise, DH frowned as their ears flicked down in disappointment.

 

“What?” TO ask, “You don’t want to?”

 

“... My shoulders hurt.” they said, the slightest hint of a whine on their voice, “I really don't want to do more than I need to after we’re done today. A bath and a lay down is all I really want. The training this morning was hard, and I hated it!”

 

TO felt their own ears droop in disappointment. True, their arms hurt as well from the training, but they really wanted to fly.

 

“Hey.” GiDi said, “We can still go there. You can fly. We can observe!”

 

“Yes! I don’t mind just being around you if you want to fly, TO. That’s fine!” DH beamed at TO, “We’ll meet you there. GiDi and I can rest our poor muscles and watch you fly.”

 

TO didn’t want them to just sit around if they didn’t want to be there, but they did want to spend more time with them, and in private. They were so much more relaxed when it was just the three of them. They checked their implant, and realized that if they didn’t leave for the incubation lab right away, they’d be late.

 

“We’ll meet at the flight training room at least!” TO said as they rushed to the door, “And we’ll figure it out from there!” They turned back just before they left the room, walking backwards a few paces, “Work hard, and watch what you say!” they said before they turned around and ran off.

 

=======

 

The moment TO stepped into the incubation lab they felt this odd sense of unreality. It was as though they were stepping into a dream, and flashes of the time before came back to them as they smelled the cleaner that was used to keep every surface sterile. It wasn’t enough for any real details to come back to them, but it was enough to make them feel sad and nostalgic for a time that had never actually existed. They looked around at the seemingly endless rows of tanks, each one held a sleeping, dreaming synth. Occasionally they would twitch as the electric currents that helped their muscles to develop despite the lack of actual movement ran through their limbs.

 

TO walked up to the tanks nearest to them and peered inside at the synths . The synths in these thanks were very young - children. The children’s ears seemed to twitch more than TO was used to seeing in most synths- more like how their own ears tended to twitch normally. Fear, happiness, mirth, joy, their ears twitched and flicked, drooped and flushed with all these emotions as they floated in the glowing blue liquid that they lived in.

 

There were no children in the training center. There were no child synths allowed at all; each synth stayed in the tank until they were fully grown. As such, TO had never actually seen a real child. They were certain that they had seen many children when they had been dreaming, but that was imaginary, poorly remembered, and felt like it had been so long ago. They leaned in and took a careful look at one of the children- their ears were so much bigger compared to the rest of their heads, their eyes protruded more than the eyes on adult synths. TO could only just keep themselves from gently chirping at the sleeping child. They were cute. Very cute. The child’s wing flicked out and hit the side of the tank and without even thinking TO put their hand up to where the wing was touching the glass.

 

They wouldn’t say that they remembered something- that would have been an exaggeration. They sensed something; a half feeling, something that  once they knew long ago. They didn’t know what it was, but it made them feel sad and happy at the same time. It made them want to scoop the child out of the tank and hold them close.

 

“You’re my trainee?”

 

TO turned around and faced the production officer that was standing behind them. They seemed oddly familiar to TO, with their wider jaw and narrower ears…

 

“I - yes.” TO said, standing at attention before the production officer. They had been about to say that they remembered the production officer before them, but they figured that perhaps it would be best to keep their mouth closed for the time. They did remember them though; This synth, this production officer was the same one that had detanked them.

 

The officer went up to them, and eyed the tag on the front of TO’s shirt. They read the number and though their ears twitched with surprise they said nothing. “Do you know why you were sent here?” They asked as they looked down to the display on the back of their own hand.

 

“N-no Officer.” TO said.

 

“Unsurprising. Your basic mental training has been completed, and you’ve been sent to the next phase of your training. That means you’ll be sent to a variety of different sections in the Training Center, and be allowed to learn about the various systems that are used to teach, maintain, and create synths for King Decon. You are to start here. You will spend this period working with my associate and I. They looked up to TO. “If you are not deemed useful to me by the end of the period, I will be disappointed. I am looking over your files, and you seem relatively promising. I expect that you will at least be helpful.”

 

TO’s ears perked up at the praise. “I understand, Officer.” they said, but they were really curious about the file. It said they were promising? Who wrote it, and what other information was on it? Would they have a chance to see it for themselves?

 

The production officer turned on their heel and walked off towards a room on the bottom floor of the production lab. TO hurried after them, running at first to catch up before falling into step behind them. The production officer pressed their implant against a square next to a door which immediately opened up. On the other side was a room that was far brighter than they were used to, and which had a much stronger smell of disinfectant and latex. Another production synth was sitting at a desk, measuring out a strange orange liquid into a syringe. The Officer that led TO into the room stood before the other, waiting silently until they finished measuring out what they wanted. They looked up as they gently set the syringe down on a sterile tray. This one had the largest snout that TO had ever seen, and smaller lips than they were used to.

 

“09T07,” The officer that had greeted them said, “This is PQ12. P for Production, Q for this particular center, 12 because they were the 12th synth to be assigned to this particular production center. I am PQ03.”

 

TO looked at PQ12, and realized that they recognized them as well. They didn’t want to say anything about remembering them- they didn’t even know if that would be considered strange but they had learned that when in doubt it was best to be silent. However, Their curiosity was too great for that at this moment and they had to ask something, they had to somehow confirm that they were remembering correctly.

 

“Is this the center where the Synths with the letter T in their designation are produced?”

 

“Almost.” PQ12 said, “ This is the center where the synths which will be given designations with the letters Q-R-S-T are produced.” They looked at TO with their ears flicking with curiosity, “What makes you ask that?”

 

“I thought I remembered some things.” TO said. It was best to keep things simple and to the point. Unlike GiDI’s Overseer, they did not want to give more information than necessary.

 

The two Officers exchanged glances, their lips pursed and their ears flicking for just a moment before they got back to their work.

 

“Well. Very observant, and a decent memory.” PQ03 said, “Maybe you’ll be more useful than the average trainee.” They looked to PQ12, and gestured to the syringe “Is that for the embryos?” They asked.

 

“It is. I was about to go and perform the feeding.”

 

PQ03 nodded and turned back to TO. Their shoulders were pulled back, their ears up, and they had a half suppressed smile on their lips, “So then, how would you like to see the act of creation, and the true power of King Decon?” Their voice was swelling with pride as they spoke - something that TO hadn’t heard in other synths before. “How would you like to see His greatest creation, and the role we privileged few are allowed to take in this glorious procedure?”

 

“I would be honored.”

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TheWitchOfTheRock

Bio: A writer and Illustrator with scenes to show and stories to tell

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