Re: Schedule Change
It has been decided by King Decon that Physical Training for synths in both Basic Physical Training, Basic Combat Training, and Advanced Combat Training will have it’s daily hours reduced.
In its place, an extra hour will be devoted for physical rest and cleansing before the second meal in order to reduce distraction and improve physical efficiency.
Further questions can be addressed to individual overseers and trainers.
The announcement pinged on TO’s implant the moment they woke up. They were still half asleep and they had to read the announcement three times before the information sunk in. There was no further explanation as to why this decision had been made or as to what inspired it, but TO had a decent idea of what might have happened.
It had only been two days ago that they sent C12 the report that they had requested.
A frantic knocking on the outside of TO’s pod pulled them from their thoughts. Still undressed under the thin sheets of their bed they opened the barrier and allowed DH to climb in.
Without asking, DH closed the barrier behind them.
“This was you!” they said as they projected the announcement in the air before them. Of course, it was displayed backwards from TO’s point of view, but they knew it was the same one they had just read.
“I… It doesn’t have my number on it.” TO said, their ears flushing as they looked away, “It could be coincidence.” Their ears twitched: they didn’t believe that it had nothing to do with them, but DH sounded so excited that they felt a little embarrassed.
Maybe it had been them! Maybe they had sent their report to C12, who sent it to King Decon Himself, and He thought that the argument had merit. TO might have convinced King Decon to make a change!
“You’re right!” DH said, their ears pinning back, “Your number isn’t on it!” They frowned as they scanned through the announcement again, then made a quick gesture with their hand which made the floating screen disappear. “You should be credited!”
“I.. no, I shouldn’t!” TO said. Sure, they believed that DH was right, that it was their report to C12 that had caused this, but what if they were wrong? If they demanded credit for something that they didn’t do, then that would be outright embarrassing and potentially dangerous.
If they weren’t credited for their work, TO was sure there was a very good reason.
“You should!” DH said, “I was there when C12 asked you to give them that report.”
“I know you were. I-“
“I was here with you while you agonized over it!” They gestured to the computer, it’s screen now only displaying the dull purple light that TO kept on as they slept, “I was here while you pulled up studies from across the galaxy to support your argument! You worked hard on that, AND it made a difference!”
DH was breathing heavily now, their ears pinned back, their eyes narrowed.
“It made a difference, so GiDi should be happy, right?” TO said, their voice careful and quiet, “I mean, they wanted to know about Synths that actually made a difference… And I did.”
“But your name isn’t on this!” DH said again, “If you did something good, shouldn’t people know about it?” They opened the panel in the side of the wall and pulled out TO’s uniform, “Here.” they said, “Get dressed. We’re going to see if we can get to training early and speak to C12.”
DH had their hand nearly to the button to open the barrier when TO stopped them, yanking their hand away and pulling them back down on the bed.
“No!” they said, horrified, “You can’t just...You don’t just.” Their ears were flat against the sides of their head, their eyes wide and scared, “If you do that, you’ll get in so much trouble.”
“What? C12 said that so long as we follow orders, we won’t be corrected, right?”
TO wished that C12 hadn’t told them that. That information, along with the fact that the others were now ignoring them properly had led DH to be less and less careful. They were worried that they would say or do something that couldn’t be overlooked.
“You have to be respectful to Retirees.” TO finally said.
“I will be! I’ll very respectfully ask C12 how this announcement came up so soon after you gave them your report, and yet there’s no sign of your number on it anywhere!”
Before TO could respond, there was another knock on their pod. DH opened it and they saw GiDi on the other side.
“Your assignment!” GiDi said, beaming at TO, “You got King Decon to change His mind!”
“We don’t know that!” TO insisted.
“But… It has to be right?” GiDi said, “I’m sure that C12 will mention something about it in training today!” They looked over at TO and saw that they were still undressed, “Come on!” they said, “Get dressed! Let’s go, or we’ll be late!”
TO kicked off the blanket and started to pull on their uniform, a tight knot forming in their stomach as they worried about what physical training would bring. They didn’t know if they wanted the attention of every synth in the room on them if they were credited for their work, but they also worried about what DH would do if nothing was said.
They sighed. They had been excited for today. Today was supposed to be the day they activated the embryos for development. They had been looking forward to that. Now they could hardly bring themselves to feel happy about it because of their worry.
Physical training brought with it more running, more kicking, more shooting. It had the addition of what C12 called “non-aerial agility training” which meant that C12 had some kind of obstacle course set up in the large training room, and they were to make their way through it.
The addition of the obstacle course at least made their training less tedious, but it also meant more injuries as they smacked into bars, fell from walls, or landed awkwardly as they jumped from platform to platform. TO managed to smack their shin against the edge of one such ledge, earning them a quickly blooming bruise. DH got their wing caught on the corner of a wall, twisting something and getting a firm reprimand from C12 to keep their wings tight against their back when they weren’t flying. GiDi landed funny on their foot as they jumped down from a platform and ended up limping through the rest of the course.
At the end of their class, C12 lined them up as the obstacle course was pulled away back under the floor.
“Now then.” C12 said, standing before them instead of pacing as they normally did. TO had noticed noticed through the class that they had moved around a little less, and seemed to be limping more than normal when they did walk. “I assume you all read the announcement today.”
“Yes, Retiree C12.” Was the response chanted back in unison.
“Then I expect no complaints as you’re sent away early this time.” they said, “Since this directive comes from King Decon Himself.” They let their eyes pass over the rows of synths, stopping briefly over TO before they barked out “Dismissed” and the other synths started to file out of the training room.
TO started to follow the other synths, but DH pulled them back and dragged them up to C12.
“Retiree C12!” DH said, standing at attention. TO and GiDI went to attention as well, since apparently there was no pulling DH back from this. C12 had been about to sit down on a nearby bench, but as the three of them approached, they chose to lean against the wall, their bad leg lifted off the floor.
“Ah. You three.” they said as they glanced over them. C12 turned their focus to TO. “You must be proud of yourself.”
“The announcement earlier.” C12 said as they crossed their arms, “You presented a good argument, and it held merit. Very good.”
“So….” TO felt their ears flush, “So... that announcement was because of me?”
“It was.” C12 said, “I presented it to one of the higher up coordinators, and it convinced them first, of course. They presented it to one of King Decon’s advisors.” C12 shrugged, “Needless to say, it went through a lot of synths before King Decon heard it, but when He did He apparently liked it.
Even though their number hadn’t been on it, TO felt like they might scream with joy. They felt like they had something swelling up inside. They wanted to shout, ‘look, look what I did! I convinced King Decon himself!’
“Why isn’t TO- uh, 09T07’s number on it?”
C12 tilted their head at DH, “TO?”
Silence among the three for a moment. GiDi eventually cleared their throat.
“Retiree, Yes, shortenings of our numbers when we refer to one another. It saves time. 09T07 is TO-“ They gestured to DH, “They’re DH, and I’m GiDi”
C12 looked over them, their eyes steady, calculating. “Interesting.” they said, “Though, I suppose that will change when you’re given your proper assignments.” They shrugged, “You’ll also have shorter designations at that point.”
TO released a breath that they hadn’t realized that they were holding, relieved that C12 didn’t seem concerned at all by their nicknames, not like the other synth had in the flight training room so long ago.
“Still! Their designation isn’t on the announcement!” DH said.
C12 tilted their head at DH, silently observing them for a moment before they said, “Why would it be?”
“Becuase they wrote the report!”
C12 gave what TO would later call a pitying look: In the moment they were too terrified by the sudden harsh tone that DH had decided to use. “Maybe.” they said, “But King Decon made the decision.”
“But he made his decision because of TO’s report!”
“And TO, all of you, and me, we’re all King Decon’s Tools.” They pursed their lips, “If you build a robot, do you give your screwdriver credit for their part in it? Or your soldering gun? When the robot performs its duties, do you credit the robot, the programming, or the creator of the robot.”
“But we’re not-“ DH started, but C12 cut them off.
“Be very careful.” they said, “Be extremely careful with what you say.”
DH fell silent. C12’s voice was soft and quiet, but there was no mistaking the warning in their tone. When they had been silent for a while, C12 continued.
“TO’s work isn’t ignored. You all have files filled with achievements and strengths and weaknesses. This will be taken into account when it’s time for long term assignments. Because of their work, TO will have a chance at a position that may give them more long term satisfaction, and keep them out of danger. They might even be given an opportunity to make other changes. That will be their reward for being an exceptional tool.” They looked at the three of them carefully, “Do you all understand?”
“You got credit.” DH said slowly, “Our overseers know about your work. How you led the other synths out of danger. Your military record-“
“And when current living memory fades,” C12 said, “Then it will only be recorded as one of King Decon’s many victories. In return, I get to live a more comfortable life. I’m considered an excellent tool, and very valuable. That’s why I’m a retiree, and why I haven’t been corrected or repurposed after my little accident.” They knocked on the hard plastic of their prosthetic leg. “Do you understand me?”
They looked at C12 in silence for a few moments, then slowly each one nodded. C12 gave a little chuckle, and limped to the door.
“Doesn’t it bother you!” GiDi finally said, “You’re like us, aren’t you? Doesn’t this bother you?”
C12 stopped, and turned, eying GiDi carefully. “No.” they said. “It doesn’t.” They tilted their head, “You want to know why it doesn’t?”
“Yes” GiDi said, stepping forward, their ears perking up in anticipation, “I do!”
“I am perhaps more like the three of you than I am most other synths, a bit different. Most of the higher up officers are all a little different.” C12 said, “They think different. They act different. But they also make excellent tools. They follow orders, and they used their skills to better serve King Decon. That’s why they're officers. They make better tools than normal synths, and are given the ranks and positions where they can be most effective.” They fell silent for a moment, and TO thought that they were done.
“But first and foremost they’re tools.” they said, their voice a little quieter now. “They know this. They accept this, and that’s why they’ve survived. That’s why I’ve survived. You’re best remembering that.”
They left, letting the door slide shut behind them.
Bio: A writer and Illustrator with scenes to show and stories to tell