DH had never seemed as quiet and as somber as they were when they left the training room. They seemed to look past the world around them as they focused inwardly on their thoughts. They showered in silence amongsts the other synths, they retrieved their food with the others, and in silence followed TO and GiDi back to the dormitory.
“Are you angry?” TO finally asked as they got to their pod.
“I’m not.” DHsaid, their ears twitching. TO felt their own ears flick down. DH was lying to them. They sat next to GiDi, and made enough room for DH to sit down next to them if they wanted.
“I’m sorry.” TO said as DH climbed in. DH looked up at TO, the anger draining from their face as confusion overtook their features.
“I… I guess I should have spoken up.” they said as they picked at their food. “It was my report. You didn’t have to-“
DH rested a hand on TO’s forearm, then leaned forward and looked TO in the eyes, “TO,” they said, "I'm not angry at you. I Promise.”
TO watched Dh carefully and though their ears were still slanted, and though their eyes were still narrower than TO was used, they were certain that DH was not lying.
“But you’re angry.”
“I’m angry too.” GiDi said as they glared at their food.
“Why?” TO asked as they turned to look at GiDi. Maybe their ears were pinned back a little, but if GiDi hadn’t said anything, TO wouldn’t have noticed. “You don’t look angry.”
“I am though!” They frowned, furrowing their brows together as they popped a larger cube of food into their mouth. They tried to keep their scowl as they chewed but it was hard to look angry when their cheeks were bulging out.
They tried as hard as they could, but TO couldn’t help the low chuckle that escaped their lips, and the quiet chirp that came from the back of their throat. They felt their ears flush as DH and GiDi looked at them in surprise.
“GiDi is almost cute when they try to be angry.” they said, suddenly focusing intensely on their food. “They don’t scowl, they pout.” They glanced almost apologetically at Gidi, “You almost remind me of the tiny little synths in the tanks when you’re angry.”
DH frowned as they looked past TO to GiDi, taking in their expression. “You know,” they said, a smile breaking the anger on their face, “TO is right. You look like you’re trying to be angry, but…” They suppressed a chuckle, “It’s just not happening.”
GiDi huffed and looked away, but after a moment looked back with their expression softened “I'm surprised you’re not angry though.”
“I’m not overly worried about the report.” TO said.
“It’s not just the report.” DH said, ”It’s the whole thing! Doesn’t it feel…” They frowned as they looked down at their lap, “Doesn’t it feel wrong to you? How C12 described us… Like we’re a screwdriver, or a piece of machinery, or-“
“Or a tool?” TO asked, glancing up, “We are. That’s what we were made for.” They shook their head, “King Decon created us for that one purpose. We’re the only species in the galaxy who knows their purpose without doubt, and working to serve King Decon and to help keep peace and order in the galaxy-“
“But we’re still people!” DH insisted, “I mean..” They faltered, their ears flicking down as they looked at TO and GiDi, their eyes almost pathetically sad, “Aren’t we?”
TO knew the answer. DH and GiDi both knew the answer: Whatever they thought they were, they were tools first. Oddly, there was something about that which made TO very sad. Were they supposed to feel like this, or was this because they were strange? Did the other synths feel like this, and just keep it to themselves?
“We are strange.” TO settled on saying as they pulled DH close to them, holding them against their chest, “That you two know that I wrote that report, that I made this happen is more than enough for me!”
DH gave them a smile, but they were clearly still bothered by it all as they stared out into nothing while they ate.
They were tools. They were not people. They had been designed by the ruler of the galaxy to serve Him. There was no greater honor. There was no need for personal praise, or validation. To serve was enough.
At least, it was supposed to be.
Though TO didn’t feel like they needed credit for their report, and even though they were happy to serve King Decon, happy to have a part in His grander workings, they also knew that they had once wanted something that they weren’t supposed to want.
They had needed something that other synths didn’t seem to need.
They pulled DH a little closer and leaned against GiDi as they ate their lunch. They had wanted something more than what a Synth was supposed to want, and they had gotten that, and so now they were more or less content.
Though it did bother them that serving King Decon hadn’t been enough.
“You were far more excited yesterday when I told you what you’d be doing today.” PQ03 said as TO approached them in the laboratory.
“It’s been a trying day.” TO said. They were still being very careful around the two officers but now they couldn’t shake what C12 had told them. The concept that most of the higher up officers were strange– that being strange or different and at the same time being exceptional had allowed them to become officers– lingered on their minds.
Many officers were strange. Were they officers because they were strange, or despite their strangeness? Had they pushed themselves to excel, as TO had done, so that they wouldn’t be corrected?
Still, while PQ03 was different from other synths, They weren’t quite the same as TO was. PQ03 has a passion for their work that TO hadn’t seen in anybody else. There was a love for what they were doing outside of the pride they felt in fulfilling their duties. Watching them the last few days had been interesting to say the least.
“12,” PQ03 said to the other officer, “I'm heading to the activation lab with the trainee. Do you need any assistance before I go?”
“I do not.” PQ12 said as they continued their work: They were synthesising the orange liquid that fed the embryos, “I am certain I can manage this just fine on my own.”
They nodded, and gestured to TO, “Very well. With me then.” they said. They kept their voice calm but their ears were twitching with excitement.
That was another thing they had noticed: How the officers had also shortened their assignments. At first, TO though that it was just a time saving measure. It had seemed impossible that officers with such important jobs might be strange, but now that C12 had said it, it was like TO had been shown how a trick had been performed, and now they couldn’t help but see it. They couldn’t help but look back and wonder how they had managed to convince themselves that PQ03 wasn’t strange.
They were unsure about PQ12. Were they strange as well? Was their overseer strange? Were all the overseers?
Before they knew it, they had been led down a hallway,away from the primary lab and to a large, secure door. Like most of the doors it was hardly discernible from the rest of the wall save for the slightly deeper lines around it, and the single card reader that shined next to it. PQ03 rested the back of their hand against the reader and the door whooshed opened, revealing another room which was illuminated by red lights. TO stepped in and gazed about at the walls lined with tiny vials that reflected the red glow around them.
TO walked over to the wall and examined the vials. They seemed slightly smokey, but they couldn’t see anything inside.
“There’s nothing in these.” TO said, unable to keep the disappointment out of their voice.
“There may not be.” PQ03 agreed, “But there may be, and it’s too small for you to see. Yet.” They gestured around the room, “Each vial is potential, Trainee.” they said, “Each one holds the start, the basic drop of life created by the very hands of King Decon! Each one has been crafted to perfection, and we have been entrusted with the grand duty of activating the growth, and bringing them to their full, raw potential…Provided we are successful in the activation.” They seemed to lose a bit of their pride here, “At this point, we do have a failure rate of 10%.”
“That’s it?” TO said as they looked around, “It’s far more for the embryos and fetus.”
“Well, with those the main issues are ones we can see; malformation in the organs, or lack of nutrients. These are things we can work to improve but here?” They shook their head, “We do not know, and each waste of King Decon's genius weighs heavily on me.” They gave TO an unexpectedly harsh look, “As it should you! Even if it is only 10%. Each one is the product of King Decon’s work, and each failure is a waste of His time!”
TO felt their ears burn with shame, but as they averted their gaze from PQ03, a strange thought entered their head.
It was King Decon’s genius and skillful hands that created each synth, wasn’t it? But, it was also supposed to be King Decon’s fair judgement that the synths had been given more time to rest after their physical training. Could it be possible that the synths were made by other synths?
No. PQ03 had said that each was crafted by King Decon’s own hands, and they had been told several times now that the method by which synths were actually crafted was far too complicated for any synth to be able to comprehend.
“What… What’s in the vials?” TO asked, their voice unsteady as they tried to push the troublesome thoughts out of their head, “Do the synths appear in them? How?”
PQ03’s expression brightened at the question. “That is why we’re here.” they said, “You’re going to see how it starts. Or at least, you’re going to see as much as a synth can ever hope to, becuase this-“ They pointed to the vials, “Is as close to working with King Decon directly as any Synth can dream of.”
Bio: A writer and Illustrator with scenes to show and stories to tell