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GiDi was nearly buzzing with excitement when they met up outside the cafeteria. Their ears were twitching right at the tips, they seemed unable to keep their wings still, and they had this big, wide grin. They rushed to get into the cafeteria, got their food, and then nearly ran to get to the Flight Training room with DH and TO behind them.

 

“Hold on, GiDi!” TO said, holding their food close to their chest so that they didn’t lose any of the little cubes as they jogged to keep up, “Why are you rushing, what-“

 

“I’m so excited!” they said, giving one of the biggest smiles TO had ever seen, “I had the best day today!”

 

“You did?” DH asked, their own face breaking out into a smile, “That’s great! What happened?”

 

“I’ll tell you when we get to the training room.” They promised as they continued rushing down the hall, “I don’t want any interruptions!”

 

Even though the other synths were now leaving them more or less alone, the three of them still preferred the quiet and solitude of the Flight Training room. TO also liked going there because it was a chance to fly after they ate. There had been no proper flight lessons since they started combat training, and TO needed the chance to stretch their wings each day; They found themself become melancholic if they didn’t.

 

Today, TO had another reason for wanting to go to The Flight Training room; It was dimmer than any other place in the training center. The lights in the lab had strained their eyes, and their head was now pounding. They wanted to sit in the dark and press something to their eyes, or even go to the showers and turn off all the lights and just let the water pour over their head.

 

Of course, they had no control over the lighting in the showers.

 

“That’s fine.” TO said, their voice a weak whisper, “But please keep your voice down.” Running after GiDi hadn’t helped their head- every time their foot pounded against the floor the movement sent a jolt of pain through to their head.

 

GiDi’s smile faltered. “Are you ok?”

 

“I’m… No, not really. The lights in the lab gave me a headache.” They looked up and forced a smile through the pain, “That’s all though. I’m glad you had a good day for a change.”

 

They got to the flight training room and flew up to the platform that had now become their little hiding place. They leaned against the wall, and TO idly picked at their food while GiDi talked.

 

“So, I went to weapons production, and I honestly figured I’d be doing the same thing over and over again today. I’ve gotten used to it.” They grinned, “Honestly, I just start playing some of my favourite songs from the cultural research resources over and over again in my head.” They shook their head, their ears flicking at their sudden distraction, “Anyway, I went to weapons production ready for another whole day of monotony. I sit down, start working, but the Officer comes up to me and tells me to follow them.”

 

“And… It wasn’t a bad thing?” DH asked.

 

“No! I mean, I thought it was at first.” GiDi’s ears flicked down, and their eyes grew wide with the memory of their fear. “I was thinking to myself, ‘This is it. They saw something wrong, and they’re going to correct me.’ I was wondering how I’d be able to get away to tell one of you!” They shook their head, “But nope! they said that they’d been watching me, and they were satisfied that I was a good worker who didn’t need much supervision.” They clapped their hands together, “But do you know what they said impressed them the most!?”

 

DH chuckled, “I do not.” they said, “What was so impressive?”

 

“So, in weapon production you’re sat at a table with a conveyor belt. The belt brings the multi-gun that I need to alter. All the pieces and all the tools I need are set up in front of me. I’m to measure in on this one part of the multi-gun, and then set the piece onto a very specific location; that’s all.” They beamed, “Well, after I did the first few I realized that if I made a simple template I could attach them faster. I made a little paper template, and set that against the part of the multi-gun I was working on. I didn’t have to measure a thing after that!” They beamed, “All I had to do was get better at soldering stuff!”

 

“That impressed them?” DH asked, “They didn’t think of that themselves?”

 

“Nope!” GiDi beamed, “I mean, I’m sure they would have if they were doing the job over and over, but they don’t even watch the work down there; they just track the numbers. Apparently they were confused as to how I was being so efficient when I had only been there for a few days, so they were watching me! they said I have patience and problem-solving skills, and so-“ they took a deep breath and clapped their hands together, “They reassigned me! Now, I watch the other synths doing their job, and see if I can figure out a way to make everything faster!”

 

“That’s really good.” TO said, trying to put as much excitement in their voice as possible. They were really happy for GiDi, but their head just hurt so much that it was hard to focus. “That’s a much more interesting job, I hope?”

 

“Oh, it is!” they said, “I mean, I’m mostly watching other synths do tedious work, but now I’m watching, and I’m thinking, ‘How do I make this easier? How do I make it faster!’” They smiled, “I’m feeling useful! The Officer said I already increased productivity by-“

 

TO’s head throbbed, and for a moment they lost their focus on GiDi’s words. They suddenly realized that they hadn’t touched their food. The thought of trying to eat right now made them feel sick. They just wanted to lay down. They pushed their food away and rested their head in the hands, pressing their palms into their eyes.

 

“I had a good day too.” They heard DH say, “I think this programming stuff is finally starting to sink in.”

 

“Oh?” GiDi asked.

 

“I mean, the Officer I was working under was giving me some issues because I wasn’t being as efficient as-“ They stopped and looked at TO, “Are you… Well, you’re not ok, but are you going to be ok?” DH leaned forward and put their hands on TO’s shoulder. TO shook their head, and without taking their palms from their eyes they leaned into DH. The pressure of DH’s chest against their head seemed to help in some miniscule way.

 

“I’m still listening.” they said, “Just...Headache.”

 

DH put an arm around them and pulled TO into a gentle embrace, “Well, you lay on me, and we’ll talk softly.” they said, “Try to eat though; it might make you feel better.”

 

TO nodded, and keeping their eyes closed they reached out and took up a cube of food. They didn’t want to eat, but DH was right. They were in so much pain though, even their slow chewing caused them some agony.

 

“Should we take them to medical?” GiDi asked DH

 

“No.” TO whispered before picking up another cube of food “Not For just a headache. DH… Sorry. Go on. What were you saying?”

 

“Well.” DH said as TO started to gnaw on their food. “Right. Uh. The Officer! The Officer had been making these little comments about how I’m ineffective because I wasn’t getting work done, but I was taking TO’s advice and working with the coding on my own.” They gave TO a quick squeeze, “And I guess it just started to sink in. I took a fresh look at the code I was to fix, and I found a bunch of issues that I resolved right away.”

 

“And what did the officer say to that?” GiDi asked.

 

“Oh, they said that they must have ‘gotten through to me” or some such nonsense. Said that it was good that I was finally pulling my weight-”

 

“You shouldn’t talk about the officers like that.” TO muttered, “They’ve been chosen by-“

 

“I know, I know, you’re right. Chosen by King Decon for their roles. Still, they’re not King Decon, are they?” They gave a low chuckle, “Well, it doesn’t matter. I took longer to learn the code, and I had to learn it my own way, but I know it now, and I think that I’m getting good at it! I might even try to do my own programming in my free time!”

 

TO felt DH gently scratch the back of their head. It felt nice, but the pain was still there. They thought that maybe if they didn’t move at all, if they stayed very still, and very quiet, and kept resting then maybe the pain would just go away.

 

“TO?” DH said, their voice very soft. TO only just managed to hum in response. “You’re really not looking well. You look almost grey, and you’ve been just laying there for a while.”

 

TO groaned, but said nothing. Those damned lights in the lab had messed them up. PQ03 said that they’d get used to it; had they suffered the same kind of headache when they were starting out in the labs? If they had, then PQ03 should have warned them that it would get this bad.

 

“Do you want to go lay down?” DH asked.

 

“Don’t wanna move.” TO muttered.

 

DH got up and slowly pulled TO up with them, “Come on.” they said, “We’ll get you to your pod, and then you don’t have to move for the rest of the day, ok?”

 

TO nodded, and let DH help them to their feet. With DH and GiDi with them, they managed to clumsily flap down to the main platform before they finally doubled over and started to throw up the scant bit of food they had managed to eat.




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TheWitchOfTheRock

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

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