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Each Overseer had their own office, all of which were located by the dormitories. The offices were distinguished by a letter on the door corresponding with the group that each Overseer was responsible for. Though TO had passed the offices every day, they had never had a reason to go inside.

 

Until now.

 

Stomach rolling, TO pressed their implant to the scanner at the door. It took a few moments to process, and in those few minutes TO could only be grateful that they hadn’t had a chance to eat before they got here; they felt like they were going to be sick again, only now they didn’t have a bucket to vomit into.

 

Finally, the panel dinged. TO’s chip read, “Access granted” and the door slid open to allow TO inside.

 

Perhaps it was because they were working in the production labs each day that made the office seem so small to TO: They had expected their Overseer to have something grander than the glorified closet that they entered. The office was a simple, small room with the same light grey walls that covered the rest of the training center. A white desk with an interactive surface sat in the middle of the room with two chairs on either side. Over the desk, a hologram of the galaxy -a spiral with three tails- was projected with notes and call numbers all over it. Their Overseer was sitting on the other side of the desk, looking through the files that were being projected before them.

 

“Sit.” they said without looking up. TO shakily pulled the chair out and sat down, their wings wrapped tightly around their arms as their Overseer continued to take their notes.

 

TO wished that they hadn’t rushed away from DH and GiDi. The moment they got their summons, they ran to get to the Overseers office. They didn’t think they could wait in fear of what might be waiting for them. They only managed a quick, awkward, goodbye before they took off and It was only now that they were sitting there and waiting that they wished they had taken the time to finish their conversation. What if they were going to be corrected? They knew that was unlikely, but it was still a fear. Yes, they had done their job in the production labs, but they hadn’t reacted well to it. Had PQ03 sent their overseer a message? Maybe their reaction to the dissection, and their overall strangeness had hit some kind of limit. Maybe it was like DH’s programming stuff; If deviance >= (limit) then run(“correction”)

 

Maybe despite their hard work, they had hit that limit.

 

The overseer finished what they were doing, and gestured with a wave to make the rest of the holograms disappear. They brought up another hologram, and TO could see their call number displayed backwards to them. It was their file;The one that PQ03 had apparently seen when TO had been assigned to production. It looked much like Q10’s file at first glance.

 

Despite the situation, they desperately wanted to see what was written on it.

 

The Overseer glanced through their records, then looked up at TO. Their eyes lingered on TO’s bloodied, swollen snout for a moment before flicking to their ears.

 

“Your medical records have expanded in the last couple of days.” They said as the Overseer looked back to the records. “Eye strain, migraine, and now injury.” They glanced back up. “Though, according to the Medical Officer, they’re likely all connected to the eye strain.”

 

“Y-yes, Officer.” TO said. Was that too much damage done to them? Maybe it was strangeness and injury? “My eyes are feeling much better, and I am wearing my goggles in the production labs as requested by the Medical Officer.”

 

“I see.” The Overseer said. They scrolled through the file, and even from their mirrored view of it, TO could see that they were looking through notes with dates attached. “It has been noted as well that you no longer take your meals in the cafeteria.” They glanced up, “Is there a particular reason for that?”

 

TO felt their ears twitch with worry, “Should I be in the cafeteria?” They asked. “I wasn’t aware it was a requirement.”

 

“Where do you go?” They asked, not bothering to answer TO’s question.

 

“For the second meal, I return to my pod with D- with 70H67 and 45G70.” TO said, the words coming out of their mouth faster than normal.

 

“Why them?” The Overseer asked. With an easy gesture they brought up two more files and looked through them quickly.

 

“We study while we eat,” TO said, “and discuss our individual research.”

 

“Interesting… What do you study?”

 

“Lots of things?” TO frowned, unsure how to answer. What was the normal answer? No, taking meals away from the cafeteria wasn’t normal to begin with: what was the right answer here? TO didn’t know.

 

“Such as?”

 

“Well… I’ve been focused on Biotech.” TO said, “45G70 has been looking up ways a mere synth can better contribute to King Decon’s army, and 70H67 has been working on mastering a programming language.”

 

“I see.”

 

“Sometimes we help one another find information if there’s a lot of research materials to go through. After the third meal, we go to Flight Training for extra practice.”

 

The Overseer hummed as they looked through the new files they had brought up.

 

“I-Is that a problem?”

 

“No… No I think not.” They said, “45G70 and 70H67 have improved in their performance since your change in behaviour has been noted.” They waved away Gidi and DH’s files and went back to TO’s. They brought up a note that was encircled in red. “There has been a report of aggression.” They said.

 

“Aggression?” They said, “I…” they reached up and gently touched their nose, “This was in combat training-“

 

The Overseer shook their head as they continued to read the file. “No not that.” They said, “I have a separate report on that in your medical file. No, there were reports from three others that you drew your claws on another synth: 55H70.

 

TO froze as they remembered drawing their claws, and those few steps they had taken towards 55H70 back in the showers. They hadn’t even considered that it could be a problem now. “I didn’t hurt them. I didn’t touch them.”

 

“You drew your claws.” The Overseer said, “You intended to hurt them.”

 

TO felt their ears drop. Yes, they had. They had intended to hurt them very badly. They looked away, their ears flushed with shame.

 

“I didn’t hurt them.” TO finally said.

 

“Correct; You did not. If you had, we would not be having this conversation”

 

TO looked up at the Overseer. They were still focused on their report and paying little attention to TO.

 

“I would like to know why you drew your claws.” The Overseer finally said after a long moment of silence.

 

“Does it matter, Overseer?” TO said, only just keeping their tone from sounding disrespectful. “I’ll be disciplined regardless, correct?”

 

The Overseer was about to answer when something beeped behind them. Their ears twitched with irritation as they turned around and reached out to the wall where a new report was displayed against the grey surface.

 

“A moment.” They said as they dealt with their report.

 

Their stomach twisting in knots, TO nodded. After another moment in which they realized that the Overseer couldn't see them nod, they whispered a low, “Yes Overseer.”

 

TO’s file was still floating before them; all the information about them, anything that any higher-ranking synth thought was important was in that file. With hardly any hesitation, they leaned in and tried to focus enough to read backwards. Of course they could do it, but they were slow. Under the bigger writing that had their call number, there was a smaller code that had two other call numbers underneath. TO wasn’t sure what they might have been. Further down, there were lists of skills, performance evaluations from their training, and a collection of notes from their work in the lab.

 

There was so much information, and TO found themselves getting quickly frustrated with how slowly they were working. They frowned as they glanced up to check on their Overseer, who was still focused entirely on the new report.

 

TO hesitated for just a moment, then reached out and spun the file around so that it was facing them. They didn’t know how long they had, but if they were careful and quick then they’d be able to read a bit and maybe get some information before their Overseer finished their own work.

 

Under their list of skills there was a series of daily reports reaching all the way back to the day they left the tank: 5th Span, 23rd Day, 1123 KDC. On that first day there was a long list of scores for various tests that they had taken - basic physical tests to check their reflexes and physical abilities, and very straightforward cognitive tests which they hardly remembered.

 

It came back to them now in bits and pieces. They had been so disoriented that day that they hardly remembered what had happened. They were tested, the implant was installed in the back of their hand, a small chip placed on the base of their skull so they could control the implant, They had then been given their uniform and sent to their pod to rest. They couldn’t remember what the tests had been about, but from the information on their file it seemed like they had passed them all.

 

After that, there, the records seemed to have very minimal information; Basic Physical training and Mental Training, simply showing attendance for the most part. A few days had comments underlined in blue, saying something along the lines of “Tested subject with higher weights, subject continued training with little issue” or “subject shows greater skill in flight.” There were also comments underlined in red. In the first thirty days, there were several of these, showing their attempts at conversing with other synths. On the thirtieth day, it showed a whole paragraph detailing what had happened with DH in the training room.

 

Someone had been there. Someone had seen it all happen. Why hadn’t Q10 been stopped that day? As they read on, they saw that their own actions were underlined in purple. TO could make the assumption that what was underlined in blue was good, and underlined in red was bad - that wasn’t much of a stretch- but what did purple mean?

 

Near the end of the notes for day 30, there was a separate note; [[ Subject’s actions potentially driven by will to follow King Decon’s rule, and impose His rule on fellow synths: useful if managed ]]

 

Useful if managed? What did that mean? Questions for later; right now they had to take in all the information they could. They scrolled down, their eyes flicking over the different days until they noticed a separate list to the side. They reached out and opened it.

 

Events:

 

KDC 1123 S6 D10

Missed mental training.

Discipline: Y

Action: Behaviour unintentional. Subject effective at self-training. Assigned 2 days in maintenance.

 

KDC 1123 S7 D23

Medical Visit

Reason:Migraine

Cause: eyestrain

Treatment: eye rest. Medical goggles.

 

KDC 1123 S7 D24

Aggressive Action:threat with claws.

Injury: none

Discipline: Pending

 

KDC 1123 S7 D25

Medical Visit

Reason : injury

Cause: strike to snout

Treatment: Painkillers (subject is allotted 3 in total). Ice. Examination for further injury.

 

There were more events listed out, but they were all relatively mundane and uninteresting. Underneath, were general notes;

 

Note: Subject no longer eats in Cafeteria.

Subject frequents flight training: Training other synths.

Subject associating exclusively with other flagged synths. (70H67, 45G70)

Subject protected maintenance synth from sewage pipe break.

Subject used abnormal methods in combat simulations: Successful

Subject is identified as especially observant.

Subject capable for independent research and argument.

Subject is identified as overly social.

Subject cause of noise complaints: speaker playing music in dormitories.

Subject shows an interest in bio-tech

Subject possesses abnormal curiosity

…….



The list went on, detailing almost everything that they supposed their Overseer had seen or heard about which they thought was useful or worth noting. They didn’t know how the overseer knew half of this stuff; perhaps it was reported by other Officers? Maybe they kept records of what TO looked up on their computer or their implant?

 

Finally, at the bottom, there was a number just like there had been on Q10’s file; 85. They didn’t know what it meant. Was it a rank, perhaps? Or maybe a score?

 

TO realized that they had been leaning forward, reading for a while. They glanced up to see if the Overseer was almost done.

 

They were.

 

TO didn’t know how long ago the Overseer had finished with their report, but the way they were sitting was they watched TO made it clear that it had been a few minutes at least. They simply sat, their hands folded on their desk as they watched TO read through the file.





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TheWitchOfTheRock

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

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