As TO stared into the eyes of their Overseer, they felt like their entire body was paralyzed. Their veins filled with ice that ran from head to toe. Time seemed to freeze and the second in which they realized the Overseer was watching them seemed to drag out.
“My apologies, Overseer.” They stammered, “I didn’t ...I only wanted to see-“
“I am not surprised.” They said as they turned the file back to face them. “Abnormal curiosity. It only makes sense that you’d be interested in what was on your file.”
“I apologize again.” They said, their ears twitching madly with anxiety; if they weren’t in trouble before, they were sure they were now. What had they been thinking? If DH or GiDi had done something that stupid….
“It is your own file.” They said, “I am unconcerned if you read it or not. Though, I do question your judgement if you read it, and felt that you should not.”
I didn't respond. They looked down at their hands on their lap, silent.
“You probably saw the note here stating your ability for problem solving. That involves a certain grasp on logic. Tell me then, after reading this, why do you think you were actually called here?”
“Because I drew my claws.” They said quietly.
“Clearly.” The Overseer said.
“And… because I’ve been to medical twice?”
“That is part of it.” They tilted their head at TO, “Why do you think you’re here?”
“... To be repurposed?” They asked, their ears drooping low.
“... Well, let us hope not.” The Overseer said. TO glanced up and watched the Overseer’s eyes flick down to that number 85 on the bottom, then to another report. It was only now that they could see another number in red, glowing lights; 42. “There was no injury, as you pointed out; only intent. I am more concerned at this moment about this not happening again.” They glanced up at TO, examining them carefully, their eyes focused on their ears. “You are a valuable asset. You excel in most things, and possess useful traits that would be of use to King Decon. Correcting or repurposing you at this point would almost be wasteful. However, if it’s proven that you cannot serve properly, then the appropriate actions must be taken.” They looked back to their report. “Tell me what happened.”
“It… it was stupid of me.” They said quickly, “55H70 was saying things that were bothering me. I got angry-“
“What did they say?”
TO didn’t want to bring GiDi into this, but they knew at this point they had little choice but to mention them. “They said that Gi- 45G70 would be repurposed.”
“I see. Did they give a reason why?”
“They did not think that 45G70 would perform adequately in Physical Training.” TO said as carefully as possible. They didn’t want to point out any issues that GiDi might have, or give the Overseer any reason to pay closer attention to them
“I see.” They glanced at TO’s file, then once more brought up GiDi’s. “And why did this bother you? Why did it almost drive you to violence.”
“It normally wouldn’t have!” TO insisted, “I have never been violent to another synth before. Ever. I’ve stopped violence from occurring! But... I felt unwell from my work that day, and I was disoriented and I don't think I was thinking right- “ They knew that they were rambling now, but they almost felt like they couldn’t stop.
“Unwell from work?” The Overseer interrupted. They glanced back at the report. “Ah. Yes. Eye strain. Migraine.” They frowned as they looked over their reports, and made a note at the end of one. TO could still see their own file, and even backwards they were able to make out the note added to the report; “Medical cause?”
“What stopped you.” They asked.
“What stopped you from attacking.”
“... 70H67.” They said. “They came into the showers, and pulled me away.”
“Were it not for them, do you think you would have actually attacked?”
Would they have? They wanted to at the moment, but for the first time since that day they let their mind play out the possible future if they had attacked ;if DH hadn't been there. What if they had been allowed to approach 55H70 with their claws out? What if they had gotten close enough to drag their claws their skin, to rip their tongue out as they had imagined?
Now, without the anger pulsing through them, they could only imagine the way it would have felt to pull their flesh apart, the blood on their hands. They imagined their claws ripping through 55H70 like knives. No. No, they didn’t want that. Now, with a cooler head, they didn’t want to see more blood. They didn’t want to hurt anyone.
“... I hope not.” They said. “If I had… even without discipline, I think I'd’ have regretted it.”
TO looked up from their hands, confused. Why? It simply felt wrong, and for a moment it was difficult for TO to articulate a logical reason why it might. “We… We’re not supposed to hurt other synths.” they said, “I feel like I would not want to hurt another.”
“You feel ?”
They frowned, “By king Decon’s command, we’re not supposed to hurt other synths. I think that that would be reason enough for me not to want to?” It felt to them like they were asking themselves more than anything else. 55H70 was nothing to them, so if they were to get away with it, why would the idea of hurting them bother TO? Clearly, it had to be the knowledge that King Decon wouldn’t allow it.
Though, even as they let their imagination create the picture of what might have happened in their head, they considered that perhaps it would have been the violence itself that they wouldn’t like, and the blood that would have bothered them before anything else.
“I see.” The Overseer said as they started to take more notes.
“Am I… Am II going to be disciplined?” TO asked. That wasn’t what they wanted to ask- they wanted to ask if they’d be corrected. That seemed like a dangerous question though.
“I see no need of it at this moment.” They said. They glanced up at their report again, their eyes lingering on that number at the end of TO’s file, “No. nothing happened. There’s a chance that your actions might have been influenced by medical complications, and as I said; you’re more useful to King Decon as you are.” The Overseer glanced up, “I may, however, want you to undergo a cognitive test once more. If the eye strain and migraine has caused you to be disoriented, then I would like to have that on record.”
“Will that be today, Overseer?”
The overseer frowned as they looked over their reports again.
“It would be a full day of testing.” They admitted. “And I am hesitant to pull you from your training for that, as I believe that you’re more productive in combat training and your vocational training. As well, you have already missed most of a day from sickness.” They frowned again. “If I see more abnormal behaviours, or more signs of an altered cognitive state, then I will have to send you to be tested. However, for the time being I think observation might be more beneficial.”
It was only now that TO realized how nervous and how tense they had been. Once their Overseer told them that not only would they not be disciplined, but they wouldn’t even be tested, it felt all their muscles suddenly relaxed. Their jaw started to ache, as apparently they had been tensing up their jaw and neck. It all hurt now, but at least that knot in their stomach had loosened up.
“One more question.” The Overseer said, “I understand that there were some… issues between you and another synth not long ago.” They glanced back at their report. “01Q10.”
TO nodded, trying to keep themselves calm as they recalled their last interaction with Q10. They went over the events in their mind, and even with the most careful, more judgemental attitude, TO didn’t think that they had done anything wrong, save for flying in the dormitory- a minor infraction at best: it had been Q10 who had been in the wrong.
“Oddly.” They said, “I've had conflicting reports about an incident that happened. It has made it difficult to deliver a judgement on what’s to be done.” They glanced up again, “I am told you were there.”
“I will help if I can.” They said. They were fairly certain they knew what the issue was, but they didn’t want to presume.
“Several days ago, there were reports of an altercation in your dormitory.” The Overseer said, “Some reports say that one of your….” They paused, their eyes glancing over the report again as they searched for the right word, “Companions, 45G70, had caused a disruption. Apparently They ended up spilling water everywhere and shouting at 01Q10. Other reports, however, say that 01Q10 pushed 45G70 to the ground.” They looked to TO, “Did you see what happened?”
TO’s mind raced. Who had told the Overseer about that? TO themself hadn’t, and nor had DH or GiDi as far as they knew. Had Q10 gone to the Overseer with exaggerations about what happened after they had been beaten in the simulation, or had someone else reported it? Clearly someone else had to report it for the Overseer to have conflicting reports.
TO realized then that they never actually saw what happened, they never even asked GiDi specifically about the events. When they got there, they just saw GiDi on the ground, with Q10 standing over them. They had assumed that Q10 had pushed them down, but they didn’t know for sure.
“... It looked like 01Q10 had pushed 45G70.” TO said after a moment, “But I did not see it happen. I only know what it looked like to me.”
“I did …. I did see Q10 attack another synth though.” They said suddenly, “So I wouldn’t have put it past them to do it again.”
“Oh. I see.” The Overseer said. They brought up another file. TO could see Q10’s number across the top. “When was this?”
“A while ago.” TO said, “When we were in basic physical training. They pushed another synth to the floor. I stopped them from causing further harm, and no damage was done.”
“And you chose not to report this?”
They felt their ears flick back in fear. Should they have reported it? “I... there was an Overseer there. I thought that it had been reported.”
“I see.” They said, “It was. I was curious as to why you yourself did not report it.”
“Oh… That’s why.”
“Very well.” They said. They made a note, and closed all their reports. “You’re dismissed then, unless you have other concerns, or anything else to report to me.”
A million other questions raced through TO’s mind. They wanted to know what the number 85 on their file, and the 62 on Q10’s file meant. They wanted to know how the Overseer had so much information on them- TO knew that they were all being watched, but they didn’t realize how closely.
They wanted to know if anything had been reported from the Production labs yet. They wanted to know if GiDi or DH were in any danger.
“Very good. Dismissed.”
Bio: A writer and Illustrator with scenes to show and stories to tell