The auditorium was absolutely silent as the screens cut to black. TO suddenly realized that they were clenching their jaw, leaning forward in their seat and holding their breath.
Somewhere, someone whispered, “Was King Decon just killed?”
The silence shattered. Everyone started talking at once. TO got up from their seat and looked around frantically, unsure what they were looking for. DH stood, their wide eyes darting about the room, their ears twitching about as thought they were listening for something.
GiDi stayed in their seat, seemingly shocked to stillness.
Someone yelled, “Assassination!”
Had someone tried to assassinate King Decon? Had someone succeeded in assassinating King Decon? The rage rose up in TO’s head, making their vision blur and their head feel like a great pressure was being applied to it- like some giant was squeezing their skull and trying to lift TO from the ground.
TO turned to DH, who no longer looking at the sudden chaos around them. They were looking at TO, and clutching TO’s arm tightly. Their ears were down in fear, and their wings were wrapped tightly around themselves.
They were terrified.
“Are you going to be ok?” they asked.
“I’m fine.” TO said as they took several long breaths. They just wanted to make DH feel better. They felt their rage slowly ebb away as they looked down at GiDi. They leaned down, putting their hand on GiDi’s shoulder, “GiDi? Are you ok?”
GiDi looked up at TO slowly, their eyes wide and staring. “...Did that just happen?”
A voice rang through the auditorium, “There will be ORDER!” it demanded.
Everyone fell silent, and slowly sat down. There was still muttering, still whispering, and a lot of shuffling around.
The pillar in the center of the room receded until it was just a little higher than the floor, creating a stage. A Synth that TO had never seen before approached the stage with their wings draped easily over their shoulders and their hands clasped behind their backs. They wore a sleek silver and black uniform with slanted stripes at the arms. They walked as though each step was carefully considered and planned out. They did not look pleased; their ears were pinned back and there was a sneer on their face that revealed their teeth.
“It was decided that you would be given the privilege of watching King Decon’s triumph as a group, and the moment there’s a hint of trouble, THIS is how you react?” They paced across the floor, glowering up at all the synths in the room.
TO saw their own overseer run up to the new, strange synth, “Commander.” they said, “This is just their first broadcast- their first time seeing King Decon live. To see Him for the first time, and then to see that-”
The Commander turned on TO’s Overseer, “You’re telling me they’re not prepared for such an event?” they snapped, “I sincerely hope you train your underlings better than that. They should be able to keep their minds about them when things happen unexpectedly.” They snarled and turned their back on the Overseer, “If any of King Decon’s Vanguard were to act like a single synth here had, then such a pitiful assassination would actually cause a problem. Though, I have no doubt that King Decon would be able to tdeal with something as minor as a little missile on His own.”
Commander? TO wasn’t sure where Commander fell on the chain of command, but they could tell that they were above the rank of an Overseer. They had a feeling that they were above the rank of an Officer as well. The way they carried themself reminded them of C12, but they seemed somehow more dangerous. Maybe it was how narrowed and focused their eyes were, or, or the way their ears were pinned back. Even from so far away, TO felt themself recoiling away from the Commander as though making eye contact would inspire the fierce looking synth to pounce.
Though, despite their sudden fear, they wanted to stand in front of DH and GiDi, and spread their wings before them to hide them from this Commander. They wanted to protect them.
They stayed in their seat.
The Commander cast their gaze over the synths again, “I should hope that you think better of King Decon than to think that a missile on it’s own could hurt Him. You could all clearly see, He had his Vanguard with him as well, so he is well protected.” he gave another withering glare across the auditorium, “If King Decon could be harmed so easily, then I very much doubt He would have unified the galaxy as He did.”
More silence. Even TO’s Overseer was looking down at the floor as though they had just been chastised. To be fair, they had been.
“Overseers.” The Commander’s voice boomed out, “See your trainees back to their dormitories for the rest of the day. Since they cannot seem to contain themselves then they can wait for updates on the situation on Caerlapis from their pods.”
Orders were barked at the Synths closest to the stage. Slowly, everyone started to get up and leave as though they were in a daze.
“Come on, GiDi.” TO whispered as they stood, waiting for GiDi to get up and move, “We have to go.”
GiDi looked up at them, frowning. “It makes no sense.” they finally said.
“I know, I know.” TO said quickly as a line of angry synths started to pile up behind them, “let’s go back to our pods and see if we can’t find some information there, ok?” They gently took GiDi’s arm, and helped them up. GiDi allowed themself to be pulled to their feet, and gently led out of the auditorium and towards the dormitory.
“Have you heard of a Commander before, TO?” DH asked as they reached the dormitory.
“I haven’t.” TO responded as they kept a careful eye on GiDi. GiDi had been silent, lost in thought as they allowed TO to guide them all the way to the dormitories. “Though, PQ03 said something about their own superiors, and that Officers don’t have Overseers as their superiors. That one looked like they were in charge of my Overseer anyway.” They gently led GiDi over to the ladder that led up to their bunk, then stopped.
“GiDi?” TO said as they turned GiDi towards them, “You need to speak to me now.” They were worried; GiDi had never been like this before. Sure, they sometimes seemed to be lost in thought, but never like this and never for this long.
“It doesn’t make any sense.” they finally said.
Their eyes seemed to focus back as they looked at TO, “The attack.” they said simply, “The missiles. If they caught the leaders of the insurgency, then who attacked? And why attack? A missile like that, it’d kill more civilians than anything else.”
“Well, don’t they do that?” TO asked, their ears flicking back in anger, “You said they attacked the embassy, right?”
GiDi shook their head, “This is more than that.” they said, “Who sent the attack? How did they organize it so quickly?”
“I don’t know.” TO said, “Maybe there’s more from that…. What was it, the Despair Rebellion?” They shook their head at the name, “Maybe there’s more people who organized it? Or maybe it came from one of those other planets? You said they were getting support, right? Maybe they decided to use this opportunity to kill King Decon.”
“You don’t think He’s dead though, right?”
“The Commander didn’t seem worried at all.” TO said as they tried to give a comforting smile. They were still worried though, and they knew that it could be seen in their ears. What If the missile had killed King Decon? What if the insurgents just got stupidly lucky and King Decon was now dead. Who would take over? What would happen to the order of the Galaxy?
What would happen to them? Without King Decon, what was their purpose?
They didn’t know. That was the most terrifying thing to TO right now. As they listened to what was going on around them, they were certain that it was terrifying to many other synths as well, and not just the strange once. TO could hear frantic chattering from others around them. Synths were heading to their pods and trying to find some news, some scrap of information from their implants, or from the various signals on their speakers.
-Still waiting for communication from the newly liberated planet-
-the vicious attack has likely taken the lives of -
-Several planetary groups have banded together to censure the actions of the Despair Rebellion-
There was a wail from somewhere in the dormitory, feral and pitched before being muffled. It occurred to TO that despite their own shock, Despite their rage when they saw what happened, The three of them were handling this better than most. TO glanced around to see how DH was doing, but didn’t see them.
TO frowned. Where had DH gone? They wanted to go look, but they couldn’t leave GiDi right now.
“Do you think the Commander is right?”
TO looked back at GiDi, “Of course the commander’s right.” TO said, “I mean, they were telling the truth.”
“No… I mean, I know they were, but do you think they’re right? They told us the truth as far as they believe it.” They frowned as they looked away, “What if they’re wrong? What if what they know is wrong?”
“ I’m sure their superiors told them-”
“But who’re their superiors?” GiDi said, “Who told them anything? How do we know what they said is right?”
“You don’t believe them?”
“I just… I just want to be able to see something. I want other sources! I want some evidence! I want-...” They trailed off, “I want to know; Who is that Commander? How do they know? What’s their sources?”
“Oh!” TO said, understanding a little bit now, “You mean like when I’m reading my scientific articles, they’re normally reviewed by other scientists. There might be one or two people who disagree, but if there’s another fifty or so say, ‘no, this is correct’ then I can say that the article is reliable… Right?”
“Right..” GiDi said, “I just want that same reassurance.”
“I’m sure there’s been other attacks over King Decon over time,” TO said as they put their hand on GiDi’s shoulder, “Maybe if we looked over what happened, and how King Decon survived that, then you’d feel a little better?”
“Maybe…” They said, “This... just none of this makes sense, and I know we might have answers in a few hours, but how do I wait that long!?”
Before TO could respond, someone put their hand on TO’s shoulder. They turned and saw the Synth that had switched pods with GiDi.
“Sorry.” They said quickly, “But your friend might need your help.” They twitched their ears in uncertaintyF, “The one who sleeps under you?”
TO was so focused on GiDi, and making them feel better that it took TO a moment for them to understand. “DH!” They said as they turned, looking around frantically for their friend, “Where are-”
“They’re in the next aisle.” The other synth said, “and you might want to hurry.”
Bio: A writer and Illustrator with scenes to show and stories to tell