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A note from TheWitchOfTheRock

Thanks again to my Patrons, ColdAu and Cannot Account!

The silence in the halls as they ran from the dormitories to the medical bay played a stark contrast to the noise and chaos in TO’s head. They felt like they were screaming at themselves to think of something; to think of a way to ensure DH was given the care they needed, to think of a way to keep Q10 from being corrected, to think of a way to fix all of this.

 

Why did DH even care what happened to Q10. Last time they had anything to do with the other synth, DH had seemed cold and hostile.

 

The time before that, they had just been sad.

 

Why did you give them the painkillers? Pity.

 

Q10 had been taking the situation with King Decon especially hard. They had been making a scene. Maybe DH just felt sorry for them.

 

They’re strange… Like us.”

 

They had been close once. They had been friends, in a sense. At the very least, Q10 had tolerated DH before 55H75 warned them away, and Q10 ended up making DH feel so awful, so worthless, and dejected that they were willing to believe that TO just wouldn’t want anything to do with them.

 

They had made DH cry.

 

They tightened their grip on the still speechless Q10, who only whimpered slightly in pain.

 

“You’d better hope they can fix this.” TO hissed back at Q10.

 

Q10 said nothing, they just followed along with their eyes wide and their ears down.

 

======

 

When they got to the medical bay, the Medical Officer was sitting at their desk working on reports, so TO didn’t need to shout out. Q10, DH, and TO’s files popped up on the screen that the Medical Officer was working on as they entered.

 

“You again?” The officer said, almost sounding bored as they glanced up, “You have a bad habit of-“ They turned around and saw DH, saw the blood dripping from their face and the way they were holding their hand to their eye.

 

Their expression tightened. They turned back to their computer, sent off some messages, and then turned back.

 

“Put them on the bed.” They said as they pointed to the nearest bed. TO let go of Q10’s arm, and gently led DH to the bed, helping them up and helping them lay down.

 

“DH?” They whispered as they set DH’s head on the pillow. They didn’t respond. They still had their hand to their face, and seemed to be looking though the world with their one good eye.

 

“Move away.” The medical officer snapped. TO stepped aside as the medical officer pried DH’s hard from their face, and started to examine the wound. A moment later, two other synths entered the medical bay. They were both wearing the same uniform as the Medical Officer: White, with a blue heart pin over the center of their chest

 

“M45,” the Medical Officer said to one of them, “Wash up and prep the procedure room. This one is going to need stitches at least.” M45 nodded and took off to do as they were told. The Medical Officer turned to the other synth, “M43, you get me the cleaning kit, I need a better look at this and I can get it cleaned up before the room is ready.”

 

“Is there anything I can do to help?” TO asked, wishing they could do something more, even if it was just to hold DH’s hand while this was happening.

 

“You can stay out of the way.” The Medical officer, “I’ve sent word to your Overseers. They’ll be here shortly to sort this out.” They started to clean the blood away, ignoring the gasps of pain from DH as they worked, “Claw injury?” They asked.

 

“Yes.” TO answered.

 

“MO-6” M43said to the Medical Officer, “A call just came in from another Overseer- they had a trainee who’s fainted, and another who won’t stop vomiting.”

 

“It’s that live news that they showed.” The medical officer hissed, “They shouldn’t have seen that. Their training is incomplete; who knows what that might have done to their development.” They sighed as they kept working, “Foolishness. They should be more careful what they let the trainees watch.”

 

“Orders?”

 

“Call the other assistants.” They said, “three, no four… Actually, bring in six.” They frowned as they tossed one bloodstained cloth into a nearby bin, “There’s going to be more injuries, and I’d rather have too many hands than too little.” They glanced up at TO who was now standing out of the way near Q10, who hadn’t moved, “And see what that other ones need.” They said.

 

M45 came back into the room, “The procedure room is ready.” They said.

 

“Good.” The Medical Officer said. They pressed a button on the bed; the legs underneath shifted and started to glow as the magnetic hovering mechanism was activated. They pulled the bed out and gestured to M45, “Bring this one in, administer anestesia while I get the tools, and -“

 

“Will their eye be ok!” TO interrupted, taking a step forward, “Can you fix their eye?!”

 

The Medical Officer glared at TO, “I don’t even know what’s wrong with their eye yet. The ocular organ is a delicate one, and I haven’t a clue as to the extent of the damage.” They turned, and walked off after M45. TO watched as the two medical synths pushed DH’s bed out of sight and into the procedure room.

 

TO wanted to be there with DH. They wanted to be there to make sure they were getting what they needed, to make sure they weren’t scared, and to make sure that DH knew they weren’t alone.

 

They had snapped at DH earlier. They hoped that DH knew that even if they were frustrated with them, they still cared about them, they still loved them.

 

Love? TO froze in spot, then slowly relaxed. Of course they loved DH. They loved GiDi too! They were their friends! They were the most important people in the galaxy to TO.

 

“Are you listening?”

 

TO’s looked at the synth, M43, who had their implant activated and was ready to take notes, “Do you need medical assistance.”

 

“Oh… no. No, I don’t. I was bringing 70H67 here.”

 

“Very well.” They said as they closed TO’s file, “Your overseer has been called regardless. I recommend staying nearby until they dismiss you.” They turned to Q10, “And you, do you need medical assistance?”

 

Q10 was silent, looking around the room as though they didn’t know where they were, “I… no.” They finally said. M43 frowned as they looked over Q10. “I would recommend laying down.” They said as they gestured to a nearby bed, “You seem to be in some form of shock.”

 

“...No, I’m fine.”

 

The door to the medical bay opened again, and an Overseer that TO didn’t recognize stepped in, carrying an unconscious synth in their arms.

 

“Please place them on the bed.” M43 said. They turned back to Q10 and TO, “You two might be best waiting in the halls for your overseers.” They said, “I imagine we might get busy and we need space to work.”

 

“I won’t leave them.” TO said, “70H67, I mean. I don’t want to leave them alone.”

 

M43 looked at TO in total and utter confusion. “It doesn’t matter to me, so long as you stay out of the way,” They said after a moment, “But you have to listen to your Overseer. If they said you can stay, then you can stay. In the meantime though-“ They gestured to the door, which opened again and let a synth who was throwing up into a bucket stumble in.

 

TO left, followed by Q10 to wait in the hallway until their overseers arrived.

 

======

 

“I don’t know how I’m supposed to keep you from getting corrected.” TO said after a long silence between them. Several synths with various injuries and afflictions had rushed past them and into the medical bay, along with several other medics. TO and Q10 waited in silence as they did, seeing but not watching the action.

 

TO didn’t know what Q10 was thinking, and they didn’t care. DH wanted them to help Q10. DH wanted TO to... To do what? Have pity on them for hurting DH? For acting crazed?

 

“I have no idea why DH asked me to help you.” TO said, “And I don’t know how I can.”

 

“Maybe you can’t.”

 

“Why did you do it.” TO snapped, “I know you hate them, but you know there’s consequences for attacking another synth like that! Pushing someone around is one thing, but you tore apart their face!” They glared at Q10, “I only brought you along because they wanted me to help you. If they can’t or won’t fix DH’s eye…” TO stopped, trying to keep the tears from falling from their eyes. They didn’t know if they were tears of rage or concern at this point, but they didn’t care; they didn’t want to give Q10 the satisfaction of seeing them cry.

 

They looked away, letting the threat hang in the air.

 

“I didn’t mean to.” Q10 finally whispered. “I didn’t…I…” They looked at their hands, “I guess… I was clawing at myself.” They looked at their own bloodied arms, and the torn fabric of their uniform, “And I didn’t... I just ran into them, and I just…” They reached up, and pressed their palms to their forehead. “It’s not fair.” They whispered, their voice cracking, “I’ve tried so hard.”

 

TO turned to look at them, rage and confusion building up as they saw the tears starting to trail down Q10’s cheeks.

 

They’re strange. Like us.

 

“You’re crying!” TO snapped, “You’re crying! You did this! If their eye can’t be fixed, or if they don’t think DH is worth fixing, then DH WILL DIE! Do you understand that! And you’re the one crying!?”

 

“You don’t understand.”

 

“Oh I understand just fine.” TO snapped, “I understand alright. You’re just scared for yourself now.” They growled and looked away, seething. Even though they were angry, their mind was racing with ways to help Q10 because DH wanted them helped. They said they hadn’t meant to do it, and a bunch of other synths were suffering various ailments because of the situation with King Decon. Maybe they could use that to keep Q10 out of danger.

 

TO was drawn out of their thoughts by a long, low, fustrated wail from Q10. They watched as Q10 sunk to the floor, their face in their hands. “You don’t undersand.” They sobbed, “I’ve been trying so hard. I’ve been doing everything. I’ve been working hard. I’ve even up everything so I can serve King Decon better… and I don’t even get painkillers. I know I’m weird. I know I’m broken! I don’t want to be! I didn’t ask to be! I just want to be normal!”

 

“You called GiDi broken!” TO snapped, “Do you remember that? After you pushed them away from the water fountain!? Then you wanted us to report ourselves!”

 

Q10 dug their claws into their head once more, reopening the clotted wounds from earlier and drawing more blood.

 

“Why.” They finally hissed out, “Why do you–the three of you– get to be strange. Why do you get to be abnormal, and simply excel.” They shooked their head, “Me? I’m too... medicore to be abnormal.

 

Medicore. That word stuck to TO, and it took them back to that day in the Flight Training room when they were talking to 55H75, who warned them away from spending time with DH. A series of curses ran though their head as they slid to the ground to sit next to Q10.

 

“...Who told you that.”

 

“It doesn’t matter” they said, “It’s true. And now…” They held their hand away from their face, looking at their claws, “I suppose it doesn’t matter anymore. I’m going to be corrected.” They gave a bitter laugh, “I suppose If I was normal, I wouldn’t care. At least I’ll be normal afterwards.”

 

“Who told you you were too mediocre?” TO repeated, “What did they say, exactly.”

 

“55H75.” They said finally. “I… I spent a lot of time with DH. Before… Before that day.” They looked away, “55H75 and I were sitting close to each other during mental training one day. They told me that they’d seen better synths than me get corrected for less. I said that 70H67 was fine, that they were strange, and they didn’t get corrected. They said it was only a matter of time, and that I’d get corrected before they did.” They laughed again, “And I got scared. I tried to get DH to calm down, to stop acting so weird all the time, because I didn’t want to get corrected, but they didn’t.”

 

“... and that day?”

 

Q10 shook their head, “Everyone else was doing better than me. People were stumbling, or putting their foot down to keep from falling. I fell. Everyone was staring at me, and then 70H67 tried to pull me up and I just…”

 

“... You were scared.” TO said.

 

“Yeah.” They said, their voice breaking, “I guess I was. I figured it’d be fine if I could work hard, and just serve King Decon. If I could be important to Him. I saw you , and DH, and your other little friend every day, and I just…” They sniffled and wiped at their eyes, “I figured it wouldn’t matter. Whatever I did, whatever I gave up, it was to serve King Decon. If I was alone, that was fine, because it was to serve King Decon, But now He might be dead, and if he is, what do I have?” They shook their head, “I gave up everything so that I could serve King Decon better. If He’s dead…” they shook their head and then fell silent, save for their hitching breath.

 

TO gave a long, deep sigh and leaned against the wall. Q10 had just been scared. They didn’t wnat to be strange, so they lashed out against TO, DH, and GiDi.

 

“...Do you miss being around DH?” TO asked after a long moment. Q10 didn’t answer, but managed only to nod their head slightly.

 

Another sigh as a series of curses ran through TO’s head. Did DH figure all this out already? Is that why they asked TO to help Q10?

 

They watched Q10 shaking next to them.

 

How were they going to fix this.



 

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TheWitchOfTheRock

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

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