Four synths soared along the edge of the tower that reached up towards the deep, starless night sky. They kept close to the tower, staying out of sight of the beams of light that flashed about as they made their way to the illuminated glass dome on top.
“I must admit.” S79’s voice echoed in TO’s helmet, “It does look like it was intended to be easily done this way; excellent observation.”
“My thanks.” TO said, grateful that they had their helmet on now so that nobody would notice their ears twitching with pride.
“Flank left.” S79 said as another beam headed towards them. They managed to twist out of the way and stay hidden in the darkness as the beam of light passed them. “Prepare for approach. I want us to move out a little and get some distance when we first approach the dome.”
“Understood” three voices said back. TO was surprised that nobody else asked why they were moving away from the dome. TO knew, of course, that since it was dark outside and the dome was illuminated from inside that they would remain unseen from a distance. That would allow them precious moments hidden in darkness to scope out the room where their target was.
They followed S79 as they rose up, circling the dome. Their target sat on a black, ornate throne at one edge of the room, adorned in jewels and brightly colored fabrics. Needless. Inefficient. King Decon didn’t need such finery; He had only his cyborg body and the plain fabric loincloth that covered him. Tyrants wore such finery while their people starved- that’s what they had been told.
Oh well. It made the target easy to see.
S79 suddenly turned and started heading down again. They dipped down just below the dome, circling under the edge of the glass as they spoke.
“Lots of guards. I don’t think that finding a way inside will be a suitable idea. We could potentially deal with the guards, but that would destroy our stealthy approach.”
TO felt their ears dip down, “My apologies-“
“No… We can still use this vantage point, but we can’t go inside. I do have an idea.”
TO followed behind, listening carefully; they didn’t know what they could do from here so they were anxious to hear what S79 had in mind.
“S43, flank to my left and then continue along the dome until you’re at a 90 degree angle to me from the center of the circle to my left. S32, do the same, but to my right. S09, you go to the top of the dome and be cautious not to be seen.
“Understood” three voices chimed as they broke off. TO flew off to get some distance from the dome before they circled up to the very top,landing as quietly and as gently as they could. The glass was slippery, so they disabled the toes of their armored boots to expose their clawed, clutching toes. They could just manage to grip between the panes of glass that way. If they were much closer, they might have been seen by the people below - the guards and even their target. The dome was so high up though that TO didn’t have to worry.
A moment later, S79’s voice came through, “Is everyone in position?”
“Affirmative.” Came back three voices.
“Good. I’m syncing visuals.”
TO knew that in their own helmet S79 was now seeing three different views displayed on their visor. TO never used that function because they found it distracting and didn’t really think it was very useful. They wondered what S79 was doing.
“Everyone stay very still. I’m about to fire.” S79 said, “The moment I do, I want everyone to scatter. Fly off into the darkness. There’s a light off in the distance to the south– head to that if need be. I doubt that we’ll actually need to regroup.”
It took only another moment for TO to realize what S79 was doing: they had positioned themself right behind the throne of the target and though they couldn’t see the target from their location, they seemed to be using the video feed of the others to help them aim.
TO felt their wings perk up with excitement; it was brilliant. They were a little disappointed that they hadn’t thought of it.
Another moment passed. TO held their breath as they watched.
There was a flash. The body of the target jerked oddly as the beam went through his brain and exited out the front of his forehead. It was so silent that the guards who were faced away from the target and towards the inner door– a door that the synths would have used if they hadn’t decided to approach from outside– didn’t even turn to see that the one they were supposed to protect was now dead.
Still, TO did as they were told. The moment the shot fired, TO took off from the top of the dome with several strong flaps. They used their echolocation quickly to confirm that all the others had flown off as well and then headed towards the light to the south with all the speed they could muster.
S79 was correct. They didn’t necessarily have to worry about meeting up again once the target was hit; they had flown only a short distance when TO had that feeling of flying into water once more. TO let themself go limp – they were starting to realize that keeping tense or trying to move though this made it unpleasant – and allowed themself to simply float until they could feel the chair under them and the artificial gravity of the training center once more. It was only then that they removed their helm to look around.
Only four synths were now out of the simulation; TO themself, and who they assumed to be the other three synths that had been in the simulation with them.
“Very good.” C12 said from the center of the room; they were looking over the feeds from the simulation that they had just run, “I’ll have to double check, but I think that you may have completed this simulation in record time.”
“...we did?” another synth said as they leaned forward in their seat.
“Again, I need to double check, but I believe so.” they ing up other videos and files which hovered before them.
TO looked to their left and saw the synth that had just said their name; they couldn’t see their tag, but from the sound of their voice they figured that it might have been S79.
“When we were flying up the tower, how did you fly so close to the building without crashing? I was worried I’d be seen because I couldn’t fly as close as you.”
“Oh! Uh…” TO felt their ears warm up, “I... I just practice a lot? I go to the flight training room after vocational training most days.”
“There is no special trick to it?”
TO frowned as they considered that; There were a few things that they had learned the hard way in the course of their practice; things that would have been useful when they were first learning; things that the instructors hadn’t taught them.
“Well… not tricks I suppose, but techniques that make it easier?”
“The three of you are going to go in for flight training anyway.” C12 said to the other synths. “You can practice there.” they turned to TO, “I was going to put you in target training again, but if they want you to show them how to fly as you do…”
“Yes, please.” the other synth said.
C12 looked at TO silently. It took TO a moment to realize that they were waiting for them to give some kind of sign that they’d be alright with that.
“I could show them a few things.” TO said carefully.
“Very well.” C12 said, “I’ll put the four of you in the same training simulation.”
It felt like hardly any time had passed when TO felt that sensation of flying into water again. For the first time, they had actually had fun in the simulation! The others that had been in flight training with TO had listened attentatively and followed what they did for the whole lesson. They even seemed excited by their improvement.
And surprisingly, TO had fun teaching them.
At first, TO wondered if S79 – who they later learned was 59F45 was strange like them. While they were clearly intelligent and creative it was clear after the first few minutes of working with them that they weren’t someone to spend a lot of time with. Like so many others, they held very little regard for socialization. They were focused on their training, and intent on serving King Decon. Special, but not strange.
Still, TO found that they enjoyed the session, and they felt like the other synths actually learned a lot. Maybe –though TO was cautiously optimistic about this at best– maybe they were even starting to respect TO for their skill, despite their strangeness.
“-And go get cleaned up.” C12’s voice came to them when they were fully out of the simulation. TO took the helmet off and started to unplug the wires, pulling them off quickly in their rush to get to DH and GiDi and tell them that they actually had a good training session this time! They thought it was DH in fact when they saw another synth’s shadow fall before them, but when they looked up, they saw that it was 59F45.
“One of the others was in your flight training class.” They said without any form of greeting, “They said that you used to help teach other synths during class time.”
“I did, yes.” TO said quietly.
“...Do you still offer extra training?”
“W-what?” TO’s ears flicked out in confusion.
“I feel as though I could learn more from you in terms of flight. I wish to do well, to serve King Decon as best as I can.” They seemed to perk up slightly, “I wish to be one of His Vanguard one day, and must therefore hone all my skills to prove myself worthy of being in His presence each day, and tasked with protecting Him.”
“Of course they can still teach.” GiDi said as they came up from behind, “But not every day, you understand. Physical rest is required some days.” They looked past 56F45 and to TO, “Right?”
“...Right?” TO felt very confused.
“They still teach us from time to time.” GiDi said with a gesture to DH, “I am certain that when they’re going to do more training that they can contact you.”
They nodded to GiDi, then turned to TO, “I will await your message.” they said. They dipped their head slightly - a simple, small sign of respect that TO had never experienced and which made their ears burn blue- before heading to the door.
TO looked back up to GiDi, who was smiling. “I don’t know exactly what happened.” GiDi said, “ But it looked good? They wanted flight lessons!”
“Yes… why did you-“
“Because you looked nervous, and if you give them the odd flight lesson then that will help others to respect and trust you more, and you’ll have less issues, right?”
TO looked at GiDi for a long moment, then to DH, “They’re a little devious at times aren’t they.”
“I could be more devious.” GiDi said with a smile, “I just wanted to help.”
Bio: A writer and Illustrator with scenes to show and stories to tell