Despite how sleepy TO was and how foggy their head felt, they were very happy to be in the Medical Bay so early in the day. The last two periods of having their wings bound up had been driving them absolutely mad. They were more than willing to get up earlier than everyone else and head there with DH before their first meal. They’d have their wings examined and then be told –hopefully– that they were fine and they’d never have to wear the strap ever again.
MO-6 held out TO’s wings one at a time as they examined the healed scars that blocked the light from passing through the bluish membrane of their wings, their fingers trailing over the jagged marks.
“Should I help?” DH offered as MO-6 struggled to hold the large, wide wing and examine a scar closer to TO’s torso. MO-6 only nodded and DH took the very edge of the wing and held it carefully so the officer could focus.
TO was so worried that they’d be told they needed to wear the strap for longer. They were getting plenty of flight practice in the combat simulations, and the nodes attached to them while they were in the simulation was keeping their muscles active. Still, it wasn’t the same. They knew there would still be some degradation and maybe a bit of clumsiness when they actually tried to fly. The strap was also simply uncomfortable and sleeping with it would have been nearly impossible were it not for DH massaging their back around their wings before they went to sleep.
Of course, they were also worried that they’d be told that the wings hadn’t healed properly and there was nothing to be done.
MO-6 drew their fingers along the largest scar, one that went right down the widest part of TO’s wing from top nearly straight through to the bottom. “This was the one I was most worried about.” They muttered, “But it seems like it healed well enough.” They pressed gently against the membrane, “Any pain?”
“No pain, Officer.”
MO-6 nodded, then stepped away with a nod to DH, who gently released TO’s wing.
“Stretch your wings for me.”
It was the first time that TO had been allowed to stretch their wings in two periods. They took a breath and stretched them as far as they would go, enjoying the feeling of their muscles flexing and tensing. It had been so long that they felt they could feel each individual muscle flexing under their skin.
Organic stimulation was so much better than the nodes.
“Range seems decent.” MO-6 said, “Well within the parameters for normal range anyway. Still, I highly recommend you spend an hour or so of your rest and rec time in the flight training room until your training is done so that you can have your full range and dexterity back.”
“Of course, MO-6!” TO said as they let their wings drape over their shoulders; a comforting, familiar thing that they had missed so much while their wings had been bound up. “I used to do that all the time anyway.”
“Good, good.” MO-6 said, “Then I suppose that’s it. You can go. Try not to get yourself injured.”
“I won’t!” TO said as they practically jumped off the examination table. They were filled with a sudden energy as it seemed like all their worries in the last few periods had disappeared.
Their wings were healed. They could fly.
They rushed out of the Medical Bay with DH at their heels before the officer could say anything else.
“I don’t think I’ve seen you look happier in a long time!” DH commented as they ran back to the dormitories.
“I’m just.. I guess I was worried!” TO said as they gave a quick laugh. They had been so worried. They had been worried. It seemed like their whole life was filled with worry.
They worried about being able to work with other synths.
They worried about their wings.
They worried about DH, and the thoughts they kept having about them.
Well, at least the wings were fine now. The rumours around the attack in the shipping bay, and TO’s assistance in helping others with their flying had worked to restore some of their good reputation among other synths as well.
DH reached out and grabbed TO’s wrist, stopping them from their run, “Hold on.” They said with almost breathless laughter, “It’s still early. We’ll get back to the dormitories and I bet GiDi will still be asleep.”
“Maybe!” TO said. They remembered how sleepy GiDi had been when the two of them had tried to wake their smaller friend up. GiDi had turned over, muttered something that sounded impolite, and then had gone back to sleep almost immediately.
“We tried to wake them!” TO said, “They said they’d come to the Medical Bay with us!”
“I don’t think they’ve been getting enough sleep.” DH admitted, “Every day before they go to sleep, they’re digging through the Galactic news trying to find more about the Insurgency.”
A frown passed over TO’s face as their ears flicked back. That was a relatively new worry that had slowly grown over the course of the last couple of weeks; GiDi. They had calmed down a lot since the attempted assassination of King Decon – a terrible crime, and one in which the guilty party was still at large– but they had still been very interested in the actions of the insurgency, and the societies that were helping them.
Well, TO could see why. They still didn’t understand how any society could support a group that stood against King Decon and it made sense that GiDi would be looking for answers, for some reasoning as to why the insurgency was doing what they did; why they were standing against King Decon.
There were no answers, of course, but GiDi wouldn’t believe that. The answer, if there was one, was that those people were civilians. The insurgency, and the people who helped them. They were flawed, untrained, short-sighted and self-centered; hardly any better than wild animals. Why King Decon wasted His time with them was beyond TO.
TO was pulled from their thoughts as they felt warm, strong fingers tracing on the outside of their wings. They froze, their ears flushing as they turned to see DH running their fingers down the long, jagged scar on TO’s wing.
“...does it look bad?” TO asked, trying desperately to ignore the burning of their ears.
“Not really.” They said, “It feels a little strange, but it looks like lightning running down your wing. It’s interesting to look at.” They reached up and touched their own face, their fingers trailing over the scars that had faded from a brilliant blue to silver. “I like them better than these anyway. I still hate these. But I’m getting used to them. I’m not surprised when I see my reflection anymore.”
TO looked away, “I keep telling you that I at least like your scars.” They said. They wanted to reach out and kiss those scars; it was a frequent daydream they tended to have as of late. They had learned that it was easier to let their thoughts come and go; letting the scene in their head play out where they take DH’s face in their hands and gently kiss their scars. Best to et it just happen and try not to think about it when it was done. The thoughts wouldn’t go away, and TO would just have to deal with them. Still, that was fine; just because the thoughts were there didn’t mean they had to act on them.
At least DH didn’t seem to notice how flustered TO was getting around them. TO was in part surprised that DH could be so oblivious! How could they not know? How could they not have caught the glances, the flushes, and the flustered excuses that they gave when DH asked what TO was thinking about when they were lost in daydreams? Either DH was oblivious despite how obvious TO was, or they noticed, and just chose to ignore it for the sake of their friendship. If the latter was right, then TO was just grateful that DH hadn’t shown signs of disgust on their face.
“Sorry.” DH said as they walked past TO, “Come on, I didn’t mean to stop us just like that, I just wanted to slow down a little.” they turned back and smiled, “Let’s go find GiDi before they wake up, and you can show them your healed up wings.”
TO gave a wide smile and followed DH.
C12 was nervous. The moment that TO entered the simulation room they could tell that; The Retiree’s ears were flicked back and they paced around the room, limping slightly on their prosthetic leg. Normally, C12 allowed everyone to strap into the simulations and get ready right away but today everyone was told to sit in their chairs and wait. When the last synth finally entered the room C12 closed the door and stood in the center of the room.
“You may recall,” they said carefully, “That I mentioned you would be tested at the end of this period.”
A chorus of, “Yes, Retiree.” Rang out.
“Well, there has been a slight change of plans.” There was a flick to their ears, “As part of an… ongoing experiment to improve performance, your examinations will take place throughout this period .” They frowned, “Time dilation technology will be used to allow a focused review of every synth through the week.” They looked about, and caught the confused looks of TO, DH, and GiDi, “In the past.” They continued, “the examination was a quick affair, and mostly automated. This period, not only will I be personally reviewing your performance…” their ears pinned back, “But your Overseers, and the Commander will be reviewing them in real time as well. Your pass or fail will be a group decision. “
TO wondered what would happen if they failed. Would they have to undergo more training, or would they be considered useless and corrected or repurposed? They wanted to ask, but they decided it might be best to ask later.
“You will be informed when you enter your examination. You might be given special instructions, or told to do something you have not yet done. So long as you follow your orders and work to the best of your abilities…” They hesitated, their ears twitching as they carefully considered their words. “Well, I’m sure you’ll all do that anyway. In the meantime, make sure you work hard in your simulations before your examination. Work on areas in which you struggle. Understood?”
“Good. You can start linking in.”
TO glanced over at DH and GiDi, who looked back at them with equally confused and concerned looks. TO wondered if it had anything to do with them specifically. They recalled the day that DH lost their eye, and what their overseer had said about their experiment. Was this part of the same experiment?
They’d have to try to speak to C12 after training.
- Galactic Gothic Empress
Bio: A writer and Illustrator with scenes to show and stories to tell