Formality dictated that I get cleaned up before presenting a report to the commander. Drampin had been hit full on by Forte’s blast and would have to stay in the H wing ‘infirmary’ for a while longer than Synchro and I needed.
“You’ll have to readmit yourself after we report, wont you?” I asked the violet reploid as we headed for the control room where Signas was no doubt waiting for us.
She turned her head to look at me and frowned. “Well, yeah.” Rubbing her shoulder she sighed with a pause. “How could you not take any damage in that battle?”
“That,” I arched a brow, continuing to gaze off down the hall, “is a relative statement. I took damage. It’s just not as severe as you or Drampin.” I guessed she rolled her eyes behind her opaque shades, which was the entirety of her reply.
Rounding the corner and entering the steel slide doors of the control room, Signas turned to us with crossed arms and a crinkled face of distaste. Zero hadn’t reported back in, as well as any other members of his unit. We also hadn’t discovered who or what the cause of the attack was, which had been a main objective. I saluted and rigidly dropped my hand as the commander shot me a nod. In artificially official ‘uniform’ armor, Signas dropped his arms and stared darkly down at both Synchro and me.
“Report.” He offhandedly demanded.
“Sir.” I stepped forward. “Enemies have been cleared from the site. The leader and alliance of these forces is unknown. The motives of this group are unknown. Damage to the city is extensive.” My frame shook with a restrained sigh. I knew what was coming next. It would be the flat fragment question-
“The zero unit?”
"MIA, except for one member. Unit Junta was found offline." He would forever be offline. His damage was too extensive to be reconstructed… I only hoped the rest of the zero unit was in better condition somewhere…
Signas nodded with resign as he rubbed his temple absently. “What’s this about a skirmish?”
“He identified himself as Forte. His one given motivation is my destruction. He’s most likely affiliated with another group; he abandoned our confrontation after receiving a communication.”
“A communication?” Signas snapped. “In the middle of the war zone?”
“Yes. I only picked up static on it though.” I glanced to Synchro who merely shook her head.
Signas looked to Alia who quickly jumped to screening for any signals I might have picked up, quickly wrinkling her nose and peering intently at the screen as her fingers flew over the keyboards. Apparently she wouldn’t have any easy time. I focused on Signas again who had turned to Synchro. “Do you have anything to report?”
Hesitating, she gave a shaky salute. “Yes, sir. I picked up an odd reploid signature while returning Drampin to base.”
“Wonderful.” Signas threw up his hands with a groan. “Anything else?”
“No, sir.” I mirrored Synchro’s reply.
Signas waved us off with a lame, “Dismissed.”
Lounging around the waiting room of the infirmary, Synchro returned from her final touch ups, inquiring with a nurse about Drampin’s estimated day of further recovery. Slouching over as she approached me, I figured she’d heard something she didn’t want to hear.
“Is Drampin in for more than a day?”
Shaking her head in reply to me with a sigh, she dropped down into the seat next to me. “No, but he’s not out any earlier, either.” She covered her face with a hand, removing her shades and rubbing her eyes. “It’s just not right we should have to fight for some of the reasons we do; especially when there are no real reasons.”
“I agree with you whole heartedly.” Why did the Mavericks fight and kill? Some damn systems virus. It’s not even their fault. The only way to revert a Maverick back to their previous state though is to completely wipe their systems and reinstall all protocols and subroutines, which yields an unscrupulously different personality and therefore different reploid all together anyway, aside from the same body. There is no way to revert a Maverick. So basically the best way to save a Maverick is kill a victim…
I blinked with a poke to my shoulder. “Hey, you functional?”
Nodding at Synchro and itched my nose. “Just thinking, sorry.”
“You don’t need to apologize, but what would you say? Where do you think commander Zero might be?”
“He’s out there somewhere.”
“You really think so?”
I snapped a glare at her that reaffirmed my previous statement. She crinkled her glass blue eyes and leaned back, averting her gaze to the ceiling. “I hope so too.”
“He’ll crop up sooner or later. You just never know. He’s done actions like this before.”
“You think,” she arched a brow, “he’s MIA purposefully?”
“I didn’t mean that!” I slightly coughed back my nervous sputtering. “I just meant he’s been in worse situations and always returned. Don’t worry about it, Alia has to file the paperwork anyway.”
Synchro smirked with a good humored face, “That’s kind of a cold standpoint.”
“Maybe, but it’s true. We already gave our report, I just have to draft a few things is all that’s left on our end.”
“Should I help with that?”
“Nah, it’ll only take maybe a half hour, and it gets cumbersome with more than one person working on it simultaneously.”
She cocked her head to the side and stared at me in an oddly scrupulous fashion.
“What?” I questioned when she remained contemplative.
“You know, you’re incredibly different than I imagined you’d be.”
I broke eye contact with her by removing my helmet and poking around at it. Some of the detail was a little different… one day and I’d already gone through two helmets. Geez. “Same with you. From what I’ve heard, you’re pretty much a stickler on duty and conduct.”
She put her sunglasses back down, covering most of her face. I wouldn’t mention the fact that I did in fact notice her blush. “Well sure, that’s duty though. I would hope I’m not some uptight prick.” She cut off a weak laugh to cast a sauntering glance across the room slowly bustling lobby. I ruffled my helmet hair in an attempt to un-mat it, which, I’m sure, just caused it to puff out in all directions. This is when I replaced my helmet again.
“Having trouble?” Synchro remained sitting next to me, smirking.
“Hair drives me crazy. Then again, I can’t imagine being bald.”
She shook her head at me and leaned back, picking at her own curly mat of a ponytail. I could understand reploids having longer hair for ponytails, but why was it always the ones who used bean sabers who did that? Wouldn’t it just make more sense to have short hair? Zero would never actually answer that for me. “Synchro, why do you have long hair?”
“What?” she narrowed her eyes at me behind her visor, “It’s only a foot long if you ignore the curl.”
“Doesn’t it get in the way when you use your beam saber? Or singed?”
She frowned thoughtfully at me. “Concealment I guess… My hair can hide my sword grip when it’s in the recharge port. Maybe surprise my opponent.”
“Awe, I see.”
“Why were you asking?”
‘So I wouldn’t think about something important.’ I mentally mumbled to myself as I stood. “No reason, really. Anyway, I should go draft that report now.”
I wagged a hand back at her as a send off wave before departing.
I stared at the ceiling from the vantagepoint of being sprawled across my bed in much the same way as the mission report lay across my desk. Alia had strategically pasted glow in the dark stars across the glaring metal ceiling as a joke, then couldn’t understand why I’d kept them up. I’m not quite sure either, but the lights were off as I gazed up, flicking my view between them. They cast an eerily playful glimmer against their steel surface as they waited for more stifling light to absorb.
What had happened today? Where had Zero gone? His unit? Forte… Who was Forte…? Why had he abandoned combat? Was he Maverick affiliated? I rolled face down into my mattress as I overloaded my neural network with swarming questions I couldn’t answer. Where had Forte gone? You don’t ditch dueling. His personality wasn’t that of a coward, so why retreat? Especially when he wasn’t even at a disadvantage. Even Dynamo stayed to the very end of the battle before fleeing like a lame ass. Dynamo wasn’t a concern here though; he wasn’t even a true Maverick, only an employed mercenary. He hadn’t been reported as raising hell for about two years now, but he swore he’d be back to fight me and or Zero again…
Too many concerns. It just never ends. If it’s not the question of whom died, it’s of whom you’ve killed. ‘How many people wanted to kill me?’ I thought restlessly to myself. ‘I’m not even a Class ‘A’, just a Light bot. Dr. Thomas Light… I wish I knew him through some other means besides a sentient holographic program… Just once I’d like to have met my creator, ask him what the heck he had in mind for me. I was outfitted for combat, but is that all? Why did he bother giving me an artificial intelligence program if that was the case?’ I sighed, closing my eyes. When would I not have to fight anymore?
I jumped with a start at the hollow thunking reverberating through my room.
“X?” a muffled voice questioned behind the door.
“Yeah!” I cried back. Had I fallen asleep? Darn recharge cycles. “Come in if you want.”
Hopping off the bed, I stepped over to my desk and grabbed my field report. Looking up, I noticed Alia filled the doorway. Her shoulder length blonde hair puffed out in casual disarray, her weary eyes betraying an agitated state of mind. Blockading my own stresses, I side stepped up to her. “Did I do something?”
“More like you didn’t do something.” She accusingly pointed to the file I stood statically clutching like a deer caught in headlights. “Don’t you hold any regard concerning deadlines?” She crinkled her face distastefully at my downcast gaze. Rolling her eyes, she crossed her arms, rubbing her forehead idly. “Sorry, I just need to end my shift.”
“I know how that goes.” I still couldn’t understand how she could get so frazzled over computer work. I, on the other hand, am a field officer; I’ll probably never understand the office aspect. “You’re ragging on me about giving you an excuse to take an unofficial coffee break?”
“Oh har-dee-har-har.” she moaned in a drawn out tone of annoyance. “I just want off duty. File. Give.”
I passed her the manilla folder in resign. How could I just go offline like that while others were still working? “I can run it up and file it…?”
Blinking with a cocked head, she flashed a soft smile. “No, it wont take me long. The trip is on the way to my room anyhow.”
“Oh, right.” I nervously grinned dumbly. Why was I acting like such an idiot?
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