Things calm down after the Rebel ambush in the park. Or do they?
|Ch 11: A Grievous Aftermath
Mordred could count on his hand how many times he had experience a total shut down in the seven years of his activation, three, four counting this newest one. The Rebel attack had been quick and brutal, nothing like he had ever experienced before. His troops never stood a chance against such an assault. During the attack he had both his cannon and light blade out, a rarity. Things were going fairly well for him, until he heard the Sergeant yell some kind of warning.
For only the second time during his existence, as far as he knew, someone had snuck up behind him. An arm stretched across his neck and pulled back, intending to put him in some kind of headlock. He yanked forward with enough forced to send them both to the ground. His blade was left behind as they rolled, struggling with one another.
“Ah, so you are as strong as they say. Good, I would’ve hated to be disappointed.”
His systems beeped, telling him that it was indeed the same person who had tackled him at the graduation. He wore a mask on his face, making identification impossible, although Mordred saw a strand of white hair stick out.
“Tell me who you are,” the cyborg commander demanded as he shifted his weight and tapped into his augmented strength, intending to pin his assailant under him, “How can you fight me on such equal grounds? Why this rebellion against Lord Auburn?”
The man tsked as Mordred managed to pin him for a brief bit.
“For someone whose duty in life is to follow orders, you sure do ask a lot of questions. I’ll answer one.” He flicked his wrist. “My name is Arthur.”
With one swift motion, “Arthur” jabbed something against his neck. All of Mordred’s systems went haywire and he shut down, on top of the other one.
“The rest of the questions, you’ll just have to find out for yourself,” he heard before his system totally shut down.
“So what do you want to do today?”
“Can we paint?”
“Sure we can, kiddo.”
“Yay! I’m going to paint a big yellow something!”
“Yellow’s my favorite color! What’s yours?”
“I’m not sure if I have one, although I am partial to navy blue.”
“It means I like it more than most other stuff.”
“You use big words, Kyle. Can you teach me some?”
“Maybe when you’re older and can actually write.”
“It’s not my fault that I can’t write r’s or a’s…”
“You’ll get it with a bit more practice, Taylor. Now let’s see, what should we paint that’s yellow?”
Mordred opened his eyes to find himself in the lab, a place he was well acquainted with. Strange things always occurred when he was forcibly shut down. He figured the closest thing he could describe them as were dreams, despite the fact when he recharged, he never dreamed. Dr. Green assured him that it was merely his databanks recollecting themselves, causing random images to flow through his still mostly organic brain. Since his Master supported this theory, it hadn’t been questioned.
Since no one ever asked about it, he had told no one that they seemed to always involve a person named Kyle. He never saw Kyle’s face, just his voice or people talking to him. In fact, he never saw anything during his dreams, just heard voices. Dr. Green stood beside him.
“It’s about time you woke up, Sleeping Beauty,” he stated, “We checked your systems and they are a-okay.”
“What was the damage?”
Dr. Green placed a finger under his chin, something he did whenever he had to think.
“Well, Kincade’s had his hands full in the infirmary, so he hasn’t had time to really look you over, but as far as I can tell, you’re fine. Why, does something feel wrong?”
“No Doctor, I am perfectly functional.” He sat up and slid off the table, noting that his light blade was on his belt. “I meant what is the damage of the troops and anyone else that might have been around.”
Dr. Green shrugged.
“Don’t know, don’t care. It’s not really my area.”
Dr. Green’s apathy was infamous among members of the Force. All he cared about was the fat paycheck he received from Auburn for all the spyware and such he made for him.
“I do not suppose you know the location of Colonel Lafei.”
“She was here a few minutes ago to check on you, per Auburn’s orders. I tried to get her to stay for dinner, but you know her. Work, work, work all the time.” He shook his head. “That’s not good for the health. She’s probably back in Intelligence by now.”
“Thank you for your time, Doctor.”
As he went to leave the lab, something occurred to him.
“You most likely will not have the knowledge about this, Doctor, but you know where Taylor Lockheed is?”
“That I do know. The Colonel also brought her to me and told me that it was my turn for babysitting duty. I put her in the supply closet so I wouldn’t have to worry about her running around in here, messing with my programs. Don’t worry, I’m taking care of your pet.”
“She is not my pet.”
He shrugged once again.
“Whatever you say.”
“Make sure to feed her and let her use to restroom.”
“Oh, the closet’s not locked, so she can take care of that stuff.”
“If the closet is not locked, how do you know she is still in there?”
“It’s not really my problem if she’s not. From what I understand, she’s an adult. She can take care of herself.”
Mordred checked the closet and sure enough, she was still in there, using her personal pad.
She turned to look at him, clearly happy to see him.
“Oh, you’re up. How are you feeling?”
“I am functional.”
Her expresssion fell.
“Oh, that’s good I suppose.” Her eyes shifted to the pad. “Guess you should get back to your business. It sounds like you have a lot of work cut out for you.”
“I will come for you later. Behave for Dr. Green.”
He closed the closet and left the lab. He doubted that there would be trouble, seeing as how she seemed occupied with her recently reaccquired pad. Mordred had completely put it in the back of his data banks. But now she had it, so everything was back in its proper place.
Intelligence had people running about, more so than usual. He stood there a while before some one noticed him.
“Commander Mordred, what can we do for you?”
“I was hoping to find Colonel Lafei for a damage report but if…”
The person handed a data stick to him.
“Will that be all, sir?”
“Yes, you can get back to work.”
He stepped out of the office, having done the quickest exchange with Intelligence that he had ever experience. Mordred went back to his quarters, sitting in his chair. He pulled some fake skin on his artifical arm to the side, revealing a port where data could be put in.
He once asked Dr. Preston why the port was there and not on his head, to which the doctor replied “I wanted to put the least amount of technology on you brain as possible. While cybernetics has come a long way, the brain is still a tricky organ to mess with. I didn’t want to take any chances, seeing that your optical was directly wired into it. This way, the data travels through your nerves instead of straight to your brain. It’s also a good virus protection.” When he asked his Master about, he claimed that the doctor had simply forgot to put a data port on his head.
Mordred intersted the stick into the port and closed his eyes, not opening them until he had absorbed all the information. He placed the fake skin back.
[DEATHS: 10 CIVILIANS, 13 SOLDIERS
INJURIES: 2 CIVILIANS, 4 SOLDIERS
MISSING: 2 SOLDIERS, UKNOWN IF ANY CIVILIANS ARE
REBELS: 10 DEAD, 3 CAPTURED, REST: UNKNOWN
PROPERTY DAMAGE: MINIMAL]
His eyes shot open. He had gone out with a troop of twenty and thriteen were dead? Never could he recall losing that many before. A civilian death toll had never been on his record either. His databanks kept prompting him to get up and go down to the infirmary, but for the first time since his activation, he did nothing but sit and stare at the wall.
Taylor eventually came out of the closet for a change of scenery. Dr. Green ignored her, typing away on his computer. She would’ve spied on him, but she knew nothing about programming code, so she figured there was no use in doing it. Instead, she was working on a much neglected drawing that she had started on the way to the Capital. A com went off.
Dr. Green sighed, picking it up.
“Yes?” His mood suddenly changed. “Kincade, this is a rare treat. You never call me.” That caught her attention.
“Yeah, Mordred rebooted three hours ago. Why?”
She couldn’t hear what Dr. Preston was saying, but he didn’t sound entirely happy.
“Well I don’t know where he is. Last I knew, he was heading to Intelligence for a damage report. No, he hasn’t showed up here again.”
After a bit, he looked at her.
“Yeah, I’m taking care of the kid. Hang on, let me ask her.” He put the com down. “Did Mordred mention about going anywhere to you?”
“The kid says no. Maybe he’s with Auburn? No? Auburn’s the one who asked you to find him? He’s not answering his com? That’s unusual of him. Maybe that crash glitched his program and I didn’t notice.” Dr. Preston said something that made Dr. Green laughing. “Mourning? Kincade, the guy doesn’t have emotions. He’s not programmed to have them. Doesn’t that Sergeant that’s always around him know… Oh, he’s in a coma. I see. Yes, the kid and I will check his room. I’ll call you when we get back.”
“The Sergeant’s in a coma?” she asked as he hung up. “Since when?”
“I don’t know, and honestly, it doesn’t affect me. We got to go check on the ‘borg. Apparently, he’s been MIA for a bit.”
She didn’t know the extent of the damage, but it had to great in order to have made Colonel Lafei flustered. There was a woman she never expected to looked flustered, usually perfect hair out of place, actually having emotion on her face instead the cold expression she usually wore. And if the Sergeant was in a coma, no telling what the other troop members were like.
Dr. Green rushed out the door, not even bothering to wait for her. Taylor ran after him, barely making it into the elevator before the door closed.
“You made it.”
“No thanks to you.”
“Whoa, don’t get mad at me. It would’ve been your fault for missing the elevator.”
“Whatever,” she sighed, “It doesn’t really matter now.”
He eyed her pad as the elevator traveled.
“What have you been working on this whole time?”
They departed off the elevator, making a beeline for Mordred’s room. She knocked on the door.
“Mordred, are you in there?”
Dr. Green shook his head, taking out a card and swiping it, opening the door.
“Why do you…?”
“It’s just in case. Kincade has one too.”
Taylor saw Mordred sitting in his chair, looking at the wall. She went over to him, gently shaking his shoulder. He turned, looking at her.
“Taylor, I thought you were with Dr. Green.”
“I was, but we came to look for you. Auburn’s been trying to contact for three hours.”
“My com did not blink. That is odd.” The commander unhooked it from his belt, only for it to fall apart as soon as he did. “It must have been damaged during the struggle.”
She couldn’t imagine anyone getting close enough to him between his arm cannon and his light blade to get into a struggle with him. Although…
“It was the Rebel officer from the graduation,” she stated, “He’s the only person I’ve seen that was even able to get close enough to you to attack.”
“You are correct, Taylor.” He stood up. “I must report to Lord Auburn. I have been keeping him waiting long enough.”
When he was out of sight, Dr. Green looked panicked.
“Did you say that someone managed to pin him down at the graduation?”
She nodded, not sure where this was going.
“But he wore a disguise, so I can’t tell you what he looks like.”
Once again, Dr. Green left her behind, forcing her to catch up. She could’ve sworn he was shaking and some sweat appeared on his brow. Although she didn’t care much for the man, she couldn’t help but wonder what had terrified him so much about the mention of the Rebel officier. Sure, meeting someone who could handle Mordred would be surprising, but there was obviously more to it than that. And if they could physically go toe to toe with Mordred, they were probably a cyborg.
“Is something the matter?”
“It’s none of your business!” His fist slammed down on the emergency stop button. “Get off.”
“I said get off.”
She shrugged, stepping out. Honestly, she prefered being lost in the building to having to stay in the elevator with a clearly panicked man.
“He could’ve at least told me what was on this floor…”
“I’ll have a new com for you by tomorrow,” Auburn told Mordred, “So, did this Arthur tell you anything other than his name?”
“I asked him how he was able to fight me on equal terms and why he was rebelling against you. He told me that I would have to find the answers out for myself. After I read the damage report, I thought about it. The reason for his rebellion is not important, it is probably the same reason the original Rebels had, albeit by considerably more violent means than those we fought five years ago.”
“And the other question?”
Mordred’s unnaturally green eyes locked with his Master’s blue ones.
“The only way someone could fight me when I am using my augmented strength is if they were also so augmented.”
“You think he’s a cyborg?”
“That is the only logical conclusion of how he keeps sneaking up on me. He must have some radar jammer in him.”
“Makes sense. Did you see anything that might identify him?”
“All I saw was a white strand of hair.”
The man “hmmed” as he tapped his fingers on his cane.
“In this day and age, that’s not near enough to go on. And if he is indeed a cyborg, he could possible change his eye color too. Besides, I seriously doubt he’s going to be walking out on the streets.”
“What are your orders, sir?”
He turned his chair, facing the window.
“I have worked too hard to let this city fall into anarchy just because some cyborg doesn’t like the way things are.” Auburn stood, not facing him still, “Commander.”
“Initiate full on military mobilization. We are going into martial law.”
“Very good, Master. I will put the soldiers in the outposts on alert.”
His Master smiled, facing him. He placed a hand on his shoulder.
“I can always count on you, Mordred. And for that, I’m glad.”
“It is my duty, sir.”
“Yes, yes it is. You are dismissed to make preparations.”
Mordred mutely nodded, walking toward the door. Something stopped him from exiting. Lord Auburn noticed, cocking his head to the side.
“Is there something else, Commander?”
“It is about Taylor, Master. With martial law in affect, I will not be around enough and I do not see this place as a logical place to have a civilian. Everybody will need to be work efficiently, and they will not be able to do that if they are watching her.” He lowered his gaze. “It would be better for everyone if she were not be here, rather back home.”
“Your logic makes sense.” He tapped his cane on the floor. “But that cannot be done. The only ones to come in and out of this city from this evening on are to be soldiers or anyone personally approved by me.”
After the cyborg commander left, Auburn sat down, curling his fingers around his cane.
“She may come in handy indeed.”
Mordred stood where the Sergeant was hooked up to life support. Dr. Preston came over to him.
“The chances of him waking up are very good, Mordred. It’s just a wait and see of when.”
“Thank you, Doctor.”
He looked around the room, seeing the four that had been injured. Currently, they all slept but they were all hooked up to oxygen. One had a bandaged wrapped around his ankle, where his foot had been and another one was missing two of her fingers.
“Barabic,” the doctor hissed, “These new Rebels call themselves people, but they’re no better than Auburn. It bismirches their name of their predecessors, who would’ve never done anything like this.”
Dr. Preston never hid the fact that he supported the orginial Rebels, said there was nothing to be ashamed of for supporting them. The original Rebels had mostly been teachers, business people, and regular citizens who disagreed with Auburn, choosing to hold protests and the occasional vandalism as a form of rebellion rather than a violent one. A little under half of the public had supported them too, until they suddenly went quiet and disappeared five years previously.
Mordred had asked Auburn about it. He chalked the sudden disbandment as personnel trouble and something about not looking a gift horse in the mouth. It was never brought up after that.
“Call your family, Dr. Preston.”
The spectaled doctor looked at him.
“We are about to go to war with the Rebels. Communications will be closely monitored.”
“But my privilages were revoked by Security…”
“I am reinstating it for one call. I suggest you take care of it tonight.”
“Thank you, Mordred.”
The Commander started walking away.
“Do not thank me, Doctor. Call Dr. Green and tell him I am on the way to pick Taylor up.”
“Actually, he said he left her on the barracks level.”
“I will fetch her then. Take care of the Sergeant.”
“You know I will. Devon’s a good man, even if he does agree with Auburn’s policies.”
It didn’t take Mordred long to locate Taylor. She was playing cards with Wizaoki, who had been let out early from the infirmary to make room for the more seriously wounded.
His tone of voice, somehow, seemed harder, more serious than usual. She laid down the cards.
“It’s all right, we’ll finsih it later.”
Taylor briskly walked out of the room.
“Thank you, Private Wizaoki.”
“It was no problem, Commander.”
Mordred didn’t stay to see him salute. Once he was alone, Wizaoki tapped his ear.
“Did you get all of that? You did? What next?” He nodded as the person on the other end talked. “I don’t know if she really trusts me, but I don’t think she suspects anything. If she does, she’s a really good actor. Do you want me to…? She might come in handy? Okay, I understand, Arthur.”
Ch 12: Heart to Heart
It never ceased to amaze Taylor how quickly things could change. A couple of weeks after the Rebels ambushed the Force troop, the Captial went from a secure, but open metropolis to a full out militarized fortress. Maybe now people would see what kind of hold Auburn had over them, or maybe not. To her, this only meant that he had only been one step away from a pure tyranny the whole time.
She found herself spending most of her time in the infirmary with Dr. Preston. There were a few extra people there to help him, but they didn’t bother her or really interact with her. Despite having more patients than usual, Dr. Preston seemed to actually be a bit happier, less glum looking. Maybe it was because he finally was getting to do his actual job and be more than a prisoner or Auburn’s punching bag.
The Sergeant had still not awakened, but Dr. Preston remained optimistic about his recovery. Taylor often found herself at the man’s bedside, watching him. She couldn’t say that she was friends with the Sergeant, but she knew she didn’t dislike him enough to hope he never woke up. Mordred visited him every evening, if only for a few seconds.
“Rest well, Sergeant,” he always said, “Report to me when you wake up.”
Nonetheless, she always stayed with Mordred at night, despite him being extermely busy most of the day. She laid on her cot as he read over something.
“Am I disturbing you?” he asked, not even looking up from the data pad.
“No, I just have a lot on my mind right now.”
As usual, he didn’t press any further at her statement. She rolled her eyes.
“You know what your problem is, Mordred? You buy into this whole “machine” idea too much.”
“What do you mean? I am a cyborg, machinery is part of me.”
“But not all of you. And other people have cybernetics too and they still have emotions. Would it hurt you to let your human side to show a bit more?
“What brought this up?”
Taylor sighed. Truthfully, it had been in her head for a while, but she had never found the time to discuss it. She didn’t care if the cameras were watching or the fact that Auburn would probably be mad at her. She had kept it in long enough.
“I don’t know, maybe with everything that’s happened I feel the need to clear the air before things start getting crazy again. Will you listen, or am I going to be talking to a brick wall?”
He put the pad down and turned in his chair.
“You have my attention, Taylor.”
She hadn’t expected him to actually do that.
“When I first met you, you didn’t chase me when I ran. Why?”
“You were doing nothing wrong, so I saw no need to.”
“What if you had known that I was avoiding my case worker and planning on running away and becoming a hobo?”
“First of all, you would make a terrible hobo. Secondly, I do not deal with what ifs. They are unecessary and only cause trouble. Thridly, I would have done my job and taken you in, but I did not have that information about you at the time. Why?”
“I’m just wondering what I’m really doing here. I was never given a reason. I know I was unconscious, but you could’ve just left me with the medics and gotten my account later.”
“You had prolonged contact with the Rebels. You would have ended up with me anyways.”
She turned in her bed, facing the wall.
“Mordred, do you ever lie?”
“I omit the whole truth from time to time if it will make the situation worse or if Lord Auburn orders it so, but I do not say anything that is not true, if that is what you mean by lying. Do you feel as though I have been untruthful to you?”
“To me, no. But…” Taylor took a deep breath. “I’ve heard you lie to yourself from time to time.”
“Lie to myself?”
“Yeah, like every time you claim to have no emotions. Would someone with no emotions visit their people in the infirmary daily?”
“I do that to keep up morale. Just because I have no emotions myself, does not mean I expect others to be the same. Morale is very important for running an efficent army.”
“You know what I think?” She rolled back over and sat up, facing him. “If you were merely doing it for the sake of morale, as you just claimed, that your people wouldn’t be so glad to see you everytime you came in. It’s easy to tell when people are just doing something for the sake of a job, and that doesn’t usually make people happy.”
“You should get to sleep.”
“You aren’t going to dispute what I just said?”
He turned back to his desk.
“I have learned that you are what they call a stubbron person and that your opinion does not change easily. It is no use to argue with you.”
Taylor laid back down, but not without a smile on her face. It felt good to get something off her chest.
Mordred had just come out of recharge when someone rang the doorbell. He looked over to Taylor, who simply rolled over, but was still asleep. The cyborg commander stood up and answered the door.
“Colonel Lafei, it is unusual of you to visit me. What do you need?”
“Commander, as a fellow officer, I have a request.”
“What is it?”
“I wish to watch her for the day,” she stated, inclining her head toward Taylor, “Believe me, you are going to very busy today since we identified a possible Rebel stronghold.”
“Dr. Preston is able to watch her, but the offer is appreciated. Although, why do you want to watch her? Your first and last meeting ended in a fight and she suspects your involvement in Moran’s “escape”.”
The Intelligence head sighed.
“True, but I have not really had contact with her since our first meeting. It will be different this time. Besides, Dr. Green called. Dr. Preston will be in the pod today. And we both know that Green will not watch her.”
“Very well then, you may have her.” He walked to the door of the bathroom. “But be warned, I do not want her injured or abused in any way.”
“And if she is, what are going to do then? Whine to Lord Auburn?” She scoffed. “Like he would do anything about it. Unlike you, she’s not one of his favored. After all, she’s a prisoner, right?”
“Colonel Lafei, at least try to get along with her. I know you see me as an obstacle and rival, but leave her out of it. It is neither fair nor logical. Now if you excuse me, I must get ready.”
The door to the bathroom slid shut. Lafei went over to his desk and picked up the report he had been reading the night before.
“I know you’re awake.”
Taylor stretched before sitting up.
“It’s kind of hard to sleep when there’s someone arguing in the same room as you. Not to mention the door bell woke me up. I just didn’t see the need to get up, so I guess Mordred thought I was still asleep.” She reached up and attempt to smooth down her hair. “Luckily, he never takes very long in the bathroom. So, you volunteered to watch me today. What’d I do this time?”
The Colonel set down the report and glared at her.
“You know full well what you did, so stop acting so innocent. Did you seriously think he would listen to you?”
She shook her head, getting off the bed.
“I didn’t really even expect him to stop what he was doing and give me his full attention, so no. Besides, you’ve heard the conversation. It didn’t get very far.”
In truth, Taylor was partly disappointed that it didn’t go any further, but she had known it probably wouldn’t, so she wasn’t too down about it. And yes, she knew she would get in trouble for the conversation the night before, but she didn’t care. If she had kept it any longer, she would have exploded.
Mordred stepped out of the bathroom, prepared for the day.
“Taylor, Colonel Lafei will be watching you for the day. Behave for her.”
He straightened his jacket out some before leaving. Lafei mumbled something under her breath before turning to Taylor.
“Get ready and make yourself presentable. We’re going to visit Lord Auburn.”
“I figured he’d have something to say about this.”
The red head didn’t even bother dwaddling in the bathroom. It would do her no good, and she wanted to get the whole thing over with. This time, she probably wouldn’t leave unscathed. She stepped out and followed Lafei.
“What do you have against Mordred?” she questioned in the elevator.
“It’s none of your business.”
“Okay then. Where are you from?”
“That’s none of your concern either.”
Taylor fake pouted a bit.
“Geez, I try to get to know you and you shoot me down at every turn. Maybe people would like you better if you were a bit friendlier.”
“Maybe people wouldn’t find you so annoying if you stopped asking such inane questions. If you couldn’t get those answers out of the Sergeant, what makes you think I would answer them?”
“It never hurts to try. Besides, everytime I asked these kinds of questions, Mordred would tell me not to ask them when the Sergeant would’ve been happy to answer them. I hope he wakes up soon, I think Mordred misses him.”
“Commander Mordred does not have emotions, ergo, he cannot miss his secretary.”
“Oh, so I was right about what the Sergeant’s job was.”
“You do not listen very well, do you?”
The elevator came to a stop and Lafei escorted her to Auburn’s door.
“Have fun,” she teased before pushing Taylor in when it opened.
Taylor’s foot happened to catch the edge of the door, sending her falling to the floor. She managed to not hit her face, which she was thankful for. Craning her neck up, she saw Auburn sitting at the table, eating something.
“Ah Taylor, it’s good to see you again. Help yourself to some breakfast.”
She cautiously got up and made her way to the table. For some reason, but she couldn’t help but glance in his direction every so often, making sure he wasn’t reaching for his cane. He chuckled as she stuffed some food into her mouth.
“You’re wondering what I’m going to do about that conversation you had with Mordred last night. Well, I can’t exactly say that it was a surprise. I’m only shocked that you didn’t say anything sooner.”
“It never seemed like the right time. I just thought I’d do it before things got heated up again, which it sounds like they’re fixing to.”
“War is a terrible, costly thing indeed. But we are more than prepared for anything those Rebels throw at us.”
He put his napkin on the table, using his cane to help himself up. She accidentally gulped and nearly choked on the bite she had just taken. She snatched the glass of water from in front of her and began drinking it. After a bit, she coughed some more.
“Easy there,” he patted her back as her coughing continued, “I admit that I don’t know the Heimlich.”
Eventually, Taylor got it under control. The hand that had been patting her back moved to her shoulder and gripped it.
“Now if that’s over, there are some things I would like to discuss with you about Mordred.”
She tore out of his grip and rolled out of the chair, hearing the hard smack of his cane smashing onto the table when he missed her. Auburn stood facing her, and pulled on the handle. A loud zapping noise filled the air as the can was revealed to have a electrified baton inside. He discarded the scabbard.
“I know what you’re trying to do. Dr. Preston has tried it himself, with as good results as you had last night.”
“Well I didn’t expect anything to happen and nothing did. I don’t see why you’re upset over it.” She looked around for something to defend herself with. “If anything, shouldn’t you be gloating about how the conversation last night shows me that he really is emotionless and how I might as well quit while I’m ahead?”
“I would, but it wouldn’t stop you from trying again. Unlike Dr. Preston, you can’t let go of your ideas once you have them. Dr. Preston gave up trying to convince Mordred about his state a long time ago once he saw that it wouldn’t do any good.”
“So what? You’re going to threaten me with physical violence like you do him?”
He looked at the baton.
“Oh this? I wasn’t going to use it on you.” He twirled it in his hand. “I just thought you would like to know that there is enough electricity in this to crash Mordred’s systems if he were ever to turn against me. It is more powerful than even an electro-staff. One touch of this will shut him down rather permanently.”
Auburn collected the scabbard and put the baton back in.
“Mordred does not know about this, and he better not find out or I’ll have you begging for me to lift this cane against you.”
Taylor kept in her defensive position despite the fact that he had gone into a more relaxed stance. She still expected him to attack her.
“I don’t understand…”
“Consider this your warning, Ms. Lockheed. If you insist on trying to “wake up” the Commander, I won’t stop you. But realize that in doing so, you will be responsible for his death.”
She wanted nothing more than to pummel him, but kept it under control, choosing to stew quietly.
“It wouldn’t be my fault. You would be the one killing him.”
“As yes, the old “it’s not the weapon, it’s the weilder” argument. But let’s face it, you’re simply not cold enough to accept that as fact. Part of you would feel guilty for it and I doubt you could ever live with yourself very easily if that ever happened.”
She couldn’t deny that she would. And that was probably hurt the most, that Auburn was actually right about that fact.
“That’s true, but at least it proves I’m human, unlike you!”
“Oh yes, I’m the monster, despite the fact that I’m the one defending the citizens from those terrorists who masquerade as freedom fighters.”
“Whatever,” she huffed. “You can’t convince me to see things your way, so it doesn’t really matter what you say.”
“I suppose not.” He sat back down, turning on the holo projector. “Shall we watch what is going on at the Rebel stronghold and see my champion in action?”
Taylor only withstood watching two minutes before having to look away.
“I understand, not everyone can stomach the sight of a battlefield, hardly a flaw in my book. Commander Mordred does look nice in crimson, doesn’t he?”
“Let me out.”
“Sorry my dear Ms. Lockheed, but you are stuck with me until he returns, and Intelligence just found another stronghold. That will be a while.”
Tears formed in her eyes, but luckily she was looking away from him. She had never been angry before in her life toward one person. Needless to say, the rest of the day was no more pleasant.
Around sunset, Auburn turned off the last video feed. He found Taylor sitting by the window, face pressed to the glass. He smirked to himself before getting up. It had been far too long since he had the opportunity to play mind games with someone and actually enjoy it. All of Dr. Preston’s reactions were too predictable and stale now to be considered enjoyable. Mordred lacked the emotions necessary to make it enjoyable, and all Moran had done was curse at him or tell him how wrong he was before begging for his pathetic life. But Taylor was different from all of them.
“I don’t suppose you want any dinner.”
She didn’t answer him. It was rare that he received the silent treatment. He came over to her, purposely tapping his cane against the ground harder than usual so she would hear him approaching. The red head didn’t react as he squatted beside her.
“So Taylor, do you still believe that the Commander is human after witnessing all of that?”
She wanted to do was answer yes, but she couldn’t bring herself to speak it. Her brain found itself to busy trying to figure out the paradox between the Mordred she knew and the Mordred she had witnessed through the video feeds. A hand grabbed her chin and wretched her face to the side.
“Don’t ignore me,” Auburn warned, voice low, “I don’t appreciate it.”
She snapped out of her stuppor and smacked his hand away. Instead of being angry like she thought he would, he chuckled and stood up.
“Bent but not broken,” he commented, “Good, I would’ve been very disappointed in you, Ms. Lockheed. I think you’ve been here long enough. Why don’t you go visit Dr. Preston? He’s had a lousy day I believe.”
Mordred was not surprised when he learned that somehow Taylor had ended up with Dr. Preston. Knowing that Dr. Preston liked to keep a clean as possible infirmary, he cleaned up before dropping by. As he stepped out of the shower, he noticed the condition of his uniform. Blood splotched various places where he had been close to someone he had either shot or stabbed and it had rips in it. So he did something he rarely did, opened his closet.
Despite the fact it was his closet, Taylor’s clothes took up most of the room, seeing as how he only had a spare uniform in there. As he pushed her clothes aside to reach it, his eyes fell on a yellow shirt, which struck him as odd seeing how most of her shirts were either blue or green.
Yellow’s my favorite color! What’s yours?
He quickly pulled out his uniform and shut the closet. He couldn’t figure out why the snippet from the dream had played, that had never occurred before and his systems kept saying that there was nothing wrong. Mordred brought up his com.
“Dr. Preston, are you available?”
“I’m here, Mordred. I suppose you’re calling about Taylor. Are you coming to pick her up?”
“Would it be inconvenient for you to keep her for the night?”
“No. Besides, it might be for the best.”
“What do you mean by that, Dr. Preston?”
“Ask Auburn when you meet him next time.”
Shortly after that, Mordred went into recharge and once again dreamed.