Chapter 5:

Moral Support

Curiosity Killed The Cat

Kothur thought about the school as they approached. All of the students here have gone through some kind of ordeal. That’s why they send him out when the government hears about a violent event. More importantly, that’s why everyone gets along here as they can relate to each other. He likes to think of himself as some sort of peace keeper between these kids and the harsh world that awaits them when they graduate. That was why he chose this job at the head branch. There was a time where he could have used someone's help himself.

Once inside the dael research room, they were met with a young man in a lab coat. His rust-colored hair kept short and neat above his blue eyes. The room was filled with small CRT monitors embedded in the white desks with other men manning them. An examination table was placed in the middle. Next to the empty white examination table was another one occupied by a plastic human-shaped body. It was roughly the same size and shape of a student as it lay motionless, but lacked any features that humans used to differentiate themselves. No hair and no clothes, just a blank slate. Wires coming out from various parts left a chilling atmosphere. It was all unpleasant.

“You must be Kothur and Soline. I’m Veith. Please come in.” He spoke in a monotone voice as he led them to the table. Looks like he wasn’t one for pleasantries either.

Veith continued talking as Soline sat on the empty table getting some basic examinations. “Well, this won’t take too long. It will just be some baseline examinations and the first administration of dael.”

“Mind explaining some more of why I’m here, doc?” Soline said, not too pleased with the setting she found herself in.

“Oh. I thought Kothur would have told you already.” Veith didn’t sound too pleased as he looked at Kothur.

Don’t look at me, he thought as he stared back at him. Mr. Dunnock told me to bring her here and that was the extent of that. With his only job done, he stood by them and watched. He could only offer his moral support.

“As you may know, they passed that bill recently that lets women join the army after the war with the Gyns, but it’s worrying the higher-ups. Historically, if women wanted to help the war efforts, they could only be spies as they are too weak to be soldiers. A scientist here a few years ago found we can use dael to connect with an artificial body; to give it life to help fight. We think this way women won’t have to fight, but they can still become proud soldiers.” Veith readied a syringe from the small metal side table as he talked. A worrying sight.

“If you have an artificial body already, why use people?” She looked away from the needle.

“Don’t worry, this dose has been proven to be safe. Current science hasn’t found a way to make the bodies move like actual soldiers without using humans.” He continued flatly. “A soul is needed and the dael helps to give a part of your soul. A dose of dael is given to you and the body over time to match your brain’s wavelengths.”

“I don’t get any of this.” She said, clearly not happy.

“Don’t worry. You won’t need to. This science is all very experimental anyway as you’re the first test subject. I’d say it should only last about a month. Before then, you’ll need to come by here every day, ok?”

Her bangs covered her eyes as she lowered her face. “...yes, sir.”

“Good luck, soldier.” He put a hand on her shoulder. It was very insincere.

The whole ordeal took longer than Veith led them to believe. By the time Soline was cleared to leave, classes were over. She scampered off to the student dorms after assuring Kothur she was fine. He decided to make the long trek back to the staff room to collect his things even if the staff dorms were much closer. Some healthy walking would do him good at this point.

Only a few minutes into his trip and he caught a glimpse of a familiar head of light-colored hair coming quickly his way. Caught off guard, he quickly raised his hand and called out to her awkwardly.

“Good afternoon, Mylise!” Or was it evening by now? He hoped it was the right thing to say in any case.

Mylise looked equally as surprised. Her crystal blue eyes were wide. That was quite a rare expression for her and he was glad for the chance to see it. “Oh! Hello, Kothur. What brings you all the way out here?” She smoothed out her hair a bit with a hand.

Kothur shifted a bit uneasily. “I was showing Soline to the dael research room.”

She looked at him with curiosity. “I heard from Yinna that she’s in that new project. Is that related to what Mr. Dunnock wanted to talk to you about earlier?”

“Yes. Well, to tell you the truth, he wanted to tell me to take over his position when the project is complete.”

“I see.” Mylise wore a pensive expression for a second. “I’d love to talk more, but I have somewhere I need to be. Would you want to walk with me?” She turned her eyes up at him.

“Sure.” He said with his heart catching in his throat. He could pick up his things at a later time anyway. “Where are you headed?”

“The psychiatric hospital. I volunteer there after classes.” She said already starting to walk past him.

That was something he didn’t know that about her. To be fair, he barely knew much about her as she didn’t talk to him very often. He walked on her right side. He couldn’t help but stare as they walked the mostly empty hallways. Eventually the path led them outside into a sidewalk in the cool evening air.

They walked silently for a few steps before Mylise spoke up with a soft voice. “Since you told me something, I suppose I should tell you something interesting as well. Mr. Dunnock recently offered me a position as a spy. You might not see much more of me for long.” She said without looking at him. “I accepted the offer graciously, though it doesn't seem like you feel the same about yours. Do you think you will accept the principal position?”

He was a bit shocked to hear that. Should she even be saying that to him? This war must be really ramping up. He tried not to dwell on it for too long. “I feel it would be for the best if I do.”

“Do you think you’re qualified?” She asked abruptly.

“What do you mean?”

“The men at the top only gave you your current position because they think you are like a neutered dog. They can offer it to you easily, but you're the one who is going to have to put in the work. I wanted to know if you felt up to it?”

Huh? What kind of question was that? What could she mean by any of that? “...I don’t know what to say.” He was taken aback, but nevertheless continued staring at her.

“Well, I suppose that was a bit rude of me. I apologize.” After a pause she looked up at him again. “I often see you glancing at me, you know. If you have something to say, please say it.”

“Oh, sorry! You just really look like someone I met a long time ago.” He quickly responded as he waved his hand embarrassedly. “I can hardly believe it sometimes.”

“Well, I’ve never met anyone that looked like you before you joined.” She said coolly. “Perhaps it was a doppelgänger?”


“A double of a living person. They bring bad luck if you run into one, you know.”

“That would make sense. I’ve definitely had my fair share of bad luck.” She didn’t say anything back. Was that a weird thing to say? He actually cared about what she thought about him.

They arrived at the hospital and she turned towards him. “Whatever you choose to do,” she said as she grabbed his wrist above his glove with a squeeze, “I wish you good luck.”