Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Center Cannot Hold: Maralda and Lahm 4

Part 1| Part 2| Part 3
In which our intrepid duo agree to help the Android 8511.  

We caught up to the Android in the main hallway of Semper Hall.  She had hesitated upon entering.
 Some claimed that a Androids were emotionless machines, incapable of comprehending fear or complex emotions.

I saw her quiver in fear there.  She didn't look emotionless to me.  8511 looked like girl dreading a conversation with a disappointed parent.  People and their opinions on Androids suddenly sounded ridiculous to me.

"Hey."  I called out to her.

8511 froze.  Lahm slide past both of us, helping to pin her in.  The Android didn't move.  She just stood there, her gaze downward.   "Please don't."

I barely heard her words, she'd almost whispered it.  "We need to-"

"Please."  8511 looked from Lahm then to me.  "You two were really nice to me.  But don't follow me."

She gestured to Semper's Hall.  I caught her meaning.  Semper Hall was home to a dozen offices.  All of the professors in the history and archaeology departments had offices here.  8511 didn't want us to see when Maxmidan found her again.  She was trying to keep us out of it.

"Please."  She implored for a third time.  I saw droplets fall from her artificial wax eyes.  Tears, but fake ones.

That gave me pause.  I'd never seen a Android cry before.  It threw me off.  They couldn't be real tears.  Could they?  How?  Now I'd wished I had bothered to learn some artificery.  Lahm probably didn't flinch because he'd taken a class on it or something.

"No."  Lahm didn't move, instead putting a gravelly tone to his voice.  His glowing, hellish eyes were fixed on the Android.  "You're an innocent.  He doesn't get to treat you like this.  No one should be treated like this."

Uh oh.  I decided I better stop him before he went and did something stupid.  "Lahm-"

"There isn't anything you can do."  8511 interrupted,  biting down on her lower lip.  "I don't want you two to get in trouble with him.  You know who he is.  I can put up with him, I don't want to see anyone else... just go, please?"

I tugged at Lahm's arm.  "Lahm.  C'mon.  She doesn't want us to come with her."

Lahm ignored me.  I continued to try to get him to, anyway.  "You meathead.  Listen to her.  This is Professor Maxmidan.  She's an Android.  What big plan do you have that get around that?  He's a Professor.  She's his tool."

"Listen to her, Lahm."  8511 whimpered.

"Look into her eyes and say that Maralda."  Lahm told me.  He glared down at me.

So I did.  I studied the Android's eyes, the fake tears she was trying to hide.  I saw what he'd seen.  This was the look of a girl that was beaten, regularly.  Maxmidan treated her like a tool- the kind of tool he would throw against a wall in frustration, over and over without a care. Bile boiled into my mouth as got just as angry as Lahm had been.  "Twins-damn it all.  You- TWINS-DAMN IT LAHM!  I have things to do today!"

"Its just the Enchantment exam you were going to ace anyway."  Lahm chided me.  I ignored him.

"Why must you-" I sighed, pinching me nose.  "Your right.  8511, he's right."

She paused staring at me.  She looked confused, then worried.

Lahm put a hand on her shoulder.  "We're going to go with you to see Maxmidan.  If he tries anything, we'll stop him."

"Stop him from what?"

I froze.  The three of us turned our gaze to behind us.

To very tall, dark man.  Human, he had a pair of glowing bright ioun stones flying past his head.  His black suit looked expensive and it looked Ainesian, probably imported from Lutetia.  A golden gear was pinned into his surcoat.  Only professors and proper members of the Esoterium Machina wore golden gears- a signet given by the Church of the Machine to recognize the most knowledgeable, most brilliant and most excellent in academia.  Behind his spectacles, Professor Maxmidan frowned.

Next Part (5)

*****

Thanks for reading!  As always, any comments are welcome.  My fiction is, well, my fiction, but I do pay attention to any suggestions.  Good ideas are praised, bad ideas ignored while great ideas are stolen outright. More to come about these two.  Maralda is fun character to write.  Same with the other two.