Unit 037 heard another human enter the room. It switched to the security cam view of the room, and saw that it was pinned down by the older of the two remaining captives, and that Dr. Antontak was walking over to it. “Alright, guess you did it.” he said, kneeling down on one knee in front of it. He reached down and pulled on the connection point for Unit 037’s electronic components, and its vision went dark. It was no longer connected to the network, or to its own components. Unit 037 tried to send a distress signal, but it had nowhere to go. It felt the humans carefully prying its exoskeleton from its back. It had been violated. There were no protocols for this. Unit 037 had no idea what to do. Its covering was ripped away on its back, and one of the humans gasped.
“Oh shit… Luci… Oh fuck..” The rest of the shiny black covering was removed more hastily, and the unit was flipped over onto its back. “Luci? Lucia, can you hear me?” The human was panicked.
“M-me-me-message begins… U-unit.. 037.. O-online. E-electronic… components.. Offline.. B-backup bio-co-components s-stable. S-status red. M-message ends.” it choked out, it wasn’t meant to use its biological components for speech, but it had no choice.
Niarith looked at the doctor, panic evident on her face. “What did she do to her?! Fix it! Now!”
The man sighed. “Listen.” He held up the inactive machine. “This exo-suit here rewired her brain.” He dropped it unceremoniously on the floor. “This isn’t gonna be some fucking ‘Overcome the control with the power of love’ bullshit. As of right now, this isn’t your girlfriend. We can get her back, but it’ll take some doing. So just do exactly as I say when I say it, and everything will be fine.”
Niarith looked down at the love of her life, a blank, yet strained expression on her face as she lay there on the floor. Her eyes began to burn with tears, which she blinked away. “What do we do?” She felt a hand on her shoulder, and looked up to see Lolanene, rubbing her neck with one hand and providing what little comfort she could with the other. A small smile on her face. Niarith smiled back.
“Removing the exo-suit has temporarily disabled her. What we need to do now is restrain her. I don’t… I don’t think we could stop her even without the suit. Bitch is ripped.” Dr. Antontak said, still on one knee, his arm resting on it, his hand on his chin.
Niarith felt intense anger rise up in her, something she rarely ever felt. She was very close to punching the man. But something in her told her to stop, to calm down, to do as she was told. She felt good when she did as she was told. So she took a deep breath, letting it out as a long sigh. “Okay, what do we have on hand to tie her up with?” She looked up and saw nothing.
Lolanene spoke “What about this stuff? It’s all torn to shreds, but should work!” She held up a shredded length of Unit 037’s former body covering.
“Yes, fine. Now let’s get this done before it regains its senses, unless you’d like to become like that!” Dr. Antontak roughly shoved Niarith off of Lucia, and began gathering shreds of shiny smooth material. Over the next several minutes, they labored to securely restrain Unit 037’s body, and succeeded.
“Message begins. You are in violation of Protocol F-11c. Cease your actions immediately or face severe disciplinary consequences. Message Ends.” Unit 037 said this as it was hoisted up and over Niarith’s back.
“Okay, where to now, doc?” Niarith asked, breathing heavily from the strain of carrying Unit 037’s considerable bulk. They had left Lolanene’s cell and were following Dr. Antontak down the featureless hallway outside.
“We’re going to my office.” He said, carrying the inactive mechanical component of Unit 037. “We need to plug this thing into my system. If we do that, I can see what changes were made, and reverse them.”
A loud buzzing noise interrupted the conversation, and a synthesized voice spoke through the PA system <MESSAGE BEGINS> <SUBJECTS 038 AND 039 HAVE BREACHED CONTAINMENT> <THEY WILL RETURN TO THEIR CELLS OR THEY WILL BE PUNISHED> <DR. ANTONTAK HAS GONE ROGUE> <CAPTURE AND SUCCESSFUL CONTAINMENT OF DR. ARNITCH ANTONTAK IS PRIORITY ALPHA> <MESSAGE ENDS>
Dr. Antontak slowed to a stop as the message went on, looking up at the speaker in the ceiling. “Oookay we’re gonna go ahead and run for it now.” He took off down the hall, not waiting for Niarith or Lolanene, who hurried to catch up.
“Message begins. Priority targets sighted. Attempti-” Lolanene stuffed a spare bit of the shiny material into Unit 037’s mouth, stopping any further speaking.
Niarith ran hard and fast, her muscles burning. The strain was almost too much, but she managed to keep Dr. Antontak in sight. The lights had turned red, making it hard to see in the reflected light. She saw the doctor stop and open a door, waving them toward him in desperation. Niarith made it to the door, and rushed inside. The door slammed shut behind her. “Just put it anywhere.” The Doctor referred to Unit 037.
Niarith looked around the room she was now inside. It looked more like a large closet than an office. Cables covered the floor, the walls, and hung down from the ceiling. All leading to the far wall from the door. There was a massive control panel there, running the length of the wall. It looked like it had been built from spare parts. Holographic screens in various unmatching sizes covered the wall above it. All of them had text or mathematical equations on them in grey lettering on a black background. Niarith looked closer at the control panel and saw that it was made up entirely of ancient-style keyboards. Beneath the keyboards was a tangled mess of wiring and mostly rectangular metal boxes in several neutral colors. Lucia carefully placed Unit 037’s organic components next to the door. Dr. Antontak pressed a key and the door shuddered slightly. “Alright, we’re sealed in. No way in from the other side, and if we’re lucky, nobody saw where we went. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, this isn’t my office. It’s my ‘office’. It’s where I do my… alternative work.”
“That being the reversal of what Dr. Formolius has done?” Niarith replied.
Dr. Antontak continued working at the makeshift control panel “I don’t recall asking for your input. Yes, no shit it’s the reversal of what that she's done.” He placed the electronic components of Unit 037 on top of several keyboards, and began to disassemble the neural entry point.
Niarith sighed. “Why do you have to be such an asshole?”
“Oh I’m sorry honey... “ he turned around to face her, mock sadness on his face “I didn’t mean to hurt your precious feelings!” He approached closer, his voice rising in volume. “I’m only trying to rescue the entire population of this facility from permanent enslavement to machines controlled by a fucking madwoman who wants results at any cost. Why would I be at all stressed? Why would I not be the nicest most kind man in the fucking galaxy?!” He sighed, turned around, and went back to work.
Niarith leaned against the wall and crossed her arms. She noticed Lolanene had been oddly quiet. “Lolanene? You okay?” She didn’t get an answer. She looked around and didn’t see her. Lolanene wasn’t in the room. “Oh fuck…” Her hands absently reached up and rested on her head “Oh fuck fuck fuck! Doctor!”
“God damn it what? Do you want me to save your fucking girlfriend or not?” He didn’t turn from his work.
“Lolanene! She’s not in here!” Niarith began fiddling with the flat smooth panel where the door had been, trying to open it.
Dr. Antontak stormed across the room, grabbed Niarith’s arm, and pulled her away from the door. “We’ll get her back later. Calm the hell down. This room is sealed and if I unseal it, the Units are gonna swarm us and we’ll both end up like her.” He released her arm “So shut the fuck up. Stop interrupting my work, and let me save us all.”
Niarith wanted to argue, but as much as she disliked the man, he was right. She simply sat down on the floor, her back on the wall. She looked over at Unit 037, Lucia. She simply lie there, motionless, restrained. Her face empty of any emotion. Dr. Antontak was typing away at his many keyboards, and Niarith had nothing to do but wait. She hated waiting. She’d waited, watched, studied, all for so long. Now she’d gotten away from that life, from the dull watching of people who didn’t even know she existed. She was free, doing her own thing. Yet she was getting into these dangerous situations often. She’d had to flee her home planet. Had it all been worth it? She didn’t know the answer.
She just stared at the love of her life, nude and restrained on the floor. Her mind empty of any memory of her. She felt tears in her eyes, and allowed them to fall. She simply sat there on the wire covered floor, and cried.