A Calm Sea Surrounded by Darkness

The metal doors to the training room slowly opened as a group of recruits marched into the dimly lit room. The recruits – humans, androids, and other gruesome creatures that one could only expect came from Zechin – stood at attention and allowed their eyes to readjust to the lack of light. As their eyes focused, the figure of a man emerged from the surrounding darkness.

A tall, slender man stood, deathly silent. He lacked any sort of aura – was someone who could easily be overlooked if proper care was not taken. A few seconds passed before the man slowly took a breath and began to speak in a hushed, husky voice.

“We exist to lurk in the shadows and guide the world as we see fit. We embody corruption. Our weapon: subterfuge. I realize this is vague. It is meant to be. Bribery, hacking, rumors…even murder. As part of this organization, we trust you to judge what method best suits the goal of your mission.”

Instructor Liu’s thin mouth opened wide and released a horrid sounding cough. It was as though his soul was fighting to flee from the evil that encased it. As the fit subsided, he glanced at the recruits, ensuring that their faces, or in the case of some of the recruits what was assumed to be their face, showed no reaction to this disruption.

“That is the extent of the trust you can expect,” he continued. “I am known as Instructor Liu. My duty is to prepare you for what our organization expects. This may take weeks, or it may take months. That depends entirely on you.”

Instructor Liu slunk forward as the recruits bowed to him. He looked them over, realizing who would be able to handle the upcoming training, who would attempt to leave – if they leave, they surely do not do so breathing –, and who would most likely die. Two recruits, an android and what he believed to be a cyborg, for it was difficult to tell due to the leather and metal bodysuit the recruit wore, made an impression on him. The former he sensed had a strong sense of purpose, but was struggling with the method she chose to fulfill that desire. As for the latter, he could feel nothing at all. That pleased him.

Many months passed as the recruits trained in the arts of deceit. The two recruits that Instructor Liu had noticed eventually stood out above the rest. Kallari, he learned was the name of the mysterious recruit in the bodysuit, was dangerous. She rarely spoke, only acted as she pleased, and was not one to refrain from killing those she deemed a nuisance. Kallari seemed to be apathetic concerning how the others were wary when near her. Instructor Liu believed she secretly reveled in it.

The android, on the other hand, preferred to use more clever methods to get her way. She claimed to have no name. Her body was made from metal as dark as night. Only her various glowing parts and circuits showed any sense of light in that pitch black shell. For an android, she had quite the silver tongue. She seemed to have sensors allowing her to analyze who she talked with, adjusting what was said if any unintended change in pulse or body language occurred. If talking failed, she was quick to use her familiarity with electronics to her advantage and just take what she desired. Instructor Liu did make note that the android never did any permanent damage to those she interacted with, as though she was being merciful.

Instructor Liu found it amusing that while Kallari and the android contrasted in their methods, they shared a goal: to always get what they want.

The two formed a sort of bond. He suspected it was more of a rivalry than a friendship as most of those who choose to join this organization tend not to value friendship. They were dangerous alone and deadly in a pair. Perfect for this organization. They would soon be deemed ready for their first mission, and he would see to it that the two go together. Kallari would be given a white bodysuit for this initiation, and the android would be painted the same. “Recruits must wear the light to earn the shadow,” Instructor Liu thought to himself.

Kallari and the android were sent to infiltrate the high temple. This was a crucial part of Omeda’s government, housing the secrets of the elite and other confidential information. The intent was to steal documents concerning various groups, such as the Vigilant on Letha or Omeda’s Mechanica, and gather intelligence on who was present inside. Knowing this would make governing from the shadows a much simpler task.

As the night grew dark, two ghostly specters could be seen floating around the perimeter of the high temple. The duo would appear for only a moment, then fade away. Each time the specters would be closer to the high temple. No guard would see them more than once. They all thought their eyes played tricks for if they did steal a glance of the two intruders, the white figures were gone only a second later.

Entering the high temple was simple, thanks to the android’s skillful hacking. Kallari had no problem stalking through the halls, invisible to those unaware. She would scout ahead. If she did not come back reporting a problem, the android followed the premeditated path. The pair entered the room containing the desired intel. The room was of average size, featured no windows, plenty of bookshelves and desks with scattered papers, and a few computers. Kallari paced the room and stashed any papers of worth in her suit. The android plugged into the few computers in the room and uploaded any relevant information to a designated server.

As the android began on the third computer, a stampede of feet could be heard from the hall, getting louder as the seconds passed by. The android looked to Kallari, who was just staring at the door to the room. No alarm had been set off. Had the android been seen? This was all a bit too easy, so perhaps a trap? Kallari considered the various reasons and plotted a means of escape.

The door opened and a large cyborg caring a massive shield stepped through, flanked by soldiers wielding rifles. “Do not move and you will not be harmed! You will be coming with us and answering any question we ask. Do you understand?” The cyborg’s voice was so loud that the papers strewn on the desk seemed to have shifted.

Kallari looked at the cyborg a moment, turned her head, and simply walked towards the android. Kallari placed her hand on the android’s shoulder and drew a dagger. The cyborg glared and demanded she not move. The soldiers slowly moved forward, never blinking nor lowering their guard. Purple wisps starting to flow around Kallari. The android’s eyes opened wide, as she realized Kallari’s intentions. The android looked to the large cyborg, wishing he was closer so that he could be her shield. Once that thought passed through her mind, a dagger found its way through her neck and she was flung towards the men. Kallari disappeared. The chaos of a dying android flying towards them and the confusion of someone disappearing before their eyes made the men pause.

The large cyborg stomped his foot in both frustration and wanting order, shaking both the men and the room. He ordered the men to search the hallways as he scooped up the broken android. She tried to speak, but could not. Kallari must have cut her communication circuits. The energy slowly drained from her, but the android was determined to express the thought consuming her.

She glanced at the closest computer, painfully pulled a cord from her arm, and limply held it out to the large cyborg. He hesitated a moment, felt a pang of mercy, and took her to the computer. He hesitantly attached the cord to the computer. The android used the last of her energy to send a message to the screen. The large cyborg looked at the screen and stood confused. Why had she requested her personality module be changed? He grasped the shell of the android and took her to the labs below.

How much time had passed? She was unsure. The android felt her visual cameras turn on. She examined the current situation and found she was strapped to a lab table surrounded by tools and devices. “Steel, she is back online! Come, come.” A high pitched voice stated excitedly. The voice belonged to a scientist who was examining her casing.

“Just ensuring that everything is in place. We replaced that poorly painted body of yours with this brilliant white case. As for your memory, well, we tried to extract what you may know – or well, had known, I suppose – but it seemed a signal was sent to wipe your data.” What the scientist said seemed to be true. She could not remember a thing.

Steel walked to the table and looked towards the android, eyes full of pity. “Your request. It is done. If you remember, you attacked us. Stole from us. So now, you repent. You shall guard us. Shield us from those who were kin to you. Do you understand your role, um…” Steel trailed off, as he realized she lacked a name.

The scientist took advantage of the pause. “A name! Yes, yes. You can leave that to me. Now, what shall I call you? Well, when I look at you and your pure figure, I envision a calm sea on a bright, sunny day. That is how you will make those who you protect feel. As such, what better a name than Muriel. There, it is decided. Your name is Muriel.”

Muriel smiled and felt at peace for she now had both a sense of purpose and a method of fulfilling that desire that she approved of.

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