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A Taste Of The Old Days

1124 words - 5 pages

Go the same pace long enough, and it becomes customary. Achieve a distance from something, no matter how near it once was, and all it takes is a sufficient while before the space begins to feel standard. Extreme opposites of a spectrum can swap. Even the Earth changes polarity every two hundred and fifty thousand years.

And Six is very adaptable.

He was once comfortable using firearms, back in his trainee days; it was in the set orientation syllabus for recruits. When he had first picked up his swords, it took some time to get used to closing in on his targets rather than taking them down from a distance; it took time to get used to being in such close proximity to danger. Now, Six doesn't hesitate. His swords are a part of him, as if they were veined with his blood. He's no longer comfortable feeling his arms stapled against his torso, supporting a clunky metal weight that had to be reloaded.

Six knows how it's done; he knows how to just flip the switch in his mind and never look back.

"So, what crawled up your coat?"

When he's summoned, Six expects an order of some kind; perhaps it would be for them to keep the celebratory noise down, or for Six to investigate an area of the Keep that surveillance cams had suddenly gone faulty in, or one of the incurable Evos in the Petting Zoo happened to be causing more trouble than it was worth and White Knight would want it dealt with quietly.

"Agent Six."

And Six merely nods in response to the formal address.

It's then that he marks the sudden change of the man on the screen before him. There's something off about White Knight tonight. He seems awkward. Off the screen, he appears to be fumbling around with something to side. It sounds like clinking.

Shortly after, White Knight opens his mouth to speak, but as if second guessing his ability to form words, only gestures down at the airlock. Six approaches dutifully, hand already reaching forward to take whatever item inside.

The hatch slides open.

"Oh, by the way. Happy birthday."

The echo hits him like a sock in the gut, and it jars him for a moment-- sucks him into another time, another place. But when he double-takes, Knight has pale-blond hair and cold gray eyes, and is still only a bleached picture on a glowing screen. And actually hasn't said anything, for which Six is partially glad...and yet.

It's a slice of cake that's in the airlock. A clean-cut triangular shape resting blamelessly on a dainty ceramic plate alongside a silver fork. But it's the kind of cake it is that has Six automatically lifting it out. Just the scent takes him back to an age in the war when two partners, starving and stranded in a red zone, slumped down in the kitchen of an abandoned suburban home, ravenously scarfing down what may have been their last meal.

"I would have been hurt, but you could've been killed. And now, we're both stuck here."

"Six, if we do live through this, remind me to get you a dictionary so you can look up the word 'friend'."


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