The first mission was over. I welcomed WA2000 and Springfield at the entrance. Springfield waved to me with a smile when she saw me. As for WA2000, she deliberately looked away… I might’ve been upset if it was my first time meeting her, but I knew that she was just shy and unwilling to admit to her feelings. I didn’t know how to handle girls. I wondered if I should encourage her to change, but I guess it I could’ve just gone along with her character.
“Commander, we pulled off a splendid victory!” jubilantly said Springfield, as she leapt over to hug me.
I failed to get out of the way in time, allowing Springfield to hug me. Her embrace was warm and gentle despite it being a light polite hug. She didn’t press her body up against mine for the record. However, her gentleness and fragrance enveloped me. Her flaxen long hair teased me.
“You were amazing, Commander!” praised Springfield.
Springfield released me. I blankly looked at her. Her gentleness and her embrace left me stunned. I couldn’t engage my brain. WA2000 yanked Springfield back by her arm and gave me a grumpy look. She shouted, “What are you thinking, Commander?! Can you be normal?! Is a mere hug enough to stupefy you?! Can you carry yourself more like a commander?! What are we going to do if you can’t pull yourself together at sudden turns?!”
I kept my gaze on Springfield in spite of what WA2000 said. Springfield looked at WA2000 with an affectionate smile. WA2000 stood akimbo and grumbled to my face. Then, she pushed a girl who was trying to hide over to me. It took me a split moment before I realised what I should do.
“Umm… you must be the commander… I will be in your care from now.”
“Oh, I’ll report your situation to headquarters, so don’t fret.”
Sten apparently got lost during a mission. As a proper commander, I wouldn’t pry into a mission that wasn’t in my hands. It wasn’t good for me to know what I shouldn’t. I turned to head back to my office after Sten nodded. However, I suddenly remembered I had something I hadn’t said. I turned back to say, “You girls should go and rest. I don’t think you’ll have any upcoming battles.”
Springfield nodded: “Oh, okay.”
WA2000, however, ran over and cut me off from my path. She raised her voice: “No! Wait! Didn’t we say that the best performer would be allowed to become the vice-commander? I need you to you to make the announcement!”
“Oh, that. Okay, well, I’ll announce it. Springfield shall be my vice-commander, while WA2000, you shall be the captain of the combat team.”
“Wait, wait, wait! Wait!”
Thank god I covered my ears in time. I thought WA2000 would unleash an ear-splitting bellow. Springfield was clearly dumbstruck, too. I guess she didn’t expect that decision. Kalina sighed and shrugged, not knowing what to say or do.
“Commander! I demand an explanation! Why?! We agreed that it would go to the best performer, so why did you choose Springfield?! Why? How did I make you dislike me?! What have I done wrong?! Tell me!”
“You didn’t, and you didn’t. WA2000, let me explain,” I said. I noticed that WA2000 was on the brink of crying, so I had to raise my voice and stop her: “It’s not because you made a mistake. To the contrary, I’m very happy with your performance on the mission. You’re certainly an elite sold-, T-Doll. This is how I see it: since you’re so excellent on the field, wouldn’t I be wasting your talents by keeping you by my side as a vice-commander? You would only be able to demonstrate your prowess at its maximum capacity in battle. That’s why I’m making you the team captain. Springfield is more suited to the role of a vice-commander.”
“I see. So, you feel that I am lacking in skill?” asked Springfield, with a smile. The issue was the smile was scary.
I saw Springfield’s bayonet tied to her thigh. I felt that I needed to do some explaining if I didn’t want the bayonet in me… If a T-Doll was a failure in combat, then… they were essentially scrap metal.
“Sorry, Springfield, it’s just… I went through your personal details, so… I think… you should have a break…”
I hesitated but decided to be forthright. I was different to other commanders. I used to share the same identity as the T-Dolls, which was why I understood how they thought and had a rough guess as to what their reactions would be. I knew they were robots, but they reacted just as humans did.
Springfield hesitated before speaking: “So, you saw it?”
“Yes,” I replied with a sincere nod. “Springfield, you’ve gone through too much already. I, therefore, have decided to keep you away from the battlefield wherever possible. Also, you would be willing to carry out some errands as my vice-commander, right?”
“Hehe,” laughed Springfield. She bowed: “I shall oblige. Today sure is my lucky day. Can you accept this arrangement, though, WA2000?’
Maybe my explanation convinced WA2000 to accept my decision; maybe it had no bearing on it. Either way, WA2000 blushed and responded, “Humph…”
WA2000 stood akimbo and looked aside: “F-Fine, then. You’re right. So, who are my team members…?”
“I’ll ask Miss Helian for more T-Dolls.”
I felt relieved to know the two accepted my decision. Kalina suddenly received a message. She overcame her hesitation and reported, “Miss Helian, what is your message…? Oh, by the way, we j-“
“The lost T-Doll? Just leave her with Strategic Area 09. That’s not what I want to talk about. Kalina, call your commander over. I have an important mission.”
“Li Wuan listening.”
“As you know, Sangvis Ferri have attacked Griffon’s Strategic Area 09 fortress many times without a word prior. Their attacks have damaged Griffon’s reputation severely. As a consequence, the brass is very concerned. Headquarters have tasked me with investigating the reason for their riot whilst suppressing the attacks. In accordance with their orders, I need you to assist me with my job.”
“But… we’ve only just completed a training session…”
“We don’t have spare hands. I trust you. If you believe there to be a problem, you can consider taking to the field yourself.”
“That was a joke, wasn’t it?! That was a joke, wasn’t it?!”