“Commander, it seems you will not have the chance to enjoy a freshly made muffin with me,” said Springfield, as she served me a piping hot muffin. She already had her rifle strapped to her back.
Because T-Dolls weren’t permitted entry into the commander’s underground office, Springfield had to wait for me upstairs. I took the muffin and smiled helplessly: “Thank you, Springfield. While I won’t have the chance now, I think I’ll have a chance later.”
“Indeed. I am looking forward to that day,” replied Springfield, adding a bow.
Springfield qualified as a perfect T-Doll both on and off the battlefield. I spaced out as I watched her turn around. For a moment, I had an illusion. I imagined her as a human as opposed to a T-Doll. I imagined her to be a cute, mischievous, composed and reliable soldier. Her back wasn’t wide. Quite to the contrary, she looked petite and fragile. I felt as though the wind would steal her if I looked away for a second… With every step she took, her flaxen hair swayed along.
“Is she communicating with me or bidding me farewell?” I wondered.
“Springfield,” I instinctively called out despite not knowing why I shouted.
“Yes, Commander,” responded Springfield, turning around to look at me with a smile.
“Mm… nothing. Stay safe… all of you.”
I paused for a second after. Springfield’s gaze on me was akin to a laser beam that heated up my face. I didn’t know what happened; all I could do was ramble useless dialogue. I hastily spun around and returned to my office. The reinforced concrete office was where I protected my emotions. I was safe in there, as Springfield wasn’t allowed in.
Springfield stood in place and gently touched her face. In a soft voice, she repeated, “Stay… safe…?”
Her emotion when she repeated the question was ambiguous. She turned around quicker than before.
I silently examined the battlefield map from my chair. Another Sangvis Ferri T-Doll was also searching for M4A1. Their T-Doll already had several encounters with Griffon’s search team. I didn’t know much about the T-Doll except that the T-Doll was frighteningly formidable and surpassed Scarecrow in combat. Griffon sent me another elite group of T-Dolls as reinforcements.
“What shall my approach be this time?” I pondered. “Sangvis Ferri and Griffon’s elites are vastly different. In saying that, they both need a command hub to coordinate their actions. Do they have humans? Who gives orders to their command centre?”
The mission’s aim was to crush Sangvis Ferri’s central command structure, specifically the T-Doll codenamed “Executioner” and its operation. Next was defeating Executioner and locating M4A1. Surprisingly, the mission felt familiar. Our last mission was the same nature except that our last opponents were drunken rioters. Since M4A1 was always being hunted, I gathered she was assigned secret missions.
“Commander, we have arrived at our destination and are on standby.”
I sat straight up and surveyed the map of the battlefields. I drew a line on it with my finger. I solemnly gave my orders: “We’re sticking to the same formation. The reinforcements will scout the place M4A1 might be at. I’ll employ the satellites to help you avoid clashing with Executioner. WA2000, you lead the team to their command centre.”
“Roger,” replied WA2000, nodding.
I had a feeling that WA2000 wasn’t happy. Springfield furtively started a call while I spaced out. Quietly, she asked, “Commander, WA2000 is not in a good mood. Do you know the reason?’
“Mm… I can tell she’s not in a good mood… I don’t know why, nevertheless…”
“Simple. Because you have rarely been around her recently. WA2000 is different to us. It might have to do with her being a new elite T-Doll, but she needs something unnecessary, namely approval. It’s pointless to T-Dolls, but it’s very important to WA2000. For that reason, you must give her a reward when she gets back.”
“Oh, sorry, I’m still new to the commander gig. What does WA2000 like, though?”
“Mm… Don’t tell anyone else, and don’t let WA2000 know. Her favourite is chocolate ice-cream. If you have time, prepare some for her. Springfield over and out.”
Umm… I plead ignorance. I sat there and thought, “T-Dolls aren’t humans, are they? Why do they need acknowledgement and encouragement? I know encouragement is incredibly important for human soldiers’ morale, but T-Dolls need morale now? One of the biggest advantages of using T-Dolls over humans is the lack of need for morale considerations. They maintain peak performance under all circumstances. Why did Griffon forsake the best advantage T-Dolls have? Aren’t war weapons supposed to prioritise effectiveness?”
I switched headphones and said, “Miss Kalina, I know this might be a tall order, but I’d like to ask you to find me some ice-cream. It’d be best if you get some of every flavour. Mm, just store them for now… thank you.”
“Oh, I will put in a request for them. It is rather sudden, but I will do what I can.”
“Thank you, Miss Kalina.”
“Can I have an ice-cream?” asked Kalina.
I rubbed my head. God forbid I comprehended how Griffon worked. They were a security company that employed T-Dolls, yet their T-Dolls replicated humans. I suddenly thought of Springfield, her flaxen long hair and gentle smile. I didn’t know why I thought of her…
“Could it be due to the smell of the muffins?” I asked myself.
I picked up a piece of the muffin and ate it. It would’ve been perfect if I had a cup of coffee from her. Anyway, it wasn’t time to be kicking back.
“M4A1, I’m coming to your rescue again.”