I took a deep breath, and then grabbed the rope in front of me. I swiftly descended once I heard the high-pitched bell ring. As soon as I landed on the ground, I gunned down three. Then, I threw a flash grenade into a room before storming in and swiftly gunning down the enemies within… Finally, I exited from the end point.
I panted gently as I tried to bring my heart rate under control. I reloaded my gun with a new magazine. Next, I looked up at the time on a digital screen. I did my absolute best in the close-quarters combat simulation. Although I was several seconds slower than at my peak, the time it took was still the highest score in the human military. Afterwards, I discovered that I couldn’t beat the top score despite over a dozen attempts. The top spot belonged to Springfield.
Springfield was trained in close-quarters combat and only once, apparently. One training session was all it took for her to exceed me in countless facets. I tried countless times and used every trick up my sleeve in attempts to surpass her, but my best time was still one second slower than hers.
One second might’ve sounded very short on paper. In reality, that meant Springfield would shoot me down a second quicker on the battlefield. In other words, she’d prevail against me on the battlefield. Though I managed to take down Executioner, I was only able to, as I caught her with a surprise attack. I had first-hand experience fighting the robots face-to-face, and I lost.
I rubbed my head. Perhaps my brain didn’t like me moving around so much and vigorously while a bullet fragment was lodged in there. I went back to the entrance. When I wanted to grab a drink, I found my canteen missing. It was replaced with a cup of hot coffee and freshly made cookies. I looked behind to see Springfield standing in silence. She wore a subtle smile and held onto a towel. The early morning sun shone onto her, giving her flaxen hair a splayed and soft visual texture. She radiated the entrancing glow of an angel.
Springfield noticed me looking at her. She jogged over to me and held her hand out with a smile: “You have worked hard, Commander. Wipe your sweat, and let us have breakfast together.”
I couldn’t look at Springfield’s bright smile for some reason. I looked away and picked up my cup of coffee for a drink, albeit in a flustered manner. Sadly, I accidently burnt my tongue due to not cooling it first. I spat it out and coughed intensely. Springfield gently helped me wipe my face. With a smile, she said, “Do not rush, Commander. Do not burn yourself.”
“Mm…” I smiled embarrassingly.
Springfield held a cookie up to my face with a gentle smile: “How about trying a cookie I just baked? I am very confident in its taste.”
I went to grab the cookie, but Springfield quickly pulled it back before I could. Smiling, she said, “You just handled a gun. You have the smell of smoke on your hand. I will be angry if you get the smell on my freshly baked cookies. Here, Commander, Aaahh.”
I was dumbfounded. Springfield was polite, but her smile told me she wasn’t going to let me touch it, and she forced me to open my mouth. I juddered and slowly opened my mouth. I kept reminding myself Springfield wasn’t human, and her white and slender fingers used to fire guns were wrapped in fake skin. However, my heart raced. I went red in the face despite not touching her finger. I think my face was hotter than the coffee.
Springfield asked, “How is it, Commander? Nice?”
“Mm… Is it…” Truth be told, I only tasted Springfield.
Springfield picked up another cookie for herself. She slowly sucked her fingers in front of me. I wasn’t sure if she did that on purpose. She then picked up the cup of coffee I drank from and drank from it.
I thought to myself, “So, this is what breakfast together meant?”
“You are the first commander I have seen train here in the morning. I never expected to find a commander here,” said Springfield, sporting a caring smile. “What are you thinking? You are a very odd commander. You choose to personally go to the battlefield and undertake training that is completely pointless for you in spite of your injuries. You have also challenged the record countless times just to beat mine, right? Why do you want to set a new record? You should already be aware that we are T-Dolls, not h-“
“Humans could defeat you, no?” I asked with a helpless smile. I scratched my head: “I know that; I always have. Regardless, I still don’t want to be resigned to it… I remember taking part in a job where people disputed sending T-Dolls and robots into battle. Some were of the opinion that humans were more dependable and controllable than robots. Some contended T-Dolls were far superior to humans and budget friendly. As a result, they had our team and a team of newly produced T-Dolls undertake a test. At the time, I was over a second faster than the best T-Doll.”
I still vividly remembered that event. All of the professionals and researchers were so smug, but robots were robots at the end of the day. Our pride as elites was in our hands. Nobody could replace us or undermine our honour and glory. Nowadays, though, I was still slower than Springfield by a second even when trying my best. Even worse, she wasn’t even the best. Worded differently, I was bound to be replaced by T-Dolls on the present battlefields even if I was at my peak.
“How many years has it been for us to already be abandoned by the era?” I wondered.
I knew that people were bound to be abandoned by the time. I just never thought I’d be one of time’s victims. I told myself over and over that the times had changed. I told myself I had to accept my fate. I was no longer a soldier, but a commander working at a security company. When I witnessed the T-Dolls complete mission after mission, however, it didn’t sit well with me.
“It was always my team in the past. I could complete missions back in the day, as well… Why…?” I questioned.
“There is no reason for you to push yourself that way. You are human, one that we T-Dolls sincerely respect,” said Springfield, picking up another cookie. The cookie was for herself. She continued: “Four years ago, I witnessed your courage and agility. The truth is that all of the movement commands installed in me came from you.”
No, I didn’t get to explicate the thought, for Springfield leaned in and kissed me on the lips with the warmth and gentleness of a human. My mind went blank. I never thought my first kiss would go to Springfield. She gently pressed her hand on my chest and passed the cookie in her mouth into mine…
It was a short and sweet kiss. She shifted back a little. Perhaps not getting hot flushes was one of the features of T-Dolls. She gently touched her lips and smiled: “How was it, Commander? Was the cookie nice?”
I forgot to give a reaction and didn’t see the purple figure zipping past the door, either…