Kalina tapped me on the shoulder. Wearing a smile, she said, “What is the matter, Commander? You look out of sorts. You need to organise the new team today. The first impression you give them is very important.”
Kalina was right. I was absentminded. I removed my hand from my lips.
“What’s the matter with me today…? D-Did Springfield kiss me…? Why…? Why did she kiss me…? Sh-She’s a T-Doll, isn’t she? Isn’t she a T-Doll? Why did she do that? Why was an emotional component added to a T-Doll? What was the intent of her kiss…? W-Was it love…?” I wondered.
I carefully glanced over to Springfield. She was smiling gently as always while awaiting the new members Griffon sent to us.
“Could kissing be meaningless to T-Dolls or…? Well, I guess it would be. She’s served under countless commanders. She might… might… I… Stop, stop. I’ll ask; I’ll just ask…” I said to myself.
“Commander…” called M4A1.
I reacted surprised as I turned to look at M4A1, who stood next to me with her head down. I remembered she was Team AR’s leader. She was more confident and mature the first time I rescued her.
“How come she’s so timid now just two months later?” I pondered.
I asked, “What’s wrong, M4A1. Have you contacted your squad members?”
I couldn’t directly contact Team AR’s members. They were under Persica’s 16Lab’s jurisdiction. Only M4A1 could contact the scattered team members. At the same time, the members of Team AR didn’t reach out for fear of Sangvis Ferri finding them. Only M4A1 could contact them on her frequency. Judging from her reaction, she must’ve reached them.
“Mm, I… I contacted two of them… Commander… Please help me get to this location. We have agreed to meet here… I know you are waiting for the new members to arrive… but… but… this is urgent…. Without them, I can still go.”
Although M4A1 was Team AR’s leader, I couldn’t help feeling that she was actually a very weak T-Doll… Maybe that was attributed to me saving her twice…
I nodded: “I can’t let you go alone. Springfield, you stay behind. You, WA2000, Sten and Skorpion will go and rescue your members. We’ll wait for the new T-Dolls here.”
I turned around to see Kalina looking astonished. I said, “Kalina, wait for the new team here. I’m going to go lead M4A1’s squad’s operation.”
WA2000 hastily walked over and carried out the order. Unlike in the past, she didn’t give me any reaction. I saw the corner of her eyes looking a tad red when she passed by me.
“Do T-Dolls cry?” I questioned.
“Commander, is there anything I need to do?” Springfield yelled in my ear, consequently frightening me.
I hastily turned around to see her face right in front of mine. Embarrassed and feeling as though my face was burning, I looked away. Feeling awkward, I gripped my clothes and dryly chuckled: “N-Nothing. I’m going to the commander’s office. Springfield, you help Miss Kalina out. I-I’m going now, yeah…”
I left as fast as if I was running from a bomb. I could probably beat my record in the close-quarters combat simulation if I was this quick during my run.
Despite being slow, Kalina caught onto something. She nervously gulped and cautiously asked, “Umm, Miss Springfield… did something happen between you and Commander?”
Springfield seemed gleeful to see her commander run off. She gave Kalina a smile: “No, nothing.”
“Y-You’re hiding something, aren’t you…?”
“Is it so wrong for me to express my affection to the man I like?” asked Springfield, fixing her hair at the same time.
Kalina was rendered speechless. She carefully looked aside. Furtively, she asked, “Wh-What about Miss WA2000…? Y-You know she likes the commander, right…? I-I thought you would not like your commanders… as you did in the past…”
“He’s not my former commander. I’m no longer my past self, either. Moreover, why can’t I like Commander if WA2000 does?”
“Umm… I… am not in a position to judge your romances… but I hope that, mm, your conflicts do not affect the command centre’s peace or your performance on the battlefield…”
“We’re T-Dolls We won’t let our emotions get in the way,” replied Springfield, accompanying a nod.
Springfield continued standing there eloquently and calmly. Kalina checked her watch. The new team should’ve arrived already; they were late. Kalina actually knew the team. The commander wouldn’t know anything about them. Only the highest-ranked members of Griffon knew of their existence and deeds.
As their name suggested, Team 404 was a non-existent squad.
I sat in the commander office. Technically, I paced back and force in the office. My mind was all over the place. I couldn’t calm down to focus on the map. I wondered if I was too abrasive back there with Springfield. I wondered if I should’ve been nicer to her. At the end of the day, she mustered up her courage; I could make her feel sad if I ran away.
“What am I supposed to view her as? A-Am I supposed to accept her? She’s a T-Doll…” I thought to myself.
“Commander,” called M4A1, frightening me again.
I quickly sat up and wore on the headphones. I took a deep breath and concentrated on the map. The location M4A1 and her squad agreed to rendezvous at was on the map. M4A1 reported, “Commander, we will head toward the destination. Please help us avoid confrontations with Sangvis Ferri’s inspection stations.”
“Copy that. Just follow my orders.”