Standing behind the column, One Forty-Five peeked out momentarily to look around before retreating back. She really didn’t know if she should be here, but she couldn’t let it end like this. It had been fast and short, but it had been real to the core.
Nine appeared, loaded with two large boxes no doubt filled with her various plants. She struggled to see over the top of them as she weaved her way to the dock door.
One Forty-Five came out of hiding, moving directly towards her. Nine saw her and stopped. Clumsily she set down her luggage and turned to face her.
She brushed a bit of red hair from her face and crossed her arms, trying to show strength through her dejected expression. Her eyes, normally vibrant, seemed dull and glazed over.
One Forty-Five stopped abruptly. It had not occurred to her until now, but she had no idea what she intended to say.
Perhaps a farewell would do best.
“I wanted to say goodbye.”
“That’s what I was afraid you’d say.”
One Forty-Five had so much to say, but the sentences broke apart as soon as they formed. She started anyway.
Nine uncrossed her arms and looked at the ground, shuffling her foot slightly.
“Dr. Rich suggested that I use my pre-assimilation name, but there was too much…”
She paused for a bit, her eyes darting around the floor.
“…attached to that one. I changed the last letter. It’s not very creative, I know.”
One Forty-Five tried to force eye contact by leaning towards her a bit.
“Nina is a very good name.”
Nina looked back up at her and came dangerously close to a smirk.
“Glad you think so.”
The loudspeaker came on to announce the incoming flight.
“Transport ship USS Risis has arrived and is ready to board.”
Nina pointed back over her shoulder with her thumb.
“Guess I have to go.”
One Forty-Five moved in to embrace her, but Nina took a slow step away.
Nina fidgeted with her fingers and looked to her side as she took a few more steps back.
“It’ll hurt too much.”
One Forty-Five put her arms down. Nina walked back to her boxes, heaving them up. She turned her head back towards One Forty-Five as she climbed the few stairs to the door.
“If you change your mind, you know where I’ll be.”
As much as One Forty-Five wanted to assuage her pain, she could not. She could only bring the cold hard truth that would not leave Nina grasping for a future that will never be.
“I do not believe that will happen.”
Nina nodded sadly.
“Yeah, but a girl has to try, doesn’t she?”
She forced a smile.
“Goodbye, One Forty-Five.”
One Forty-Five stood staring at the closed door until long after the transport had gone.
Four months ago, a strange, green-eyed red-headed girl was looking at her from across the room, and today that girl was taking a piece of her away. She’d offered the ugly one-eyed drone everything she’d been missing. She’d filled in all the empty spots. And then that ugly drone threw the pretty girl away, swearing it was being done for her own good. She could not have created a machination to hurt them both any worse if she’d planned to do so from the beginning.
One Forty-Five took a deep breath, relieving the pain momentarily as she turned to head back to her quarters. Her failings as a lover would need to be the subject for lament another day, however. There was a war to start.