Mericus woke up, feeling disoriented. His thoughts were hazy, his human eye still unable to see properly. He rose from the bed and checked his unfamiliar surroundings. He was in a dimly lit bedroom, a woman’s bedroom as he could tell from the abundance of female garments hastily thrown on the chair right across the bed. That was his only hint though, as the rest of the room was empy, save from the bed, the chair and the small desk, on which a laptop was still functioning.

His instincts were telling him that he was in danger, yet at the same time, he had a feeling of security. Such a contradictory state always unnerved him. He stood up and it was then that he realised he had been undressed. He looked around for his clothes but he found nothing. His exposure made him slightly more worried, and just to add to the embarassment, he heard steps approaching, and seconds later, a knock on the door.

“Are you awake? I’ve brought your clothes. They were a mess, so I had them washed. I’ll give them to you” he heard a woman’s voice from outside.

“Who are you? Where am I?” was all that he could say. The woman giggled.

“Are you afraid, Master Mericus?” she asked playfully.

“I never liked talking to strangers” Mericus responded.

“Very well. I am Laura. You know, the one in the video. Do you want me to tell you more from out here, or would you rather have a civilized conversation with your clothes on?”

His face turned red. “Fine. I would like to be dressed, if you don’t mind.”

“What a shame” Laura said, and she opened the door. Mericus reached down, in order to cover himself, but her face was turned the other way. He saw her auburn hair flowing down to her waist, were a belt was tied, and a gun was strapped on it. He approached with caution and grabbed his robe and clothes. After he was dressed up, he walked towards her.

“So, you are ready. Come, let’s sit outside. It is, after all, a very nice evening.”

Mericus followed Laura through the narrow corridor that led to the living room. He quickly noticed that it was just as empty as her bedroom, with few furniture crammed against the wall, all full with papers, hard drives and minidisks. It was an untidy place, yet he could understand that, her being an assassin set to kill a Governor, she wouldn’t have the time to clean the place up.

They reached the balcony, and she turned to face him for the first time. The left half of her face was covered with a strand of her hair. The rest was pale, overtoning her dark red lips. Her bright yellow eye was reading his expressions with amusement. She was smiling, yet it was not an encouraging smile. She pointed to a chair, as she sat on the other.

“So, I guess you must have a lot of questions. Like, where you are, why are you here, all the usual, boring ones. Before you say anything, I have to tell you that I am not an enemy. I will not hurt you, unless you betray what I am about to say. Do you understand?”

“I do” Mericus responded, his eyes catching a quick glimpse of her gun.

“Very well. Now, I will explain to you why Caius, the Governor of Mars, must die. Also, why your Archmechanic must die too. There will be a lot of blood in the upcoming clash, Mericus, but in the end it will benefit us all.”

“How could bloodshed and murder bring anything good in return? You are a lunatic! Kill the Archmechanic! I will not let you!” Mericus roared and stood up. Laura calmly reached for her gun and pointed it at him. With a nod, he sat back down.

“You do not understand. The Orthodoxy must fall, Mericus. For the sake of mankind, it must be destroyed. If we do nothing, humanity as we know it shall perish. Enslavement, that’s our future. Unless we destroy the Order.”

“What are you talking about? It was the Order that brought balance to the world! Thanks to the Order, mankind was able to colonize the entire Galaxy! We were saved because of the First Archmechanic!”

“Indoctrination is the enemy of reason. You don’t know the whole story. You don’t know about Caius’ plot. The Empire is in danger, and its enemy is the Order” Laura replied impatiently. “Shut your trap, open your ears, and all will be clear soon!”



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