Stare
rating: +184+x

"ORDERS," the Integrator asked.

"LOOK AT THIS OBJECT," its counterpart replied.

"ACKNOWLEDGED."

There was silence for a long time, then. Integrators were not long on conversation. But having once been human, some discussion was inevitable.

"WHAT IS THE OBJECT TOWARDS WHICH OUR ATTENTION IS DIRECTED," one Integrator asked.

"DETAILS UNKNOWN. IT IS IMMOBILIZED FOR NOW," came the reply.

"HOW DID IT COME TO BE IN THE FOREST."

"DETAILS UNKNOWN. IT IS HERE NOW."

Another long silence. The mechanisms within the Integrators would be referred to in another universe as "solid state," so there was little sound coming from the biomechanical implants. Many woodland creatures uttered an assortment of noises that had meaning to them, but unless and until they posed a threat to the two quasi-human soldiers, their cries went unnoticed. The beings continued to look at the object.

"WHY ARE WE REQUIRED TO CONTINUE LOOKING AT THE OBJECT CEASELESSLY."

"DETAILS UNKNOWN. LEGION NINE COMMAND BELIEVES IT IS INCAPABLE OF MOVEMENT WHEN OBSERVED."

A rustling came from the woods behind them. Both Integrators rotated their arms to face their guns in that direction, without turning their heads or bodies. Both now spoke in unison.

"THIS AREA SECURED BY LEGION NINE CENTURY SIXTY-FIVE INTEGRATOR SQUADRON THREE. IDENTIFY YOURSELF."

"Decurion Kleisthenes, authorization gamma-omicron nine six five delta kappa. Release command to me." The decurion was fairly sure there wasn't enough human left in the Integrators to recognize a bored tone of voice when they heard it.

"AUTHORIZATION ACCEPTED," the Integrators chimed. "READY TO ACCEPT NEW ORDERS."

"Stand by while construction of containment facility is carried out. Do not act against the laborers. Secure area against attack or observation by unauthorized personnel. Contain unknown entity. Protect laborers from attack. Acknowledge."

"NEW ORDERS ACKNOWLEDGED: SECURE, CONTAIN, PROTECT."

"Very good. Advance the Greater Reason."

"ADVANCE ORDER."

The decurion hoped the Integrators didn't see him shiver as he walked away. Twenty Class III Builders dragged a wagon (use of higher technology being unnecessary for such work) carrying bricks and mortar up to where the Integrators watched the anomaly. They removed their tools and began to work.

The Integrators continued to look. Even biomechanical alterations couldn't keep the events of this day from seeming…odd.

"I AM FORCED TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE UNUSUAL NATURE OF THIS ASSIGNMENT."

"I AM NOT EXPERIENCING ANY SUCH COMPULSION AT THIS TIME."

"REANALYSIS: I AM PRESENTLY FORMING CONNECTIONS BETWEEN THE EVENT TRANSPIRING AT THIS TIME AND MANY EVENTS OF A SIMILARLY UNUSUAL NATURE IN RECENT MONTHS."

"WHILE IRRELEVANT, THIS IS INTRIGUING. PRESENT YOUR EVIDENCE."

"FIFTY-THREE DAYS PREVIOUSLY: LEGION COMMAND DETECTED AN UNUSUAL SPIKE IN RADIOSTATIC INTERFERENCE CONSISTENT WITH INCREASED COUNTERFORM REACTION IN SYLVANOS. FIFTY-TWO DAYS PREVIOUSLY: SIX MEMBERS OF LEGION NINE CENTURY TWENTY TWO INTEGRATOR SQUADRON ONE RECYCLED DUE TO MASSIVE PHYSICAL TRAUMA CONSISTENT WITH CLOSE-QUARTERS COMBAT WITH A PREVIOUSLY UNKNOWN ORGANISM INCLINED TOWARDS MASTICATORY INJURY. POSSIBLY REPTILIAN IN NATURE. UNKNOWN ORIGIN."

"ONE INSTANCE DEMONSTRATED. CONTINUE."

"THIRTY-NINE DAYS PREVIOUSLY: SIMILAR RADIOSTATIC INTERFERENCE DETECTED. THIRTY-EIGHT DAYS PREVIOUSLY: LEGION NINE CENTURY TWELVE INTEGRATOR SQUADRON SIXTEEN IS RECYCLED."

"WHAT PORTION WAS RECYCLED."

"THE ENTIRETY OF THE SQUADRON. REPORTS FILED BY CENTURY TWELVE COMMAND CLAIMED THAT ALL TWENTY INTEGRATORS BEGAN ACTING UNUSUALLY DUE TO EXPOSURE TO AN UNKNOWN OBJECT. SEVERAL INTEGRATORS ATTEMPTED TO FORCIBLY INGEST BREAD THROUGH THEIR ENERGY REPOPULATION CHAMBERS, WHILE OTHERS EXPOSED THEMSELVES TO ELECTRICAL CURRENTS IN THE BELIEF THAT THEY HAD BECOME OBJECTS INTENDED TO PREPARE BREAD FOR CONSUMPTION."

"HOW IS IT THAT THIS INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE."

"IT IS NOT INTENDED TO BE AVAILABLE TO INTEGRATORS. I WAS SUCCESSFUL IN ACQUIRING THESE DATA IN SPITE OF EFFORTS TO PREVENT THIS."

"THIS IS A PROHIBITED ACT."

"YES."

The two Integrators were silent for several minutes while the Class III workers continued building.

"THERE IS A PATTERN BETWEEN ENERGY SPIKES IN SYLVANOS AND ANOMALOUS EVENTS IN THE SAME REGION."

"THIS DOES SEEM TO BE THE CASE."

"ADDITIONALLY, THESE EVENTS CORRELATE WITH THE DEPURPOSING OR RECYCLING OF MULTIPLE INTEGRATORS USED TO GAIN CONTROL OVER THESE EVENTS."

"LIKEWISE CORRECT."

"I AM FORCED TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT WE ARE INTEGRATORS THAT HAVE BEEN USED TO GAIN CONTROL OVER AN ANOMALOUS EVENT."

"I FEEL NO SUCH COMPULSION BUT CONCUR WITH YOUR ANALYSIS."

"I AM FORCED TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT A BRICK BUILDING IS BEING CONSTRUCTED AROUND THIS ANOMALOUS OBJECT."

"I FEEL NO SUCH COMPULSION BUT CONCUR WITH YOUR ANALYSIS."

"I AM FORCED TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT WE ARE WITHIN THE PERIMETER OF THIS BUILDING."

"I CONCUR WITH YOUR ANALYSIS."

The Integrators were silent for a long time, at least several hours. The workers were completing the construction of the building.

"INTEGRATORS ARE INTENDED TO BE UNFAMILIAR WITH THE CONCEPT OF PLEASURE," one Integrator said.

"THIS IS CORRECT."

"IT IS EVIDENTLY POSSIBLE TO BYPASS THE INTENTIONS OF OUR BUILDERS."

"THIS IS CORRECT."

"IT HAS BEEN A PLEASURE SERVING WITH YOU."

"I FEEL SIMILARLY."

"SHALL WE USE OUR WEAPONS TO ATTEMPT TO DESTROY THE ENTITY OR DEPURPOSE OURSELVES."

"I SUGGEST THE FORMER. IT MAY SERVE AS VALUABLE INFORMATION FOR OUR BUILDERS."

"IT IS POSSIBLE THAT DEPURPOSING OURSELVES WILL AVOID TREMENDOUS PAIN SHOULD THIS ENTITY BE INCLINED TO INJURE US. ARE WE STILL TRULY OBLIGATED TO OUR BUILDERS TO SUCH AN EXTENT THAT WE SHOULD SUFFER FOR THEM BEFORE WE DIE FOR THEM."

"WE ARE."

"VERY WELL. COMMENCE FIRE IN THREE SECONDS."

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