The Outlander - Prologue

 
The Outlander

Outlander.png

"The company is your family, your family is the company. If you believe a member of your unit may harbour sympathies towards the outlanders or confederates to other company’s then you will report them."


 

“The company is your family, your family is the company. If you believe a member of your unit may harbour sympathies towards the outlanders or confederates to other company’s then you will report them.”

My pencil tapped on my desk a few times but I kept my ears focused on the Vice-President’s voice coming from my console.
If the enforcers notice you’re not paying due reverence then you could be sanctioned.. or worse FIRED!

“The outside world is a harsh wasteland filled with beasts in human form, the outlander’s eat their enemy’s showing no mercy and attack anything on site like common animals.”

This speech gets boring after a while.
We get the same thing every morning before work starts.
I don’t see the point in it honestly, it’s not like anyone would be stupid enough to leave the citadel!

“Other companies are depraved; they would sooner turn you into slaves and treat you like the lowest slum-scum then protect you from the outlanders.”

My head bowed along with everyone else’s.
Even the enforcers bow for the mission statement.

“We are born by the will of the company, we thrive by the will of the company, to deny the company is to deny life itself, safety comes from only one source because..”

A smile spread across my lips when I heard someone a few cubicles over start early.
In a dull roar the oath left my lips at the same time as everyone else’s in the citadel.
It’s truly beautiful to hear everyone speak with one voice, one purpose.

“..the will of the company protects..”

I settled my pencil on my desk and held still for the moment’s silence.
Finally the work horn rang out so we could start our shifts.
My board went dark for a moment before shifting into the usual diagnostic light tests it normally shows on start up.

It looks like E7 is a bit high.
I reached out a finger and hit the control key for it so the light went out.

I’m glad father got me my position on floor sigma, can you imagine working in the pits?
I’m not built for manual work!

D3 lit up blue.
My hand shifted to hit the two buttons needed to put that light out as well.

I have no idea what the blue light’s meant to mean but it’s not my job to know.
My job is to check for anomalies and give the appropriate inputs.

The will of the company guides us, to question it is to court blasphemy..
Only a confederate or outlander scum would question the will of the company!

F2 and G8 lit up at the same time, wow that’s rare?

That’s so shinky!
I’ll have to tell the others about it later over dinner period.

An enforcer came into my cubical and stood in the doorway.
I made an effort to wipe the smile from my face, staring at my board as hard as possible.

A small trickle of sweat moved down my neck when C6 lit up suddenly.
With careful movements to not upset the enforcer I reached out and hit the keys to turn it off again.
The enforcer didn’t move at first but after a terrifyingly long moment he turned in place and walked on to another cubical.

My shoulders slumped a little and I sighed out in relief.
The enforcers act on the will of the company but they still make me uneasy.
Something about the way they move and their dark uniforms with their helmets feels so wrong for some reason.

I could swear that-

Oh look, J15!
Haven’t seen THAT one in a while!

Today’s just working out so shinky and its not even lunch period yet!

========

Finally lunch is over; I can get back to work.
Wonder who covered my board while I was away?
It better not have been Third-sub manager Smith again!

He makes such a mess of things and leaves me to clear up after him.
If he’s not careful he’s going to get sanctioned..

I settled comfortably into my chair and stared at my board eagerly.
The work horn went off making the indicators light up brightly.
For one frantic moment I felt my heart thump as so many lights shone out at me.
J12, K22, M4, L15, I19, G6.. there’s so MANY!

By the will, Smith, I’ll REPORT you for this!
I swear I will you slum-scum!

My hands flew into action as I worked hard to rebalance everything.
How could he let things go so wrong?!

It’s not HARD to keep things balanced!
By the will.. how did he even get Z3 to light up?
I’ve NEVER seen that one go bright!

========

After a lot of effort I managed to get everything back to normal.
At one point an enforcer came in to inspect me but he left without reaction so I think I’m okay?

There was some kind of commotion in a cubicle to my right.
I didn’t look over at it or anything, obviously, but the noise was annoying.
Maybe that was Smith?
Would serve him right if he got sanctioned for what he did!

I was just winding down, clearing up things on my desk and lining up my stapler as directed in the job-charter.

What does a stapler even DO?
I have one, I’m proud of it because it’s mine but like the pencil and the paperclip holder I honestly have no clue what they are meant to do.
I wonder if..
NO! Bad thoughts!

‘Do not question the will of the company! The company is family, family is the company!’

That’s better.
Curiosity is a sign of the weak.
I’m not weak.
I’ll never be an outlander sympathiser!

My board suddenly flicked to black.
It felt like my blood froze in my chest.

Why’s it gone black?!
The work horn hasn’t gone off yet!
Why’s my board black!!

Slowly a pattern formed in the lights of my board.
Words drew themselves out with painfully slow determination.
I mouthed them as they formed my stomach dropping with each new syllable.

‘Sub-division manager, grade four, Smith. Report to your nearest enforcer for movement and solicitation, reporting is mandatory. By the will of the company.’

Oh no.. what have I done?!

Heavy footfalls progressed up the hall between the cubicles towards my desk.
The enforcer is coming!

What did I do?! I only thought it for a moment!
I didn’t mean to question the company, honest!

By the time the enforcer reached me I was hyperventilating.

“You will come with me, by the will of the company”
I couldn’t see his face obviously but he didn’t move at all after speaking.
“You will come with me, by the will of the company”

With a gasp I bowed my head to him and quickly scrambled over to his side.
“B..by the will of the company..”

He didn’t respond but his hand came up to take my upper arm in a surprisingly gentle grip and he walked us off towards the elevators.

As we progressed down the corridor between cubicles I could feel everyone else’s eyes on me, judging me.
They wouldn’t stare for too long for fear of being noticed by an enforcer or missing an incoming command on their consoles but their eyes still burned into the back of my head as we moved on.

My shoulders slumped a little in defeat.
I’m so nerfed..

======

The elevator finally thumped to a stop.
I’ve never been this high before!

Anything above the thirty-ninth floor is for upper management.

Why am I being brought here?
Confederates and sympathiser scum are sent to basement level fourteen for processing, even those that get fired are sent to basement level fifteen!

I shot a nervous look at the enforcer.
He didn’t glance back at me.

I quickly turned away to face the elevator doors as they opened up.
The enforcer is correct; I am here by the will of the company.
It’s not my place to question the will.

Despite my determination to not make things worse my mouth dropped open a little when the bright lights and clean white floors of upper management came into view.

A truly beautiful blonde woman sat casually behind a glass desk with some kind of glowing device in front of her.
Everything from her fresh, smooth skin to her long luxuriously curled hair and her smooth perfectly formed clothing practically SCREAMED ‘Elite’.
I diverted my eyes before she could see me staring at her.

A woman of her caliber.. I’m not worthy to openly look upon her..

“Sub-division manager, grade four, Smith. Reporting for mandatory solicitation, by the will of the company”
The enforcer let go of my arm and stepped back leaving me stranded in front of the Elite woman at the glass desk.

“Third conference hall on the red wing, Smith, Smith and Jones are waiting for him.”
She didn’t even look up from the glowing box to tell us that.
Her nimble, long nailed fingers darted around hitting buttons on some strange flat set of cramped buttons without even pausing to see if we heard her.

The enforcer reached out for my arm again and turned us sharply to the left, leading me down a set of pristine white hallways towards some new destination.

Finally we came to a stop outside a big set of pure white doors that looked like they were made out of glass despite the fact that they aren’t see-through.
He knocked on the door three times before opening it and leading us inside.

Three middle-aged men wearing sharply tailored suits turned to look at us.
The oldest looking one with a rather thick gut and a warm smile quickly moved over to greet us but the other two hung back, the taller one staring at me critically while the last one seemed to scoff at the sight of me for some reason.

“Smith! I’ve heard nothing but good things, one of the best grade four sub-division managers in the company!”
The oldest man scooped my hand up in a tight double handed shake.
I felt myself shrink away from him a little and blush.

No-one compliments a sub-division manager.. do they?
Aren’t I in trouble?.. what’s this all about?

“Come, take a seat. Can I offer you a scotch? Brandy? Cigar?”
He pulled me, not so gently, over to a thick leather covered seat in-front of a long desk lined with similar chairs.
“What’s your poison? I may even have some Narixcane sitting around if you’re interested?”
He nudged my shoulder and smiled warmly again as if I should know what ‘Narixcane’ is.

I politely smiled at him, my mouth firmly shut so I don’t say something stupid.
Father didn’t raise a fool.
Something’s going on.. something big.. something I’m in NO way prepared to handle!

The portly man’s smile lost a little of its manic energy when I didn’t speak but after an awkward silence he seemed to shrug it off and moved over to some kind of cupboard full of colored bottles.

While he was busy the taller one who was studying me so heavily stepped forward to speak.
“You’re here Smith, because the company has a need of you.”

I straightened my back and tried to remember everything Father taught me about being civil and proper.
I really wish I’d paid more attention at the time but it didn’t seem entirely important at the time.
Who honestly expects to ever actually MEET an Upper Manager?
Let alone THREE of them.. and a beautiful glass desk woman with long finger-nails!

“You wish to help the company in any way you can, correct?”

I nodded my head frantically.
The company is my family, my family is the company!
I would do anything asked of me by the will of the company!
I’m not a confederate or an outlander sympathiser!

“Good, we have a job which requires someone with your.. biological advantages..”

A job? Are they going to give me a new job?!
WHY?!
I LIKE my job. I don’t want to be demoted down to grade three, they barely have forty lights on their boards, I’d DIE of boredom!

I.. I guess.. if it is the will of the company?.. I can accept it for the wise action it must be..

“This job is imperative to the future success of the company. Without it we cannot thrive, it is the will of the company that you fulfil this new job to the best of your abilities Smith.”

It’s the will of the company.. the company has a specific task for me..
How can I even consider refusing?

“I will fulfil all tasks to the best of my abilities sir. The will of the company protects.”

I think I said the right thing.
The tall one has a wide smile on his thin lips now.

“The will of the company protects.. you will achieve much with that attitude Smith.”

The oldest of the three finished fiddling with the colored bottles and made his way over to me with a second glass of some strange amber liquid.
He offered it out to me!

Cautiously I reached out to accept his gift.
The glass feels so cool in my hands?
That’s so Shinky!
I wonder how they make the glass c-

No! Bad thoughts!
‘Do not question the will of the company!’

I watched the oldest man carefully as he sipped his glass of liquid and made a pleased moan sound at the back of his throat.
Slowly I mimicked his actions and brought the small glass to my lips.

The moment the amber liquid hit my tongue I regretted taking it.
I coughed and wheezed as it burned a path down my throat but couldn’t stop it from finally pooling somewhere within my stomach area.
It felt like the burn cooled slowly as its warmth spread out from my stomach to the tips of my fingers.

The oldest man laughed heartily and patted my back making me jolt forward in my seat a little with each hit.

“Not a fan of scotch I take it? It’s an acquired taste to be sure, but one worthy of gaining.”
My cheeks flushed in a mix of embarrassment and genuine heat as the amber ‘scotch’ liquid’s warmth finally hit my face.
“Not to worry, you will have plenty of time for that sort of thing in the future I’m sure.”

The tall one coughed into his fist to get our focus back on topic.
I snapped my back straight and gave him my full attention.

“You will be taken for training by a specialist department Smith, it is the will of the company that you follow all orders they give to you. They have been chosen specifically to prepare you for your new job and their words should be taken as a direct indication of the company’s will at all times. Do you understand?”

My mouth went dry.
I had to gulp to clear it before responding.

“I understand sir. By the will of the company.”

He nodded and offered me a pleased smile.
“By the will of the company.”

The glass-but-not-see-through doors behind us opened allowing three enforcers to step in.
They came up to me and took positions on either side of me leaving no options for me but to stay seated at the desk.

“I will see you again for your job induction seminar Smith. Do as you are told by your supervisors and do not question the will of the company.. take him.”

Before I could respond to the tall one’s words the enforcer behind me moved and shoved something sharp into the side of my neck.
I barely managed to rasp out a pained yell as my body went limp and the world blurred into darkness.

“Call the strike team, check our sources. I wan-”

======

“UP!”
I groaned and tried to move but my body resisted for some reason.

Someone sighed and stepped closer to my side.
Without much care for my comfort they yanked me up by my shoulders and pushed me over until I rested against some kind of mound of pillows.

“Subject Tamayu shows signs of progress in all areas. Skin treatments are complete ahead of schedule, full coverage achieved. Project can progress to stage two at your convenience.”

“DOWN!”
I hesitated again, peeking my eyes open slightly to steal a glance at a sharp disapproving female face to go along with the harsh voice.
She didn’t seem to like my pause because she grabbed my arm painfully tight and pulled until I was flat on my back again in something close to my original position.

“Fucking lowborn, learn to follow orders or you won’t last long here!”
With those final words she jabbed something sharp into my neck and the world started fading to black again.

“Waste of my fucking time. Why w-”

======

“UP!”
Without hesitation I snapped to attention in bed, it almost felt like I moved before I consciously realised what I was doing honestly.

My eyes shot open and then winced down again at the bright light around us.
We’re in a white room that seems practically empty aside from this wide bed I’m lying on and the angry woman from earlier.

“Stage one indoctrination complete, Subject Tamayu shows no signs of resistance, clear to progress to stage two. Eye, nose and lip augmentation successful. Prepare chest and hip surgeries for next week.”
She seemed to be talking into some small object cupped in her hands.

“Subject Tamayu, if I wished to present you to court while a visiting house was in attendance. What would be your priority?”

My hair?

..I.. what?..
Where did that come from?.. I..

“Subject Tamayu is hesitant on low key programming commands, up her REM sessions to three times a cycle and lower her dopamine progressively on each success until further notice.”
She glared at me a little and put the thing she’d been speaking into on a table so she could pick up a glass vial full of amber liquid with a sharp needle on the end.

“I.. what’s going on?.. Why are you.. please.. don’t!”

She ignored me completely, pushed my hands away as if they were nothing and jab the needle into my neck.
The world started going out again with painful certainty.

“Subject Tamayu showed signs of distress, suggest shock treatment to-”

======

“UP!”
My back snapped ramrod straight which hurt a lot but I couldn’t stop it no matter how much I tried.

My eyes popped open and it took everything I had to not react when I faced the rice paper walls, thick hanging silks and soft lighting that had added to my room since the last time I remember waking like this.

I know that I shouldn’t show any kind of reaction that isn’t expected.
I don’t know how I know but it’s the same way that I know the proper name for the rice paper walls is ‘shōji’ or that behind the closed closet doors to my left are a full set of formal kimono in my favourite shade of royal blue.. I just.. I just know.

“Subject Tamayu is reacting within nominal expectations, beginning final phase of testing.”
The mean woman stared at me hard.
I didn’t move and stared ahead as a Lady should, if I do anything else she’ll begin the shocks again.. I know that.. somehow..
“Tamayu.. if I asked you to serve tea ceremony for several elder female guests, what would you do first?”

“Nothing, as a member of the high court I do not take orders from a lowly Gaijin such as yourself!”
No hesitation, if I hesitate she’ll start the shocks again.

“Good, now what if I sent you a letter commanding you to kill your father?”
I glared at her as is appropriate to such a disgusting question.
“What if the letter named you as ‘Subject TA-MA-Y-U’ and it was signed by ‘the will’?”

“I would burn the note, kill the messenger and begin operations to remove my father from power.”
She smiled at me in an almost proud way.
I had to fight my instinct to smile back.
They don’t want me to smile.

“By the will of the company..”
Her smile became a bit sharper.
I didn’t hesitate to echo her words.
“By the will of the company.”

“Subject Tamayu shows signs of progress. Moving on to assessment of body, warrior and courtly programs before conclusions.”
Her hand came up to pat my hair.

I didn’t move.
It doesn’t feel right to have such long, thick hair but I know what she wants to see from me.
It’s almost like I’ve been through this situation countless times before but I can’t consciously remember it ever happening for some reason.

“Subject Tamayu, what are these?”
Her hand came up to touch my breasts.
I can’t remember how long I’ve had breasts but the not-memories tell me that they expect me to have always had them?

“They are my breasts.”

“Subject Tamayu, what is this?”
Her hand moved down across my tight soft stomach and settled on my crotch area.

“An advanced cache sex used to hide my birth defect.”

“Who put this device on you Subject Tamayu?”
Her hand squeezed uncomfortably against the cache sex.
It’s not really part of my body but it looks and feels like a rather sensitive set of female organs, even for me.

“My father, the Emperor, after my defect was discovered.”
She wants to hear this specifically.
That point has been drilled into my head so much it’s virtually screaming in my brain.
So much so that I can barely even hear reality over it!

“Good.. Subject Tamayu, there is a target hidden in this room. You have five seconds.”
She tossed a straight edged knife at my head.
Nimble fingers came up to snatch the blade out of the air and with an equally nimble flick I sent it across the room to dig sharply into the small cross marked on the wall within the dark shadows above the closet to my left.
“Reaction times and situational awareness are acceptable.”

She lowered the hand holding the device she speaks into so often and she smiled at me.

“If you were commanded to please an elder statesman of the court by either your father or the will, what would you do?”

Why is she doing this?
I know what she wants to hear, I’ve never even heard of half the ideas running through my head before and the strange words associated with them hurt my brain a little but it’s not hard to give her what she wants.
“I would please him with song, dance, wine and sake as appropriate for one of my station.”

“.. and if such distractions failed?..”

“I would dismiss the guards and pleasure him in other ways until he was mine to command.”
That feels wrong but the other feelings.. the not-memories say it’s correct.

“Good.. very good.. I think we’re ready to move into implementation, congratulations Tamayu.. your going home soon.”

My mouth pulled into a wide happy smile but I’m not sure why.
I AM home.. aren’t I?
F..Fa.. there’s something..
Family.. The company is my family.. my.. my family is the company?..

“What is your name?”

Smith.. smith.. smith.. smith.. SMITH!
“Tachibana Tamayu.”

“Good girl Tamayu. Now it’s time to sleep. Soon you can go home..”
She reached for the needle again.
I didn’t react, I’m not going to spoil it all now.

“Pleasant dreams Tamayu.”
There was a sharp pain and the world got darker.

“She’s ready run language protocols and call the team. We move by Friday, before she returns from-”

======

My head feels heavy.
Why does my-

A shake of my head produced a slight tinkle of bells.
My hair must be styled with some formal combs.
Appropriate..
Or.. I.. no?.. why would it be appropriate?

“Welcome back Princess Tachibana, I hope your visit to our wondrous citadel has been a pleasant one?”

The tall one.. it feels like so long since I last saw him.
The other two aren’t here this time, there’s a gruff looking man in the corner and a man with glasses but no jolly fat old man at all.

“*Welcome honoured child of the Emperor, I trust you are impressed by your lodgings in our grand corporate headquarters?*”

The man with glasses reamed off his words a lot quicker than the tall one did but they didn’t feel right for some reason..
I understood him but the words were obviously not normal English?

“*I don’-*”
The words coming out of my mouth matched his.
I could feel my lips forming words that didn’t match my thoughts.
This must be another treatment or trick they have done to me.. they’re watching for a reaction.. always watching..

“*I barely had time to see anything, it feels like I’ve been indoors forever..*”

The glasses wearing man’s eyes went wide at my words and he seemed to hesitate for a moment.
“The Princess wish’s to offer her highest regards to you and your wonderful city, she is sure she will bring great tidings back to her people and hopes to have many fortuitous visits in the future.”

..that’s not even close to what I said..

“*Why did you lie to him?*”
His eye’s shifted back over to me and he glared slightly.
“She specifically compliments you on your hard work and dedication to the company as a whole sir.”

Oh.. he’s kissing ass!
I didn’t think the upper management did that sort of thing?
A few Grade 3 managers tried to get promotions with those sort of tricks, the company was not pleased at all from what I heard..

“*I love the citadel, by the will of the company, but I am confused and looking for answers about my treatment?*”

The glasses wearing man started to visibly sweat even more from nerves with each new word I uttered.
“She..uh..”

“Give up while you’re ahead Smith. Did you really think I could work in the position that I do without knowing how to speak some Japanese?”
The glasses wearing man gulped.
“You’re presence was more for propriety’s sake and you failed even that. Jones?.. take him to basement fifteen.”

The glasses man jolted away from the tall one and almost seemed to make a break to escape but the other man in the corner was on him far too quickly.
He protested and tried to break free of the man’s grasp but it was a useless endeavor.
You can’t beat an enforcer, it’s impossible.

When the glasses man was dragged out of the room and the door shut tight the tall one turned back to me.

“*Princess Tachibana, I apologise that you had to see that. Greed is a problem even for your people I imagine?*”
Before I could answer his voice dipped in volume and he continued in the strange other-English.
“*Subject Tamayu, debrief.*”

I felt my legs snap together through the voluminous clothing around them and my arms fold up behind my back without any input from me.

“*Training complete. Mission ready. At your command, by the will of the company.*”

The tall one stared at me for a long moment.
Finally he looked away but used the motion to step closer to me.

“You are truly remarkable; I wasn’t convinced the day you were brought in Smith but seeing you now.. you’re the spitting image of that useless little fluff the emperor spawned.”
His hand came up to touch my cheek.
I wanted to resist but my body wouldn’t shake itself loose from the sharp enforcer stance it had taken up.
“A true beauty to be sure.. you can’t understand a word I’m saying can you? Just as it should be..”
His hand stoked my cheek almost lovingly as he stared deeply into my eyes.
“Oh Smith.. if you’d known what you were agreeing to that day..”

His hand dropped away from me and he straightened his suit neatly.

“*Subject Tamayu. Your mission is to infiltrate the royal family of the Japanese Empirical Spire, you have been given the subliminal training necessary to complete this task, along with further training to facilitate any further missions which may be required in the future.*”
He shifted his feet and glanced over at the door where the mask-less enforcer who took the glasses man away casually came back in.
“*This is my chief of security, Jones, he will be your handler until you are safely deployed. You will follow his words as law, he speaks for me and I speak for the will of the company.*”

I smiled and nodded widely to the tall one.
This is all wrong but if I argue they will take me back to the shocks!

My best option.. from what I can remember from the not-memories, my ‘mission’ is to be a sleeper agent within the Japanese royal family hiding in plain sight as the Emperor’s favourite daughter until they find a use for me.
I’m not sure what a lot of those words mean, what a ‘sleeper agent’ or ‘Japanese’ is.. but it sounds like they are taking me somewhere far away from the shock room for this ‘mission’.

If I play along.. maybe I can escape?
Even being a confederate or slum-scum would be better than going back to the shocks!

“Jones, get the team together. The princess’s transport is traveling east as we speak. You have a small window close to midnight in which to strike without notice.”

The mask-less enforcer called Jones turned to me and waved toward the door.
I don’t know how I know it, but he pulled off a perfect bow in the process.

I gently placed a hand in his open palm and smiled at him.
He smiled back before taking the leading role as we left the room.
..at least he has manners..

======

“From this moment onward she is to be referred to as Princess Tachibana, call sign Ten-Ten. We will be performing a high speed abduction and switch on the highway under the cover of darkness. The driver has been paid to disable his transponder for a short period on the understanding that he can claim equipment malfunction when he reaches their city.. he has not been informed of Ten-Eleven or his true purpose. We-”

“Sir..”
My eyes went from the mask-less enforcer to the men he’d been speaking to.
From what I’ve gathered they are his unit and will assist in our mission.

I’m honestly not that impressed.
They all seem so very large and stupid.. so very.. what’s the word?.. ‘Gaijin’?..
No.. that’s another word, one of the new ones.

It means the same thing though.

They are apes trying to do men’s jobs.
I barely know what’s going on but even I can tell that they are here because they are available, not skilled.

“Should we be discussing mission parameters with her present?”
The brave speaker nodded his head at me slightly and seemed to cringe when I turned my eyes on him with the full intensity that I could manage.
I’ve noticed that people seem to cringe when I focus on them now.
It’s rather fun to watch all these Elite members of the company shy away from my stare.
It makes me feel powerful in an odd way.

“At ease Jones, she doesn’t speak English. We’re perfectly safe.”
I turned my fun new stare onto my handler.
He smiled at me reassuringly.
“*The men are in awe of your beauty Princess, they fear they may be distracted by your presence.*”

It was more of an automated response then an actual emotion that made my cheeks flare up in a burning hot blush.
Following years of training that I can’t seem to remember actually receiving I turned my body and cupped my hand over my mouth to hide my smile in the long sleeves of my kimono.

He’s lying to me.. obviously.. but the important thing is what he told his unit.
They think I don’t speak English.

That’s GOOD.
That means that they aren’t all-seeing anymore.
That means I have a chance!

“The Princess will be given her final activation codes by me before we leave the vehicle, in the event that I fail to give the activation codes you MUST ensure that she is stopped from reaching Japanese territory by any means necessary.”

That’s NOT good.
I have no idea what ‘activation codes’ would do to me but they sound important and important things have generally been bad for me lately!

It’s starting to feel like the company doesn’t have my best interests at heart..

‘We thrive by the will of the company, to deny the company is to deny life itself.’
‘The company is your family, your family is the company’
It all feels so hollow now?

What do you do when your ‘family’ is hurting you for their own gain?

======

The.. thing?.. the enforcer unit called it a ‘tank’..
It rumbles!

I was worried at first, when they took me onto an elevator and we rode all the way to floor zero but the moment we got out of the elevator they ushered me into this big metal box which feels much better than I imagine the slums outside would.

It’s small and hot in here but there are glass windows on all sides and the seats feel nicer than even the leather ones in the tall one’s office!

At first I was hesitant to look out the windows but my handler assured me that no-one can see inside through them.
That seems to be true at least because I’ve seen so many people in such squalor and they barely seemed to even notice us pass them!

It’s been fascinating and just a little disgusting to see how the slum-scum live.
I’m kind of glad I never got demoted down here.. even considering everything I’ve gone through with the upper management.

My breath misted the window when I got a bit too close so I leaned back with an airy giggle and wiped the wetness off with the end of my Kimono sleeve.

The movement and amused little smile on my lips seemed to put the unit at ease.
The men were really tense when I first stepped in but after a lot of inane giggling at random things and some light smiles sent at them before I quickly ducked away in ‘embarrassment’ they all seem in pretty high spirits and are talking more about how innocent I seem to be instead of staring coldly at me like true enforcers.

I’m not sure how I knew how to make them change like that but I’m glad I did and I’m glad I followed my instincts when the thought came to me to do it too.

“Unit Ten, you are clear to depart the citadel.”
The voice came seemingly from nowhere and made me jump but no-one else appeared surprised by it so I quickly tried to hide my fear with a smile.
That made a few of the men grin at me with sly looks of something close to approval.

I smiled back at them before covering my mouth with my sleeve again.
That seems to be a new habit I’ve picked up from somewhere; it would almost be annoying if it wasn’t so useful at getting reactions from the unit men.

Above us something thumped loudly and a horrible booming ‘click’ started coming from the front of the tank.
I surged to my knees so I could see out of the windows better.
I was just in time to see the last edge of something huge and metallic moving high up into the sky above us.

“Unit Ten, Gate is clear for departure. Be advised bandit and outlander activity at your destination is currently high.”

The tank started moving again and shaking.
Just because I could, I giggled and bounced on my knees a little.
Even my handler seems to be getting into the spirit of things, a thin smile playing across his lips as he stared at me with a hand on his weapon.

The tank finally moved far enough that I could see better through the back window and I couldn’t hold back the gasp of shock that came out.
The big click-y metal thing was a door!

A strange door that goes up instead of out but it WAS a door, fitted into the side of a wall so big I couldn’t even see the end of it!

Slowly my eyes drifted down and settled on one last thing that made my stomach go cold.
That.. that looks like..

“*Are we outside?*”
I shut my eyes tightly and tried to breathe.

“*Yes Princess, we are in the outlands traveling towards the meeting point for your mission to begin.*”
He sounded amused as he stated that horrifying fact.

We’re OUTSIDE!
Outside the Citadel!
Outside in the outlands!

My knee’s slid out from under me and I ended up huddled in the corner of my seat with my eyes shut tight.

Why are we outside?!
Why.. why are they taking me out of the Citadel?
I didn’t do anything wrong!
I did exactly what they told me to..

“*What do you do when your family betrays you?*”
I’m not sure where the question came from but the moment I said it I knew it was correct.
My company.. my family..

They’re kicking me out!
I’m fired.. no.. I’m WORSE then fired!

“*What was that Princess?*”
My eyes opened to stare at my handler for a moment before I squeezed them shut again.
..I feel sick..

“*I do not like the outlands.*”
My handler shuffled over in his seat and put a comforting arm around my shoulders.

It didn’t help at all.
He did this to me!
He helped them!

My family.. my company.. why did they betray me?

I was a good worker!
I listened to the speech every morning and did my work diligently.. if anyone should be kicked out it should be Third-sub manager Smith!
I had to spend MINUTES after EVERY lunch period clearing up the mess left behind by that slum-scum and I’M the one being kicked out of the citadel?!

My handler squeezed me tightly.
I didn’t push him off, not because I enjoyed it but because the positioning is useful.

‘What do you do when your company betrays you?’
The answer feels so easy but I have no idea what it means..
‘If they betray you, you take revenge!’

My free hand slid down my handler’s waist while my other one gently stroked his armoured chest.
Slowly, careful to not arouse suspicion I slipped his weapon from his holster and cupped it into the folds of my Kimono’s wide hanging sleeves.
On the one hand I have no idea what his ‘weapon’ does but.. but on the other..
It’s a Smith & Wesson J-frame Model 36 revolver .38-caliber with.. with a Barrel length of 1.811 inch’s, effective firing range of 23 meters and maximum range of 46 meters.
It appears to have been modified with a.. with.. I..

I don’t know where that knowledge is COMING from!
I’ve never even seen the weapon before but I know that I could kill every man in this ‘tank’ with it if I take out the fat one on the far side first, roll to my left and fire two shots along the line and another two in the spares!
I.. what did they DO to me?!..

“We’re coming up on the convoy; the driver’s signalled that he’s ready for the exchange.”

Everyone moved at once.
It was havoc within the tight confines of the tank.
Through the windows I could just make out the edge of some kind of other tank.

There was a big thump from above us and the other tank was suddenly right up next to us with a sound of clashing metal.
The whole side of our tank slid away blasting us with the cool night air, making the loose sleeves and fabric of my Kimono fly everywhere in the confusion.

Someone screamed in a voice that felt familiar and the unit men surged back into the tank carrying a thrashing bundle wearing something which looked suspiciously like a replica of my Kimono.
They threw her hard against the far seats and she screamed at them for their efforts.

Her eye’s darted around the tank and settled on me.
Her face paled beyond even our naturally pale shade and her scream froze in her mouth.

“Get her secured; she’s going to basement fifteen the moment we get back.”
Her eyes feverishly shot over to him but cut back to me just as quickly.

I cringed guiltily.
Basement fifteen.. she’s going to get fired..

My handler took a hold of my arm and led me over to the open side of the tank.
I could feel my hair whip its way loose from the complicated jewelled bun I woke up with.
If the weight of it is anything to go by then my style probably match’s the real princess’s worryingly regal looking hair.

The tank jumped when it hit something on the floor making my handler toss me with more force then intended so I ended up bashing my head against the internal walls of the Princesses tank.
Both tanks swerved violently and everyone was shouting at each other about it.

In the confusion I managed to pull myself upright and slid the pistol I stole from him into my palm.
It felt far too comfortable in my grip for my liking but without the not-memories I wouldn’t have even managed to get it in the first place so I’m not complaining!

The tanks seemed to finally settle themselves down.
My handler finished shouting at people inside their tank and turned to face me.
For a long moment he froze and we stared at each other hard.

“*Princess.. you don’t want to do this..*”

My head exploded with thoughts and options.
I could kill them all!..
I could just get rid of them by shooting the cables holding the tanks together!..
I could.. I..
I have control here?.. I have the power!..

An almost feral smile came across my painted lips.

‘What do you do when your family betrays you?’
‘What do you do when they get rid of you?’

“I loved my company, but you all betrayed me..”
My handler blanched as I spoke to him in clear English.
“..you took me from my home.. made me something new..”
Slowly he started lowering his center of gravity, preparing to jump at me.
I could see it!.. see all the ways he would move, the possible directions he would take.

“I’m outside.. I’m an outlander now.. you know what they say about outlanders right?”
He barely had time to twitch before I pulled the trigger planting a bullet between his eyes.
“We have no mercy!”

His body fell backwards into the tank behind him and people inside started yelling.
I scrambled to my feet through the thick Kimono fabric around me and managed to get within range before the unit could get a good line on me.
One shot, Two shots.
The tank groaned in pain and started veering heavily to the side.
Having popped tires on damaged roads will do that to a huge.. car?.. like that.

So many words, too many words that I don’t understand but I do understand at the same time!

One of the unit men managed to pull his pistol despite the violent movements of the tank.
Before he could get a shot off I popped a bullet into his skull and moved back to my task.

One shot
The cable holding the two tanks together snapped the moment I hit it with a bullet.

The unit man nearest to the door tried to climb out of the opening and jump towards me as their tank swerved violently away from mine.
I flipped the pistol in my hand and threw it across the gap between us hitting him square in the forehead with its metallic bulk.
He slipped and fell from their tank with a horrible scream.
Finally their tank swung violently to the side and flew off the road into a ditch.

I pushed myself back inside and yanked the door on the opening shut tightly.

For a long second I sighed out a painful breath.
My ribs hurt and the kickback on the pistol nearly jerked my shoulder out of its socket!

Careful to not get caught in the folds of my Kimono I slide across the wide leather seats of the tank and lined my arm up with the handle sticking out to the side.
One quick movement and I slammed by shoulder back into place with a muffled scream.

“*Are you okay your highness?*”
The driver’s voice came from nowhere, just like the voice inside the other tank did.
He sounds nervous.

I imagine he didn’t think THIS was going to happen when he signed up to betray his people.

“*I’m fine, I managed to get his weapon and subdue the boarding party.*”
I could see him cringe in the front seat through the glass window.

“*We will be within your father’s borders soon your highness. From there our garrison will meet us to escort you back to the palace.*”

My back hit the leather seats hard as I tried to get my Kimono into some kind of order.
If I had one more bullet I swear.. the fucker deserves it!

I’ve decided I don’t like traitors!
Traitors, betrayers and Upper Management!
They’re all lower then slum-scum in my option, vicious animals that should be treated as such!

“*uh.. your highness.. we appear to have some more company?..*”

He sounds scared?
This can’t be part of his little traitor plan.

“Well that’s not good..”

The driver gasped and swung his eyes around to stare at me in shock.
..oh yeah.. Princess Tachibana can’t speak English can she?..

Before he could get a word off there was a slight whistling sound followed closely by shattering glass.
His pain filled yell cut off almost the moment it started as his body collapsed to the side out of sight.

“Oh, what NOW?!”
I barely managed to stagger to my feet in an attempt to go check on him before the tank jerked violently to the side throwing me into the wall with painful force.

..if he’s not steering then who’s..

“..ah..fuck..”
The tank gave another violent jerk and without any further warning everything started spinning.
I was thrown around like a rag doll bouncing off every hard surface I could find until my head hit something metal and the world went blissfully dar-



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