#736X woke up as the sun made its grand appearance on the horizon. With a small yawn the jobman ran a comb through his black hair before putting on his favorite suit, which
looked almost exactly like all his other suites. He took extra time making sure there was nothing stuck in his teeth from the previous night's chicken dinner, and when the fogginess from sleep was
finally gone from his green eyes, he opened the door to his housing unit and stepped outside.
He was like any other jobman, getting ready for work and going about his day like he did any other day. He had no worries and was generally at peace with himself. #736X was there for two main reasons: to get his job done and to obey Mr. Z. It was simple enough for him, and he couldn't understand the humans that he overheard complaining about their own jobs.
He took the monorail with all the other jobmen and read the newspaper to pass the time. The news was always the same though, either discussing Z, Prometheus, or the trouble with Erebos. #736X wrinkled his nose at a picture of one of the people from the country that was squatting on the west border of Eos. As an Eosian, he valued cleanliness and authority above all else, thus Erebians always looked like they were covered in dirt to him.
The monorail hummed as it rolled along its tracks into what remained of New York City. #736X looked up to see the ruins and frowned a little. He wished the humans would hurry up with fixing it. The second civil war hadn't exactly improved The Big Apple. Of course, there were still a few relics that remained, and the newer, shiny buildings replacing the old ones were a sight to see. It was at one of these buildings that the monorail came to a stop in font of.
#736X got out in a single-file line formed by the jobmen. He breathed deeply, preparing for another long day. Not because he hated his job, which was keeping track of weapons and the supply of Megalium, but because he wanted it to go well. If there was one thing he did not like, it was when things went Wrong. That was another rule burned into his partially artificial brain; to avoid things that were Wrong. Mistakes, filth, denying a direct order from a higher rank, failing your job, Erebians, all of these and more were most certainly Wrong.
There was a short pause as they waited for all the other jobmen to get off the monorail, then it was onward into the building, each walking in the same rhythm, each with nearly identical faces and features. Sure, there were some with blond or brown hair and some with blue or brown eyes, but most looked like Z himself, seeing as the majority of their DNA was based on his. They were all Caucasian males, with perfect teeth, perfect hair, and physically fit bodies. Most of them were handsome in a way, once you got past the fact that none of them were completely human.
Some tossed greetings back and forth as they piled into the building, while others only continued in blank silence. They went like clockwork to their own designated areas. You would be wasting your time to try and find any of them really speaking to each other, no, there was work to be done. They ranked from S to X, and, if any groups at all were formed, it was among their own letters.
There wasn't a single real human to be found in the building that day. #736X was glad. Humans made errors and caused problems, both of which were, you guessed it, Wrong. The humans were left to the simpler problems like farming and selling things in their little shops on the streets. #736X found it amusing in a way. Although, despite the fact that the jobmen were the ones who did the 'higher level' jobs, the humans still looked down on them in every aspect. What were a bunch of clones to a pure-bred human? Nothing. Nothing at all. The black haired jobman found this amusing as well.
His office was on one of the higher floors, but he did not take the elevator. He preferred the stairs for no particular reason. This was one of his Quirks. All jobmen had Quirks, little things that made them separate from other jobmen, even though there were some jobmen with the same Quirks and others with half the same Quirks and so on. This was the same with their desires and wants, although they shared desires a lot more than they did Quirks.
He reached his floor without much trouble and entered his office silently. Ah, yes, here was where he felt at home. With his 'I hate Mondays' poster on the wall and his special snow globe next to his computer, he thought the place had a sense of security about it. He set the briefcase he'd carried with him down as he sat at his desk, adjusting his chair to the desired position.
He turned his computer on and began to work, and he worked for hours without end, just like every other Eosian jobman did (though perhaps it is unnecessary to call them Eosian, seeing as there are no Erebian jobmen). The sun rose high into the sky, and still #736X worked, checking to make sure there were plenty of guns near the border and the Megalium in Vermont was still intact. He could have worked no harder, even if he had known this was to be his last work day.
Finally, a voice spoke over the intercom, assessing all X and Y ranked jobmen in New York. They were to head to a meeting with Z. Excitement buzzed in #736X's stomach as he prepared to leave. Looking back at his desk, he remembered that sometimes jobmen were randomly selected to go on long trips, so he grabbed his snow globe and quickly threw it in his briefcase as a source of entertainment. Just in case.
After another trip on the monorail, he was again stepping out into the sun, only this sun was setting instead of rising. The temperature had dropped considerably, and he couldn't help but shiver as he entered the building that was taller and more fantastic than the last. This one had a lot more jobmen in it, and he even spotted a few humans. Again, he felt like jumping for joy. Here he was, about to see, not just anyone, but Z himself. He barely noticed the #50A that passed him with a small growl on his way to the top floor.
There it was, the door with the golden lettering the proudly proclaimed that, yes, you were about to enter Z's office. Chills raced down #736X's spine as he began to walk down the hall towards it. Suddenly, without warning, someone slammed into him and sent him with a loud smack into the wall. His briefcase came after him, hitting his leg in just the right spot that he let out a small whimper of pain.
"Watch it, zombie!" The woman was Erebian; you could tell just by looking at her clothes. A bullet-proof vest matched with jeans and combat boots, it all looked thrown together at the last minute. On her belt was an assortment of guns and knives, and strapped to her back was a rifle. She had two followers, a man and another woman, who paid the jobman no attention as they passed him.
She turned back to him, just for a moment, only to laugh cruelly with teeth that were slightly yellowed from eating and drinking things that only could have come from the west. #736X straightened himself, but he no longer felt any pain at all. In those few seconds where their eyes met, that moment right then, everything changed. Because, in that instant, #736X fell in love.
A line of jobmen came up behind him and paused, looking at him as he stared dumb-struck at the door the Erebians had disappeared through. At the head of the group, #893Y rolled his eyes and shoved #736X so he would start walking again. He did, but slowly.
The room had a long table in the center, surrounded by chairs and so clean you could see your face on the surface. The Erebians had already sat down, and there, at the farthest end, near the large window, was Mr. Z. At once, all the jobmen stopped to gaze at him, waiting to see if he would say anything, give them new orders, or perhaps even scold them for arriving after the Erebians. After nothing happened, they all sat down as well.
Z had black hair and green eyes, just like #736X. The jobman felt a small burst of pride at this; one of the shared desires of all jobmen was to be like Mr. Z. He was their creator and master, and he loved each and every one of them. You could see it in his smile, cunning though it was. He was perfect, he was magnificent, he was a god. To the jobmen.
It was an entirely different story with the Erebians. They saw a fox-like face, an evil smile and pale skin. They saw a man with more power than he should have sitting on a throne constructed of the bones of their fallen brethren. They hated him, they despised him, they were disgusted by him. But most of all, they feared him, and in the west, fear was not an option.
"Welcome, welcome to all of you." He was smiling from ear to ear, but as his eyes passed over the Erebians, his smile twitched a little. "I apologize for calling you here on such short notice." He said to the jobmen, whom had chosen to sit on the opposite side of the westerners. #967Y and #893Y nodded in understanding, but the rest stayed silent.
"Are you going to actually listen to us then?" The woman who had called #736X a zombie was leaning back in her chair with her muddy boots on the table. More than a few jobmen scowled at this, but #736X could only focus on her long red hair that had been tied up in a pony tail.
"Of course, my lady." Z continued to smile. "Riley Gray, isn't it?"
Riley. Her name is Riley. #736X thought, biting his lip and wondering how the name would sound when he said it aloud. He might just whisper it to himself when he got back to his housing unit before falling asleep and forgetting the whole thing in the morning. Except, something told him he wouldn't forget, and that made him both scared and excited.
"Yes, sir." She said mockingly. "Now, you can shut up and pay attention. I've told you a thousand times already, but you just can't get it through your thick skull can you? I'm not giving up my town, and I'm certainly not handing it over to you. And if you try to take it by force, a lot of your mindless drones over there are going to get some lead between their eyes."
There was a sudden hissing noise, and #736X noticed a #50A standing in the corner, watching everything with its pale eyes. Z blinked, and his smile shrank a little. "Perhaps, we can negotiate-"
"I'm so done with negotiating!" Riley sat up suddenly, her eyes filled with rage.
"It was named after your father, wasn't it?"
She paused, confused. "What?"
"Sandersville, your hometown. It was named after Sander Gray, right?" She nodded. "Then there is no doubt that you would like to protect it. However, I should inform you that what you call 'Sandersville' is nothing more than a large trash heap. Even by western standards."
The red head sneered. "You want to know what I call this place?"
"I would rather not, thank you. The point is, Ms. Gray, all that you're holding on to is a few dusty memories. Judging by your status over in... that place, you could just as easily take over another town and call it home. You could even name it Sandersville if it suits you. Yet you cling to a town that is worth virtually nothing."
"If it isn't worth anything, why the hell do you want it?" The Y jobmen bared their teeth at the foul word that escaped her lips, but most of the X jobmen only looked on in confusion. Except for #736X, who was lost in her chocolate brown eyes. Why did her eyes have to be that shade of brown? Chocolate was a rarity, even among the most wealthy, and one of #736X's desires was to taste some for the first time. If he had lived in the past, when chocolate was abundant in the USA, he might have been an addict of some sort to the sweet candy.
Mr. Z's smile changed then, into one that held secrets of every kind. 'Wouldn't you like to know?' his eyes said. "That is not important."
"Well if you won't tell me, then you can consider our 'negotiations' done." Riley stood up with her companions, a glare in her eyes.
"Leaving so soon?" Z looked like he wanted to kick them out the door himself.
"Let me know when you find your brains. If you ever had some, that is." She chuckled. As she walked towards the door, nobody saw her turn to her female partner and whisper something. Nobody saw the other woman press a button on her belt. Nobody but #736X.
The moment they were gone Z let out a long, tired sigh. Then he laughed a little. "Well, that was shorter than I expected, but the results were spot on." He looked back at the jobmen, a kind, reassuring look in his eyes. "I apologize for wasting your time."
"Oh, no sir!" #967Y, the highest ranking jobman, said desperately. "You have not wasted our time at all!" All the other jobmen nodded quickly, their heads bobbing like bobble-heads.
Z raised a hand, and all was still again. "Let me say this, if I may. That woman is of little threat to us. We will be keeping an eye on her, but rest assured, one way or another, we will have that town."
The jobmen chattered excitedly, each of them having full confidence in their leader. #736X wondered whether he should mention what he had seen, but, if Mr. Z said they were no threat, then surely he must be right? And besides, he had a hunch that something bad would happen to Riley if he said anything, something he certainly did not want to happen.
As he left in the single file line, he was unaware of Mr. Z's eyes on him. Z knew there was something different about him, and he found it... unsettling. Was it Gray? He narrowed his cruel eyes and frowned. Z'd said she was no threat, and all the evidence said he was right, but instinct told him he was dead wrong. And instinct was usually right. He sighed again. Z had a feeling something devastating was about to occur, and there was nothing he could do to stop it.
#736X felt the change he'd been experiencing before begin to wash over him as he exited the building. The fresh, dusk air was sweet as honey, and everything else was wonderfully perfect. He was high on absolutely nothing. As he walked, there was an odd spring in his step. He had never sang anything before, but he sure felt like singing then. Singing with the birds Snow White style. He didn't, but he did hum a little.
The Y's only grunted and ignored him, but his X comrades looked at him with new found curiosity. What had caused this change? Was he sick? Was what he was doing Wrong or just strange? Unable to understand, they only watched.
Finally, they reached the monorail. Out of the corner of his eye, #736X thought he saw a dark green truck parked next to one of the ruined buildings, but he only glanced for a moment. He had other things to think about. His last thought before being blown backwards was I wish I could see her again.
Then, he was engulfed in a firestorm. A monstrous roar momentarily deafened him, blocking out what was either his own scream or someone else's. Somehow, he managed to hold onto his briefcase the entire time. He couldn't see, he couldn't think. He had been flung almost fifteen feet into the air, and all he knew was that, suddenly, he was falling. Then he landed on something hard and metal, his left side a pinpoint of pain. He opened his eyes, and, just before blacking out, he could hear someone laughing.
From high above, watching from a window, Mr. Z screamed in anger and rage, causing the #50A to shrink away in fear.
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