never your partner in crime

“ML-218, sorry to intrude on your sleep process, but Master Shew has requested your presence at his private suite. Official business, it seems.”

Imposing his presence in front of Miranda’s bunk was a figure about seven feet tall- Miranda might have considered him a man, except for that men usually didn’t decide to become a walking rainbow collage of patches. A bulge might usually make a man, sure, but that was less relevant considering that Miranda had one as well.

He slumped to a sitting position in bed, the sheets crumpling up around his waist. His full head of hair was as voluminous as it would be resting on the crown of a lion, mocking the patch man and his polished cranium without ever muttering a single word. “Who?”

“Master Shew? Weren’t you the one wondering who runs this place?” Patch Man intoned, his expression as unchanging as the concrete beneath his feet. “Maybe I’ve got you mixed up with AT-679. But anyways, he desires your presence, and you’re obligated to comply.”

“Alright.” Miranda rubbed his eyes with the sleeves of his nighttime attire and slowly slipped down the bunk ladder, stepping haphazardly from sleeptime delirium behind Patch Man as one directed the other up the winding staircase. After Miranda stumbled a few times from exhaustion and was righted by Patch Man, they finally made it up to the heavy doors of Master Shew’s suite.

Two knocks later, a young man in a similar outfit to Miranda who’d probably find himself in an ad for boxers had he turned to fashion instead of the Soona Brisian kind of research pulled one of the doors open from the other side and gazed upon the two guests, both partially leaning against the wall to regain their breath. The room behind this particular male was straight out of a Victorian dream with what walls were visible being lined with bookcases and flickering with the light of a fierce fireplace. His face lit up with an emotion between gratification and satisfaction from Miranda’s delivery, and he gestured eagerly for Patch Man and his guest to enter.

“Ah, Giles, you never fail to deliver. Quite literally, it seems.” Master Shew draped himself over a mahogany couch. “Sorry. I’m tired, as you can no doubt tell. My speech will no doubt be less than worthy to be speech-worthy.” To prove his point, a rich peal of yawning escaped from his lips.

Miranda seated himself quietly on one end of the opposite couch, Giles standing beside him and observing the scene. “So why did you want me here?”

Master Shew waved his right hand offhandedly, shooing Giles away to some other business in the building. “I wanted to inform you of a change in your schedule.”

Miranda found his arms crossing themselves, and he drew himself in closer. “Oh, and I absolutely cannot wait for whatever stroke of genius I am about to witness.”

“You barely even know me.”

“Well, Giles made it kind of obvious that you run this place, and so far, I’ve been placed into a ‘regular’ session with a knife freak that occurred exactly ONCE.”

“Yeah, well, our scheduling team isn’t exactly the best, and neither are our guards. I ordered a hundred clones of the same person, you know? And the industrial sector sent me normal civilians off the streets wanting jobs and pay.” He crammed a throw pillow between his head and the stiff arm of the couch. “I employed them since I’m not an asshole, but we had to make little cuts in the budget here and there. A few more are going into effect tomorrow. I’ll see if I can get that program fixed for you.”

“So why am I here, other than being an ear for you to whine about your scheduling department?”

“In all fairness, you’re the one who brought up the subject.” Master Shew picked himself up from the couch and made his way over to the fireplace, perching in front of the flame frame and soon followed by Miranda. In the glare of the mild blaze, most of which looked simulated, he could barely make out the outline of a patch similar to the ones covering Giles hidden under Shew’s white nightshirt. “I would like you to keep me company during the cold nights-”

Miranda shot up, nearly banging his head on the trophy shelf above the fireplace. “Absolutely not!”

“I didn’t mean that as a euphemism for sex. Well, not without your permission, anyways. I just thought that my bed might be of a tad better quality than the bunk beds that the other subjects use. Nobody kicking the rails and waking you in the middle of the night, anyways.”

“And why me, specifically?”

“Well…” Master Shew’s gaze shifted from the flames to Miranda’s indignant face, highlighted by the glare of the fireplace and framed by rampant waves in locks of auburn hair. “I wanted a partner, so I made one.”

“Great. Absolutely genius.” He slowly returned to his place beside Master Shew, trying to conceal his trembling fists.

“You don’t have to accept. I’ll just make another one and remember to make her a bit more docile. Not too much, though, because I want someone that works better as a partner when kept at arm’s distance.”

Miranda placed a still-trembling hand on Master Shew’s shoulder, barely a foot away. “Gonna have to keep me farther away than this, then. I sure hope you have a bigger bed.”


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