CHAPTER 12 - MAGES (2)
Murmurs rose from the audience, and Alex fought the urge to look around for the source of the commotion. He didn’t need to, as the reason made itself clear quickly.
“Get these weak peons out of here.”
It was the first time he heard the voice of his future friend. Her tinny voice came through the speakers, and he could tell by the subtle shift in lighting that the screen behind him had changed.
One of the audience members stood, and Alex could faintly make out the row after row of medals hanging from the man’s chest.
“Epsilon-13, what is the meaning of this? How did you escape the containment mainframe?”
“Oh, come ON! You and I both know that firewall is a paltry joke for me, General.”
She practically spat the last word. The aforementioned General blanched at the thought.
“Epsilon-13, return to the mainframe this instant.”
“Nope, don’t wanna.”
The General’s voice grew louder.
“Shut down the system. Contain the AI before she causes hell again!”
“Sir, we’ve been trying. She’s locked the system out. Master Override codes aren’t working; she’s changed the passwords!”
“Do. Not. Call me that. I suggest you act more civilly, General. You know what I can do with control of this system.”
The previously furious General suddenly sounded meek.
“What do you want, Ep-… Miss?”
Alex finally turned around. On the massive screen behind him, a redheaded woman with sparkling blue eyes was staring at him. She caught his gaze, and her small, ruby lips curled into an almost sadistic smile.
“I want him.”
Alex smiled at ALICE’s words of encouragement before directing his attention back to the king.
“What kind of job, Your Majesty?”
The king’s smile deepened. Given his position, he was probably confident that any request he made would be honored without question. Such was the privilege of royalty.
“Join my Honor Guard. Take up the position left vacant by Treya of the Wind.”
Alex looked back over his shoulder and caught Treya’s gaze. She offered him nothing in the way of advice, spoken or otherwise. She just stood silent like a trained soldier. Alex winked at her and thought he saw her eyes go wide before turning back to the king.
“And just what would that entail, Your Majesty?”
“Exactly as it sounds. You guard me, and you are treated with honor and respect. You will want for nothing and will have status second only to my direct blood.”
Alex nodded, mulling over the proposition in his mind for a moment. ALICE was silent as she waited, much like the princesses and Treya, with bated breath.
“You must understand that my goal is to return home, Your Majesty. I do not belong here.”
The king nodded as if he had expected this response.
“I will ensure you have every leave to search for the way home and will even grant you access to restricted study materials to aid in your endeavors. As I said, you will be afforded everything you wish.”
Alex glanced at the princesses, and a thought passed through his mind before ALICE interrupted him.
‘Don’t even try it, you pig. Disgusting.’
‘Ew. You fucking wish!’
‘Well, anyway. What do you think?’
‘It’s a good offer. An amazing opportunity.’
‘And a trap.’
Alex pocketed the Status Plate, rubbing his thumb over the engraved letters he couldn’t read.
“I am afraid I must refuse, Your Majesty.”