Like Petals From A Rose

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What did she mean, not exactly? I wonder. Was the food made by the droids? Do droids count as citizens? What else could she mean?

Could there possibly be something else that she could mean?

The woman let out a long, slow breath. Really, from up close, she's barely older than I am. "Can I... will you promise not to tell anyone?"

I sit up so fast it hurts my head. "Yes! I swear. Just tell me what's going on," I pause. "Please."

The woman in white leans in close. "The University caus-" A sharp knock at the door causes her to jump back in alarm.

"Miss Thompson!" A tall man wearing a black suit and tie enters the room. He practically exudes importance.

"Hello, sir," she says, obviously as frightened as I am. "Is there anything I can help you with?"

"No, I was just coming in to check on our little hero," He smiles at me in an exceedingly patronizing way.

Hero? Me, a hero?

"Well, Robin is doing just fine, sir." the woman - Miss Thompson - says.

"Very well. Robin, if you're feeling all right, you're free to go home tomorrow morning." He exits the room, the door making a faint clicking sound behind him.

Miss Thompson lets out a sigh of relief. I do the same. "Who was he?" I ask her, my voice just above a whisper.

"His name is Professor Howell. He works for the University," she replies, in the same tone. "He's the head of the cyborg control department."

"But Miss Thompson, ma'am-" I start.

"Miss Thompson? Robin, my name is Nicole. I'm barely older than you are," I knew it! Miss Tho- Nicole! - begins to blush.

"Oh, sorry. Nicole, why do cyborgs need to be controlled? Before today, there hasn't been any sort of uprising in years!" As I recall, the last was 11 years ago.

I was seven years old, and still a Primary student. A man by the name of Christopher Smith was caught poisoning the food of a top University leader - at the time, our vice president. There were riots in the streets for days on end: Down with part-humans! Metal meddles! Kill the cybs!

It was terrible.

Eventually, though, the president captured the offender and he was exiled to the Outskirts. For all we know, he's still there.

A whisper snaps me out of my reminisce. "Why do you think there haven't been any uprisings? That's Mr. Howell's job. Everything from the weather to the scent of your workplaces to the inner workings of your programming chip is meant to sedate you, to keep you mindlessly devoted to your work."

My head feels fuzzy as I try to absorb the virtual bomb of knowledge I've just been hit with. The University is controlling us? Controlling our minds?

"I bet you thought the University could do no wrong. Well, think again."

"But... how did you know all this?" I wonder aloud.

Nicole pulls aside her short, red hair to reveal a small scar behind her ear. Dark red and slightly raised, similar ones snake out from around my metal limbs. "There's a lot of things that a lot of people don't know about me, sweetheart."

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