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“Stay back!” The android howled, tightening his grip on the woman in his arms.

The police moved into a half arc, their guns all trained on him, giving him no room to escape. At this rate, it looked like the android would shoot the hostage. The look in the policeman’s eyes told Requiem more than anything else. The android had selected the wrong person. They might have shown a little restraint if it had been a human, but there seemed to be little hesitation that they’d be willing to shoot through the female android to get to him.

The girl’s expression was perhaps as worrying as the guards. She did not wear an ounce of fear on her face, but rather her expression carried annoyance. Her mouth was twisted, and her eyes were lowered, glaring at the gun pressed against her cheek. Had the heat in her eyes held any real-world application, the gun would have melted in his hands.

After a few painful seconds of awkward silence, as every side weighed their options, it was the girl who broke the silence with an annoyed tsk. “You think they’ll care about an android like me. Give them an incentive and we’ll both be full of bullet holes.”

Her cold demeanor made a couple of the guards shift their guns uncomfortably. It was a little bit too close to the truth. This exchange was more informative than anything to Requiem on how humans truly saw androids if the death matches and open phobias hadn’t already given him that impression. The only one who wasn’t impacted by her words was the android himself.

“Yeah?” He clinched his teeth in a mock smile. “Well they might not give a shit about killing you, but those are orange halos last I checked. They sure as hell don’t want to answer to your owner if they caused damage!”

That confirmed one thing Requiem had suspected. The color of the halos did mean something. However, what did an orange halo mean? By the look of it, one could guess some kind of courtesan or sex slave. Even Requiem recognized a body that was meant for certain kinds of activities, even if he had never engaged in those activities himself. However, it might have something to do with her owner’s status too.

The guards didn’t seem to have noticed the color of the woman’s eyes. Now that they did, their postures immediately receded a bit, doubt flashing in their eyes. Orange definitely meant something that would make them hesitate. Perhaps it meant ownership by a noble or wealthy individual.

“I don’t have time for this crap; I have work to do…” The arrogance on the female android’s face wasn’t making the situation any better.

“Shut up!” The modded android shouted.

Then the woman moved. Her leg went up, her foot bending past her shoulder in an impossibly flexible kick that struck the android in the face. His grip loosened only slightly, and she spun like lightning from his hold, slapping his gun away in the process. The gun skidded across the concrete, landing only a few steps away from Requiem. At this point, Requiem was only one of a handful of people still in line. He kept his head lowered to avoid any gunshots, emulating the others who had stubbornly stayed to watch.

With the gun out of the man’s reach, he leapt at the woman, attempting to still grab hold of her, even though she was fighting back now. The guards were at a loss on what to do, her body directly in front of the man, preventing any clean shot. Requiem reckoned that if the modded android could get her under control, he could break her neck with his enhanced strength as easily as he could threaten to shoot her head. In a few seconds, the situation would be right back to where they started.

To Requiem’s surprise, things didn’t turn out that way. The woman and the man ended up in a grappling match. She seemed to be holding her own, her hands tight on his. The look on his face was complete and utter shock, and Requiem quickly realized why. He was a modded android who not only could hold weapons, but also had increased strength. If this had turned into anything other than a gun fight, the guards would likely find themselves completely overwhelmed at his strength.

However, the woman was matching his strength easily. If anything, it looked like she was holding back. That meant only one thing. She was another modded android. This created quite the predicament. Likely, the guards didn’t know that the android had enhanced strength along with its gun unlocked jail breaking. To them, it was one weak android wrestling with another weak android. However, if she revealed herself to be stronger than him, she’d reveal she was also modded.

Seizing the opportunity to get on the good side of a modded android, Requiem kneeled down and picked up the gun. Although the situation in front of him was tense, he moved incredibly casually, like he might lean over to pick up a quarter as he walked down the street. He pointed the gun up at the androids, still stuck in a deadlock.

“Duck!” He gave the command.

He had no expectations, but to his surprise, the woman responded. Her hands let go of the man causing him to lose his balance as he tried to swing his fist at her. Her body lowered into a sweeping motion, her leg spinning and kicking his legs out from under him. Requiem winced in annoyance before taking the shot. His accuracy was perfect, and even in mid fall the shot struck the android’s temple, obliterating his head. Another shot struck the chest causing the arms to spiral off moments before what was left of his legs finally struck the ground. The destruction should be sufficient enough that no one would realize it was a modded android.

He had intending to do this after she jumped away a step or two. His shot was more than skilled enough to do as such. However, she had knocked the android down, forcing Requiem to shoot at a moving target. He was up to the task, but he feared that the necessary reaction time to accomplish this task would seem suspicious to a human.

After a moment of staring dumbfounded at the scene, the guards finally rushed forward to make sure the android, now just 2 legs, 2 arms, and perhaps some lower regions, was definitely dead. Requiem tried to immediately relinquish the gun, fearing some kind of police retaliation. To his surprise, they approached him with open congratulations.

“Good job taking out that android!” One of the guards slapped Requiem on the back.

“So, there is no problem then?” Requiem remained cautious.

“Problem? He just killed a human. It was death for him either way. Yeah, it’d have been nice to find out who modded him, but modders always build in obnoxious self-destructs for that, we never would have found out who it was anyway.” The guard laughed and then pushed the gun back to Requiem when he tried to hand it to him. “No, we don’t need it for evidence or anything. You must be new here. We keep what we kill, it’s yours.”

Requiem nodded, turning to look as the guards picking through the body parts and tossing them into a trash bag. One guard was talking to the android woman, but Requiem realized her eyes were firmly looking at him, wearing open suspicion on her face. The guards were not suspicious of Requiem’s accomplishments, but this modded android might be another matter. She had to have realized his intent with the shot.

“It really is a shame…” The guard was shaking his head and sighing.

“What’s that?” Requiem glanced over at him, realizing he was watching the female android as well with a resigned expression on his face.

“Oh, since androids are owned, it’s not exactly like you can impress one. You save a cute human girl’s life, and she might show you some appreciation. Ah well…” he gave a smile. “You might want to try to see if you can find her owner. He might give you a reward for saving her, even if the award is just a few credits.”

She started to walk over to them a moment later, ignoring the guard who was checking up on her and leaving him a bit flustered. She walked up to Requiem, her body swaying with a womanly grace that left several of the guards staring in her wake.

“Name…” It came out more like an order than a request, but as a fellow android, Requiem was used to discussions with little formality.

“Requiem, yours?”

“Miai. You… saved me. I will make sure that you are rewarded.”

“Not necessary. You were lucky. He was modded to hold guns, but his strength was weak. Things would have quickly turned out differently, if he was stronger than you.”

The female android named Miai’s eyes flashed at the comment. The guard standing next to Requiem didn’t notice, his eyes glued to her chest. Requiem made the comment with seeming off handedness, taking no notice of the hard look she was giving him at that moment. It gave him all the confirmation he needed.

“You’re a good shot. I see you entering the tournament. Isn’t that just for androids?”

“Haven’t you heard? This year they’re giving away Exodus tokens. Any man would be stupid not to try to change his fate. I have some experience fighting. When you train against androids, you become as quick as one.” Requiem gave an ambiguous response that would lead her away from the conclusions he was avoiding.

She still looked at him with sharp and suspicious eyes, but there was a seed of doubt in there now. It was really all that Requiem needed to keep her from asking too many questions.

“My… master wished that I participate in this tournament as well.”

“Is that so?” Requiem shrugged offhandedly. “I didn’t think you’d be the fighting type.”

“You’d be surprised.” She gave a look out of the corner of her eye. “Come with me, let’s register together.”

Requiem gave a shrug and followed her, leaving the stunned guard who was still working at keeping his gaze away from her lower mammaries behind. The two of them headed to the registration booth, Requiem a few steps behind her confident stride. The handful of people in front of Requiem had already finished their registration while they dealt with the police. It seemed like in this world, business wouldn’t even halt for a shootout.

“I am Miai, my master is Statarius, please register me. And this gentleman as well. I’ll be paying for his.”

“Your master isn’t present?” The person behind the counter was a female android, and she was giving a frown while her eyes lingered on Miai’s chest.

She didn’t have nearly the curves of Miai. Her body was small and mousy, her chest with no signs of bumpage through her servant uniform. After a moment, the girl finally raised her eyes with a flat and nondescript stare.

“She’s a busy woman…” Miai laughed, but subtly pushed forward a card.

When the android saw the card, her eyes widened, and then a moment later she nodded and processed the paperwork without another comment. When Requiem attempted to pay, Miai stopped him with her hand. Moving close to his body, her breasts pressed up against him while she looked up at his eyes brightly.

“Not necessary. Master is rich and this is the least we can do. This is, what’s a good word? How alliances are made? Perhaps in the match, we can work together. I’m eager to see how you perform.”

“My performance is always up to task.” Requiem answered flatly.

A moment later there was a cough and Requiem looked up at the android behind the counter. She wore a noticeable blush now, and it came to Requiem that Miai and he were closer than the standard for human etiquette allowed. Requiem took a step back, but Miai only held an amused look as she glanced back at the ticket holder.

“Give him a token too.”

The android ticket master’s eyes widened again, but she did as she was told, handing each of them an envelope before talking. “These are your passes. The tournament will be held tomorrow. The times and locations are included in the envelope. The included token provides you entrance into the banquet tonight at the Lord’s manor.”

“This is my gift to you…” Miai interrupted while giving Requiem a look. “Commoners aren’t invited to the Lord’s banquet. I expect you to be there. We can talk more about our… alliance… tonight.”

She turned and began to walk away, her hips moving with every step. Even the android girl behind the counter became flustered over her attitude. Requiem waited for the mousy girl to give the remainder of her talk on the locations and times of the tournament before thanking her with a smile. She seemed intensely uncomfortable, and Requiem suspected that Miai’s previous behavior might have rubbed her public behavior programming wrong.

Rather than deal with an android that acted oddly like Ginger, Requiem bid farewell and left. The guards didn’t seem to care if he stayed any longer either, having already cleared up and left. The one who had been talking to Requiem waved a farewell as he left the square.

Requiem had saved himself from spending any credits on admission to this tournament, but now it looked like he was going to need something nice to wear.

Clippy appeared next to him. She wore a pout, but Requiem was quickly becoming used to the feigned jealousy. If it really annoyed him enough, he could always remove it.

“So, what’s next?”

Requiem chuckled. “Now it’s time we arm ourselves. We’re going to war.”

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