231 found himself suddenly uncomfortable. He stood at parade rest beside the young girl, trying to make sense of the situation. You don’t need to know why you’re here, he reminded himself. You just need to protect her.
He heard a short giggle from beside him. 231 looked to see Sophia smiling wanly up at him. “That’s why I said ‘thank you,'” she said.
231 surprised himself by smiling back at her.
Then, he realized that the telepad was already powering up. The charged field between the sheets of glass was already visible, already sparking gold. The Coordinator was in a hurry for them to be on their way.
He heard the hum of the oscillators whirring up to speed around the rim of the pad. All around the Goliath and the girl, the golden field grew fuller, brighter, staring with scattered sparks and flashes until it was a wall of light.
Sophia, too, seemed to brighten, if only a little. 231 saw her small smile curl up slightly on the left side. “It’s pretty.”
It was. 231 loved teleporting.
The oscillators had built up to a roar, which climaxed with a pop, and a white pulse of the energy field. 231’s stomach took a tiny leap, as though he had jumped from a standing position. His body adjusting to the slight difference in gravity, he knew.
The golden field began to fade, to give way to the dark blue sky on the other side of the glass. To their left, the squarish towers of downtown. To their right, the sprawl of decaying suburbs. It was the beginning of a clear day in New Barcelona.
231 was now light-years away from Command, on a distant planet, guarding a 10-year-old girl from dangers unknown. As he was made to do.
“I’m so glad we got out of there,” Sophia said, with a big sigh of relief.
Again, 231 wondered why.