As 231 and Sophia wandered the empty halls of the orphanage, the clone soldier’s anger began to grow. Someone had attacked the girl’s mind. Someone had barricaded something inside, something Tower wanted. If he was disturbed by the thought of Sophia braving separatist territory, he fumed at the thought of a psion battering her thoughts.
“They must have had a good reason,” Sophia said. 231 looked down at her. She had a sort of miserable half-smile on her face.
If he read the look correctly, she was trying to believe what she said, but the wiser part of her could not. His anger grew.
Then, a stray thought. She certainly read his mind a lot for a girl who had apologized for reading his mind without his permission.
Suddenly, she laughed and threw up her hands dramatically. “Well, if you won’t talk, and you don’t care if I read your mind, then I’m gonna read your mind!” Now, she was truly smiling.
231 found himself grinning. This could be an opening. “Miss Sophia-”
“Sophia,” she said flatly, skewering him with a mock glare.
“…would you prefer me to speak freely?” His heart leaped at the thought. Few Goliaths ever got so rich a privilege.
Sophia scrunched up her face. “Freely? Is that, like, you can just say what you want?”
The giant found himself nervously standing at attention. “Yes, Milady,” he said automatically. Even in the middle this conversation, he couldn’t help himself.
Sophia nodded. “Yeah! Just say what you want!”
231 felt suddenly lighter. A strange, new sense of calm energy settled on him. A new sort of joy.
In the few hours Sophia had been his charge, she had thanked him personally, apologized to him, and given him permission to speak freely. Three gifts so precious, no Goliath had any right to expect them.
He smiled broadly. “Thank you… Sophia.” An electric tingle rushed through his body as he said it.
Sophia rolled her eyes and gave a big sigh of relief. “Thank you.”
Then she jumped at the loud clatter from down the hall. 231’s hand shot toward his back holster.
The girl’s eyes went wide. “Someone’s here!’ And she ran toward the noise.