It was frustrating. In every mission so far, he’d had problems he could overcome with tactics, weapons and equipment. Enemies he could attack physically and destroy.
231 looked down at the girl as they walked slowly through the streets of New Barcelona. She was in no hurry, despite the Coordinator’s obvious urgency. He matched her pace only with effort, stunting his giant strides. The weight of the frown on her face seemed to pull down her entire body.
He really wanted to shoot something.
“Are you okay?”
The question surprised him. She was looking up at him, her eyes sad.
231 took a breath and made a quick scan of his surroundings. “Forgive me. I was distracted.” No threats. He had to stay focused on his mission. Thinking too much about Sophia’s problems would only make him less effective.
“No, I mean… you were angry about something.”
It took 231 a moment to realize that she wasn’t checking 0n his combat effectiveness. She was actually concerned about how he felt.
All he could think to do was answer honestly. “I was thinking about things to much, and I got frustrated.”
“Like what?” Her face was brightening, if slightly.
231 thought for a moment. “I want to help you more.”
Sophia actually snickered. “Uh, you just saved my life. That’s helpful.”
Of course, he thought. That was what he was made to do. But from her faint smile, he could tell that she truly appreciated him. Once again, he found the smile working its way across his face.
“I mean, I want to do more than that. To help you with your memory, and…” He couldn’t think of quite the right words. “…when you’re sad.”
A different frown overtook her face. Not a frown, but a smile turned downward at the edges, accompanied by wide, wet eyes. Sophia was trying not to cry.
The Goliath was about to apologize when the girl wrapped her arms around his left arm and squeezed, leaning into him.
“Thank you, 231.”
The clone soldier’s entire body felt warm all at once. The girl was hugging him. So that’s what it feels like.
“I was just thinking about the sister,” she was saying. The faceless figure, lying on the floor. “I don’t remember everything, but I remember she was really nice to me.”
“The one who said Dubai?”
231 felt Sophia’s head nod, her cheek rubbing against his forearm. “I think she wanted me to go there.”
“But you don’t remember why?”
He felt her eyes narrow. “I think maybe she was from there.”
The orphans had been in danger. The nun had wanted Sophia to escape the gunman. That made sense, 231 thought. But why all the way to Dubai Colony? What was there?
Soon, the telepad was in sight.