231 stepped onto the telepad just behind Sophia, trying not to think about his orders. The more he tried to put them out of his mind, the more he found himself focusing on them.
“Have you ever been to Dubai?” Sophia asked him, turning her eyes to the dome over their heads. As soon as they were within the glass, the machine began to audibly warm up.
The Goliath shook his head. “I’ve heard it’s peaceful. No reason for me to go there.”
“Parveen!” Sophia said suddenly, nearly cutting him off. “That was her name.” She looked awestruck for a moment, then frowned. “I still don’t remember her face.”
231 placed his hand, very carefully, on her shoulder. He removed it a short moment later, just as she looked up at him. It still felt like a risky gesture, but much less so than it would have a day ago. “But you remembered that,” he said. “and what she said. That’s enough to keep us moving forward.”
Sophia’s smile, 231 decided, was worth the risk.
The golden energies hummed above them, obscuring the sky, not dimmed by the ambient light. With a flash and a rush of gravity, they arrived on Dubai Colony. When the teleportation field abated, they saw that it was night. The sky was awash with amber city light, all but obscuring the stars.
The telepad station was in the midst of downtown, surrounded by new skyscrapers. 231 and Sophia exited the dome, eyes drawn aloft to the tall buildings.
The clone soldier activated his comm. “Milord, we…” His voice trailed off as the comm chimed an error. No signal. Oh, no. “Sophia does your-”
“We apologize for the inconvenience,” said a voice over the station loudspeakers. “Dubai Colony’s communication hub is experiencing connection issues. We are working to resolve the problem, and we expect the system to be fixed shortly.”
“Mine doesn’t work either,” Sophia was saying.
A communications blackout. They had no way of contacting command back at Tower headquarters. 231 paused and looked to Sophia. He barely noticed his vague sense of relief.
“I’m following you, Sophia. I recommend we keep going while they fix the system.”
Sophia looked out at the lights around her, searching. She was quiet for a moment. “I dunno what to look for,” she said. Then, she looked up at him, and he saw the same faint relief on her face. “But I am hungry.”