AUTHOR'S NOTE

Hello there! Alice the author here. Please leave a comment or follow me if you enjoy this story. It would make so happy. I'm also on Instagram and Wattpad under the same username, uxecila, so feel free to look me up. I'll be posting more writing and updates there! :)


CHAPTER 21

To Yaz's surprise, instead of slicing and dicing into her flesh right away, Jace gestured to the 430.

In a steady voice, he commanded, "Set down Jericho-15. I need you to come operate on Jericho-17."

Jericho-17? Yaz blinked a few times. Was he talking about her? Probably. She sighed. Fucking hell. At this point, nothing really fazed her anymore.

In a monotone voice, she asked, "Why are you asking that inferior model to remove my chip? Shouldn't you be the one to do it?"

Jace shook his head. "I wasn't designed for the battlefield like the 430's, beautiful. His line was built for combat. Basic triage and medical knowledge should be floating around somewhere in his database."

"So you're telling me that my odds of survival are better with him than with you?" Yaz prodded, almost testily.

Jace scowled. A rare sign of annoyance from his typically pleasant demeanor. "Only when it comes to minor surgical procedures. I'm superior to him in every other way—as I'm sure you can recall."

Yaz smirked at him. "You were pretty good, Jace, but how can I be sure that the 430 isn't better unless I test him out?"

"Don't even think about it, beautiful," Jace growled. "Combat synths like him aren't equipped to perform sexual intercourse."

Yaz chuckled darkly. "What a shame."

Then, she turned to watch the 430 set Romi's limp body down on the sandy ground. He kept his hand behind her neck, supporting the weight of her head the whole time. For a machine, he was being surprisingly careful about not injuring her further. Yaz swallowed nervously. She could only hope that he would be as gentle with her as he had been with Romi.

The 430 stalked towards them and took the knife from Jace's outstretched hand. His face looked immobile, mannequin-like as he stood next to Jace. The aura surrounding each of them felt as different as night and day. Smiling, teasing Jace was so lifelike, so human, while the 430 was all soldier and pure machine. Yaz wondered how she could have ever thought of them as identical.

Suddenly, Jace appeared behind her. He snaked one arm through both of hers to hold them behind her back. His other hand wrapped around the juncture between her neck and jawline.

She glared up at him. "Uh, what the fuck do you think you're doing?"

Jace replied, "I've been told the next ten minutes are going to hurt like hell. I'm here to hold you steady in case you can't hold still. Or worse. Faint from blood loss."

"Oh, Jesus," Yaz muttered helplessly under her breath.

"Relax," Jace reminded her unhelpfully, "you're in good hands. The 430 can emit temperatures between negative 150 to positive 150 degrees Celsius from his body. He's going to disinfect the blade before we operate."

With bated breath, Yaz's eyes were locked onto the 430's every move as he first heated up the knife in his right hand to cleanse the bacteria. He used his left hand to cool down the scalding hot piece of stainless steel. Then, his pale blue eyes locked onto hers. She wondered if he could sense her fear. It was hard to tell. As always, his face remained completely expressionless.

The 430 approached. He was standing so close to her now that she could see every single eyelash fanned across his eyelid. Taking in long, drawn out breaths, Yaz willed her pulse to slow down. She wanted to believe that her tolerance for pain was fairly high after years of enduring those serum-induced headaches.

Reality, however, didn't live up to her expectations.

The moment the 430 sunk the blade into her flesh, Yaz released a cry of agony that was probably loud enough to shatter glass.

"MOTHERFUCKING MOTHERFUCKER! FUCK! FUCK! FUCK!"