For Want of an Explanation (Open-Ended)

Tal sighed, tilting his head over slightly and shifting his eyes to look at Sieg. Truth be told, it was partly his own fault for the circumstances with which he’d been subject to, as he’d violated rule number two of the Freelancer code (rule one being that you’d never be paid enough to die). He lacked the foresight to read the fine print, and, rather stupidly, agreed to a contract without actually knowing the terms, in a spur of the moment type-deal. Figuring it’d actually end, and anticipating some kind of month or year deadline after he’d try to negotiate after the contract was signed, he was disappointed to find out that, well, the contract would only end if he died, and judging by her response, there was no room for leeway.

Statistically speaking,” he thought, sighing deeply while trying to mask his disappointment before the nice little girl and mentally referencing the low average lifespan of a Sirian Freelancer, I was supposed to have broken the contract about four years ago. Shame it didn’t happen any sooner.

Sure, it was a load of bullshit. Sure, he’d be withheld from deployment with SPECCOM (although this was more of a good thing) until he ironed out all the kinks regarding his sudden onsets of fatigue whenever Saber would enter her combat form, and sure, he’d be the subject of ridicule from his unitmates and station personnel under the absurd premise that he was spiritually and physically linked to a half-naked little girl for the rest of his life, but hey. She was alive, right? And he’d done his duty to maintain the timeline and all that good shit, right?

Eh, not really. He sighed again, mentally, and furrowed his eyebrows. “Oh,” was all he managed to say. Honestly, he wasn’t expecting anything different, but there was a bit of a drastic change in lifestyle coming at him regarding how he’d manage this. His expectations were that it’d be like raising a daughter, only he, being a simple man who kicked doors in and delivered hate for a living, didn’t have any idea how to care for a little girl, or anyone else for that matter. Hell, judging by his scars, wounds, and overall lack of self-preservation as noted in his psych report, he didn’t know how to take care of himself, either.

Maybe they could work something out. Only time would tell as to whether or not he could adapt to this strange circumstance, if he’d turn their forced dynamic duo into an effective combat implement, or god forbid, an actual relationship, but for now, there was a long road ahead.

“…Right,” he managed to get out, his gaze shifting slowly towards the floor, where he counted the little specks in the metal plating to distract his mind.

Then we oughta start getting used to each other,” he thought, taking yet another deep breath.

Servitude was a taboo of the modern world. In the era where individualism had already began to take flight, in the era where people had began to demand for more freedom than the older generation could have ever imagined, a life of servitude to a single person was akin to slavery, a criminal practice that was abhorred by everyone in the living world.

The petite girl who stood by the taller figure - her sized dwarfed by his uninteresting figure alone - simply nodded her head, emerald eyes locked at his face. This was the same girl that had pledged an oath of eternal servitude to his being, a statement of her own free will that would forever bind her to this invisible shackles that had tied her being to the existence of the young man. This was the relationship between a Servant and a Master, a special one granted by the sacred chalice that oversees the ritual that embodied the pinnacle of miracles.

Of course, the common people would never understand that, nor would they ever understand the mysteries of magecraft, or the life of a Servant. Right now, to everyone, Saber was nothing but a little girl with little clothing, her raven black and skimpy tight suit plastered on the feminine and curvy contours of her body, the opening of her wear exposed the creamy white of her smooth and unblemished skin in a lustrous gleam, her midriff, her slender bare back, her collars and glimpse of her pert bosom pressed on by the tight confines of her garments. Above all, she still wore such an innocent expression even as she stoically looked up at her Master, her milky cheeks and the argent that cascaded behind her back spoke nothing about her experiences as a warrior.

Normally, a frail-looking girl attached to a lean yet seemingly more powerful man would have been looked upon as a master-slave relationship - and in a way, one would be right. After all, a Master wielded total control of his Servant with the symbolic power of his Command Seals, and if needed, use them to issue an absolute order that could never be broken. Even the most ridiculous commands such as suicide could not be absolutely defied.

Would Saber had minded all of that? Maybe not. She was a warrior that would help anyone, regardless of their intent towards her. Now that she was a Servant of the man looking down at her, she had already swore to aid him till the end of his time. The argent sword that dissipated into the fluttering blue specks of nothing was the physical manifestation of her promise.

In the end, she blinked back at her Master, who had strangely went silence after her curt and straightforward reply. Though she was obediently awaiting orders from her Master, she ended up looking like a prepubescent girl eagerly waiting for the man to order her around even as her expressions remained unwavering cool.

Tal shuffled his rifle around in his arms, coming to a comfortable position with the bend of his elbow wrapped up snug around the front end of the weapon’s rather wide magazine well, designed to conceal a 50-round quadstacked casket-style magazine. Minding his muzzle awareness, he lowered his arm so that his weapon sat at about his midriff-level, stopping the relatively dangerous seesaw motion of the gun so that it wasn’t even remotely in danger of “checking” Sieg. Sure, he had a reputation for being headstrong and reckless, but that still didn’t mean he threw basic safety rules out the window.

His gaze gradually came back up, and he soon found himself looking Sieg right in the eye. Unlike her, the half-naked-yet-somehow-still-elegant-looking little girl with the innocent face, Tal was considerably more fatigued. It was evident in the way that his garments, despite being made of modernized, heavy-duty synthetic fabric incorporating design elements devised over the course of hundreds of years of trial and error, drooped, the normally-flat uniform jet black color preferred by Solas Tempus appearing, well, old and faded. Compared to the skin tight suit worn by his servant, Tal looked raggedy, poor, almost, and he lacked any of the glamour his new compatriot did. Perhaps it spoke of their respective experiences, as the two were similar up until their motives met. She fought to help people out of the good of her heart, for those in her community; he fought for the fame and fortune.

“Well,” he started, shrugging his shoulders lightly as he stared blankly into Sieg’s glistening eyes, his own brown eyes dull and reflectionless in the dim lighting of the station’s hallway, “Guess we oughta get going back to the room. We can…talk about this more there.”

He didn’t really have much better of a description for what he needed of her, only that he needed to shuffle his way out of the public eye until he could get a better explanation, maybe actually get to know each other more outside of a chasing game of mother duck and duckling. Or, at the very least, until he could get her to put some real clothes on. Whichever one came first, preferably the latter. Silently, he nodded down the hallway, still cradling his rifle, and started down the hall under the pretense that she’d be right behind him, making a beeline for the residential area and eventually, reaching the sliding door to his room. The numbers were stenciled on the door in typical space-y font, 583, signalling that it was in fact, his, and so he came to a stop, pressing a series of buttons on the wall console adjacent to the door and placing his entire palm on the touchscreen. A wave of light swept underneath his right hand on the screen, before the entire pad lit up in a flash of blue to inform him that he’d been positively identified as actually being himself. Lifting his hand from the console, Tal took a step back, and watched on as the door to his room opened with a hiss.

Quietly, he’d step in, reaching his right hand up to grab the sling that was over his shoulder and pulling it up and over his head. The inside of his elbow was worn red underneath his now wrinkled combat shirt sleeve from carrying his weapon like so for so long, and so he sought to ditch as much equipment as he could to reduce the strain on his aging complexion, setting the rifle in the corner leaning against his wardrobe. On the magazine well, the simplistic LED display still read a “50” in a bright red, stencil-esque font, sticking out considerably from the otherwise dim, blue-ish lighting the room brought on by what little natural lighting that made it through the closed shutters reflecting off of the dull, semi-glossy metallic construction of the room’s walls and floor.

Sighing, he’d make it to the other end of the room, where a small recreational food and drink replicator was wired into the wall. In a robotic, almost automated motion, he leaned over and tapped a series of buttons on the control panel, an action assisted by what must’ve been years of muscle memory coming to fruition, causing a cup of black coffee to materialize on a small platform. Tal reached for it, despite it being piping hot, and took up the off-white ceramic cup in his hand, shaking it slightly and swirling the deep, black liquid around before taking a small sip, visible steam coming off of the cup.

“You, uh,” he began, between sips as he took yet another, “You want a drink or something?”

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