Chapter 3: Survivor
They both were silent for what felt like an eternity. If Glitch could sweat, he would have looked like he had jumped in a swimming pool from the heat of the gun at his back. Vix cleared her throat nervously before turning around to face the speaker. "We are peaceful researchers. Explorers looking for an answer."
"Ah," said the rough voice, "You mean your friend here's Engraving?"
He was a suspicious character, a red droid that looked very much like Glitch, with the same marks on his head of circles and lines. He even had the same different body type. His eyes, decidedly amber, were full of itching curiosity and an almost paranoid will to defend himself. He lowered his gun before opening his mouth to speak again.
"The name's Corrupt," He said in a voice that sounded like his voicebox was rusty, "I'm a Morbot rhictora bot. You're an odd droid, you purple one. I've never seen a droid built like you with such a light voicebox, not even above ground."
Vix took offense. "I'm a prototype of Droid female warriors. I was just created two weeks ago."
"Ah," Corrput said, nodding, "that explains it. So, she-droid, what buisness have you here?"
Vix liked him better already. She-droid was a much better name than lady or nerd.
Glitch coughed. "I think she already told you," he said gingerly, as though one wrong word could get him or the prototype he was escorting killed. "You actually seem like you can help us," he continued more confidently as he heard no gun loading from behind, "you sounded like you knew what my mark was." He turned around to face the red droid.
Corrupt nodded again. "Follow me, I'll explain on the way."
Glitch and Vix exchanged a suspiscious glance. They knew from an old story of a Droid explorer who found himself trapped in a small cave that not all who help you are your friends.
The red droid seemed to know what they were thinking. "Oh, don't worry, I'm friendly enough not to lead you into a trap."
Glitch visibly tensed. His eyes narrowed, suspicious of everyone after he joined the army so long ago. However, he followed, right behind Vix, who had gone as soon as Corrupt told them there was nothing to worry about.
The droids slid down steep rocky hills and avoided teleport holes for a long time. During the walk, Corrupt began to explain.
"Glitch, you aren't an above-ground droid."
"What?" Glitch responded immediately. He had been a droid above ground for as long as he could remember. Why was this droid lying?
"You're a Morbot richtora. Like me."
Glitch's eyes narrowed again. He didn't want to be just like this Corrupt. This one was far too suspiscious and rash. Glitch didn't even know what a "richtora" was.
"I suppose I should explain. A richtora is a Morbot droid-"
"Knew that," came Vix's voice, followed by a yawn of boredom as they rounded a corner. The males turned around sharply, giving her different looks: Glitch gave her a "you-are-the-biggest-idiot-on-the-planet-for-saying-something-so-dumb" glare, while Corrupt betrayed a mix of respect for her directness and amusement from the random voice.
"What?" she said, shrugging. "We did."
"Continue without another interruption, Corrupt?" Glitch's reply was sharp as an iron spike, cutting through Vix's arrogance like a knife. The burning rage in his glare dug into her, turning her confidence into a general sense of being uncomfortable. She had to plant her feet firmly in the ground to keep from shrinking away, but standing still was not Vix's specialty, so she walked briskly forward with her head down to walk next to Corrupt.
"Of course. What was I saying... Oh, yes! Richtora. It's a droid created by Morbots to maintain the Reactor."
Glitch stopped in his tracks. The Reactor! Lately Ironstar's power had been unsteady, and the air pulsed with uncomforting electricity. As soon as he had entered Morbot Land, those pulses had become stronger—in fact, they were getting more irritating as he walked. Perhaps the shortage of Morbot rhictora had caused the Reactor to malfunction slightly. Vix mashed her fingers to her temples like the pulses were bothering her.
"Yeah, she-droid," Corrupt said, "that's the Reactor falling apart."