Chapter Four of The Obsession.


Chapter One (Home).

Chapter Two (A Far Cry).

Chapter Three (What is there to fear?).

Synopsis: When Oktavia manages to escape her holding ship, she discovers a series of glitches in her programming designed to conflict with her memories. She is found offshore by an old face of her past, and Okta must confront what the scientists have been erasing from her.


Dr. Eaton waited for Mischa to proceed.

“The more I’ve been around her, the more I realize that she truly is human… I was wrong, you have made a prototype—farther than that—so life-like, it surpassed any of my expectations and thoughts.”

“Of course you were wrong. You failed to see her as how I created her. She is not only a war machine, she is many things. She can pull research together three to five times faster than your peer review group can in a matter of months.”

“But, you say she is human—you certainly don’t act like you believe it, Dr. Eaton.”

“I have to focus on what is important. Nurse Koch, she is human but like humans and robots alike, they are expendable. If Oktavia were killed on the front lines, for say, her design is replicated and stored for other uses and future bionics. She is our experiment of today.”

“You’re—you’re practically just prostituting her to start wars!”

“You’ve fallen in love with her,” the doctor didn’t sound surprised. 

“I am not in love with her—”

“I highly doubt you would go through the trouble of even visiting her when you were not briefed to. Do you believe we’re blind? We monitor everything.”

She almost lost her breath. He saw.

“As much as she is human, that is the danger of her as well. Her fragmented identity and persona. She doesn’t know exactly who she is—she is only portions of what we put into her, and she will never be an actualized identity capable of conscience out of her own egoic designs. She is programmed a certain way.”

“You’re lying, Eaton. She is her own person. She is beyond whatever you want her to be.”

He glanced away, his eyes suggesting that he was glancing discretely to his notepad. “She’ll be put through trials of different war zone simulations to predict her emotional state and stability. She can’t have you as an attachment—the more you symbolize something she—she loves, the more she’ll want to get away from us. I can see it already and I only visit her bi-weekly. I am not even flattering you, she probably just glanced at you and decided what she would feel, like clockwork,” he snapped his fingers. “You need to end this.”

“And how do you expect me to do that?” Mischa didn’t dare break away eye contact. Respect was the only thing she had left, if it wasn’t love.

“You do it carefully, Koch. Very carefully.”

Mischa lied down on the couch, twisting until she found a nice crevice to put her face in. Maybe she wanted to struggle a bit, maybe just suffocate at this point. It was building too much and it wasn’t even Oktavia’s fault—she knew what happened. She knew, but the undertones of trauma and tribulation curled at her chest, and as much as she hated to admit it, she was afraid. She couldn’t throw herself between memories, she could only remember the days when they were discovered, how naive she was then; she curtly shook her head, feeling guilt for what she had once thought.

She sighed as she turned over, blinking away the tears from her eyes. Mischa was drained.

It was never Oktavia’s fault.


“Do you like it, Mischa?”

“What—What—Why did you even get this?” She almost lost her breath. If there was one thing she would change, it’s the bionic’s thirst for the unpredictable. She was agitated if kept still for too long, it reminded her of her psychology professor, Dr. Rolk. Eccentric.

“Sharks are fascinating,” Oktavia sighed, petting the taxidermy shark on the nose. Its jaws were an aperture with white stalactites, eyes skimming black until they were elided into a cool, imposing death.

Oktavia noticed the discomfort and cupped Mischa’s chin. “It is dead, darling. What is there to fear?”

She looked again at Oktavia. “So many things.” 

Her eyes glittered like a moissanite ring, stayed still like the victims of Medusa, her jaw tight. “Is this what you want? I want to be sure. I care deeply about you, much more than I ever thought I would.”

“Is it what you want?”

The bionic processed this, almost becoming lost in the question—no one ever considered her needs first. Her breath was shaky as her lips brushed against Mischa’s.

Mischa didn’t think it would feel so real—it was real. She thought her lips would be frigid or even remote, but it was veridical in her perception; she couldn’t tap into the bionic’s thoughts as much as she wanted to, that impassiveness yet playfulness transcended instability alone in her design. But, similarly, Oktavia was hesitant in her movements almost as if she would cause Mischa to run away from her.

There was nothing and everything to fear. They both were not in reality.

What possessed her to remember more? What possessed her? If it turns out that each fragmented memory was only a piece to ensure her instability, it was working. Oktavia savored the feeling of the memory—refracted in her mind—the tingling to her lips, the buzz she felt flood through her was euphoric. 

She stared into the interspace as Mischa slept soundly on the divan, memories flooding her—repeating, shattering, dissociating. But it was all the same in their intensity and tinge that followed her as a blemish in her programming, each tinge and recollection. 

Everything was off. Nothing felt real to her. The air was cold against her face as she sat there for a time, watching each motion of Mischa’s figure. “No, I won’t do it,” the human mumbled, voice dulled with sleep.

She tilted her head, amused, but in some way she thought she could reach what was truly itching at Mischa. Oktavia crouched down, and in her deception—“Do what, Mischa?”

“Don’t want to.”

“Mischa, just do it. What is the worst that can happen?” She pushed harder to the point goosebumps rushed throughout her spine.

“Everything will be lost—please, please, leave us alone.”

“What would be lost, hmm?”

“Oktavia.”

What? What was she even dreaming about? Her brow furrowed until she felt the pressure squeeze her forehead. She dragged her feet back to the chair she was in, her eyes languid as she tried to decipher what that meant. It was just a dream—you have your own at times. You create them too in the dreamscape. They mean absolutely nothing most of the time.

But they also use what is hidden in the subconscious; thoughts humans are not aware of left revealed only in the dreamscape. Is this an escape or is this a warning? Her gut churned when she thought more about Mischa hiding from her. This was not the woman she knew. She was gone.

Oktavia purported herself with logic, but her thoughts became unwarranted. She could dismiss them as they appeared, but they followed the emotional stimulation that would push her over the edge. Blanking, she shoved the space away from her almost as if it were tangible; while the air grew thicker in her lungs, while the windows darkened the glade. She wasn’t herself. She felt like another person.

No. No. It was happening again—again—again—again. She could break apart the word until it no longer made sense and she was gone—she was—

Oktavia adjusted her suit and headgear of the rival country’s soldiers—their men. The glass could only reflect the moonlight as she annexed through the Castle of Ayothis. The sharp gladius in her hand was angled toward the brumal midnight. Her heart fluttered at it.

At the gates, only her mismatched eyes could be seen. The guard on his post was about to sound the tocsin—but cold, calculated hands swung the blade through his neck, beheading him. She stepped over his body, and willed herself in umbrage at whatever was left of the king’s army. As she unlocked the main door, Oktavia was surprised at how vacant the once effervescent halls were—the house and dinner parties, the celebratory feasts would yield no thought to this.

She would put anyone in her coquelicot path to the sword. If the realization unearthed anything, it was well remained to be kept hidden. She will tread in the stories of engaging with foot soldiers, breaking their necks, and be bathed in champagne like the blood at her very own feet. A slow smile spread throughout her face—the glory, the recognition.

Eaton would be so proud of her. Mischa, eh—she knew that this was her design.

She hesitated through almost an anamnesis-like stasis, her eyes fixated on the bedroom doors where the king and queen were sleeping (she grimaced—she hoped that was what they were doing). 

She twisted the handle, emerging to the sight of two human bodies at rest. The door fell closed, her hand wavering over the silver—no, not now. She flicked on the light, toppling over Ayothis’s wife, hands excitable—strangling her to the sound of her death-chambered screams. Ayothis stirred to the other side as if he were still asleep as a newborn yak. 

“Why, why are you here for me!?” 

She did not dare to speak back. Oktavia wanted her imprints on her, the king watched in fascination as if he were almost proud—proud. The queen’s face, however, morphed into her very own beloved—

She stopped, swallowing down the acid that formed in her throat. 

“Oktavia!” the white-bearded king commanded. “Do not stop. She needs to die. If it’s not her, then it’s you when they found out what you have done!”

Ayothis stared at her, beckoning to finish the deed as his wife slowly regained breath.

“The bell invites me, for it is a knell,” Oktavia whispered.

The queen uttered one name that would go down in the land’s dying history as her last, “Alia, Alia!”

The first plunge of the sword was a bloodbath, warm on the skin—Ayothis’s, that is, while Oktavia failed to feel anything.

Her eyes withdrew from their technicolor abyss; the glow had died down. She made herself shudder, made herself feel chills but still felt a limited capability in such response. 

She was made to be human-like, but not to enact on it—all in retrospect it added up. The training, the war simulations, the flattery—but there was no love or emotion behind it from her father. Dr. Eaton was sure to proclaim of her human qualities and capabilities, but he never came to love or care about her. He put her, time and time again, on the back burner—She trembled both in grief and rage.

She allowed herself to be human now (whatever that meant), and perhaps Dr. Eaton defined that as her illness.

She stared at the woman, ire dissolving, studying each twitch in her aging features, each movement her limbs made, what words she would murmur (they were now silly nonsense, pushed with the occasional, “No, no…”), and how drool would pepper down from her lips.

Oktavia grabbed a tissue to wipe it up this time, unexpectedly waking Mischa up. Her hospitality was greeted with screams, until it too chiseled down into nothingness. “What were you doing?” The woman tried to calm her heartbeat.

“You were drooling, Mischa. I didn’t want you to stain the good couch for company. I know how you like to make everything seem nice.”

The human was at a loss whether to take it as a compliment or passive insult. “Oh, uh… Thank you, I guess?” 

“This feels domestic,” Oktavia smiled.

Mischa was hesitant before nodding back. “It—it does, yes, it does.”

“Shall I make you dinner this time?”

“No, no,” Mischa stretched out her back. “I’ll do it, why don’t you just—”

“Why are you afraid of me, Mischa? Every time I say something, it’s almost as if I’m cracking egg shells.”

“What? You mean walking on egg shells, hon—it’s walking on egg shells.”

“Another diversion to what I actually meant. I knew you were going to correct me, I wanted to see if you would focus on that or address the issue head on—go figure.” 

“Alright, arrogant ass, what do you want me to do?”

“I’ve missed you,” Oktavia sighed. “Why do we have to be like this, my Mischa? Why do you keep hiding from me? What is it?”

“Because I have to be like this, Okta. It’s for the greater good.”

“But… I love you.”

She shut her eyes when she walked away. “I know you do.”


Mischa trembled her hand as she dusted dirt into the pan. The solstice was coming up in a few days, and as sure as the moon rose, it would at least help distract her. She withheld the tears at the thought of Oktavia, trying to let her mind drift, focusing more on the orange glow that bathed her back, and–yes, the solstice celebration. It was to honor Ayothis’s spirit, but that was not its original purpose; it was to try culture a period of rest, a day break from fighting and she could remember the solemn, yet bemused, look that drew on Oktavia’s face as she attempted to explain the festivities at once point in time. She never could understand it.

The bionic that once made her so frustrated at her casual honesty and bluntness, her confusion at tradition and active disregard for said traditions, and how she took things so literally, it drove her crazy. Yet, Oktavia helped her with learning patience–encouraging it with gentle prods and brushes of hands; a voice coaxed with authority but a gentleness that was reserved.

Her face reddened, the tingle in her heart borderline to… What? Was it still fear? Was it love? Fuck. Her eyes focused back to the present, and she had yet to answer her own question. Faltering in her steps, she pushed the broom back under the couch and as much as she wanted to be done with the area, she wanted–no, she needed to keep herself occupied.

It had to be done. It was for the best, she reasoned.

On her knees, she swept further under the couch, ad nauseam, that she almost didn’t catch it.

“I highly doubt you would go through the trouble of even visiting her when you were not briefed to. Do you believe we’re blind? We monitor everything.”

She could feel the blood rush to her skull.


5 Comments

    1. Thanks, MadLad! Oktavia was a name that really stood out to me when I came up with the concept of her character, and it just stuck perfectly.

      Glad you’re enjoying the story. Thank you so much! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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