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No warnings. This one should be pretty safe, unless you're triggered by cluelessness or Calla being mean (but not violent) to Devin.

"Wake up, Princess." I'm still not used to my robotic voice, but I kind of love the way it carries in a quiet room.

Devin doesn't seem nearly as impressed as I am. All he does is groan a little and pull the covers over his head.

My electronic body definitely has its advantages, though I haven't figured out all its features yet. Just yesterday, I realized I can make a really loud screeching noise if I turn on "Voice Amplification Mode" and whistle at the same time. Who knew this information would come in handy so soon?

"Not that one, Wes," Devin mumbles sleepily. "Too fucking big."

Apparently, Devin's a heavy sleeper. Good thing I brought this air horn.

"I TOLD YOU THAT ROCKET LAUNCHER IS TOO FUCKING BIG FOR THIS ROOM!" Devin sits straight up, blinks, and rubs at his face with a confused expression.

I don't wait for him to collect himself. As far as I can tell, that would take a few hours anyway. There's no time like the present, so I grab him by the arm and yank him out of bed. "Get dressed," I order. "NOW."

Devin just sways on his feet and blinks at me some more. "But... shower?"

"Nope." I shake my head. "No time."

"Need sleep..." He struggles weakly, trying to break my grasp.

"You've had plenty of sleep." I tell him. "Now it's time to get up. I've got an important errand for you."

"Where's Wes?" Devin looks unconvinced.

"You'll see." I guide him swiftly over to the door of his closet. "Same place you're going as soon as you GET DRESSED."

"Too early," Devin whines.

This is pointless. Letting go of Devin's arm, I stomp into the closet alone. If I want him out of here, I'm going to have to do everything myself. I grab the first shirt and pair of pants I see and emerge to find him curled up in bed again. He looks so peaceful, I almost hate to disturb him.

Oh, wait - no, I don't. Bringing the air horn was definitely a good idea.

* * * * *

If my metal face were capable of smiling, I'd be grinning like a fool at the memory of shoving Wes and Devin out the front door, Devin mumbling a pathetic "No SynthBrew?" as I slammed it behind them. Instead, I just stretch out on the couch and spend a while appreciating the quiet and solitude. It's wonderful.

After that, it's time to focus on business. I march down the hall to Kalen's room.

"We've got to talk," I tell him when he answers my knock.

"About what?" Kalen's fully dressed and seems awake enough.

"Let's go sit in the kitchen." I feel awkward standing here in the hall. "We've got the upstairs to ourselves."

"What about Wes and Devin?" Kalen asks.

"Oh, they'll be gone for a while." I start down the hall. "I sent them to find an ID-10T chip. Told them you wanted it for the robots you're trying to build."

"I don't even know what an ID-10T chip is, CallaBot."

"That's because it doesn't exist!" I sit down at the table. "I wanted to keep them busy."

Kalen laughs a little as he takes a seat. "So, what did you want to talk about?"

"Let's start with the big picture." I say. "What are we doing here?"

"Um..." Kalen furrows his brow in confusion. "We don't really have anywhere else to go?"

"No," I say, wondering if Kalen isn't as awake as I think he is. "I mean what's your plan?"

"My plan for what?" Kalen's squinting at me like I'm some sort of logic puzzle.

If I had a stomach, I think I'd feel it sinking now.

"For us?" The panic is blunted, but it's there. And rage. My robot brain doesn't seem to have any trouble processing that emotion. "You know, the whole terrorist thing? How are we going to do that?"

"Oh," Kalen says slowly. "I haven't really thought about it. Figured we'd just let things settle for a bit."

I guess it's a good thing I'm not in my bug body anymore. That one fired lasers when I narrowed my eyes. It would probably be bad if I accidentally killed Kalen. Maybe.

* * * * *

We're still sitting at this damn table. I'm not sure how long it's been, but Wes and Devin must be trying really hard to find that ID-10T chip. It almost makes me feel bad for laughing at them. Never mind - it really doesn't.

I'm not sorry for wishing I could laser Kalen, either. Maybe there's something about this kitchen table.

Or maybe it's just the conversation we've been having for hours now. I bring up ideas and Kalen shrugs them off. How silly of me to think he'd want to work out a course of action. It's only what we spent all summer doing. Apparently, Kalen's not interested in planning now. He doesn't seem to be interested in much of anything.

I figure he isn't ready to look ahead and focus on the present. Try to discuss the issues. Brendan, who doesn't leave the basement except for meals. Wes, who's naive enough to trust his parents to spy on everyone except him. Devin, who doesn't trust anyone but overlooks the gaping Wes-shaped hole in his "fucking epic" security system.

Guess there's one more issue to address - Kalen, the leader who can't be bothered to actually lead.

"We're home, anyone miss us?" Wes hollers as the front door crashes open.

Of course. This would be the moment the Simple Twins decide to return. At this point, I almost welcome the distraction.

"So, um, about that chip," Devin holds up an enormous burlap sack. "We looked fucking everywhere. Spoke to all our Splinternet contacts. Couldn't find fucking anything about an ID-10T chip. You sure that thing even fucking exists?"

Oh, man. These guys are killing me right now. Good thing my poker face is amazing.

"Any of these what you need, Kalen?" Devin opens the bag and dumps its contents onto the kitchen table. They must have brought back every robotics chip in existence. "We figured we'd just get one of fucking everything."

I almost feel bad for wasting their whole day like that. Oh, wait - no, I don't.

Kalen lets out a loud snicker. Just like that, my own amusement evaporates. Could I laser him just a little?

"While we were out, we came up with an idea for an intelligence mission." Devin looks at Kalen, waiting to see if he should elaborate. Kalen just sifts through the chips on the table, chuckling to himself.

"I, for one, am dying to hear your brilliant plan." I kick Kalen under the table, hard.

"Ow!" Kalen yells, looking up. "What?"

"Heard about this top-secret weapons demonstration." Devin looks like he's just won a lifetime supply of blue MegaSlushes. "Latest and fucking greatest. Stuff that's not available fucking anywhere yet. We could sneak in somehow. It'd be fucking huge."

"We're supposed to trust you alone at a top-secret weapons demo?" My voice drips condescension.

"You could come too." Devin shrugs. "It's not like anyone's gonna know you're a fucking terrorist now."

This time, I don't even bother glancing over at Kalen. I already know he's not paying attention.

"What do you think, Kalen?" Devin asks. "Should we try it?"

"Huh?" Kalen looks up for a second. "Yeah, sure. Sounds like a plan."

It's all I can do not to incinerate him on the spot. Does he even know he's supposed to be in charge?

For those of you who like context with your goofiness, this piece takes place a couple days after Not Just a Friend.

(also, I'm using this one for "loss of identity" on my h/c bingo card)
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