Carpathia III: Episode 70 - The Coming of Shai

The Palace, Zhail City

Artemis sat hunched over his desk in the palace basement putting the final touches on his newest creation. As he worked, he heard the elevator down the hall grind to a halt. Right away, he shooed Phobos and Deimos into their hiding place. Despite knowing that Phobos and Deimos would be able to hide themselves quickly, as they always do, his heart still raced as he heard the sound of footsteps coming down the hall. The "clack clack" of high heels on the stone floor could only mean one thing: Erosia.

Artemis relaxed only a little once Phobos and Deimos hid themselves. Artemis wondered what Erosia wanted this time as she barged into his lab.

Erosia: So, what do you have? Show me.

Artemis grumbled, knowing that Erosia was never pleased with his creations and only mocked them. He held up the pocketknife he was finishing just before she arrived.

Artemis: This is what I'm currently working on.

Erosia leaned over and glared at the pocketknife with a sneer on her face.

Erosia: Just what the hell is that?

Artemis: It's a pocketknife. I'll show you.

Artemis began opening the various tools.

Artemis: It's an all-purpose tool. It has two sizes of knives, a screwdriver, a saw, a pair of scissors and a few other things.

Erosia stood up straight and folded her arms across her chest.

Erosia: Another day, another useless piece of junk. I don't know why I bother coming down here.

Erosia turned and marched out of the lab. Artemis shouted at her as her footsteps faded down the hallway.

Artemis: I remind you that I work for Prince Riven and not you!

As he heard the elevator begin its ascent, he muttered his next words under his breath to himself.

Artemis: You stupid, old bat.

Artemis sat in his chair and stewed while Phobos and Deimos emerged from their hiding place.

Deimos: Don't listen to her, Dad. She's a nut.

Phobos: Yeah, she's an old poop.

Artemis chuckled.

Artemis: Heh. Come here, you two. I want to clean you up before I go upstairs tonight.

Both of the little androids obliged, standing up straight in front of Artemis. He picked up Phobos first and gently sat him down in front of him. Phobos slipped off his jacket and unzipped his shirt before laying flat on the desk. Then, after dipping a small cotton swab into some rubbing alcohol, Artemis began gently scrubbing Phobos, paying particular attention to the joints.

Artemis: So, have you two seen anything new around here lately?

Leaning in close, Artemis carefully undressed Phobos further and gently began cleaning him of every speck of dirt, fuzz, and stain.

Deimos: Nothing worth reporting.

Once the outer skin was finished, Artemis carefully disconnected Phobos's arms and swabbed the contacts and servos before reconnecting them again.

Phobos: Hee hee. That tickles!

Artemis continued to scrub deep inside Phobos's joints with only the relaxing hum of his fan to break the silence. Deimos sat on the desk and quietly watched.

Artemis: Okay, go ahead and turn over.

Right away, Phobos rolled onto his chest. First, Artemis gently removed the antenna from Phobos's neck and began cleaning the contacts.

Artemis: I'd like to know more about the King and Erosia. Suggestions?

Artemis lifted Phobos's jacket and wiped down his back and butt.

Deimos: It will take time, but I believe the best course of action is to tunnel between the walls of the King's chambers. We would have to do it when he's not there. He would surely hear noises.

Finally, after several minutes of cleaning, Artemis was finished.

Artemis: Okay, that should do it.

Phobos leapt to his feet and started putting his clothes back on while Artemis fixed his synthetic hair, parts of which had gone flat from laying on the desk. Once Artemis was satisfied, he leaned back in his chair and surveyed his work, making sure he didn't miss anything.

Artemis: Looking good.

Phobos: Thanks!

Artemis: Okay, Deimos, you're next.

Right away, Deimos lay down on the desk of her own accord.

Deimos: Ready!

Artemis went through the same routine with Deimos as he did with Phobos, cleaning her body, joints, and contacts. Deimos was less fidgety than Phobos and the process went more smoothly. When he finished, Deimos stood and Artemis fixed her hair as well.

Artemis: All clean. I guess we should go upstairs now. You two can start digging through the walls of the King's chambers as soon as it's convenient.

Artemis closed his computer and stuffed it into his bag while Phobos and Deimos retrieved other small items that he kept with him. Once packing was finished, Artemis slipped his new penknife into his pocket and Phobos and Deimos crawled into his bag. Artemis groaned as he lifted the strap of the bag over his shoulder.

Artemis: Ugh, one of these days, I'm going to give you two an overhaul with lighter parts.

After locking the door to his lab, Artemis trudged to the elevator and pulled the handle. Shortly thereafter, the carriage arrived and he stepped inside. He rode the elevator to his floor, third from the top. This floor wasn't as outlandishly opulent as the top floor, where the King and Prince resided, but it was very well-appointed with marble floors and exquisitely carved statues adorning the columns.

The hallway was quiet and dark, with only a few dim lights for illumination. Without Artemis realizing it, the sun had gone down while he was cleaning Phobos and Deimos and the entire floor appeared to be deserted. The sound of his footsteps echoed as he made his way to his room. After unlocking the door, he entered and flipped the light switch. The old lights took a few moments to achieve full brightness and bask the room in a warm glow.

Artemis kicked off his shoes by the door and carried the heavy bag to a side table on the other side of his bed and placed it gently on a lower shelf. After removing his shirt, he hoisted himself into his soft bed and lay where he was with his hands behind his head.

To his surprise, there was a knock at the door. At first, he didn't realize what was going on, since he never received visitors. Finally, he sat up in his bed and stared at the door for a moment, wondering if he was just hearing things. The knock came again.

Artemis: Come in?

As the door opened, Artemis sincerely hoped that it would be anyone but the King or Erosia. He was both surprised and relieved that it was Shai and he was carrying a large platter.

Shai: Good evening, Master Artemis. I heard you enter your chambers late this evening and I wondered if you have eaten recently.

As though on cue, Artemis's stomach growled. Indeed, he had been so engrossed in his work that he had eaten nothing. He slid out of his bed and met Shai in the middle of the room.

Artemis: In fact, I haven't. I lost track of time while I was cleaning...

Artemis stopped himself just in time. Shai tilted his head in anticipation during his pause. Artemis reached into his pocket and pulled out the knife he was finishing.

Artemis: new pocketknife.

Shai leaned in and gazed at Artemis's new invention inquisitively. Artemis, however, was more concerned about the platter, which Shai was now balancing precariously on one hand.

Shai: Fascinating. What manner of device is this?

Artemis: I'll show you, but first, you should put that down on the table and have a seat.

Shai: As you wish.

Shai placed the platter on a nearby coffee table and removed the dome, revealing a selection of delectable meats and cheeses. Also on the platter were two glasses and a pair of forks. Before sitting, Shai made his way to a nearby cabinet and opened the door. Artemis knew it was stocked with a selection of fine wines, though he had never made use of any of the contents himself. Shai made a selection and took the bottle with him to the couch behind the coffee table.

Shai: I hope you do not mind if I request the pleasure of your company this evening.

Artemis raised an eyebrow. This was the first time Shai or anyone had visited him in his room and he wasn't sure if he need be suspicious. Finally, Artemis joined Shai on the couch next to him. Shai took one of the forks and pierced a small cube of cheese and ate it.

Shai: Please sample whatever you prefer.

Artemis took the other fork and stabbed a small piece of meat with it. The meat was much more rich and flavorful than what was usually brought to him by the palace staff. As Artemis ate, Shai pulled the cork from the bottle of wine and commenced to filling the two small glasses. Once finished, he handed one of the glasses to Artemis as he finally decided to ask the one question that was burning in his mind.

Artemis: Forgive my asking, but why are you here? And with all this nice food?

Shai leaned back on the couch and took a sip from his glass.

Shai: It seems that my Prince requires so little of me as of late. If it pleases you, this means that I have ample time to service you as well.

Artemis blushed as his ears perked on his head.

Artemis: I understand that feeling. Adell doesn't pay much attention to me anymore either. I don't really need a servant, though.

Shai placed his glass on the table and leaned in close enough for Artemis to feel his breath on his cheek and smell his subtlely sweet perfume. Shai placed his hand on Artemis's quivering thigh and rubbed it gently.

Shai: If that is the case, perhaps you would feel better if we considered serving each other.

Artemis considered the offer briefly before leaning in closer to Shai, their lips almost touching.

Artemis: That's a fair arrangement.

Then, amidst the warm glow of the lights and sweet scent of perfume, they kissed.

Commissioned art in this episode from:

All city pictures from SimCity 4

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