A few minutes after 11 left and 17 was revived, 13 sat 10 down to talk outside alone.
"What on earth were you doing out in the middle of the night?" she said.
10's face grew dark and serious, "16 told me 17 was in danger out in the field. When I finally saw her, she said 16 told her I was in danger."
"Maybe 16 saw the beast coming and just got confused?" she suggested.
10's brows lowered with his voice, "I think she meant to kill us."
13 leaned back, "don't be ridiculous! 16's not like that."
"Don't you see?" he stood up. "This was all planned. Why else would 16 send us out there? Why didn't she call 12? He's the strongest."
"Now you're just being paranoid," 13 replied with a bit of anger in her voice. "What reason would 11 have to kill you?"
"Because I suspected his plan. 6 and 17 see it too, that's why we were the only ones out there."
13 shook her head, "You used to be so loyal to out platoon. Now, I'm not so sure."
Without another word, 13 walked away.
10 reached and called to her, but she ran off. 10 sighed and turned around. He jumped when he saw 16 right behind him.
Before he could say anything, 16 spoke, "11 tried to kill you?" Her voice was low and sympathetic, her optics wide with worry.
"Yeah," 10 sighed.
16 wrapped her arms around 10's head, "I would hate for something to happen to you." She leaned his head down so their foreheads could touch. "You mean so much to me. Why would 11 want to kill you?"
10 said nothing.
16 reached behind her back. Before 10 could lift his head to see what it was, 16 jabbed a metal rod into his chest. Loud zaps were heard before 10 fell to the ground, his optics wide and unblinking.
16 smirked and started to drag his body.
17 sat with 6, watching him feverishly draw. The more frantic his strokes became, the more 17's smile melted off her face. 6 started gasping and panting, pounding the paper with his hands. The ink splattered everywhere.
17 put a gentle hand on 6's back, but he shrieked in horror.
"It's okay, it's okay," she soothed, holding his arms. "What are you drawing that's getting you so frightened?"
"The betrayer!" 6 panted. "The betrayer is coming."
"Soon, very soon," 6 shook his head, as though trying to shake the visions out of his head. "We must leave before he is here."
17's mouth gaped open as she gasped, "of course! 11 is coming back as the betrayer. We must warn the others."
17 ran over to the first ragdoll she saw, who was 13 just walking away from her fight with 10.
"13, 6 said the betrayer is coming. We have to get out of here before 11 comes back."
"You too?" 13 scowled. "What is with all this? I know you don't like 11, but that is no reason to"
"You don't understand, 6 had a vision."
"6, huh? Is he the cause of all this paranoia?"
17 cocked an eyebrow. "What? No, what 6 says is true. He was right about the beast."
"Listen to yourself, you're being irrational. Stop being such a child and"
"I'M NOT A CHILD!"
The barn grew silent, save for 17's panting. All the other present ragdolls stopped what they were doing and leaned in to listen to the conversation.
After a few seconds, 17 puffed up her chest.
"Fine, if that's how it is, I'll find someone who respects me."
"17," 13 pleaded, but 17 ran off, grabbed her spear, then ran toward the dark corner where 6 sat.
13 walked away, defeated.
"I don't understand, 2," 13 said to the first ragdoll she ran into. "She used to be such a good little girl. Did that electric shock scramble her brains?"
"Perhaps," said 2. "Or perhaps 17 just wants to learn to stand on her own two feet."
"But she's still so young," 13 rubbed her pale arm.
"Maybe. Or maybe she was really more mature than you gave her credit for."
13 looked at the elder, but said nothing.
"Whatever happens, she's still the same 17," he smiled.
When 13 went to talk to 2, 17 felt along the wooden walls of the barn. 6 watched her. She found the loose board and pushed it to allow herself out.
"Coming?" she said to 6. He nodded and followed her.
Once outside, 17 took 6's hand and led him to the dead forest in the distance.
"If they don't want to treat us fair, then we'll just start our own platoon," said 17 as they ran. "It'll be the best platoon ever, and everyone will be respected and not treated like they're crazy."
Just before they entered the forest, 17 let go of 6's hand and he stood in place. 17 looked at him. He stood there, looking at his feet.
"Something wrong?" she asked.
6 looked out at the barn.
"Forget them, they never treat you right. They treat you like you're a whack job," she took 6's hand and looked into his eyes. "You'll be safe with me, I promise."
Upon his arrival at the house, 11 came storming in, much to 14 and 15's surprise.
"I told you to kill them!" 11 howled.
"We-we're sorry, sir," 14 stammered as 15 hid behind her. "We tried out best, honest."
11 held 14 up by her zipper, "The suit better be ready, and it better be good."
"Yes sir, it's finished."
"Good, show it to me. 12, head back to the barn. Make sure no one escapes. 16 should have 8 by now, so don't worry about fighting him."
12 grunted gave a nod of the head and did as he was told.
11 let 14 go and she lead them into the scientist's old lab. In the middle of the floor surrounded by stacks of diagrams and designs was a device. It was a half sphere in shape, with a seat in the middle big enough to sit a ragdoll. Metal legs sprouted from it, reminiscent of the fabrication machine and a spider, but smaller. On the front were claws used for grabbing.
11's optics widened and a smile stretched over his face.
"Yessss," he hissed. "It's perfect."
11 stood and admired the machine a few seconds before he started scolding 14 and 15 again.
"Don't just stand there, hook me up!"
"Yes sir, right away sir," they said almost at the same time.
15 opened up the flap on 11's chest and hooked up the wires from the machine to him. When he was done, 14 took two talismans and hooked it up to the machine. After a few seconds and sparks, the machine sprung to life at 11's will. He laughed maniacally from inside the center of the machine.
"Yes, with this new body we shall create a new world in my image!"
"With the original 9's talisman, we were finally able to make the suit powerful enough to work," 14 explained.
"If it worked on the fabrication machine, it should be more than sufficient for this suit," said 15.
"Are you sure it's right to steal it from them?" 14 said.
"Sacrifices must be made for the greater good," said 11, clenching his fist.
14 hummed in disbelief.
"Don't you dare defy me!" 11 said as he grabbed her with his front claws. He smashed her up against the wall. "The suit is finished; I can do away with you any time I want."
"Let her go!" 15 cried out. 11 struck him with one of his powerful legs and he smashed against the scientist's old desk.
"Don't destroy us just yet," said 14. "The suit is still a prototype. There could be bugs still in it, or what if you ruin it somehow?"
"I thought this suit would be indestructible," 11 spat.
"Nothing is indestructible," she said. "If something goes wrong with the suit and we're not here to fix it
well, you're out of luck, aren't you?"
11 growled, eying 14.
"Very well," he said. "But if you betray me, I'll be using your skins as upholstery."
He snatched 15 with his free claw and stormed out of the house. 15 screamed in terror as he was forced along for the ride.
2 and 5 sat by the barn window in the loft, looking out over the pasture. 2 squinted out in the field.
"What on earth could that be?"
5 took out his telescope and looked to where 2 was squinting. When he saw 11 coming towards the barn, he gasped.
"It looks like a beast. We have to get out of here!"
They made their way to the bucket and slid down.
"Everyone!" 5 called out to the rag dolls in the barn. "There's a horrible beast headed this way. We have to save ourselves!"
5 turned and tried to run out the back door, but 16 stood in the doors, holding two rods emitting electricity from them. The rods connected with a battery attached to her back, giving her power. 5 turned around to sneak out the front, but 12 stood in front of him. 12 and 16 led the rest of the ragdolls into a stall where 8 and 10 were bound and gagged with ropes. 12 shut the door of the stall, trapping them. 11 climbed up the stall with his mechanical spider legs and sat on top of it, looking down onto the group. He tossed 14 and 15 with the prisoners. They rolled when they landed, then huddled near 13. 5 pulled a blade out of his pack to let 8 and 10 loose.
"What have you done to yourself," 1 demanded, "and to us?"
"I just upgraded my body," he ran the backs of his fingers against his chest and worked downward. "To help me fight the monsters that threaten my platoon's safty."
"Ludicrous!" 1 spat, pointing at him. "You've gone mad with power." He let down his arm, his voice lowered. "Whatever happened to the kind 11 I used to know? The one who was a little clumsy, but cared deeply for his platoon?"
11 turned his head away, distraught. "He was not strong enough to protect his platoon. We were almost destroyed by machines of war, and I was helpless to fight them off."
"And what of us? Why have you imprisoned us?"
11 stood up straight, his legs lifting up his body, looking down on 1. "I want to make sure you are trustworthy."
1 held out his hands, taking a single step towards his old friend, his voice soft and pleading. "It's me. Don't you remember all the good times we had? The laughs we used to share?"
"Of course I do," 11 said harshly. "I trust you as a friend, but can I trust you to be a good leader?"
"I am a good leader," 1 defended. "But I'm always a friend to my followers." 1 stole a glance at 9, who nodded once in approval. He turned back to 11, raising his voice. "What you've done is insanity! By wanting to fight the monsters, you've become a monster yourself. The only one who's not worthy of being a leader is you!"
"Your insubordinance is tiring," 11 spat. "You may come out when you've learned to be loyal to this platoon. The same goes for everyone here."
11 turned around and climbed over the stall door to the middle of the barn where 12 greeted him.
"Sir, I couldn't find 17 or 6 anywhere."
"I wouldn't worry about it, 17 likes to sneak off sometimes, she probably took 6 with her," said 11. "They're probably off somewhere, but they'll be back. Stand guard by the doors and capture them when you see them."
"Yes sir," 12 bowed.
From inside the stall, the prisoners had heard the whole conversation.
"Did you hear that?" whispered 7. "6 and 17 are still out there.
1 sat down on a pile of hay and sighed.
"Yes. And it seems as though they're our only hope of escaping."
17 hadn't gotten far into the dead forest when 6 looked longingly at the barn.
"I said forget about them," she said. "They never respect you anyway."
"But," 6 choked. "They're my friends."
"Friends don't disrespect each other."
"Friends don't abandon each other."
17 looked at 6, but said nothing.
"The betrayer is there. I saw him in the field."
17 looked at the ground and gripped her spear tightly.
"Warriors never abandon those in need," she whispered. She sighed and started back towards the barn. "Come on, they need us."
6 smiled and ran after her.