The little soldier waited.  His tiny artificially rouged cheek twitched.  He had been waiting for quite a long time.

The ersatz martinet marched over to the door and peered out.  No one was coming.  He had forgotten how many times he had looked for someone to arrive.  He had stopped expecting anyone to really come anymore.  The looking was now only a remnant of past programming.

Long ago, someone had come.  It was after the visitors his master had entertained had had their programming violently disrupted.  His companion had been “alive” then.  A crew had come to clean away the mess that had been the female.  His companion and he had heard the voices in the hallway.  They had waddled out on the possibility of it being their master finally come home.  They child-size constructs had greeted the humans with the ritual words.

Then the case was on.

The startled workers first were delighted with the soldier and his companion.  Then they had decided to take possession of them, and whatever else lay unclaimed in the apartment.  The two had defended their home furiously against the intruders, but when it became clear that they were outnumbered and undone, they had fled to their hiding places.  His companion had been found.  The fearful martinet cowered under and among other toys when he heard his companion’s capture.  The other had died amid an agony of squeaks and sparks, and then a, “Shit, Gus, you broke the damn thing,” from one of the crew.

J.F. Sebastian’s toy soldier sighed, a sound that shivered through his organimech body.  The memory disturbed his limited programming.  He marched over to where his harmonica lay and played its soothing tones, remembering that it had also seemed to soothe his long-missing master.

When he was finished he set the instrument aside, and went in search of his miniature rifle.  He found it and went to the first point of his sentinel’s position.

He looked around the room.  Dust lay everywhere, and ruin, where other marauders had mad their way to J.F.’s apartment and domain.  Soldier had hidden from them lest he suffer his companion’s fate.

The evening light was fading, casting gloomy darkness, like a blanket, over everything.  Soldier wondered if he ever dare venture to the outside world, for he knew more existed than just this room.  There was the hallway and another landing, at the least.

J.F.’s sentry pushed the gun up on his shoulder and the thought out of his mind.  Soldier had his duty.  He had to guard J.F.’s domain in his master’s absence.  And he had to wait for J.F.’s return.

He would wait forever if he had to.