Smoke steamed up from the small transport ship, things had not exactly gone as planned. Evan had hoped to use the ship to travel to any nearby habitats that may or may not exist on the surface but the ships anti-gravity units had taken stress damage while exiting the forest and Evan was unable to compensate. The best he could do was to keep the ship from crashing into the ground at a 90degre angle. Still he had prepared for this; Evan had brought a small land vehicle and several anti-grav transport trays. He would connect them like a train and travel along the desert by land. “It might take a bit longer and I won’t have the advantage of an aerial view” Evan was busy tying down his supplies to the train’s trays “but I’ve got my stuff and I’m alive, so I guess I can count my blessings” the forest ship was slowly descending in the background dipping below the mountain ship. From the angle he was at it seemed like the two were only inches away from each other. He stopped then looked back at the half empty transport ship “shit!” he looked back at the slowly descending forest then started to hurry. “why didn’t I think about that” he was rushing back and forth from ship to make shift train “smartest man on earth and I forget the obvious, fuck” Evan was so consumed in motion and thought that he didn’t notice the second ship that had just appeared “how could I not notice how could I be so stupid!”
“From my experience everyone has their share of stupid moments, even the smartest men on, what was it you said? Earth”
The voice caught him by surprise, he froze slightly scared, slowly he reached down for his gun.
“You’re talking to a trained military officer I’d kill you before you got it out of the holster”
Evan was leaning over some supplies. The voice was a woman’s voice but he thought back at the things he had missed “who’s your friend” he called back at her.
“Multi-purpose medical droid 27.7789.5” the voice was metallic, inhuman but Evan had taken a look at the logs and studied a little about the droids.
“That’s a military designation right?” The mechanical voice responded “affirmative” Evan stood up slowly raising his hands over his head, then he turned around.
She had short trimmed hair, brunet with sharp piercing eyes that looked a bit off. She was leaning against the door forearms crossed and smiling. The droid was standing dead center scanning the room it looked like an naked metal man with small glowing red eyes and a fixed speaker box for a mouth, their ship was blue, larger then his and still hovering.
“30% chance of escaping impact blast in ground vehicle, recommend attempt escape with organic Cid and-“
“Just say multi, god dammit” Cid had interrupted looking annoyed, she glanced at Multi “his supplies, will they-”
“Affirmative, all supplies can fit in medical transport vehicle” multi stared at Cid.
“So, your name is Cid” Evan looked at the women “and your name is Multi?” Evan nodded at the droid
“Yes” “affirmative” the both said in unison
Evan looked at booth of them then dropped his hands “so you’ll help me?”
Cid rolled her eyes then started moving the anti-grav trays into the medical transport, multi walked past Evan and started loading up supplies form the dammed transport to the medical transport.
“So do you know who did that” Cid pointed to the falling forest ship “did you see any of the aliens?”
Evan stared at her, then blinked “no, I did that, had to shut down the reactors to manage it but” he stopped looking back at them, they booth were staring at him
“Impossible reactor shutdown protocols have been erased from the ships systems” “shut down would require use of universal disentanglement device which would not be present on remaining environmental habitats”. They were finishing each other’s sentences.
Evan looked at them “it’s basic energy bridge theory, you have to reverse the pull and temporally draw energy form both universes essentially canceling out the energy drag and stopping the subatomic pulls” Evan strapped on his bag and pushed the last tray into the medical transport “how much time left until impact?”
Multi answered almost automatically “1 Hour” Cid moved without hesitation got in the cockpit, Multi closed the transport bay hatch and directed Evan to the back seat of the medical transport. Evan felt the stinging sensation of the barrier technology and heard the slow hum of the anti-grav units on the ship, there was a small jolt and the ship jetted off.
They kept as close to the ground as possible for as long as possible. The medical transport wasn’t particularly fast and Multi was concerned about power usage. Cid was in the driver’s seat looking pensive while Evan was sitting in one of the back seats with a window, his mind wondering.
“So how did you know how to shut down the reactor?” Cid turned around and threw a small broken piece of plastic at Evan.
“What?” Evan stretched as if he had been sleeping
“The reactor” Cid blasted back as if she were talking to a simpleton “how did you know how to shut it down, I mean“ she paused “I know basic reactor operations but that’s never come up”
Evan stared at her for a while unsure of how to answer, what he wanted to say was ‘well I designed them along with possibly every other technology we are using right now and after seeing the reactors I might as well have been playing with toys in a garage for the level of sophistication my original design had’ he didn’t, he didn’t know how to respond, she was obviously human but how? How could she know, how was this world possible, none of it made any real sense. “I’ve studied the theory, know it in and out” was his reply instead.
“This unit is familiar with energy bridge reactor theory, no such protocol exist in theoretical perspective”
Both Evan and Cid were thinking the same thing ‘why do you know reactor theory’ largely for different reasons
Cid responded “maybe they didn’t want you to know how to shut it down” multi turned his head slowly “you know in case anything goes wrong besides you’re a medical droid you don’t need to know reactor protocol”
Cid looked nervous, yet more evidence Multi was and A.I. Evan looked bemused but he didn’t want to give his ignorance away so he said nothing.
It suddenly dawned on Cid that this guy ‘Evan’ had just been on a ship, he had expert knowledge of energy bridge theory and she had no knowledge of him, as far as she knew her city was the only one that survived the war (even if it was in shambles), so how could someone with such knowledge exist without her knowing about it, he couldn’t be from one of the small towns, she thought for a moment then concluded that he must have been brought by the aliens.
“Well if you know so much about the theory what does a blue shift mean?”
“That’s an impossible phenomenon” Evan replied.
Multi answered “negative, phenomenon exist, and has been recorded” Cid finished “so you know what it is then?” eager for an answer to the questing that had been burning at her for the last couple of months.
“Well.. it would require” this was a difficult question even for Evan “essentially it’s a drag from the universe the reactor is in, rather than from a different universe, and it would require a power source of immense energy, like a star or black hole to work. But pinpointing that type of energy source would be incredibly difficult, next to impossible” Evan paused, all the gears were suddenly clicking in his head “or it could be a connection to another reactor, a bridge within our own universe using the unique energy signature of the reactor to find, and then maybe, well that’s crazy, but possible” both Cid and multi were paying very close attention waiting “well it could be a form of transportation but the eddies in the bridge stream would almost certainly kill anyone who tried, why where was this recorded at“ Evan paused looking at the back of their heads, he suspected the answer but they did not respond.
They heard a massive sound come from behind them, the forest had struck the ground and a gigantic cloud of dust was lifted up and pushed out in all directions, “here we go” Cid yelled form the front seat as she pulled the transport up and above the rushing cloud of dust. Evan looked back at the place he had called home for the past 7 months and hoped all the animals living in the forest had somehow survived.
“you look sad”
“Yea, well I lived in that forest for quite some time, it feels sad to see it go”
“Calculated 60% destruction total, 70% interior and 20% surface”
Cid gave multi a warning look but Evan responded “yea that’s what I guessed as well, I tried to make the power drain as slow as possible but it’s hard to predict these kinds of things”
the worst of the dust cloud had past so Cid lowered the ship back down to the surface “where are we going” Evan asked trying to hold back his excitement, Cid moved with such purpose that it was hard for him not to think she was leading him somewhere important and interesting.
“my home” Cid responded “it’s kind of faraway though, so we might be traveling for a couple of days, or less” she added the last part ‘or less’ after seeing Evans crest fallen face, he looked tried and dirty yet there were still traces of youth on his face. She could tell that he had been though a lot and ‘unfortunately’ she thought ‘he would be put through more’. Cid’s people rarely let in outsiders and never let them leave, at least never alive. They had escaped the war largely unharmed and Guarded the secret of their existence with extreme caution; they didn’t want to be found out by the invaders. They had sound reason that the aliens would return as several other city ships survived but none but Cid’s still exist. The last one to fall was about 500 years ago. Cid’s people had thousands of rules regarding outsiders but Cid felt that Evan would pass. His knowledge of energy bridge theory alone was enough and she suspected that he wasn’t exactly from any of the surrounding towns. Multi on the other hand might have more of a problem. There was a general distrust of robots and a ban on A.I’s in the city.
A soft dinging started to come from one of the navigation consoles Cid reached down to examine it. The transport gave a huge swerve and almost crashed into a large bolder before Multi caught the wheel and straightened the transport back out.
“What the hell!” Evan shouted form the back
“Unusual biological response form organic Cid, do you require medical treatment?”
Cid slowed the transport to a halt “no I was just surprised that’s all”
Multi checked the console “affirmative, erratic response within parameters of human psychological standards”
“What?” Evan had unbuckled his seat belt and was leaning in to examine the console “what’s, Devastator mean?”
Cid and multi both turned their heads in surprise
“Unusual psychology response, do you require use of psychiatrist program, this unit is fully functional in human psychology”
“No?” Evan said confused “I’m fine” he was suddenly feeling very embarrassed, if the robot thought he was crazy them maybe he was. For that matter how could he know if this was the real world or not, maybe he is dreaming or he WAS dreaming and now he is awake, maybe he was suppressing something. Evan rubbed his head, he always hated philosophy.
“I’ve never heard of someone who didn’t know what a Devastator was. But we suspected that we had begun to evolve to block out the signal, maybe you’re just a genetic freak” Cid looked at Multi for reassurance.
“Negative devastator signal is theorized to be adaptive, we suspect it is an A.I program gone rouge”
“Well” Evan interrupted “maybe I’m just er… form another planet.. or something?”
Cid gave Evan a strange look then turned back to the console “it’s near the homestead protectorate” she fumbled with some switches and controls “damn, no signal” she looked around at Multi “we have a signal beacon in homestead, I can call for help from there”
Multi did not look reassured nor did it look particularly worried, it turned to Evan “a Devastator is an extremely complex array of thousands of varying technology’s combined together to create massive environmental damage and is as the humans put it ‘devastating’ to a planet”
Evan thought for a moment “is that why the whole planet is a desert?” “affirmative ”replied multi
“so this will cause more devastation to the planet?”
“No” jetted in Cid “just to the sounding area, a single devastator is not capable of terraforming an entire planet”
“Will your friends be able to help?”
“Unlikely” replied Multi “there is no record of a successfully disarmed devastator”
“So” Evan paused “how do we stop it?”
Cid looked back at the desert, started the transport back up and changed the direction “we can’t, all we can do is try, and” she punched the accelerator “die”
They didn’t talk for a while, Evan stayed in the back contemplating, the Devastator. The more he thought about his new situation the more in angered him, it didn’t make sense, Cid decision to go to the devastator didn’t make sense.
“you know” Evan began “It’s one thing to go into a situation with the vain hope of survival, to walk into the figurative fire knowing you will die and in return save someone else’s life, but it’s an entirely different story when neither of those things is even remotely possible”
“Well maybe you don’t understand ‘earth man’” Cid snapped back in anger “maybe you’ve never had the pleasure of being visited in the night by a Devastator vision or haunted all your life with the fear of forgetting, but I have, I have a responsibility to my people, to myself, to try, if only ‘with the vain hope of survival’”
“Then why drag others into this, why pull me and Multi to doom”
Cid abruptly stopped the transport and swung open the door “your welcome to leave, if that’s what you want go!, try the desert alone”
Evan looked out to the dry open savanna knowing, that too would be certain death “what about your home? Why not send me and multi there, we can save the ship and supplies, I imagine that’s why you took a medical transport, to bring it to your people”
Cid turned around towards Evan with a fierce look in her eyes “they’d shoot you on site without me there, they would blow the transport up without even looking inside, miles before you’d see the city and never bother to check the wreckage”
Evan slumped back in his chair; he had worked so hard to keep himself alive, clinging from one dangerous situation to the next never really thinking about why, Cids resolute demeanor made him pause, was it all worth it? Too, in the end; die, through no choice of his own, without even trying. He saw no point in comforting the Devastator, no point in the sacrifice, a sacrifice without meaning but also knew the passion Cid perpetuated too was real and her resolve balanced with meaning, the options were limiting and the time was short.
“How close are we to the devastator?”
“We’re about to go through the Killing valley, it’s about 100 miles past that”
“In the Homestead Protectorate?
“One of the few functioning democracy’s”, Cid shut the door and they rocketed off.
Evan took out his tablet (the one he found in the captains quarters on the forest ship) he decided that if he was going to the devastator that he should know more about it. Not surprisingly it was a very long entry.
- The Devastators are a complex array of varying terraforming technologies designed by the A.I Collective to destroy a planets natural habitat…
- The A.I. collective was founded in 2323 after a minor rebellion in the newly formed Democratic Republic of Saudi Arabia, the collective manipulated the situation… the A.I. Collective lived in relative peace for nearly 30 years until the World Council (W.C.) decided unanimously to eliminate the collective with successive hydrogen bomb strikes. This attack started the devastating collective war in 2353 which ended in 2385 with the collective claiming victory. The wars long time frame resulted in the mass colonization of Terra Nova (the only know habitable planet, other than Earth) by human refugees, it was believed that due to the planet being nearly 100 light years away from earth, the A.I Collective would not be able to properly wage war. Many of the first refugees arrived long after the war had ended… with nearly 1000 years separated from ‘The Great Earth Exodus’ the new thriving Terra Nova launched a massive campaign to take back earth In 3348. It took nearly 200 years to learn that while the attempt was Disastrous to the Collective it was ultimately unsuccessful, the information transmitted back from the last surviving ships noted an enslaved human race among… the A.I Collectives’ response came shortly after the news of the expeditions failure in 3569. “The attack was slow methodical and Devastating” (New History Journal). The collective used the Devastators to make the surface of Terra Nova completely uninhabitable, the attack took nearly 50 years to run its course killing nearly 6 billion citizens with the remaining populations forced to live in man-made floating city’s, “it was only later that we learned that the A.I. Collective had planned it that way” (President of the council of City Captains). In memoriam the remaining citizens of Terra Nova placed a Psionic Device at the center of Terra Nova that would transmit information through a Psionic wavelength to any person who requested it… In 4439 Terra Nova launched a doomsday attack on Earth called ‘Armageddon’ designed to completely annihilate all matter on the Earth’s surface and crack the moon in half. The plan consisted of launching massive asteroids at Earth and the Moon, news came back of a successful attack just before the collectives remaining ships destroyed the convoy in orbit in the year 4633, it read “majority of collective ships on surface, few detectable bases in orbit, all life on earth eliminated, god save our souls” shortly after the message came through the A.I. Collective launched an attack on the city ships; in 4640
- Last updated 4640 may sub3, 5,
- Captains comment
o The war is lost, the cities have fallen and they are coming for us next. Why didn’t we just leave well enough alone, what devil drove us to that horrible strike, how did we lose our way. I will surrender to the invaders; perhaps they will spare my crews life. God help us.
§ Last updated 4640 July sub 7, 4.
- Current date 5607, December sub 2, 21.
Evan leaned back in his chair and stared out his window at the passing cliffs, they had entered the Killing valley.
Just as Evan finished there was a loud explosion and the transport flung up into the air flipping as it fell. It landed hard on its side and skidded though the sand before slamming against the cliff face.
There was a loud ringing in Evans ears, he tried to move but found himself contained by some unknown Stinging force, the inside of the transport looked blurred, unfocused. He struggled against his restraints but to no effect, his window was now filled with dirt. He calmed, closed his eyes and tried to focus.
“Cid?” he yelled but his voice seemed to bounce right back at him, “Multi?” he yelled again to no effect, he was beginning to have trouble breathing “computer” a soft dinging sound found his ears “disengage shield” to his immense relief the barrier was rescinded and he slumped towards the window caught by his seat belt, he tried calling for the others again but to no avail. He tried looking around but couldn’t see if Cid or multi were still there, a loud thunk came from the back, he tried to turn but failed, clumsily he unbuckled his seat belt to try and get a better look but fell instead to the side of the transport. He heard some shuffling from the back “Hello?” he called “who’s there?’
Evan attempted to stand to look into the back but found that his leg was broken “Fuck!” he slumped down nursing his leg.
“Does organic Evan require Medical treatment?” Evan looked up with a start, Multi’s head was peering over the edge of the seat its beady red eyes fixated on Evan’s leg.
“Yes, what the fuck Multi why didn’t you say anything?”
Multi did not answer but instead ignored Evan and moved to the Front seat. “Please remain patient, organic Cid is in need of more immediate medical attention”
“What?, what’s wrong with her, what’s happened?” Evan seemed frightened Cid wasn’t very inviting but she did help him out when he was in trouble.
“Please remain calm; I will attempt to flip the transport back over”
“what?, how would you do that?” the transport suddenly gave a huge lurch as the anti-grav generators launched up then a strange whirling sound came from the bottom of the transport as it lifted up and slowly flipped back over. Evan found himself a rag doll as he landed flat on his back against the harsh grid of the transports floor. Multi suddenly moved with incredibly speed and precision, something was wrong with Cid but Evan couldn’t tell he tried to sit up but the pain was unbearable.
“Please remain calm organic Evan, I will attend to your injuries soon”
Multi was efficient, there was no doubt about that, Evan’s mind started to wonder, he thought about what he had just read.
“Are you a part of the collective?”
Multi Didn’t answer
“The A.I. collective, they build the devastator not aliens, man-made machines”
“organic Evan is quite unusual”
“I have a tablet, from the forest ship, it tells about the Collective, the war, it tells about earth”
Multi had finished whatever he was doing to stabilize Cid then moved to the back to collect a splint.
“I am not a member of the Collective”
Evan was using he good leg to push himself so he could see Multi
“That was a short response”
Multi placed a pillow under Evans head
“Why doesn’t Cid know about the Collective?”
Multi was examining Evans leg “unknown, we theorized that her city outlawed the information, changed history”
Multi was using some sort of scanning device on Evans leg; it was cold, chilled metal”
“I am from a city designed to hold all non-combatant A.I. droids”
Evan looked down at multi “non-combatant?, were you a prisoner, did the collective put you there, why?”
Multi made a quick movement and the pain shout up straight though Evans leg.
“Collective distrusts this model of droid but does not wish us to be subjugated”
Evan was still in a daze from the pain but understood “can’t we call them? See if they can stop the Devastator?”
Multi was running the scanner again “unknown” it placed the splint on Evans leg. The pain suddenly subsided and a strange stinging sensation wrapped around his leg.
Cid began to stir in the front seat “Hello?” her call was weak
Multi looked at Evan, “some assistance is required to transport organic Cid”
“Sure, what’s wrong with her?”
“Minor head trauma, there was internal bleeding but I fixed that, she will need assistance due to the concussion.”
“Right” he stood up surprised by the splints effectiveness “let’s begin”
They placed Cid on one of the transport trays Evan had brought from the forest ship, gathered some other essential resources like food; water, clothing, medical supplies and some varying technology which Evan was generally ignorant of and placed those on the trays as well. Cid was partially conscious, she had suffered serious head trauma and received a huge gash in her side which Mulit had hastily patched up and stabilized. As far as Evan could tell, without the advanced medical technology the transport carried, Cid probably would not have survived the accident. After looking over the wreckage Multi had confirmed that it’s and Cids safety shields did not deploy, Evans only worked because there were several redundant systems in place to protect the supposed patient and working EMT. Multi had flung out of the front window, as it wasn’t wearing a safety harness, and appeared to have only suffered some minor damage. The Transport itself wasn’t beyond repair as it was several feet above the surface when the explosion went off but it’s battery’s had been damaged and it no longer had enough power to lift off. Its secondary systems, or wheels, had long since disintegrated. Evan and multi walked in silence still heading towards the devastator Multi was leading, scanning for mines and other devices along the way. This gave Evan time to think, think about the Devastator, Cids city, the Homestead Protectorate and the history he had learned from the Captains tablet. Evan was finally beginning to understand the world he was now living in and beginning to comprehend what he needed to do next. He remembered all the movies and science fiction epics of his youth, describing the coming of machines, artificial intelligence and how one day they would take over the earth and rule over man, but the history he had read did not tell of a ruthless conquering devil in a metal coat. It was a history of defense followed by a sometimes over reaction on the machines part. Evan could understand the reasoning behind their actions and felt that the Collective had acted with mercy and restraint, they could have ended the war but they took the risk and ultimately paid the price, everyone paid the price. Evan had made his decision he would attempt contact, he just hoped he wasn’t wrong about the Collective ‘after all’ he thought ‘they could have easily exterminated the human race, yet, they didn’t’.
Walking behind Multi and the train of supplies Evan took out his note pad and without being noticed activated a small satellite connection he had brought with him, carefully he connected with the system and linked to one of the geo synchronies satellites in orbit placing it on broadcast mode, than he typed in his message.
“This is Evan A’con; attempting contact with the A.I Collective; there is what I believe to be a rouge devastator that has been activated near the source of this broadcast location, please if you can, help out the people that you choose spared and disarm the device”
He sent the signal than closed his tablet and shut down the satellite link and continued to follow Multi out of the Killing valley.
What Evan saw next shook him to his core; nearly 1,000 people were before him framed in a silhouette with the setting sun’s crisp light. Some hurdled together looking for warmth from the cold coming night; others were setting up tents and starting fires. Evan was not expecting to see so many people, so many lives laid out before him. As he and Multi approached Evan saw the character on their faces, the emotion in their eyes, it was fear and desperation, coupled with pride and determination, it appeared that they too were aware of the coming threat.
One approached Evan and Multi as one would approach a lost child. They did not seem scared of Evan or Multi but rather they looked as if their day had been brightened. She was young around 20 with a child in her arms, new born wrapped in a Shaw, sleeping.
“Are, are you from the city? Have you come to help” Evans breath had been taken away from him, her voice flowed in a romantic rhythm peaking and falling like a symphony’s lament, her smile while soft seamed to release a small amount light into the world.
Multi answered “affirmative, we are responding to a signal received”
“Yes, the Devastator, Homestead told us about the attack, can you help? Will you save our homes?”
She looked from Multi to Evan her eyes betraying a slight hint of sadness than she looked down at Cid surprised “oh, is she all right, quick we must get her inside” she swiftly moved towards the center of the encampment waving them to follow her. They had to swerve through the varying tents, camp fires and carts to get to the center of the hastily assembled group. People stared as they passed awed by multi and the floating slabs; an odd silence had fallen over the camp it seemed to ripple with every step they took. The people were dirty, tired looking but somehow Evan thought, Heroic. There was pride in their stares, there was strength in their bones and Evan could feel it.
Multi, Evan and a very groggy Cid had reached the center where the largest tent in the camp laid and were than greeted by a very bouncy looking man with a weary face, he gestured them inside. “Lilly” the women escorting them stopped “could you find a place for these” he gestured towards the transport slab. She did as he asked and then disappeared behind the tents cloth door.
“Schott will be pleased to see you, I suspect he and the rest of homestead are on their way now” the man spoke with a thick sometimes forceful accent making Evans head give a slight throb, he suspected that whatever device was translating this man’s speech was working extra hard to decipher this his accent, possibly a second language.
“yes thank you for allowing us shelter” the voice came from behind Evan, Cid had woke up and was attempting to stand, her voice too now had an accent but only slightly different, it flowed easier and felt more choppy and less harsh.
“Organic Cid must remain seated” Multi’s voice carried a sudden force of authority behind it, Cid slumped in a seating position leaning against an ornate looking dresser.
“I See you’ve had a problem, may I guess, in the valley beyond” he waited for their response they in turn gave him a nod “yes well, only the senior council and town leaders know the way across, still I’m surprised that city dwellers like your selves had so much trouble” the man was now sipping tea and nodding his cup towards Evans leg “but” he gave a forced laugh “I suppose the stories of seven foot tall super intelligent, cyborgs” he winked at Multi “were just.. Tall tales. It’s not a bother, you are injured and we can help, you will rest here for the night, than I suspect, if it’s not too bold of me” he was making wild gestures with his arms “that you will continue on your journey perhaps you will do what none have done, and remove the blight that now plagues our land” he swiftly stood up turned and looked out a second door in the tent “homestead will come at night fall, I will leave you to your rest, if you need anything, and I mean anything just call for me” he stopped than gave another forced chuckle “the name is Sabine, Town Leader” he then bowed out of the room.
“Umm” Cid swayed slightly “whatever, I’m going to sleep”
Evan found a nice carpeted spot with some plush pillows than rested his head and found himself dreaming of fighting a monster made out of complex physics equations. Multi simply sat, and wondered how long it could remain without being ordered into submission.
Cid awoke before Evan, Night had fallen and the strange purple light of Anora was beaming into the tent though an opening at the top. Someone had come in and lit a lantern while they were asleep, it softly lit up Evans tired and worn face as he slept. Cid thought for a moment she was in a dream, the tent was decorated in such an ornate fashion, lavish rugs, deep wood work cabinets finely crafted with gold trims and soft rose inlays. It took her a moment to realize that Multi wasn’t there. She struggled a bit than stood up catching herself as she did. She felt the stiches on her chest and there was an odd dull pain in her lungs as she breathed. Her head was swimming with the strong incense in the air but the warm vapor helped her center herself. She did a quick systems check than stumbled across the tent and walked out into the encampment.
There was a soft buzzing of conversations and laugher, the smell of freshly cooked food over crackling coal camp fires swarmed her senses. Children weaved running to and fro swerving and playing in the shadows of the tents. Cid looked around and saw odd smiles on the people’s faces as she moved through the camp she noticed their laughter seemed forced and the jokes a little too frequent. A small child rushed head long crashing into Cids legs falling to the ground, Cid knelt to help the young girl up.
“you should watch were you’re going” the girl just looked up, staring at Cids Brilliant blue eyes seeing the small computer in her eye lid buzzing and blinking.
“You’re the lady form the City!”
Cid smiled and nodded “do you know where my friend is?”
The girl jumped in excitement than took Cids hand and led her through the camp.
“In there” she pointed to a large misshapen tent “the metal man” the girl giggled than ran away back to her friends.
Cid stared at the tent for a short while then walked in. Multi was hunched over a man who seemed in quite a bit of pain, there was a woman in another bed, quite pregnant and on the verge of giving birth. The man gave a quick scream followed by a sigh of relief than constant streams of ‘thank yous’ directed at Multi. Multi turned to the woman noticing Cid but not acknowledging it. Cid waited and watched as Multi helped the women give birth, there was a another woman helping Multi, she gave the baby a soft tap and it began to cry. After cleaning the fluid off with a warm towel the nurse maid placed the newborn in the new mother’s arms,.
Multi went to clean its hands and approached Cid “is organic Cid feeling better?”
Cid smiled “yes, Multi, thank you”
Multi checked the bruise on Cids head and the stiches in her side before approaching the next patient. It appeared that word of the city dweller robot had traveled fast in the camp and everyone wanted a checkup or a cure for some ailment or another.
Cid was feeling a little tired from the walk so she decided to sit and rest for a while. She sat and watched Mulit treat patient after patient for nearly 30 min before the girl Lily, who greeted them at the edge of the camp came in looking worried, holding her child who was now coughing. Multi took the child and examined it using several different types of medical devices they had brought with them from the transport.
“I will need to administer antibiotic treatment and watch the child overnight.“ Multi paused and looked at the young woman “prognosis is poor; the child may not survive the night.”
Lily looked distraught, tears flooding her face “he, he was fine, what happened, how?”
Cid stood and let Lily cry into her arms while multi administered the treatment and wrapped the baby into a warm blanket. Cid had taken Lily outside for some fresh air; she had calmed down a little.
“it’s the cough, it killed my little brother when he was a baby,” she was drying her eyes “I had hoped that my first would be spared, but” she broke off, Cid was unsure how to respond, the cough as the Lily called it, was a problem in the city as well but they had a treatment for it unfortunately that treatment required a hermetically sealed room, it was effective for nearly all who received the treatment including Cid. Multi didn’t have the proper equipment here; survival rate without the proper equipment was low, extremely low. “Can your friend help?” Lily looked apprehensively hopeful “can it save my baby?”
Cid stared into the young woman’s eyes hoping to add some form of comfort “I don’t know” the words left her lips and reached Lily’s ears providing at least the idea of a chance, that, seemed to be enough.
Cid stayed with Lily though the night as she watched over her son but when the morning sun’s light glimpsed out from the ground Lilys child gave his last breath. There was a defining silence in the tent the other patients left lily to her sorry, for what felt like days Cid sat in silence, holding Lily’s hand as she grieved. Than Lily began to sing, her voice carried through the camp, it’s soft calm tone rose and fell with the brushes of the wind.
Hush now and sleep, my baby
Death shall become, the night
Just close your eyes, my darling
Let all your worried turn to dust
Rest now in peace, sweet child
Let order sooth, your mind
Dream well in night, my love
The morning light is sure to rise
Evan awoke with a start, sensing he had been left alone; he rubbed his eyes looking around at the hastily put together tent pondering. ‘This’ he thought ‘was an odd predicament’. Slowly he stood stumbling as he went, he had not had a good night’s sleep since he arrived at the forest and the past 42 hours had been so action packed that the only rest he managed to receive was during the explosion and he wasn’t sure that really counted. He bent down and checked the splint; it was at 90% power and still felt surprisingly stable. He smelled a soft aroma in the air and looked over, tea had been prepared for him, he took a cup and let its smooth warmth flow into him, leaning back he began to try and collect his thoughts, when Sabine suddenly and with forceful grace rushed into the tent.
“Ah, you’re awake I see, Evan was it? And I see you’re enjoying the tea, very good” Sabine sat down slightly too close for Evans comfort, a fact which Sabine seemed blissfully unaware of “my favorite of course, had it imported from my home town, a nice fellow by the name of Jace, if you choose to stay with us I will put you in contact with him, a small operation but effective” Sabine winked at him “of course your metal friend was a great help last night, must be nice in the city no? And the girl she is your leader? Seems to be looking better, saw her in the medical tent comforting poor lily,” he paused for the first time taking a sip of his tea.
“I’m sorry; you said if I chose to stay?”
Sabine snapped out of this contemplation quickly “yes of course the girl has told us that you have grown tired of the city, no doubt all that lavish food yes” Sabine nudged Evan with his elbow “yes we will help you find a place here, of course you’ll have to work, maybe a farmer…”
Sabine’s voice slowly faded away as Evan began to think, ‘they told him what, that I wanted to stay? Wait, no can’t be’ he shook his head than cut across Sabine’s ramblings
“Did they leave, where are they?”
Sabine was taken aback than he looked slightly worried “well.. They went off to the homestead camp, the woman Cid? Said she had some business with the council”
“where, quick!” Evan was starting to feel a little scared, he couldn’t lose them , not now, he had to find out what was going on he had to be with those two people. He wasn’t really sure why but he was determined.
“In the north at the head of the encampment I’m sure you can catch them if you hurry” Sabine pointed the way and Evan ran as fast as he could towards the homestead encampment.
I’m sure, it’s the proper code word, I’m just not certain of their names that’s all” Cid was pacing back and forth talking to an uninterested Multi who was now wearing ceremonial healers clothes given to it by the villagers. The Militia had stopped Cid and Multi form entering the council circle and told them to wait. Cid knew the keepers were in there; her sensors had picked up their low range transponders. They waited for what felt like an hour until a short plump woman and a tall aggressively fat man came running up to them. Before Cid could speak they ordered away the guards and the woman spoke as the man was busy catching his breath.
“Bridget Murphy #10078 and William Fergus #10006 ready for extraction” they booth looked extremely excited.
Cid looked at them with slight surprise than corrected herself before they noticed “I’m part of the Spec Ops team heading towards the devastator, the extraction team will arrive shortly but priorities first, Avery’s orders” Cid was surprised at how quickly she turned to lying, she could only hope her story would hold up “anyway we need an inconspicuous form of transport for the rest of the journey the trucks will do if you can manage it, the army would be eternally grateful”
Bridget and Fergus looked at each other a little disappointed but still happy for news of the foretold extraction team “yes we spoke to the captain, we’re so glad you came it’s been utter chaos here, we can requisition a truck for you or two but the militia is a little hesitant, I’ll see what I can do” Fergus moved off and Cid called out “just one, for the team, will be fine!”
“Of course!” Fergus called back.
Cid and Bridget looked at each other awkwardly for a while Bridget’s’ eyes beamed like X-rays at Cid than at Multi whom it seems for the first time she noticed, Cid traced Bridget’s glance than noticed the question before Bridget could ask it. “Top secret, we rather not discuss it her”’
“but, that’s what Sabine was going on about, the city dwellers he said, with a metal man, we thought he was just embellishing as usual, has the secrecy doctrine changed?”
“Umm” Cid was having trouble focusing, her vision blurred and her instruments flashed and jolted.
“Did you tell these people about the City? Are you really the Spec Ops team, where’s the rest of your crew, what happened to your head?” Bridget was growing more and more obnoxious with every word, her voice tore into Cids mind, its harsh crisp tone bleaching out her thoughts, churning her memories.
Multi saw Cid hazing out and immediately stepped in between her and Bridget “our ultimate mission is classified, the secrecy doctrine is still in effect, we cannot control individuals reactions to our appearance, we cannot divulge all our missions parameters, your job is to provide us with whatever assistance we desire it is not to ask questions or make accusations, this is a priority 1 mission” Multi finished allowing Cid time to sit on a nearby rock for a rest without being to inconspicuous Multi wasn’t sure it had said everything properly but it did manage to quite Bridget, for the time being. Multi took a seat next to Cid.
“Priority 1 huh?”
“Affirmative, I suspect it is a high priority?”
“Only the matriarch can issue an order that high, but” Cid yawned “I suppose this is a very serious situation”
“This unit is glad it could assist”
“Didn’t know you could lie like that” Cid leaned against Multi and rested her head.
“This unit can operate to best suit highest ranking human whenever possible”
“Well” she closed her eyes “that’s good”
About 15 minutes later Fergus drove up in one of the trucks “it was like pulling teeth but I managed to convince the lieutenant to let this one go.”
Cid and multi hopped in the truck and waved farewell to Bridget Murphy and William Fergus who promptly disappeared. Multi had taken the driver’s seat, started the engine pushing the gas. They had only driven about two inches when Cid heard a familiar voice call out.
“About time” she taunted
Evan quickly hopped in the back smiling at the familiar design “what about the supplies?”
Cid smirked “you never plan ahead do you, first the forest ship almost kills you and now you forget the supplies”
“What?” Evan exclaimed “was I supposed to get them, oh no we have to go back!”
Cid chuckled as Multi drove out of the ever growing encampment “Luckily I do”
Evan looked at the truck bed and saw all their supplies neatly lied out, safe and secure. They drove by a large caravan of about 1,000 people coming from the south east as Multi moved them south towards the ever more dangerous devastator.