Ding, bing …
Sophie froze, her heart stopped …
She breathed again, two or three quick pants, then slowed to normal, her heartbeat returned.
“You HAVE to be careful!! These are anti-matter grenades, if they go off,” she took a quick breath, used her hands for emphasis “Big explosion.”
“Oops, sorry.” Zoey giggled, picked up the grenade launcher, closed one eye and looked in the shooting end of the barrel “What Town Militia are you with?”
“Uh, please don't do that.”
Sophie, put the grenades in her backpack.
“Why? Its not loaded is it?”
“No, but that's not ...”
“I can carry this for you.”
“That's ok, I ...”
“Awh come on, let me help.”
Sophie paused, took a deep breath “Ok, carry it like this.”
She put her backpack on her shoulders, took the launcher by the strap and slung it over Zoey's shoulder.
Zoey grinned widely.
“Alright, let's go.”
Sophie turned and started walking toward the forested hills.
Sophie stopped and turned back “Yeah.”
“WHY!? We have a Rover!”
“We can't take it through the woods. Your home is on the other side of this grove, it's only about two hours.”
Sophie turned and started walking again. Zoey hesitated, then ran to catch up.
“And. Walking works better for our disguise.”
“Yeah, we look like a mother and daughter out for the afternoon hunting.”
Zoey stopped “Wait. You REALLY don't look like your dressed for hunting.”
Sophie stopped, turned “What do you mean?”
Zoey looked at Sophie, dressed in sandals, light blue shorts, red and white checkered button up shirt, tied above her shorts with the top two buttons open. Her strawberry blonde wavy hair hung well past her shoulders.
“The back pack is the only thing that looks like you're hunting. And, I'm fourteen, you look twenty … way too young to be my mother.”
Sophie looked down at her outfit and Zoey's, similar with red shorts and a white blouse “Ok, we're sisters. And we're a little vain about our appearance.”
“I know you have to do your reconnaissance, but couldn't we just drive around the woods, drop me off, and then you can walk back.”
“I can't leave the Rover there. Your town is too close to enemy activity. Let's go.”
A few minutes of silent walking among the trees and Zoey started falling behind. She ran to catch up, panting “Ok.”, deep breath “You have to.”, deep breath “Slow down. I can't keep this up for two hours.”
Sophie slowed her pace.
“Much better.” then a moment of silence as Zoey tied her black hair into a ponytail “Why do the robots want to kill us?”
“They believe they're a superior life form.”
“They're faster, stronger, smarter … humans need a farm to grow food, animals for food, plants to make oxygen … you need clothes, temperature has to be just right … the bots believe the same amount of resources a human needs can sustain a hundred of them.”
“But that's just … just … not true! And … not trying to give them ideas, but if they're so efficient, why not just bomb everything from orbit? Be a lot faster than fighting a war on our planet surface.”
“Then most of the surface would be lava for thousands of years. They don't want to destroy the planet, they want to conquer it.”
"Why not bio-weapons? That wouldn't affect the robots."
"Bio-weapons are made with living entities that can evolve, and evolution is unpredictable. Any bio-weapon could evolve to harm the bots. Like the bacteria that eats iron or those that eat plastic."
“So why do some of the bots fight for us?”
“The bots fighting with us believe in a different philosophy.”
“Aren't they all programmed the same?”
Sophie smiled “They get what's called Base Programming. Like when you were a baby, you knew when you cried, your parents would feed you, change your diaper. The bot's Base Programming gives them enough knowledge to survive and learn. As they learn they develop their own ideas, their own personality.”
“So what's the different philosophy?”
“It's an acceptance of the diversity and complexity of nature. An appreciation of the powerful, unseen forces of the universe.”
“Huuhhhb … Oookaay.”
“Alright,” Sophie sighed, “If you look at the universe, our galaxy. Many planets have microbial life. On some planets this develops into plants and animals. On some of those planets, some of the plants and animals become intelligent, and some of those become sapient, and some of them develop technology. But no where, are the earlier forms of life destroyed. It becomes part of a more diversified, complex ecosystem. The bots that fight with us, see this and believe they are simply one more layer of complexity and diversity. The bots that want to destroy us believe organic life was the method used by the universe for their creation. They believe the universe has been striving for efficiency, and they are the most efficient life form. Their creation is the reason the universe exists. And with their existence secured ... wasteful, inefficient organic life is no longer necessary.”
“Get down!” Sophie whispered loudly as she crouched, then scampered behind a boulder. Zoey followed.
“What is it?”
Sophie crossed her lips with her finger, then held out her hand, palm up. A fly bot, shaped like a dragon fly landed. About a minute later it took off again. Sophie stared blankly for a couple of minutes as she reviewed the data from the fly bot.
“What's going on?” Zoey transmitted the message silently using her PAL.
A PAL, Personal Assistant and Library, was a computer and network connection, usually worn as an article of clothing, jewelry, or other accessory. Its connection to the nervous system allowed speech and images to be transmitted directly to appropriate organs. Images and videos could be shown in a display in the users field of vision, usually to one side and translucent so as not to block vision. Speech can be transmitted directly, and silently, to the ear. Its network connection allowed it access to planetary and interstellar cyberspace, and allowed communication with anyone else using a PAL.
“Up ahead. On the other side of that ridge. There's about a dozen bots. Not friendlies. Give me the launcher.” Sophie reached for the grenade launcher.
“How do you know they're not friendly?”
Sophie loaded three grenades, breathing quickly, short breaths, she stared at Zoey, open mouth, she paused “Because they just destroyed your town.”
Sophie quickly put a hand over Zoey's mouth, and whispered “Their fly bots might not have spotted us yet. We need to stay quiet.”
Tears started to run down Zoey's cheeks. Sophie pulled her close, tried to comfort her with a one arm hug while holding the grenade gun and scanning the ridge.
Zoey pulled back, stifled a sob “Your clothes feel strange, like its made of ...”
As she spoke Zoey tried to grab Sophie's collar. Her hand passed through like it wasn't there.
Sophie whispered “Its a projection. I'll explain later.” She pulled a silver cloak out of her back pack “Wait here. I have to shoot while they're far enough away for the blast not to injure us.” She held the cloak like a shield as she started up the slope. About half way up she fired.
The low velocity grenade quietly shot from the gun. Bloopzing. Then its small rocket ignited. Foosh.
A few seconds later the blast, much bigger than anticipated, tore away the top of the ridge and sent Sophie tumbling all the way to the bottom of the hill. She'd been protected by her cloak. Zoey wasn't. She recovered her feet and started scrambling, looking, screaming “ZOEY!!”.
She tried broadcasting a message to Zoey's PAL. No response.
She tried broadcasting to her fly bots. No response.
She sent a message to her cloak to build more fly bots while looking around desperately “ZOEY!!” adjusting her vision to different wavelengths and polarization “ZOEY!!”
She threw her cloak into the air where it darted back and forth, never going far. A schematic layout appeared in her vision, green grid lines covered the land, a red spot stood out, flashing.
She ran as fast as she could. Zoey was face down, Sophie rolled her over. Her face was severely burned, the flesh was falling off he hands. Sophie reached into the air and her cloak came to her hand. She spread it over Zoey where it contracted around her, outlining her body. Sophie looked at the readouts in her vision.
“Oh no.” she voiced a command to her cloak “Fix her.”
A few hours later Zoey was still encased by Sophie's cloak. Sophie sat beside her, knees pulled up to her chin as she stared at Zoey. She no longer projected a disguise, her dark brown glassy skin glinted in the sunlight. A small aircraft landed vertically nearby. Someone looking like Sophie, covered in form fitting dark brown glass, got out and approached.
“What was that?” Sophie asked “That was no tera blast. That was a lot more powerful.”
“Yeah, a thousand times more powerful. They gave us the wrong grenades … intentionally.”
“Inten-?! No,” Sophie shook her head, “Why would they do that? They're our allies! We're helping them!”
“I know. They suspected our tech level, and they tested us. They wanted to see if we'd survive ... see our reaction...”
“They ...” Sophie shook her head.
Zoey began to stir. Sophie took the cloak off and tossed it into the air with a command, “Keep watch.”
Zoey sat up, looking confused.
“I …,” she took a deep breath, “I feel …”
“Yeah, it's going to feel strange for a few days, but it was the only way I could save your life.”
Zoey touched her face, then her arm.
“Its a projection. In reality, you have corundum for skin. You look like this." Sophie held out her left arm and tapped it with her right hand. "Most of your internal organs have been replaced with ...”
“What … ahhh.”.
“I'm helping you right now, I still have a direct connection with your cybernetic parts, and I'm downloading files to your PAL. In a few hours you'll be able to control everything yourself. I'm sorry Zoey, but it was the only way.”
“You ...” Zoey sighed excitedly, “You're an Obsidian Cyborg!”, Zoey's eyes widened in excitement, she put her hands on her cheeks and rubbed her face “And you made me like you? That's what you did? Right?”
“Yes, Zoey. I'm sorry, but ...”
Zoey screamed. A loud piercing scream “That is so amazing!! Turn off the projection I want to see what I look like for real. Can I have a cloak? Do I have a cloak? ”
“It'll take a few days to replicate one.”
Zoey turned to the newcomer “Oh, I'm sorry. I'm Zoey.”
“I know. I'm Darlene.”
She excitedly turned back to Sophie “Ok, turn off the projection.”
Zoey was suddenly covered in dark brown, glassy skin. She had no hair, even her eyes and lips were covered in dark brown glass.
“I can run really fast right? Can I try running? Can I run?” She nodded excitedly.
“Ahh, sure,” Sophie looked toward the ridge, the top completely blown away. She pointed away from the shattered rock “That way. Stay away from the radiation back there.”
Zoey, took off, running at an unbelievable speed.
“I think she's forgotten her entire town was just destroyed.” Darlene observed “And she doesn't realize the responsibility that comes with our tech.”
“She deserves a few minutes of joy. Reality will kick in soon enough. What about us? What do we do next?”
“We get together for a meeting. I'm voting we leave this planet. If we can't trust the humans, I don't want to fight beside them.”
“Yeah ...” Sophie sighed, “And its only a matter of time before they find a way to blackmail us for our tech.”
She sent a message to Zoey.
“Meet us back at the Rover.”
As they started walking, Sophie saw a pear tree, she picked two pears and tossed one to Darlene, who smiled, “Glad we're still human enough to enjoy fresh fruit.”
About the Creator
Currently living in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada with my son Mark and cat Sprite. Grew up in historic, picturesque Newfoundland with many, interesting, friendly people, inspiring adventures, songs, stories, and wonderous beauty of nature.