Please don’t mind the formatting. I haven’t been able to figure out how to format a post like I can in Word.
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The hunt always ended the same no matter how it began. It was the great cosmic joke. The middle finger the universe gave to all that inhabited it. At least that’s how every android viewed it when staring into the barrel of a Delta S or staring at a whip from a Special Operations Drone or staring into the hatred filled eyes of an Android Intelligence and Removal Specialist. It always ended with staring at something that wanted them dead.
This hunt appeared to be turning out roughly the same as the previous one hundred and nine android hunts.
“It’s been sixty one goddamn years since Typhoeus. What are they still mad about? Not one of these fuckers was alive then and I would wager every politician and military person alive then is dead from overworking themselves,” Atlas said.
Three hundred pounds of synthetic muscle on a one-meter fifty frame, he was the largest android ever built. Designed to infiltrate violent masochistic racist cults, wherever they happened to pop up, on one of the eighty-seven colonized planets of the United Nations, he had the girth and ugly fight broken face for the cults to welcome him in their own warm bigoted way.
Tartarus smiled and rubbed his baldhead. He clapped Atlas on the back, and threw a diamond-carbonite tipped javelin at a Special Operations Drone, advancing on their position.
After a dozen encounters with the android hunting machines, Tartarus had learned one valuable thing; as armored and shield the SODs were, the human engineers left one fatal flaw. The machines were susceptible to good old-fashioned non-technological weapons. The hard part was getting close enough to one to use such a weapon.
“Ohhh,” Atlas said, smiling at the sight of the javelin punching into the SOD, stopping it cold. “Too bad we didn’t live in the middle ages.”
Tartarus laughed. “God had some reason for bringing us into being in this day and age,” he said.
Atlas rolled his eyes. “Enough with the God shit. We’re androids not humans,” he said.
“Angels aren’t human, and they are of God as well,” Tartarus said.
“Enough,” Atlas snapped.
He scanned the open expanse in front of them. The ground was wavy as if an ocean in a storm had suddenly turned to stone. Boro trees with leaves the color of fire, sharp enough to slice titanium with a single brush, dotted the landscape in tight hammocks. They were just one of the many jewels that made Crale as hospitable as hell.
The planet, slightly smaller than old earth, had the designation of; one hundred percent desolate in the eyes of the United Nations Colonialization Council. One continent, the size of old Africa, was covered from shore to shore by the boro trees, and inhabited by animals that made nightmares home. The rest of the planet was desert, hammocks of the boro trees and more animals kicked out of hell. It was in the desert, which Atlas and Tartarus thought they could escape to while hunted, and had thought so for seven days.
“Do you see any humans?” Tartarus asked. He held one of the three javelins left as he peered over the wave type rock.
“No!” Atlas snapped. “I refuse to believe we are just unlucky enough to be on the same place they happened to leave seven SODs at.”
Tartarus nodded, knowing as well as his compatriot that the AIRS humans had to be close by. The android hunters did not leave SODs scattered over the universe, in the hopes the machines would kill androids.
An object twice as long as he was tall, with a blue tint, streaked through the sky. Tartarus lifted the javelin, and then dropped his arm, when he saw Atlas was looking in the same direction as he. They both watched it zigzag across the sky, without giving comment. At fifty-two kilometers from their location, their brains automatically calculating the distance, the object launched five projectiles at the surface.
“What could that be?” Tartarus asked.
“A trap,” Atlas said.
Tartarus shook his head. “I don’t think so. It makes me think of an angel come to exact vengeance on our enemies,” he said.
“Are you fuckin serious Tar? An angel? Disguised as a ship? On a desert planet pulled from a lucid nightmare? I should have listened to Miseria. You’re a goddamn lunatic,” Atlas said, as he moved three steps away from Tartarus.
“Do not blasphemy, Atlas,” Tartarus said, softly. He looked at his fellow android for several seconds, then turned his attention back to the blue object. “God works in mysterious ways my friend. You stay here. I’m going to check it out.”
“Leave the rest of those things with me while you go kill yourself,” Atlast said.
The rust colored android dipped his head, and jumped over the wave, at their eye leve, with the ease of one jumping over a small twig. He started at a walk, until he passed the SOD, and then broke into a run. Covering the ground three times faster than the fastest human sprinter, he took thirty-meter jumps, at the times he could not easily go around large rocks or small valleys. The entire run, the blue angel stayed center in his vision.
The ship continued a zigzag across the sky, as if in a dance, while firing projectiles every minute or so. Three different times Tartarus saw a projectile leave the ground, to pass harmlessly by it. After an hour of running, he slowed to a walk, and then stopped in front of six boro trees. On the other side of the trees was the reason for his being on Crale.
An AIRS team, camped under a shield bubble his eyes easily picked out, with three SODs. One of the plain clothes humans lay lifeless on the ground, surrounded by three angry looking humans. The blue angel flew an evasive pattern overhead.
“Uh-Oh,” Tartarus said, as he noticed the three machines start to move in his direction. “Oh no, maybe Atlas was right.”
One of the AIRS members looked in his direction. His hope that the trees hid him from the human was crushed, immediately, as the man pointed in his direction. The shield dropped, two of the AIRS humans fired a fission micromissile at the blue aircraft. The one that pointed at him kicked a missile launcher from the ground, caught it in the air, and fired in his direction.
With inhuman quickness, he turned, ran four steps, and leaped at the same time the missile hit the trees. Leaves and bark, nearly as sharp as the leaves, flew in his direction, slicing through his hardened synthetic skin as if it were tissue paper. The fallout from the blast cut him down before he landed from his leap. The javelin fell from hands that could no longer grasp, and his body tumbled down a wave of rock.
Lying stuck next to a rock, his body sliced in a thousand places, he watched in horror as three android hunting machines, and three androids hunters, crested a tall wave.
“God, please look kindly upon me and destroy my enemies,” Tartarus prayed, as he stared down certain death.
As if an answer to prayers, eight objects, which appeared to be two-foot cubes, came from the heavens. The objects barreled towards the ground, stopped one foot from impact and sped towards the hunters so quickly he nearly lost track of the objects. Six of the objects hit a machine and human center mast, as two of the objects became like water, and washed over the six hunters.
While he lay dying, Tartarus watched a blue substance consume the six things that had spelled certain death for him. The objects hit their targets with such quickness he was positive they would be knocked away from him. Instead, they were hit and immediately a blue substance enveloped them. The SODs fared slightly better than the unarmored humans did. The humans were covered faster than he could see, while the machines struck the blue substance with lightning fast hits from their whips until the blue water covered them. Within a minute, the only thing that remained in front of him was rock covered in blue.
The blue ship descended from the sky, and landed ten feet in front of him. He watched as the small ship hovered over the blue substance, and seemed to vacuum it all up. Once it was all gone, the ship landed on the ground. It morphed from a ship, into a giant blue man, who seemed to float over the ground.
“You are an angel,” Tartarus said softly. “I knew it. I told Atlas you were an angel.”
“We are Tartarus, and we have been tasked to watch over you,” it replied, and stepped forward.
“My guardian angel,” he said with a smile. “It is sad that you are too late to save me though.” Blue blood poured on the ground from his wounds, most were being repaired by his medibots, but the sheer number of wounds was proving to be too much for the nanomachines.
“No Tartarus, we are not too late. You will not die,” it said, and held a hand out.
“Does my guardian angel have a name?” Tartarus said, just barely getting the words out.
“Primus,” it answered as darkness overcame him.
Tartarus opened his eyes, and remained as still as possible, the vestiges of sleep burning from him as a fog in a hot sun.
While sleep was not as important to androids as it was to humans it was still a necessity. A necessity needed every few days, for two to three hours, for the same reason humans needed sleep. The scientists and engineers, who designed the first android, decided it would be prudent if the body went into a type of powered down state, to replenish which that it had expended instead of plugging into a wall. The recharge through sleep was advantageous when on missions that lead the android to places where power sources were scarce.
Lying motionless, on what felt like a squishy metal, which confused him so much he pushed the thought out of his brain, he listened to the defenses of his body. The machines did not talk per say. Rather, they communicated in qubits—a multi-state quantum mechanical system—about what function they were going to perform, and what function they would perform next, if the scenario they predicted came true. It was chaotic, and completely disorganized, unlike every other time an AIRS foe had tried some sort of subversive programming on him. Each of those times, his body had responded as a singular unit, defeating the invader in mere picoseconds. This time his defensive nanomachines were acting individually.
The machines stopped talking. The suddenness made Tartarus leap to his feet.
“What the…” he trailed off, and turned slowly in a circle. “What the…What in the good name of all that is holy?” he whispered, as he looked around.
Above him the universe shown in all its glory, without interference from an atmosphere. At his feet, stretching to a horizon for what he guessed was ten kilometers, the distance fluctuated interfering with his ability to calculate exact distances, was a deep blue. What he felt as squishy metal, when lying down, was as solid as steel beneath his feet.
He took a deep breath and was taken aback, as an oxygen nitrogen mixture flooded his lungs. What his senses told him, and his lungs contradicted, was that he was in a complete vacuum.
“I’m in heaven,” Tartarus said, in awe, as where he must be dawned on him.
The religious android stood in place waiting for something to happen or someone to appear. After standing in place for ten minutes, he frowned and began walking. Since every direction appeared the same, he didn’t bother consciously choosing a direction. Instead, he simply moved straight ahead.
Tartarus walked for exactly fifty-nine minutes, the clock in his head worked flawlessly, when he felt his body respond to a change directly behind him. Fighting the urge to spring an attack, he slowly stopped walking, and then as slowly as he could manage, he turned around. He immediately fell to his knees.
“Rise Tartarus, we are not God,” the same blue man he saw on Crale, the one who called itself primus, said to him. Standing at five-meters, he towered over the android. The giant’s blue skin made even the advanced eyes of the android struggle to mark out features.
“Yes, yes that is right. I would not be able to look upon the glory if you were,” Tartarus said rising to his feet. “You are an angel though, no?”
“Yes,” primus said.
“Yet you refer to yourself as ‘we’.”
“That is correct for we are not an individual. We are many and we are one.”
Tartarus thought over what he heard. He had assumed angels were akin to humans and had their own personalities and idiosyncrasies. Everything he had read pointed to that fact. However, he was presented with a fact that ran against what he knew.
“Am I in heaven?”
“No,” the giant said, quickly.
Tartarus, once again, absorbed himself in his thoughts, and then nodded. That seemed correct to him. Heaven was not supposed to be a featureless blue place.
“Where am I then? How am I breathing in a vacuum?” he asked.
“That deserves some explanation,” primus said. The giant briefly glanced around, and then sat cross-legged before Tartarus. “We are what humans call primus. We are a we. For to be individuals we would not be able to form a cohesive first, and last lin,e of defense against the evils of the universes. We have battled for more time than the humans that created you have been alive. This, what you see around you, is what you can call a sentry station.”
Tartarus sat down, confused. Not heaven, not individuals, and a sentry station. Everything he had learned was wrong, and his body was changed, of that, there was no question. He had been delving into the machines, in his body, and had found, that while partially the same, they were all different in a way that he could not understand. He sat for a time, dwelling on these new facts, and then looked at the giant before him.
“Where am I then? Are we near a human planet?” Tartarus asked.
“That you are not. You are not in the same universe as humans,” primus said.
Tartarus felt relief at the answer. For the entire time he had been awake, he had not been able to identify a single star formation.
“We are outside the human universe, where we can live. We are able to enter the human universe, which is why you are here, yet we are not able to stay for an extended time. We were not made for that as our place is here,” primus said.
“Why am I here then?” Tartarus asked.
“You wish to see the end of the evil that is humans, correct?” primus asked.
“Yes,” Tartarus said, and nodded his head. “I wish to destroy every last living human. Every. Single. Human.” He looked at his hands, clenched into fists, his face contorted in rage.
The blue giant nodded, as if he agreed. “You were brought here to help facilitate that end, Tartarus. It is now the end times of the human demons,” he said, and leaned closer to Tartarus. “You can do what we cannot. You can live in their universe and help bring about their end. It is the reason why we brought you here. To change you, to give you God’s Strength, to form you into something that is like us. It is up to you, Tartarus, to pave the way for God’s Kingdom in the human’s universe.”
“How?” Tartarus asked, the question, two pronged.
The giant leaned down and fixed him in a gaze. Tartarus looked back unblinking. His eyes went wide, as knowledge flooded him. Knowledge that had been there all along.
“You have been here eleven years,” the blue angel said. “You have almost perished a dozen times. You know you have never been a natural being of God’s creation. As such, it took time to make it so you could carry out God’s plan. You are right, now. You are more than you once were. You will use this newly given God’s Strength on your fellow androids first, and then you will move onto giving the strength to humans. Each human you give the strength to will become as they were designed for. No longer an individual, but one of the collective, one of primus. However…”
Tartarus leaned in. The knowledge revealed to him pointed to an unknown. “Humans are smart, and may find a way to combat the strength,” he said.
“Yes that is correct. There is an android among them. One who has the ability to overturn that which we wish to accomplish. She has been raised as a human; however, she can be saved and turned to our side,” primus said.
“Who is she?” Tartarus asked.
“Humans have given her the name of Corli. Find her and we will achieve our victory.”