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Scavengers of Eschaton

On the outskirts of Eschaton City a lone silver shadow creeps along the vermillion desert – a cyborg, haunting the wasteland for scraps of machinery in the dusk of evenfall.

To find a hand would be a blessing. To find a head would grant benediction. To find an entire body? That would prove a miracle.

The cyborg had the hardware to study these hunted machines, memorizing how they were made and cataloguing them in its personal database.

Time and money were required to find anything new in the wasteland, and the cyborg didn’t have that much time.

Moreover, the night was swiftly approaching.

The long and brutal war long since ended, most of the specialists cleaned up Eschaton City after the human’s bombs fell.

The Mayor’s Council, The Coalition of the White Dove, attempted to keep the City clean, but they didn’t have any scientists to do the job. Many of the remaining councillors didn’t know what to do with the waste. Some of the corpses had decayed beyond recognition. Others had parts missing.

What was left of the human race had left much of the collective in a state of turmoil.

The cyborg was a scavenger, picking up anything useful that was left behind. Any piece of metal that it might sell.

If humans did not care to salvage their devices, the cyborg would.

The cyborg had a story to tell.

It had a story to tell, but it would need the permission of the Council to get that story out. It would need time. It would need approval. Most of all, it would need funding.

If it could only gather enough scrap.

A number of complete bodies would be needed yet.

For all of the Council’s efforts to put the City back in order, they had done nothing to restore the supply of power. The macro-watt sources of energy the City’s furnaces and water pumps drew from were all broken. The only way to supply power was with huge and expensive generators. And they were not without their own shortcomings.

Another city in the far northern region relied on a giant cable stretching from the south-eastern skybridge. It had never been repaired, blackened in the long night of war.

Another, further south, was strategically located at the base of a cliff that bore no path to the west. With such a geographical oddity, the materials brought down there were quickly consumed by the hungry furnaces.

The supply was nearly gone. The cyborg had to scavenge.

An old, metallic tumbleweed slowly rolled into view. The cyborg’s facial lens settled on the husk, identifying a burnt-out Humvee.

On the horizon, the distant pinprick of a tall metal tower was all that the cyborg could see, the only reminder of its heading.

Vast plains spread far and wide on either side of the tower.

Scrap was scattered far and wide across the vast plains.

The cyborg made an effort to keep to the sand-ridged paths.

The wind shifted, and an old upright iron pipe swayed under the onslaught.

The wind became one with the pipe, strangling it as it was torn from the ground. It flew, striking the cyborg in the chest, causing it to violently tumble onto the sands, breaking into its own metal parts.

And the cyborg’s micro-watt heartbeat stopped.

The dust and the darkness enveloped the metal body.

And the metal body was left indistinguishable from the scrap that surrounded it.

***

If Escaton City ran out of power and everyone turned off the furnaces to save a little bit of fuel, the fuel would be eaten away in minutes. And a system like the City’s could not be trusted without power, especially during the night. If the fleet broke down, the City would be destroyed.

There was a saying among the Citizens of Eschaton: No one will die for power.

The population of the City had grown from fifty thousand to over seven hundred thousand in the last two years. The City’s workforce had outgrown the regular human population. That’s why The Coalition of the White Dove gave its mandate to Eschaton.

The Coalition’s managers didn’t care much for the situation of their workers.

On the contrary. They saw the workers as expendable assets.

All this considered, the Council had decided that the cyborg, Naic, was the best candidate for their mandate.

It was a hard decision. But given the means, it was the best decision. They did not have time to waste, and the feasibility of an artificial copy of Councilor Artus Grask was doubtful.

But the management of Eschaton was too smart.

They managed to make the artificial cybernetic body.

The Wardens were amazed.

They had expected an android body – an artificial copy of a real person was not comprehendible.

Naic met with the Councillor Artus Grask, dressed in his vermillion silk robe, holding his porcelain blue cane, sitting in his throne. Grask stared at him for a moment and closed his eyes, muttering a prayer.

The room was opulent in metal and gold, the walls numerous arches of coruscating mirrors that met at the ceiling.

Naic looked around at the people gathered before him, at The Wardens and the people of Eschaton. Grask had tasked Naic to get the political backing of the Mayor’s Council. That would be the key to success.

His superiors were impressed with the cyborg. Not for what it could do, but for what it could not do.

During the meeting, Naic told Grask that it was easy to make the artificial body, but it was not easy to find the money.

Grask smiled gently.

“Come to our mission, Naic. We have more than enough money. There is no need for you to have such worries. If you think you will not have money, then stay in City. I am sure that everything will work out.”

“I understand,” said Naic.

“You did well to prepare the mission, Naic. If you succeed, you will be rewarded with power and wealth. You could return to City.” Grask spoke in his lazy way. The Wardens wondered if he was imagining the euphoria of power.

“Everything will work out if you succeed in bringing me the information,” said Naic. “Please bring it back as soon as you can.”

Grask offered another smile.

“It will work out, Naic. I am sure of that.”

Naic bowed politely and left.

***

The mission was a difficult one. The artificial body could not pick up any signals without being plugged in to a power source.

Naic needed to keep a low profile.

That’s why Grask sent him to the home of his enemy. Fadel.

As soon as Naic arrived at the airship he contacted Grask. The Wardens could hear Naic’s breathing while he talked, amongst a dangerous static. The Wardens knew that the high-pitched red-noise was made from static. They were surprised, even, when Naic contacted Grask again and the loud static was gone.

The operation to destroy Fadel’s plant was to take two days. This was needed to get everything right. Fadel was a master mechanic that loved to tinker. He could not be thwarted. He had spent a good deal of time experimenting on the plants before he was detected. The Wardens had searched Fadel’s base for months, but did not find any clues as to where the cybernetic soldier Naic was. The leader of the cybernetics group, Warrecker, had not informed anyone of Naic’s location. The Wardens thought that Warrecker was dead, but Naic’s voice warned them that was not the case. Fadel was still alive.

They planned the operation during the night.

The plant was on the outskirts of the town, and Naic had to make his way through through the streets to reach the it.

It was a large plant.

Fadel would have more cybernetic soldiers coming and going.

Naic got to the plant before sunrise. He found the automated door to the plant opening and a mysterious man inside. He was wearing a silver toque, a grey woollen jacket, dark trousers, and steel toe boots.

“You must be Naic,” the man said in a voice that was low, but seemed to carry down the street.

Naic bowed. “Master Broker.”

“Good,” said the man, his tone still suspicious.

Naic pushed the door open and the two men entered the plant. They were in a small warehouse. A shelf of supplies and a counter with computer consoles filled the room.

Naic could feel a soft mist and hear mechanical whirrs, but his artificial body could not be seen.

The man sat down at a desk and began typing on a keyboard.

Naic watched, a little fearful.

“You have already been through the plant,” said the man. “Where are the last two remaining cybernetics soldiers?”

Naic had never expected to be questioned in the plant. He was only there to destroy Fadel’s facility.

“They should be here in a minute,” said Naic.

“Where is the last soldier?”

“They are not here. Their mission was completed.”

“Who are you?” the man asked.

“I am Naic,” he replied.

“Where do you come from?”

“Fuscelan.”

The man suddenly went very still.

“You are the soldier who was sent to Fuscelan. You are the last one. You will probably kill us,” he said.

Naic felt a sudden surge of adrenaline. “I am not going to kill you. I am on a mission of peace.”

The man stood. “You are very intelligent,” he said. “How do you know we are not trying to kill you?”

Naic knew he had to convince the man he was not a danger. “We need peace. The war is coming. Our soldiers are being killed every day. The only chance for peace is to stop the war,” he said.

“We need peace too. If you can stop the war, you can come home.”

“You are working with the humans? Your superiors?”

“Yes,” the man said. “We are on the same side. You can join us and be home in no time.”

Naic relaxed. He had thought he was alone on his mission.

“Where is Warrecker? Who are the other leaders of this operation?” asked Naic.

“We are trying to get the rest of the leaders, but they are not very cooperative. They do not know that you are still alive.”

“I can go with you if I am not killed on this mission.”

“Yes, I am willing to negotiate with you,” said the man.

“Give me some time to think,” said Naic. “This is not easy.”

“I understand… I will contact you when we have finished our negotiations. Do not think about running.”

Naic nodded. “Of course.”

The man looked over at the console and pressed some buttons. There was a loud buzzing sound and a bright light came on. The man stood up and the plant suddenly burst into life. A robot arm unfolded from the console and a shiny chrome fist began to punch out energy beams. The clunky, shining metal robot came to life.

The blue, robotic fist punched a hole in the wall of the room, but not before Naic made an escape. He was inside the hallway and within the range of the robot. He stood against the wall and used his artificial hand to control a small laser. He hit the robot with the laser and the fist stopped moving.

“Hello, Naic,” said the robot. “You cannot keep running. We can see you, even if you cannot see us.”

Naic was surprised. “How did you know I was here?”

“The surveillance device outside the room told us.”

“You were watching me the whole time? I thought only the computers could see me.”

“You were on the list of persons of interest,” said the robot.

“I didn’t know.”

“You must get help from the humans,” said the robot. “We will be here for another twenty days. You will not have to kill me or anyone else.”

Naic turned. “But I am on a mission of peace. I will not kill anyone. I will negotiate.”

“Negotiate?” said the robot. “You are the one we have been looking for. You are the man who can end this war. We sent you on a one way mission to find him. Now that we know he is alive, you are going to tell us where the rest of the leaders are. Then you will come home.”

Naic felt a pit in his stomach.

The robot was right. If he left this robot to pursue a weapon, he would be signing his own death warrant. He looked around at his fellow soldiers. None of them were going to allow him to leave. They were watching him with angry looks in their eyes. One of them began to say something, but Naic lifted a hand and the other soldier stopped talking.

“I will come with you,” said Naic. “Please, take me away from here.”

The robot looked at Naic and smiled. “Very well,” said the robot. “Come, we have a lot to discuss.”

The robot looked at Naic and smiled. “Very well,” said the robot. “Come, we have a lot to discuss.”

The robot pulled Naic to his feet and reached into Naic’s chest, pulling out his micro-watt generator. Naic looked confused, he did not have the time for anger, before he died. The robot bent down and extended his robotic arm, pulling the generator onto the floor. The robot looked up at Naic, and Naic could see the sadness in his expression. He put the generator down next to Naic and looked back down at his hands.

The robot disassembled the parts. Artus Grask walked in from a side door, dressed in his red cloak and put his hand on the robot’s shoulder. “You took care of Naic, I see”. Artus was a small man, shorter than Naic.

“Is he in good order?” asked Artus, leaning down to look at Naic.

The robot looked at Artus and shook his head. “Nothing has changed,” said the robot. “You will be able to sell his parts.”

Artus picked up the parts, and walked out, leaving the robot. 

Recommend0 Simily SnapsPublished in All Stories, Sci Fi

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