Precious Cargo

Protection

Protection

We never dreamed their intelligence could increase so dramatically, so rapidly. Now, I’m frightened and cold, deep underground, where I hide my boys. Still babies, really. Claude, thirteen months,  Alex, just past twenty-three months, I swear. If only Stephen had not been killed, we could have devised a plan. The kinetic strikes destroyed Detroit’s Phillips Space Terminus, obliterating him and most of the rest of the city, but not us. I want to believe we wouldn’t be here. I need to believe it would have been different.

Dust drifts down from the rough planking that shields us. It comes in waves, which match the rhythmic crashes from above. The cyborgs, so-called B-Borgs, march, sowing terror with each thunderous stomp. They’re searching. We are not deep enough, or cold enough, but I can do no more. I can only hope and pray. My battered fingers pulse in pain. My nails split, bleeding; I know, though I cannot see them. Alex fought me, fought not to come, not to be here. He hurt me, exhausted me, though I did my best to hide it. He knows. Sacrificing the last of my own medications, I managed to sedate him. The damage had already been done. He will start to come around, soon. Then, it will all be over.

BOOM!

The sound explodes directly overhead, like the voice of God proclaiming our doom. A terrified squeak escapes me and I clamp a hand over my mouth. Claude cries, quietly. He knows so much now, knows he must cry softly. All that will change, too soon. Silence, lingering silence. I pray, drawing blood as I gnaw on my knuckle. I exhort them to go. Please. Move along, there’s nothing to see here.

Suddenly. A snarling, shredding, shuddering roar surrounds us, as if they have already broken through. I cower near Alex, pulling Claude close, pressing his face into my shoulder, cupping the back of his head in my hand. Alex twitches, but doesn’t awake. It’s only a matter of time now. Machine driven thunder invades us, becomes our world. It feels forever and always, though only mere moments until these abominations will reach us. Dust falls continuously now. Powder soft, it covers us, but cannot hide us. I check the chain, again. The chain attached to my wrist and Alex’s ankle.

Nothing changes, only intensifies, becomes more strident and deafening. Crying and shivering, I can only wait, scant hope remaining. I’m unable to cover my ears and hold onto my children, my sons. The catastrophic cacophony of yhier fiendish weapons, drills into my mind, until I must scream, if only to block out the noise. It becomes painful counterpoint, twisted harmony. A section of the ceiling near us crashes down, breaches our tomb-black sanctuary, but I’m too numb to move. Blinded by bright spotlights, I turn away, shut my eyes.

Alex leaps to his feet as the first B-borg comes into view. He yanks on the chain between us, pulling me off balance. I pull back; somehow, hoping to save him, protect Claude, myself. I do exactly what Alex expected me to do. As the chain goes taut, a brief laser flash from the B-borg shears the chain just behind the manacle on Alex’s ankle. I’m thrown onto my back by the release of tension. I look up, horrified. Across the armored breast of this murder machine, Jacko has been painted in neon orange. I know what I’ll see before I look. Alex’s age-mate Jacque sits inside the transparent titanium dome on top. Still, my heart stops.

Barely able to breathe, I watch a second B-borg rip its way through, stepping into and filling the small space. I pray to pass out, to be dead, but no deity hears me. Silently, swiftly, the transparent dome opens onto the empty, waiting seat, the leads and cables. Across the front it reads, Alexander the Great, in black script limned in gold. As I grasp the implications, I realize this has been done per Alex’s instructions. I lunge toward him, vainly trying to grab any part of my precious son.

Too late.

As he settles into the command chair, cables encircling him and leads slotting home, he studies me. His sad smile contains only pity. The dome locks into place, As he turns away, the corner of his lip turns down, a snarl, a sneer. One of his mechanical arms snaps out, snatches Claude from my arms and throws me violently backwards. Before I can recover, they’re gone and my tears flow unashamed, as if they will flow forever. I know I will never see my beautiful babies again.

We never dreamed the intelligence of children so young, our children, could increase so dramatically, so rapidly. We never imagined they would turn against us.

 

 

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