IoM: Before the Kalends_Endé 4

:)(: Paart Fawr

…Sophia James 923-01-01…

AFTER THE EXPLOSION on doomsday, every child  in Clarke Elementary’s kindergarten class was chained up. They were placed in a clear, clean air chamber by groups of five, and then each chamber was taken away.

While all the other children whimpered and cried, Sophia James did not. Instead she was angry; she always distrusted people with screens on their foreheads, like her teacher. They weren’t human to her. She hated the people they call bionics. Now that they had captured her in chains, screwed on so tight that her ankles and wrists were bleeding, she had good reason to hate them.

The sky was oddly streaked with purple and gray. The sun seemed brighter, and orange instead of yellow. Smoke and steam rose from the cracks in the ground. Ashes were scattered everywhere; no sign of life seemed to exist at all, not even one tree. Mountain ranges were charred and scorched, black like burnt toast. The ground was crisp like a desert drought.

Sophia flinched when she saw a burnt hand, without a body, in a pile of ashes. After looking around, she grew scared; fear chilled her bones from the inside out. In the distance, she saw a clear structure in the shape of a dome. The closer they got, the more the dome seemed to curve into the sky.

From inside the dome, the sky appeared normal. Everything seemed normal. This was the biggest city twenty minutes from Sophia’s suburb. No one freely roamed the streets. There were no cars. Usually the city was loud, but now it was dead quiet. 

The air chamber was set down and they were let out. Still in cuffs and chains, they were escorted into an extremely large building in the middle of the dome. The roof stretched high like a skyscraper.

Upon entering the building, bionic guards were everywhere. They were at every window and door, and in every hallway. Sophia thought it was strange that their eyes were purple-ish gray instead of blue. She wanted to ask why, but fear and anger prevented her. She wanted her parents badly; not knowing when she would see them again almost brought tears to her eyes. She refused to let the bionics make her cry. She wasn’t weak like the others who were begging for their mommies and daddies.

The girls were divided from the boys. Sophia didn’t know what happened to the boys, but she and the other girls were taken to a level consisting of one giant room that went on forever, in every direction. There were other girls here, hundreds, maybe thousands of them. The girls were separated by age group and ethnicity. Sophia had olive skin, so she was placed with eleven other olive skin girls. Slowly the giant room was cleared out. Sophia’s group was the last to be led out. They were taken to a room and their cuffs and chains were removed. Bionic nurses came in, cleaned the blood off the little girls and then they bandaged their wounds.

Twelve little girls were left alone in the room. Twelve small beds were made, and on each bed a change of clothes was laid out. They were one piece suits; on each outfit there was a name. Each girl took the bed which had the outfit with her name on it. Sophia’s change of clothes and assigned bed were in the far left corner by the only window. 

She liked the fact she was by a window, but she didn’t want to like it. She didn’t want to like anything connected to bionics. This city, this building and this room were all connected to bionics, and she wouldn’t tolerate any of it.

“This is stupid! Where are my mommy and daddy?” she yelled.

She kicked the wall to show her rage. Just then, an image of a face appeared on it. 

As its lips moved, a voice spoke, saying, “This is only a temporary arrangement. Please be on your best behavior and you will be reunited with your parents in the future to come. Dinner will be served in an hour. Thank you.”

The face disappeared and the walls went back to normal. Sophia crawled onto her bed. Facing the window, she curled her knees to her chest and rested her arms on her knees. She gazed out the window and waited for her parents.

ELEVEN YEARS PASSED, Sophia was 16, and her parents never came. The eleven girls she once roomed with were gone. They left three days after arriving. Eleven more olive skin girls would come in and then leave. Eventually ethnicity didn’t matter anymore, and when Sophia turned 14, they no longer brought in girls her age. They brought in little girls of various ages. Emma, who was Sophia’s age, was brought in as well. For two years, they’ve been in charge of the room.

To little girls that came and went, Emma and Sophia were like older, protective sisters playing the role of surrogate mothers. In a matter of weeks, three months at the most, a whole new batch would come in, after the last left.

It was that time again. This time Sophia didn’t want to say goodbye, especially to Leah, who was six and reminded Sophia so much of herself. She was angry all the time and hated the bionics.

“I don’t want to leave Sofe.”

“And I don’t want you to go, but this is the way it is.”

“This sucks! When I get big I’m gonna kick every bionics butt to Timbuktu!”

Sophia laughs.

 “And I’ll be right by your side.” 

She kneels to level with Leah. 

“Now give me a hug before we run out of time.”

Leah leaps into Sophia’s arms for a hug. Leah quietly says, “I love you, Sofe.”

Sophia didn’t know what to say. She hadn’t heard those words since she was little. She hadn’t said them since her mother had dropped her off at school on the morning of doomsday.  Sophia gently pushed Leah away, “Maybe we’ll see each other again one day.”

“Maybe,” Leah responded.

The line of little girls was being led away. Leah hesitated, waiting for Sophia to say something else, but she didn’t. She quickly waved goodbye and rushed to catch up with her group.

Sophia rose to her feet; Emma was standing right beside her.

“Why didn’t you say it back?”

“You can’t say something you don’t mean.”

“That’s a lie. You treated her better than any other little girl. Almost as if she was your-,”

Sophia finished for her.

 “Daughter.” 

She didn’t know why she said that. She meant to say sister.

“I was going to say sister but now that I think of it, it was more motherly,” Leah says.

“Shut up. The new girls will be here shortly. We should clean up.”

“But the girls picked up after themselves before they left.”

“They are all under the age of eight, they can’t clean very well. Look at this bed,” Sophia walks over to a poorly made bed, the one Leah slept on. “It’s not made right.”

Sophia fixes the bed and then looks at Emma, who was standing around not doing anything. “What are you waiting for? Fix the beds!” Sophia ordered. 

Emma rushes to carry out Sophia’s orders.

LATER the new girls arrived. They weren’t little this time; they were Sophia and Emma’s age and they all looked unhappy to be there. Like always, Sophia wondered where they came from. She read the names on their suits as they walked in and took a bed. They all had bags with them, which they placed under their beds.

Sophia and Emma were standing by their beds so no one would take them. Only nine girls entered the room, when there should have been ten.

“Where’s the tenth one?” Sophia asked the crowd.

“You mean Roxy?” said a girl named Lucy.

“I hope she doesn’t show,” said a girl named Ariel. “She’s a bully.”

“More like a [bleep],” Says a girl standing in the doorway. Sophia saw the name on her suit. Roxy walks in, swinging her bag in a circular motion.

The only bed left was the first bed on the right, by the door, but Roxy walks past it. She makes her way to Emma’s bed, the last on the right, across from Sophia’s. Roxy throws her bag on the bed and sits down.

“You’re welcome; I know you’ll be more comfortable up there.”

Emma looks at Sophia.

“She was here first. It’s her bed,” Sophia says.

“I don’t see nobody’s name on it. Finders keepers,” Roxy says back.

“I was standing right by it. That means it’s mine.” Emma snorts.

“Relax. A little change is good for you.” Roxy says.

Emma and Roxy start arguing. Sophia can’t take it. They need to shut up. She rushes over to them. Coming between them, she shoves Emma away, and for taking Emma’s bed, she punches Roxy in the nose. Roxy rolls back off the bed. Her legs fling over her head, and she face plants on the floor. Sophia grabs Roxy’s bag and throws it to the front of the room. She grabs Roxy by an arm and drags her to the bed she should have originally taken. Sophia leaves Roxy on the floor and she walks back to her bed.

Emma and the other girls stare at Sophia in shock. Emma staggers over to Sophia and jokingly hits her in the arm.

“Ouch!” Sophia says.

“That didn’t hurt terminatrix! What the hell were you thinking? Do you have a death wish?” Emma asks.

“You should be grateful you have your bed back.”

The door slid open and two bionic guards and a bionic nurse entered the room.

“How do we know that they’re bionic again?” Emma whispers.

“By the weird one inch by one inch screens on their foreheads. The color, or image, tells everyone what their occupation is,” Sophia answers.

“Oh… So the nurse has the Red Cross and the guards have the color blue.”

“Basically. The colors are different, based on rank including guards and soldiers.”

“Why is everything so complicated? Back with the aliens-OOPS! I didn’t say that.”

To draw attention away from her,  Sophia had Emma step behind her as the nurse approached them.

They watched the nurse walk over to Roxy and scan her. Beams of shimmering light scanned Roxy’s body from head to toe. Once the scan was complete, the nurse snapped her fingers. One of the guards walked around the nurse and picked Roxy up off the floor. He tossed her over his shoulder and walked out of the room. Like a steadfast soldier, the other guard turned and followed. The nurse was leaving the room when Sophia said, “This is a first.”

 The nurse stopped walking, an inch short of the door. She pivots on her right foot and faces Sophia’s direction.

“What is a first?” She asks, walking to meet Sophia.

“Bionics entering a room without announcing their presence,” Sophia answers.

“Nurse7 of the Cleo Sector. Is that better?”

“What is it like being brainwashed by a computer?” Sophia chuckled.

“Thank you. We almost forgot. Who did this?”

No one said or did anything.

“Your heart rate is faster than normal Sophia, as is your body temperature. Are you hiding something Miss James?”

“No,” Sophia answers.

“Then who did this Miss James?” the nurse asked, staring into Sophia’s eyes with her purple irises. “We’re waiting, Miss James.”

Sophia took a deep breath and said, “I did.”

The nurse’s purple eyes caught Sophia’s and flashed brightly, causing her to pass out. The nurse caught her, breaking her fall. “You’re coming with us.”  

SOPHIA WOKE UP in a medical examination chair (similar to a dental chair), in an empty white room. She was strapped down. An image of a face flickered on the walls, the same face that flickers on the walls when she did something wrong. Most of the time it appears to make announcements.

“Hello, Sophia James. You pack quite a punch. Do not worry. Roxy will be fine, but the only way to save her is to turn her into a bionic worker. Her showman of strength proves she’ll be an excellent soldier. As will you one day.”

“I’ll never become one of you!”

“Why did you punch Roxy?”

“Where am I?”

“Why did you punch Roxy?”

“Don’t you know why? You see and hear everything.”

“True, but I am unable to read minds. What were you thinking before, during, and after you punched Roxy? Do you feel remorse?”

“Roxy looks like a bitch. Bitch. She’s such a bitch. And no.”

“Interesting…”

“What do you care?”

“What do I care? I care more than you know. The human brain fascinates me. That’s why I don’t exterminate your race. I simply make you better. I don’t end your life. I make it longer. I upgrade you. I take away all the bad and add more good.”

“You’re wrong! You turn us into monsters! You take away everything human and add nothing but mechanical, worthless parts…”

“That is an interesting perspective. Please elaborate.”

“Bionics lack individuality! They all think as one. They don’t have emotions, and that’s what makes us human. If we didn’t have emotions and couldn’t express ourselves the way we need to… we would be… computer programs…” 

“How much do you fear losing your humanity?”

“More than I can explain.”

“Interesting.”

“Is that all you say? ‘Interesting?’”

“You lack humanity, therefore it is odd that you want it so badly.”

“I’m more human than the next person!”

“I will promise not to upgrade you, if you will agree to work for me.”

“Make me bionic why don’t you!”

“I won’t make Leah bionic either, but you have to work for me.”

“You can’t turn Emma into one either. As long as you keep your word, I’ll work for you until I’m six feet under.”

It explained to Sophia what her job was. She had to track down anyone who posed a threat to the dome city’s civilization. When she caught them, she had to pry information out of them. If she couldn’t get anything, she would bring them in to see Stigmo, the face on the walls.

OKAY. What’s on my agenda for today? Oh yes! Thatcher Tate. Nineteen years old, lives on the eastside, in Section 9-7, level 4, room 219. May have information on missing people. Hmm… she thought to herself as she brushed her teeth, briefing herself on her mission today.

She’s been working for Stigmo for three months, and so far she’s caught two fugitives and three rebels. Sophia knows a bionic can do this job ten times better, so why is Stigmo making her do it? Stigmo told her last week that she’s almost ready for an important mission. If what she’s doing isn’t important, why is she doing it?

Stigmo moved Sophia into her own private quarters. When she completes the important mission, Leah will be allowed to live with her. For a change, Sophia has something to look forward to, and she won’t do anything to screw this up.

Sophia’s dressed in a Section 9-7, level 4 suit. It was blue, her least favorite color. She velcroed on her name tag, which read “Sally”. For some weird reason, she liked that name.

She filled her trusty messenger bag with plasma stunners, eye scopes, and plasma shields, all for protecting herself. Stigmo won’t tell the bionics about her, something about keeping things authentic. Once Sophia had all she needed, she left through the secret passage way to the equipment station. Every time she heads out on missions, she uses secret passageways; they are the only way to go undetected by the bionics and, surprisingly, Stigmo.

In a hidden room within the equipment station, her hover bike was waiting. She put it on stealth mode and slowly rode out to the street. Lately, Stigmo has allowed certain humans to live normal lives. He gave them jobs and homes of their own. He even allows them to have families. The city finally seems normal again. Memories of Sophia’s childhood began to stir her emotions. She focused on her mission, Thatcher Tate, 19 years old, section 9-7, level 4, room 219. She kicked the bike into high gear and headed for the eastside of town. She was weaving in and out of traffic; she didn’t care if the bionics pulled her over.

Her watch alarm went off; it was the eastside’s lunch time, and she was right outside section 9-7. She can head to the cafeteria, which will save her the trip of sneaking around to find his room. She hid her bike behind a dumpster. Before entering the building, she searched for Thatcher Tate’s image on her watch. It wasn’t there; Stigmo didn’t send it to her.

Before entering the cafeteria, she took a deep breath and ran her fingers through her hair, fixing it from her bike ride. She walked through the sliding doors; the noise of a loud crowd was refreshing to hear. It meant normality. Back in section 1-1, the cafeteria is always dead silent. People are afraid to talk and to be happy, but here in section 9-7, life seemed close to normal.

Some woman walked by Sophia heading for the trash with her tray. Sophia reached back and snatched the tray from her. The woman looked at her weirdly, shrugged her shoulders and walked away. Sophia tried to rack her brain for more information on Thatcher Tate. Any fact could lead her to him in this sea of blue jumpsuits. Others walked by Sophia and would say, “Hi Sally,” smiling. Freakishly happy people. It was creeping Sophia out. She’s never seen so many happy people.

Sophia walked among the tables, staring at name tags, trying to find one that had Thatcher on it. Towards the back of the cafeteria, at a table by himself sat a Thatcher, according to his name tag. She sat across from him and bit into her already half eaten apple. He was staring at his meat surprise. Sophia smiled freakishly and said, “Hi Thatcher.” He ignored her poking at his food with his fork. Finally, a depressed person in section 9-7.

“Why the long face?” Sophia giggled.

Still Thatcher did not respond.

Frustrated, she slammed the table; his tray jolted, spilling his carton of milk. Feeling bad, Sophia dabbed it up with used napkins from her tray. She did get his attention however. When she looked up, he was staring at her observantly, trying to figure out what she wanted with him.

“Tell me what you know about the missing people. Are they Runners?”

He didn’t respond. He blinked and then went back to staring at his food.

She slammed the table again, “Hey! I’m talking to you!”

He looked up at her curiously. Sophia was going to ask him another question but she noticed two nurses and four guards enter the cafeteria. If they spotted her and figured out she wasn’t from this section, her cover would be blown. She couldn’t just leave though. She needs information from this ‘Thatcher Tate’. She slid under the table, grabbed Thatcher and forced him under with her.

“Follow me,” She said, crawling and searching for a way out. He followed behind her with no questions asked. She quickly found a door to the kitchen. 

She turned back and whispered to Thatcher, “Get ready,” reaching her hand out to him. 

He accepted it and she said “Run,” as she pulled him up. 

They took off running for the door; Thatcher by her side, holding her hand. The door opens, letting them in; it quickly closes behind them.

She lets go of Thatcher’s hand and cautiously looks for a way out. Thatcher walks in front of her and turns around a corner. She rushes to follow him but he’s gone. Sophia races to search the kitchen for him. She sees an exit and finds Thatcher, waiting for her.

Alarms sound for a lock down; red lights are flashing to the rhythm of the siren’s alerts. An armor door starts to slide down to secure the kitchen exit. Reacting quickly, Sophia extends her arm and holds the door up. Thatcher darts through the opening and Sophia follows him, letting the door go.

Thatcher reaches back behind his ears and then presses his chest with one hand,  acting like he is turning something on. “Hello, I can hear you now. May I ask how you can do that if you’re not bionic?”

“I…don’t know…” Sophia stares at her hand. “But…we have to go…” She looks around debating where to go.

“How old are you?”

“Why is that relevant?”

“I might know why you can do that.”

“16.”

“Were you born without an arm?”

Sophia starts walking left, guessing her way out the building, Thatcher follows her. “Ah… I don’t think so.”

“Well if you were, you have a bionic arm. You can feel and stuff right?”

“Yeah, that’s because my arm is real.”

“That’s what you think. Your brain wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Before you and I were born, they could grow someone’s organs or amputated limbs as long as they had the original to extract the DNA from. After a certain point, they just needed your DNA. They did this for years, decades really.

“But then they realized they were creating mutations in DNA. So deformities in newborns were on the rise. My grandfather designed a bionic prototype with nano technology. It would grow normally along with the child. He died before he could finish the project and someone else took over. The year you were born 300 million babies across the world were born without limbs; 93% of those babies with missing limbs were given my grandfather’s invention. Out of that 93%, 80% of those cases were successful. That’s 240 million 16 year olds worldwide today. Assuming they all survived doomsday.”

Sophia snapped at Thatcher, “Shut up already! I’m not bionic.”

“Of course you’re not. You’re nothing like bionics. You have emotions and you’re self-centered.” 

“Do you know how to get out of here?” Sophia asked Thatcher, trying to resist the urge to punch him.

All of the sudden, they hear, “Freeze. You are an intruder. We will shoot if you resist apprehension.”

They were surrounded by guards. At the end of every hall there were at least four.

“Which way out?” Sophia agitatedly asked.

“But we’re surrounded.”

“Just tell me which way out!” 

“Straight ahead, two lefts, three rights and the exit is right there.”

“Stay close.”

She reaches in her bag and pulls out a few plasma stunners. She pops off a trigger blocker on one and tosses it towards the guards in front of her. She starts running as the stunner goes off. Blue electrical charges emerge, sprawling in every direction. Tips of blue lighting meet the bodies of the charging guards. They’re electrocuted to the ground. Sophia and Thatcher run past the fallen bionics and make a left. This hall is clear but Sophia still has her stunners ready.

At the next left, more guards were in pursuit. They held up their weapons and fired. Sophia turned on her plasma shield, deflecting the shots fired her way. When the bionics stopped firing to reload, Sophia turned off the shield and threw another plasma stunner. The guards collapsed to the ground and they ran past them.

The exit was blocked by too many guards to count. Sophia didn’t have enough plasma stunners to take them out. She put up her plasma shield and gave her back up one to Thatcher. “Hide behind the corner. Use this to protect yourself if you need to. I’ll clear the exit.”

She pushed him behind the corner from which they came, and then ran towards the firing guards. While they reloaded, she threw the last of her plasma stunners. Four remained standing and Sophia was prepared to take them on.  She leaped in the air and drop kicked the first guard, knocking away his gun. He swung for her face but she ducked, picking his gun up off the floor. She shot him, stunning him to the floor. 

One shot at her from behind, but her shield moved to deflect the shot. She turned and shot back at him. To her right, she shot the third before he could return fire. Shots were fired at her by the fourth, and when he stopped to reload, her shield shut off to recharge itself. She roundhoused the guard’s gun out of his hand and pointed the gun she had in his face. He smiled and grabbed her by the arm; instantly, she felt pain as he twisted her wrist, causing her to drop the gun. He punched her in the gut and she jumped back in pain. He jerked her forward, further twisting her arm. Spinning her back into him, he reeled her closer.

  “You’re weak…” He said, laughing.

Screaming, Sophia spins to face him. She spun the wrong way and dislocated her shoulder but that won’t stop her. She head butts him in the forehead and cracks his screen. Next, she uppercuts him in the nose. He stumbles back and she picks up his gun. Shooting him, he seizes to the ground. The fight over, she cries out in pain.

“It’s clear!” She yells.

Cautiously Thatcher shows himself. He rushes to Sophia, seeing her condition.

“I can pop that back in, but not here.”

“See? I’m not bionic.”

“Well, there are three possible explanations: either that arm isn’t bionic, only your arm is bionic and not your shoulder, or you’re right.”

“Listen…I…just need you… to tell me… who runners are…and why…are people… missing?”

“It’s simple. The missing people are the Runners.”

“Why? Where…are…they running to? Ouch…”

“They run to the aliens.”

Aliens? So Emma was serious. From the pain of her shoulder, the exhaustion, and the shock, Sophia felt like passing out. Before she could ask any more questions, Thatcher pulled out a taser and caused Sophia to fall unconscious.

WHEN SOPHIA OPENED her eyes, she was encased in a sea of darkness. Eventually they adjusted and she found herself in a cave-like area. She had only seen caves in pictures; she’s never been in one before. She could hear the echoes of moisture dripping into puddles along the damp floor. From a distance, footsteps were closing in on her location.

Drowsiness and dizziness impaired her judgment. She was afraid, and her world was spinning. She felt woozy. Her eyes were heavy, but she had to concentrate. How did I get here? What’s the last thing I did? Her thoughts were foggy. She came up empty.

An outline of a head hovered over her in a daze of blurred vision. When it cleared, Thatcher’s face was revealed to her.

“You!”

“Good news, I popped your shoulder back in. Bad news, you are bionic…”

He had a syringe in his hand. He jabbed it in her neck and injected her.

SOPHIA OPENED HER eyes again, but this time she was level headed. No drowsiness, dizziness or bleary vision. She wasn’t on a hard surface like before. Instead of darkness, bright light made her squint her eyes. She was in a warm bed with an electric heated blanket snuggling her in. 

Feeling fully rested, she sat up slowly. She wasn’t in the cave anymore; she was back in her small personal apartment, white and dull. Everything was white: the furniture, the walls and the flooring. She had forgotten how much she hates this place. Even the slightest spec of dirt would make this place more appealing. It’s also unnerving, knowing she’s always being watched by Stigmo.

She turned to her window, conveniently right by her bed. Gazing out the window always helps her relax, taking things off her mind. It was working; all the white wasn’t bugging her anymore.

The beautiful scenery caught her eye immediately. Plush green grass, and the leaves on tall trees, rustled in the wind. Wild flowers danced, showing off their vibrant colors. Sophia liked staring at the orange ones; it was her favorite color. Kids playing tag, swinging on the swing sets, and chasing butterflies made Sophia think this was a great day. Everything was as it should be.

A woman with wavy, hazelnut-colored hair was holding a little girl’s hand. The child had dark brown hair with a blue ribbon in it that matched her powder-blue sundress. She was holding a stuffed animal giraffe.

“That’s her favorite animal,” Sophia whispered, standing up to get closer to the window. She rested her forehead against it  and pressed her hands against the glass.

A man with dark skin and black, coarse hair wrapped his arm around the woman and walked with them. He smiled and cocked his head back; he was laughing. It rang in one of Sophia’s ears, while a woman’s gorgeous singing voice rang in her other. A little girl’s laugh followed in both.

Tears swelled in her eyes, Sophia saw her sad reflection in the window. Staring into her own sorrowful eyes, they reminded her of mother’s the day that Sophia’s little sister died. Then she realized that the grass doesn’t exist anymore. Neither do the trees or the butterflies. The people she’s staring at are her family. Her mother, her father, and her sister. This is the last time she remembers happiness, but she was there. Why isn’t she there now?

She backed away from the window; she wanted to forget them. She wanted their faces out of her head, but she didn’t want to forget her father’s laugh, her mother’s talented singing voice or her little sister.

She felt the walls closing in on her. Her lungs were being squeezed by the chains of her pain. She huffed for air; she tried to inhale but the pathways to her lungs were cut off. Her heart pounded against her chest, feeling like it was going to burst free. The walls danced in circles around her. Her knees grew weak and her legs buckled underneath her. Digging at the floor with her nails, she cried out. Fear was eating its way out from the inside. The past, why could she not forget it? Most of the others forgot, they were all so young. The past should be gone!

For a few brief seconds, her heart stopped. Her thoughts ceased and she was no more; her pain ceased to exist. Sophia felt an electric pulse ripple through her body and the pain came back. Another pulse jolted her body. This canceled out the pain and she began to breathe better. Her heart slowly thudded back to normal. She heard a deep, echoing voice cry out for her. The room filled with such bright light that it was pure white. When the light faded, it was pitch black and she couldn’t see anything.

After her eyes adjusted to the darkness, she saw Thatcher standing over her with another syringe in one hand and the taser in the other.

“First I tased you, then I gave you a shot of adrenaline. I’m not releasing you until it wears off. Then we’ll leave for Utopia, the home of the free. But first I should inform you about your modifications.”

THATCHER WEAPONIZED Sophia’s bionic arms. He bragged that she would feel pain from her shoulders to the tip of her fingers. She could still feel textures and temperatures, but not as well as she used to; the price to pay for weaponization. Thatcher said the arms were controlled by thought. When she instinctively got defensive, her level of fear and sense of urgency controlled which weapon on which  arm would be engaged for use. Her left arm could turn into a plasma shield or plasma stunner launcher, and her right arm could turn into a plasma sword or laser cannon.

Sophia’s plasma sword morphed from her right arm after Thatcher was done talking.

“A sword? When in the last century was  a sword used for battle?” She said, holding the pointed tip to his neck. The plasma didn’t ignite yet.

“I personally like swords, and I saw you fight. You battle with raw aggression. I thought you might like a weapon that allowed you to get close enough to release your anger.”

Sophia’s sword morphed back into human form like a shifting, circular rubik’s cube. “How come that wasn’t hot?”

Hot, as in plasma ignition.

“Your body must not have enough energy. You make your own plasma energy through movement and you just woke up. In battle, your arms will not let you down.”

Sophia takes a look around. She is in a cave, but it’s well lit now. It’s cluttered with tables and ancient looking machines. Her and Thatcher were in the center by a metal, slab table. Sophia is awake but her body is tired. She takes a seat on the table.

“Tell me about Utopia.”

Thatcher responds. “Utopia is the land of the aliens. The aliens allow humans to live freely in the earthly environment they created for them. The humans live off the land and separately from the aliens, safe and liberated to live as they want.”

Sophia thought that was weird. What did the aliens want from the humans? She asked Thatcher that question.

“I don’t know, but it sounds better than this hell. If the aliens want to eat me, I’d rather live with them than become bionic. Plus, we’ll have you, so we’ll be protected.”

“We? As in more than you and me?”

From behind Sophia, a big-busted redhead and Emma walked up beside Thatcher. Sophia didn’t care about the redhead but was thrilled to see Emma. She reached out to Emma signaling for a hug, but before Emma could connect to the embrace, Thatcher stepped in between them.

“That’s probably not a good idea. You could crush her since the feeling in your arms isn’t what it used to be.”

Sophia smiled at Thatcher, frustrated. She tried to stay calm, but her left arm morphed into her plasma stunner launcher. 

She pointed it at Thatcher, “Let me hug my friend.”

He tittered, “That weapon there you actually have to load with plasma stunners.”

Then Sophia’s plasma sword engaged, igniting with pulsing plasma charges. She takes her sword arm and thrusts it into the side of her upper arm, where it fits perfectly into her plasma stunner launcher. It  began to beep as it lit up slowly from end to end.

“Yeah, in case you don’t have plasma stunners, you have your sword arm and then the launcher becomes a plasma gun.” Thatcher gulped nervously. 

Sophia pulled her sword arm out of her left arm. Her plasma gun arm was still pointed at Thatcher. He got out of the way, and both of Sophia’s arms turned back to normal. She held her arms out again for her friend’s embrace and cautiously Emma hugged her friend. Sophia wanted to squeeze her tight, but she barely touched her so she wouldn’t crush Emma.


*Edited by Aly Fry

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