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The people I’m trying to save, and the people I’m trying to fight, are the same fucking people.

  • Mr. Brightside

 

 

3 Hours Later - Candy - Outside The Danger Lab

I’m sitting in the clearing with a mini-rocket full of space DNA in my hand. “What the fuck do we do with this?”

“As your lawyer, I recommend you make some fucking aliens. That was a strong verbal contract you entered.” says Lawbot.

“Okay, let’s put that on the list.” I actually have a super advanced bioreactor in my guest room. I used to entertain. I slip the rocket in my pocket. Lay down in the grass.

What do I do now? The space lab is hidden. Probably junked. The nano lab is cool, but has no info on the God Machine. Lair may have some info. All I have to do is ask him for it. I light a joint. Fuck.

I go round and round in my head. I got nothing. I smoke. I’ll sleep on it. I have some time, maybe I’ll think of something.

Guy runs over. He’s panting.

“We gotta go! We’ve got nukes inbound!” He tosses me an ATV key and runs off.

Fuck.

I scamper after him. We make it about 10 feet before Lair materializes in front of us. We scramble to stop, hit each other, fall at Lairs feet.

Lair looms over us. “Why are you attacking me?”

“It’s not us!” says Guy. He’s holding his head, exposing his belly. The inter-speciel posture of submission. “Not us!”

“It’s not the Optimals?” asks Lair. He’s calm.

“Different Optimals! It’s the World Domination Club. I’m not a member.” Guy taps me. “We’re not members.”

Lair grunts. Looks to the horizon. “Do we know what’s coming?”

“Drones.” I say. “Drones with mini-nukes.”

“Seriously? They’re going to lazily throw batteries at me?” Lair frowns. “I’m insulted.”

Lair soars up. Takes a position a few hundred feet over the cabin. Makes finger guns. Starts waving his hands around like he’s a prog-rock drummer.

“The fuck?” asks Guy. He struggles to his feet. He’s gray. Shaking. “Can we go?”

“No.” I say. It’s snowing. Big fat flakes. I catch one. It’s a little wax airfoil, shaped like a stylized falcon. High speed disposable drone. Probably dropped by the thousands from low cost weather balloons. I hold it up to my eye. It has a hole burned through it. “No, we need to get in the cabin.”

I grab Guy. Lead him to the cabin. He resists. “No, they’re going to blow the cabin. We have to run.”

The faux snowfall is getting farther from us. They’re looking for Lair’s effective range. I pull harder on Guy. Drag him to the cabin. “Too late!”

He’s still resisting. I get him to the porch before a curtain of explosions surround the cabin about a mile out.

“Holy crap! We got to get inside!” says Guy.

Smart man. We run in. Huddle under the big table. Listen to explosions. After a while, they die off.

“Is it over?” asks Guy.

I hold him close. “No.” This isn’t my first automated uber battle. A cannonade of explosions go off.

Lair sticks his head under the table. “They superheated the stratosphere. You’re going to feel a bit of wind.”

The roof blasts of the cabin. Guy and I are sucked from under the table. I grab stair railing on our way out the roof. Can’t hold it. Guy grabs it. Clamps me between his thighs. After a second, the updraft stops. We slam down on the table. Ow.

Guy pulls us roughly under the table. He’s learning. We hold each other and the table legs, but it’s over. Eventually, we disentangle, crawl out. Lair is back by the fire. There’s stars overhead. The roof and the upstairs bedrooms are gone. There’s a long robot arm sticking out from a hatch in the floor. It’s spraying foam around the top of the walls. Moving higher and inwards every rotation. Building a new roof. Slowly erasing the stars.

We go outside. The campsite is gone. Guy flips over an ATV with a winch from another flipped over ATV. He gets it running. He’s leaving. I have nowhere to go. We embrace. He pulls fresh camping gear from the ATV’s storage compartment. I thank him. Watch him go. I look at the camping gear. Pick up the sleeping bag, leave the rest. Head back to the cabin. I’m done sleeping in a tent.

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Doctor Zero

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