Page 17: Rescue

Matthias woke to a hard floor, a rumbling vibration passed through the surface, the room was completely dark. There was a presence nearby, a heartbeat, a human.

The human cleared their throat. Female. He attempted to speak, finding himself incapable of little but a strangled moan. The neighbouring heartbeat grew faster. He attempted rolling to either side, trying to place himself upright, but found his limbs bound, and on the slick floor, it was impossible to gain purchase. Pressing against his bonds, he found himself lacking the energy to break them.

The silent companion rose a small radio to her face.

‘Yo, what’s our ETA?’

‘Fifteen minutes.’

‘The package is waking up.’

‘Have you got it under control?’

She took a moment of observation.

‘I think we’re safe, he’s not getting up.’

‘Let me know if you have any issues.’

‘Check.’

She adjusted a rifle against her arm as she reseated herself, attempting to get comfortable.

The small truck sped along a vacant city highway under the glare of orange streetlights. It passed through intersections without slowing down, ignoring any traffic lights.

The nimble, naked figure of David leapt over a locked gate and kept running, skirting a parked car as he flew through the parking lot of a slumbering office building. He passed the entrance to a lobby and continued out to and across a street, over a narrow wooden fence and through the dismal backyard of a vacant brick home.

The small truck slowed at an intersection and veered left onto an unlit road. Great buildings rose over empty parking lots, behind locked gates and watched by security cameras. The road was worn by the passage of freight, the absence of street lighting irrelevant as the road fell under the great white lights of neighbouring businesses. A figure ran out from the darkness and leapt at the side of the vehicle, crashing into the passenger side door. The truck reeled, tipping to one side, tyres spinning as the driver fought to maintain control. In the back, Matthias and his captor slid across the floor.

David held fast to the door of the truck as it stabilised and continued down the road. He tore the passenger door from its hinges and received a rifle in the face from a petrified passenger.

Unphased, David grabbed the rifle and evicted the man from his seat, casting him out onto the road.

‘Stop the vehicle,’ he demanded.

The driver, an unarmed civilian, stared, mouth agape at the skinless android staring into the cabin. Taking a steel bar from the floor, he brandished it at David.

David climbed into the vehicle, crawling across the seat towards him and placed a calm hand on the other end of the bar, his steel grip immobilising the man’s shaking. ‘Stop the vehicle and I won’t need to hurt you.’

The truck careened to a halt, tyres smoking against the asphalt. Matthias lay against a wall, his captor lay perpendicular across the floor. She climbed to her feet, cursing, struggling to find her radio in the darkness. Collecting her weapon, she approached the doors, kicking the radio in the darkness.

‘Damn it.’

She found and grabbed the device from the floor.

‘Hermie! What the hell is going on?’

There was a rattle as the doors were unlocked from the outside. She prepared the rifle, strengthening her stance, aiming at the doors. David opened them, took a moment to assess the situation and climbed into the back of the vehicle.

‘Stay back!’

She fixed her aim on David’s head as he approached Matthias on the floor.

‘No.’

‘I will shoot you.’

‘You won’t.’

David took hold of Matthias’ arm and they vanished in a field of light.

The pair reappeared on a windy rooftop in the heart of the city, the sky ablaze with lights reflected from neighbouring skyscrapers. The moon watched as David unshackled Matthias’ limbs, and detached a small device from his head, tossing it over the side of the building. Stepping back to give him room, he was a silent observer as Matthias struggled to come to his feet.

‘Where are we?’ asked Matthias, looking out over the city. ‘Who are you?’

‘My name is David. Are you damaged?’

He squinted, noticing David’s form. David looked on him, expressionless, emotionless, naked in his translucent splendour under the moonlight.

‘I think I’m fine. You’re an android..’

‘Yes.’

‘But, where did you come from? Who were they?’

‘I do not know. I was disabled. You were in trouble.’

‘Do you know me?’

David took a couple of steps forward. ‘You do not remember?’

‘No,’ Matthias frowned. ‘I don’t. You’re like me! Do you know how long I’ve looked? Where did you come from?’

‘We came from the same place. You came after me.’

‘Where?’

‘I was built first. There was another. You need to be cautious.’

David approached to take his arm.

‘Wait..’

‘You’re no longer safe.’

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