This is a work of fiction; the names, characters, incidents, and places are the product of the author’s thoughts and imagination. Therefore, any resemblance or any similarity to actual people, either living or dead, environments, or events is coincidental.
Text copyright © 2020 by Safa Shaqsy
All rights reserved.
Sixteen years ago, before Asrinia was born, her father, Kurin had kept her captive under the Parmosis, which was the robotic nanny that took care of her since she was a baby. Her mother, Redania always have been the most protective mother Asrinia had, but she hadn’t liked the Parmosis that Kurin employed to take care of their baby. She shared her worries with Kurin about the robots taking over the Felbera country. Though, after years of the Parmosis services, Asrinia and the robot had bound together through the years. The baby Asrinia had licked, and bit the Parmosis fingers when she was growing baby teeth.
When she started to walk her baby steps, the robot caught her from falling every single time. Her mother was weak from terrible illness that ran her body, and made her lose her hair. She had lost some weight, and her cheeks were hallow, but she managed to hug and feed her little daughter whenever she could. When Asrinia got older to speak, her first words were “Mama” and “Roma”, when she said Roma, she meant the robotic nanny.
Asrinia had her mother’s ink black, thick hair that made them look mysterious and deep. After a few years when Redania’s daughter became at the age of nine, she made her daughter promise not to trust any robot, not ever, even when the only robot who took care of her was Roma. Long, painful months passed and little Asrinia was dressed in black, in the back garden and held her father’s hand, and stood in front of her mother’s grave. The garden wasn’t particularly green, but it had a lot of junk robots and artistic kind of sculptures made from metal, filled the garden. There, her mother and Asrinia had walked together and read electronic books out loud, when her mother trained her how to love books.
There, in the planet Benolix, she only had her father, and she would love him dearly. Would she keep her mother’s promise about the robots? The only robot she trusted was Roma who was standing behind her and her father at the funeral, looking at them with huge passive, robotic eyes. Roma was seven feet tall, with big arms and big legs, she was surprised that it took care of her delicate body when she was a baby.
Asrinia turned toward her father, who had wet tears on his cheeks that reached to his beard. “Can we go, father?” she asked. Kurin looked down at his little daughter with sorrow, chocking his own tears, “I’m sorry, I haven’t been around when you and your mother needed me” he uttered. Asrinia was surprised that it was a bit too late for his apologies, but she swallowed and nodded as if she accepted his regret.
“Father?” she called.
“Yes, Asrinia,” he said.
“Can we trust Roma?” she innocently asked.
Her father looked shocked for a moment, then he crouched down next to his daughter and said, “Redania would not agree, but we I think we can trust Roma.”
When Asrinia was sixteen, she sat by the window, every day and stared at the landscape of the robotic, cyberpunk city as she hoped to run away one day. Away from all the noises, and from the city’s hazards. The sky was always dark and filled with dense clouds, like it was always cyberpunk. She went to her metallic dressing table, and sat in front of the mirror to check if she got any wrinkles. No, she hadn’t, because she was still young for wrinkles. But it felt like she had lived in that old, stiffy room for fifty years, but it had only been sixteen years.
“Roma!” she called.
Roma appeared behind her, holding her metallic dress that was filled with wires, and all kind of tiny metals that covered the fabric. The dress was long and dark, with no sleeves and a V neckline to reveal her pale skin. It was the dress she would wear for the dinner party that her father made to invite his friends. She combed her medium length, wavy, black hair and got in her heavy dress.
When she got in the dress, Roma closed the zipper on the back of the dress. “Thank you, Roma,” Asrinia said. “I’d like to end this dinner in a good way, so please don’t appear until I call you.” Roma nodded her rigid metal head, “Yes, Asrinia,” she approved. “And you know when I’ll call you, don’t you?” Asrinia questioned.
“After the dinner is done?” Is all Roma said.
“No, Roma, you’re supposed to show up whenever I call you. And that means in the middle of the boring dinner, and when that happens, it means I’m in trouble of dying out of boredom,” Asrinia instructed.
“Yes, but wouldn’t that interfere with your father’s plans?” Roma wondered.
“It might, but you’re here to take care of me, right?” Asrinia said.
Asrinia, took her mother’s perfume and puffed it over her neck, and wrists. She wore metal earrings and a necklace over her pale chest. “Is that your mother’s jewelry?” Roma asked. “Yes, it is Roma. It’s a metal, just like you,” Asrinia muttered. But she thought of what she said about Roma, that she was like a piece of jewelry, not human. She looked one more time at the mirror, and hurried out of her room to the hallway, heading to the dining room.
At the dinner table, Asrinia’s father’s friends, sat around the big table in their massive dining room where they held meetings sometimes. Meetings about how to satisfy the citizens of Felbera country, and mostly, about how Kurin’s inventions had run across the country with his advanced robots. Kurin was an inventor and a ruler of the Felbera country. He had invented Roma before Asrinia was even born to make sure his daughter was safe. Roma took orders from Kurin most of the time, and he made sure to separate Roma’s control center from the other masses. He was careful about his robots, and truthfully doubtful sometimes, that the robots might take over if the control center was in the wrong hands.
Kurin sat right across Asrinia, and the others sat on the other seats. Asrinia looked at their metal customs and their metallic hats they wore. They all looked heavy, glittery, and dark. The men wore dark green suits, and the women wore dark green dresses filled with metal particles, just like Asrinia’s. She wondered how long the dinner was, so she can take off her heavy dress and get to her room again. The room where she was locked for years. She hadn’t had any friends, so she always sat by the window to read her favourite books, and dreamt of life outside her dark castle. It wasn’t a castle per say, just a big building with metal sculptures that her father made, and decorated the interior with.
Kurin snapped his fingers to the Parmosises around the table. They all waited for their master to wake them up, and speak his commands. “Bring the dinner,” Kurin commanded. The robots moved from their positions and went to the kitchen to bring food. While Asrinia struggled to have little chats with the men and women in that room, which was full of chatters. “What a lovely décor,” one lady with red hair and a metal hat over her head said. “Thank you, my father made them,” Asrinia proudly said.
“I know, he’s good with machines,” the lady complemented.
“He is,” Asrinia confirmed.
The sculptures moved on the wall of the dining room. There were different kind of sculptures, but the elephant one was her favourite. The particles on its body moved effortlessly, and few men clapped their hands at the show. “This is impressive, Kurin,” one man said. “With no batteries?”
Kurin smiled at the memory, “My wife and I had made this. It was our first project together. That’s how I fell in love with her.” The room fell silent, and Asrinia looked deeply into her father’s eyes. He missed her like she did, and her heart felt sore.
Kurin kept looking at the emptiness with twinkling eyes, “The elephant project.”
The guests felt the heaviness of the air and looked down on their empty plates. The doors burst open and the robots came in with the food on the metal trays. That’s when Asrinia’s plate vibrated on the table. She held the table edge to balance herself. Did she imagine that? It was not just her plate, but the guests’ also shook with the earth quake. Asrinia sat upright, alarmed and looked at her father.
The guests started talking to each other out loud, and the room shook again, then there was a breaking sound of the walls. “Father!” she called, but already Kurin asked Asrinia to stay in her place. “Stay here,” Kurin commanded his daughter, as well were the guests.
“Father!” Asrinia called, and ran after her father to the hallway, but he was long gone.
The guests started shrieking inside and ducked under the table Asrinia saw. One of them was crying, and he was a man. “You stay here, I’m going to find out what’s going on?” Asrinia ordered the guests. She trotted with her heavy dress away from the dining room into the big hall where the stair case were. Her bedroom was upstairs, where Roma was, she remembered. She grabbed her dress and skipped up the steps and ran to her room, where Roma was tiding up the bedroom, cleaning the floor.
“We have to get out!” she said under her breath.
Roma Went to the window, “Your father is captured by men in iron,” she warned.
Asrinia, ran to the window and down on the ground, she saw the guests and her father captured by men with half iron bodies. Were they cyborgs? Half humans and half robots? The men serounded them with guns, and threatened them. “Where is she?” one ugly man said, the one with half robot face. “She’s not here, “ her father replied. The man nodded and banged Kurin’s forehead with the back of his gun. Kurin, fell on the ground, groaning and swearing, and blood flooded on his forehead from a big gash. Asrinia never saw this much blood in her life, she was protected for sixteen years. Her heart sank.
“Father..” she said with weak voice, and careful not to draw any attention to herself. Roma grabbed a bag and tucked some cloths and extra items that they will need for the road in a hurry. “We have to go before they find us,” Roma warned. “I sense danger on the way.”
Asrinia with tears, ran to the door. Not the main bedroom door, but the secret door to the backside of the house. The secret passage was her mother’s idea, the result of her suspicions. The door looked like a normal wall, except that it opened with her finger print. They walked inside and hurried down the confined stairs to the ground floor. She opened the door to outside, where more sculptures were placed in the area. She dragged her dress with her and opened the back gate, and turned one last time to say goodbye to her father. She might never see him again. Who knows what those men wanted from him, and why they came in the first place.
“Father..” she swallowed, and ran with Roma by her side to the unknown.
After a long walk, Asrinia and Roma, entered a dark neighborhood. The houses were metal makeshifts and people were loud. Asrinia hadn’t felt safe in that area, and she wondered how people survived there. The sky was darker there, and the setting star was behind thick clouds. The wind was cruel and noisy, which made Asrinia’s hair blow away from her face. She only had a metallic hand bag, her mother made for her when she was little, and she gripped tightly to the bag handle, so no one could steal her cloth. Roma was passively checking every corner, “You can get sick here,” she warned.
Asrinia sighed, “Where are we?”
Before she heard an answer, a man showed up, with lousy, uncut beard and messy hair. His cloth were pinned with metal scraps as well, like every citizen in the country, but the material was older, and rusty. “What you got there?” he asked, not politely though.
Asrinia and Roma froze. “Just my bag, “ Asrinia confessed. Roma went between them and threatened, “You cannot get closer, I warn you.” The man’s smile disappeared and replaced with a scowl. He raised his palms in the air, “Okay,” he declared and chuckled. He left to where he came. Asrinia took a deep breath, and thanked God that she had Roma by her side. They started walking again, passing by the makeshift houses.
“Roma, do you have a map to where we are going?” Asrinia asked.
Roma searched the land, “Yes, we can go straight ahead.”
To where? Asrinia thought, to where?
The star was setting, and the sky turned into dark purple. After the neighborhood, they walked into one way road, that had metal trees on both sides of the road. The land was abandoned, and there was no sign of life, whatsoever. She thought about her father who was captured and harmed by men in iron, the cyborgs. And that she left her mother’s grave there. What was she looking for anyway? Where was she going? But she had her trust with Roma that she will get her to a safe place, until she thinks of a plan, or maybe get someone to help her get her father back, if he was alive.
“Your father made me to protect you, “ Roma started. “He gave me a location, just in case something happened. Your mother insisted.”
When Asrinia heard the word “Your mother.” her heart skipped. “Where?” Asrinia asked. Roma pointed ahead, “Follow me.”
The air was toxic in the forgotten land, as Roma called, and it was dark. The houses there were red and were decorated with metal pieces and debris. The fog pressed on Asrinia’s skin, which made her suffocate even more, and with the humidity. What kind of people who lived there? Asrinia thought. They stopped in front of a small, one person house, with a metal plate hung on the door with a string. Was it a doorbell of some kind? Asrinia hesitated, but knocked the weak structured door with her delicate knuckles. She heard footsteps, and a guy with fire red hair, like a volcano, opened the door. He had the same green eyes as Asrinia’s. He too, wore good fabric with metal pieces pinned to his jacket.
Asrinia stopped breathing. She never talked to a guy before in her life, and she didn’t know what to do in case if she saw one. All she knew that his arms were stiff and hard, and that he got more built up body, than she had. He was one inch taller, but had a sweet face that didn’t complement his fire red hair. “Yeah?” he asked in a hurry, expecting her to answer.
Asrinia kept silent, but Roma answered for her. “Our house got attacked by men, and Kurin was captured by cyborgs.”
The boy’s face became alert, “You’re his daughter?” he asked.
His green eyes gleamed, like it was a jewelry of some kind. Asrinia loved jewelry, she even took some in her hand bag. The boy beckoned with his hand for them to get inside his tiny house. Roma went inside first without hesitating, because she was a robot and robots don’t fear anything, but Asrinia stood there, staring inside the small living room. “Well?” the boy suggested.
“Oh,” Asrinia said, and got inside to his cozy house. There were pans, plates, and spoons that hung on the wall of his main hallway, where the small staircase was, and she ducked her head to avoid getting injured of the hung metals over her head. They stepped into his small living room with a small window on the side, and the stars lighting the dark sky. She sat politely on the yellow couch, the flower patterned, and the only female touch in the whole décor. He sat on a metal chair, right across where Asrinia sat, and Roma was at the doorway, staring at them. Asrinia thought Roma shut her system down, or that she was watching them.
“My sister designed that couch,” the boy uttered.
“Oh,” is all Asrinia said. If only she could talk more to that boy, and ask him why her father made Roma take her to him when they were in trouble. She felt weak, and clueless, whether Roma was there or not. Would that boy help her out to find her father? Asrinia doubted.
“I know you have a lot of questions,” The boy said. “My name is Kiram.”
“Kiram,” Asrinia finally said. “Why did those men attack my father?”
Kiram hesitated, but answered, “They’re looking for us.” Asrinia got confused. What did he mean by “us.”? Her father seemed like had he kept a lot of secrets Asrinia hadn’t known about, and her mother hadn’t mentioned anything about anyone is after them, ever. She feared that her father was dead, and she would never see him again. “Us?” Asrinia asked. “Yeah, they got my sister too,” Kiram explained. “We left home to stay away from them, but they got to her first.”
Asrinia clutched her hands together over her lap, and felt the lump in her throat. What she heard was shocking, and she felt devastated, and defeated. What would she do to get them back? To get her father, and Kiram’s sister back. She sat there, with the heavy dress that caught dirt on the hem. She can’t cry, not in front of a stranger. “What should we do?” Asrinia wondered.
Kiram’s eyes glistened in determination, “We get them back, but after you take a rest. We move tomorrow morning. There is my sister’s bedroom upstairs and some cloth if you want to change.” Asrinia without further questions, ran upstairs and shut the door behind her. She opened the squeaky closet and changed her cloth, to tight pants and mini T-shirt that made her belly visible, with orange flower prints.
“Time for bed,” Roma instructed, but before Roma turned off the lights, Asrinia jumped on the makeshift bed, and drifted off.
Asrinia asked Roma to make some tea, with lemon to refresh her mind. Lemon tea was her cure from anxiety. Sometimes when she was younger, her mother made ice tea with lemon, with sugar and a leaf of mint, every evening. Her father hadn’t agreed for her to drink tea that young, but Asrinia insisted, and she got what she wanted. Kiram’s kitchen was small, and congested, but Roma managed to make hot tea. When Kiram came to the kitchen, and smelled the lemon aroma, Asrinia handed him a cup full of tea, and they went to sit in the living room where the star light penetrated through the window, with a hint of orange. Yes, it was a star, just like the star that centered the orbit of the ancient planet Earth, it was called the sun. She recalled the stories her father told her when she was a little girl, about how they left Earth to live in a different planet. The batch of people and creatures who were part of the renewal program, just a test of life in a different planet, on a different galaxy.
Asrinia looked young in a casual cloth, and she felt light without the heavy dress. She had showered and dressed in another flowery cloth, and did some kohl on her eyes, which made her green eyes pop. Kiram looked at her cloth in awe, maybe because it reminded him of his sister, whatever her name was. She guessed that they were in the same age, because her cloth fit her well. Roma’s silver body stood at the doorway, quietly staring at them.
Kiram and Asrinia sipped their tea quietly, until Kiram said, “The men who captured your father should be in the robots control center. We should find them there.”
“Where is that?” Asrinia questioned.
“In the most intelligent city, where cyborgs live without humans. Gorplin city,” he stated.
“But we aren’t equipped. We are not ready,” Asrinia refused.
Kiram finished his tea and placed the tea on the coffee table. “I have guns, and knifes,” he informed. Asrinia couldn’t disagree more. She was raised in a safe home, away from violence, and she couldn’t use a butter knife to protect herself even if her life depended on it. But who would she argue with? She had to do it for her father, or else he would be killed there. Who know what the cyborgs are capable of?
Kiram approached the couch, where Asrinia sat and dug his hand in the side of the couch, then he pulled his hand and what Asrinia saw was a gun. He hid the gun in the pockets of his jacket, and walked to the kitchen, and brought an old curvy knife and handed it to Asrinia. Asrinia gasped, “I can’t.”
“Take it,” Kiram insisted.
“Roma can protect us,” Asrinia argued. “I don’t need a knife.”
“What, that old metal?” he asked and pointed back at Roma. “She wasn’t designed to use guns.”
Asrinia’s head shook, “I don’t know.”
“keep it with you, just in case,” Kiram insisted, and placed the knife inside her boot, between the socks and the leather. Asrinia held her breath while he placed the knife and stood upright. She felt his closeness which made her feel insecure.
“Now, you’re ready,” Kiram said, with a smile, and offered her his hand to hold on to. She took his hand and walked to the outside with Roma, where the fog was never ending, and the road ahead was barely visible.
The fog was growing thicker as Asrinia walked behind Kiram to a land where broken houses spread over the landscape. She stepped on the broken bricks and dried cement of the only remnants of city it was before, where people walked on its sidewalks and pretended it was a good day. It looked like the kind of city where people had hopes for humanity. Hope for the days that less people would be jobless. Hope of the days that cyborgs do not over populate towns and cities.
Maybe those were Asrinia’s own hopes, but she knew well that it wasn’t just her who thought cyborgs ruined everything humans ever worked for. The savages, the rebels, she thought.
“Where are we?” Asrinia wondered.
Kiram turned to face her with despair, “The unknown. The city that the cyborgs destroyed.” He said it with a twinkle in his green eyes and she noticed that his hair was the only colorful thing in the entire area.
Asrinia turned both ways to check if anyone was around on the streets, anyone at all. But she nothing, there was no sign of life in that destruction. Nothing was left, only the remnants. There was only the smell of the lake on her left. The lake had a green tint to it; it seemed to her that the water wasn’t safe for human consumption. That city disappeared; she had no clue of the reason. Why would anyone, or anything destroy a city? She thought.
She took a deep breath, and slowly released it. She noticed that her hands shook at her sides, or maybe they were goosebumps. She never saw a sad city before. For a second, Asrinia had her doubts about Kiram. What if he was lying to her and Roma.
“Roma,” Asrinia called. Behind her was Roma, scanning the ruins.
“What is the best way to reach the central?” Asrinia innocently asked.
“This is the best way possible, “ Roma simply stated.
Asrinia crossed her hands over her chest, like she was feeling cold, and collapsed on the ground on her knees, and sobbed. She pressed her polished nails into her arms and clenched her teeth to keep herself from screaming. She had never felt so scared in her life. All she knew was the safe life she lived in her big house with her loving family.
Kiram knelt down and grabbed Asrinia by the shoulders. He looked into her eyes, and searched her face, and that alone made Asrinia look back up at his eyes, and realized that she had lost control over her own body.
“We’re going to be okay,” Kiram comforted.
They left the unknown and the lake with the green ghostly color and continued on to search for Asrinia’s father. But why is Kiram helping them? He didn’t even know Asrinia.
She felt the barrette in her hair was too tight, so she pulled it out and slid it into her pocket. The elephant barrette her mother used to use to pin back Asrinia’s raven hair.
While they walked on the rocky road, it appeared that the lake was following them; seeming to almost pass it but never completely. Asrinia snickered at the ridiculous childish thought. Of course lakes can’t just follow people around.
“Are we there yet?” she asked.
The ground started to become greener, and the pathway became steadier, with no bumps or cracks. The wind was soft, and the big star was setting in the sky. The trees were large on the ground, with curvy, sturdy trunks. They had no time left until the darkness falls.
She heard something from far away, like buzzing of a bumblebee. It made them look up at the dark sky.
“I sense virens three miles away,” Roma warned.
Kiram’s eyes were alert, “Let’s go!” he said and jogged under the tree canopy, followed by Asrinia and Roma.
“What are those things?” Asrinia asked with panic, while leaning against a large tree trunk.
“Bad cyborgs.” He merely replied.
“What do they do?” Asrinia asked.
Kiram’s face twisted in angst, “You ask too much.”
Asrinia gasped, and felt a bit of anger and stomped on the ground with her foot.
Kiram looked confused, “What are you doing?”
What he hadn’t known was that it was Asrinia’s way of getting things when she was back at home. When her father refused anything she wanted from him, she just stomped her foot on the floor, like a little brat. Her father couldn’t stand seeing her angry, so he couldn’t repeal her demands, since she represented all that was left of his wife.
“I need answers,” Asrinia demanded.
“No wonder why you were locked in your house with your bad behavior.” Kiram scoffed.
Asrinia angrily gasped again, but couldn’t defend herself anymore, because the virens were getting closer, and closer. When the metal jets flew above them, Kiram covered Asrinia’s mouth to shush her from asking any more questions. Those jets flew around in the sky, like they were searching for something, anything alive to hunt.
After a while, the jets flew away from the area, and they both exhaled. Asrinia was still breathing through her nose, until she realized that Kiram had his palm over her mouth. That made her push it away.
“Are they gone?” Asrinia asked to make sure.
“They’re gone,” Kiram replied.
It got dark and Asrinia’s legs felt sore from all the walking they did. They couldn’t take a cab, or a bus as Kiram said, so they won’t find out they were alive. There could be people or cyborgs who are after them, especially when Asrinia’s father was kidnapped. She wasn’t sure if they will go after her as well.What a way to do things, and Asrinia’s legs were so weak. She wasn’t used to walking all those miles. No one trained her to be an athlete. All she knew was that she was nicely fed, and taken care of under her parents’ roof.
Asrinia felt hungry at the thought of food. “I’m hungry, and tired,” she grumbled, struggling to speak.
Kiram stopped and looked at the sky, and the leafy trees on both sides of the road.
“Have a bite, then,” Kiram instructed.
“Of what?” Asrinia mocked.
Kiram bit his lips to stop himself from laughing and pointed at the trees. Asrinia got closer to one tree. It glowed in the dim light of a rising planet. The tree had fruit that looked like dead worms. In fact, they looked dried, and didn’t smell very good.
She turned to Kiram with angry eyes, “I can’t!”
Kiram didn’t turn to her as he also searched for anything to eat from the tree, so she couldn’t see his smile, “Fine, stay hungry.” He sounded pleased somehow to crush her fantasy of a delicious dinner.
Meanwhile, Kiram ordered Roma to cut some branches with her laser fingers, and gathered the wood on the grass to light a campfire. Roma sprayed the wood with some liquid and lit the wood aflame.
Asrinia picked some fruit from the tree, and went to where Kiram sat on the grass, beside the campfire. Kiram gave her a look, and she wasn’t happy about it.
He moved his eyebrows at the dried, nasty fruits.
“I would never eat such things!” she refused.
“Fine,” he resumed his fire gazing, and tossed a log on the flames.
The fire crackling in the quiet night, and the stars were so large in the dark sky.
Asrinia side glanced at the fruits in her hands, and at Kiram who wasn’t looking, or pretended not to look. She put one dried Surpick in her mouth, and chewed it. It didn’t taste so bad after all, it was like dried honey bars.
She kept eating the fruits, until her stomach felt somewhat satisfied, or at least tricked her stomach to feel full, but it was enough for the night.
Morning was beautiful, and when Asrinia was awake, she noticed that Kiram was not by her side. On the other hand, Roma was there, standing as she guarded Asrinia. She rested her elbows on the grass to lift her upper body, and saw Kiram swimming in the lake. He was not wearing his cloth, and his upper body was visible above the water. Asrinia never saw much flesh in her life, so she averted her eyes, and rested her back to the ground and looked at the sky, until Kiram got his clothes on.
His face blocked the star’s light over her face when he appeared again, but fully dressed. “You better get ready,” he said, “We’re going to the cyborgs’ graveyard.”
Asrinia sat upright, “What!”
“Yeah, the fun,” he said with joy.
He pulled her and assisted her on her feet, and when she stood tall, she gave him the most perplexed look Kiram ever saw in his life, and it almost made him laugh, though there was nothing to laugh about, just a grumpy girl. He just marched along the road, and Asrinia had to follow with Roma behind. How could one be happy being lost and hungry? What joy that brought to Kiram. He was a weird guy.
Asrinia quickened her pace to catch up with Kiram. “You are the most annoying guy I’ve ever met!” she scolded.
“I thought you never met a guy before,” he reminded, “Was it you who was locked in a house?”
Asrinia balled her hands, “Ugh!”
“Mind your anger,” Kiram sang with charm.
“Well!” she angrily shouted, “Nothing made me upset before you showed up!”
Kiram raised his index finger in the air, to Asrinia behind him, keeping his head on the road, “Uh, uh, uh. It was you who showed up at my door, remember?” he said.
Asrinia tried to relax her shoulders, smiled, and simply jogged faster, leaving him behind.
“What are you doing?” Kiram questioned.
Asrinia turned as she walked backwards, “I don’t need your help. I’ll walk alone.”
Kiram stopped, and chuckled and she stopped in her tracks. That was how a guy laugh sounded, and it made her feel different. Maybe because they were different.
“You, here? You won’t stand a chance.” He confessed.
She turned back to the road, and marched on, as Kiram groaned in annoyance. He must have followed her, because she heard his footsteps behind her.
The star’s light wasn’t enough to light the graveyard through the thick clouds. There were cyborg body parts dispersed on the dry, treeless land as though butchered and left. Asrinia was shocked to see all those body parts abandoned. She never saw much cruelty in her life, and she felt sad about the cyborgs that went through this, whatever it was. As far as she knew, cyborgs could feel pain; they still have the nerve system in their bodies. Asrinia was about to ask about the killings, but she immediately shut her plump lips when she saw how sorrowful Kiram looked at the dismembered body parts. Instead, she pulled the knife from her leather boot, and stabbed one cybernetic arm on the ground, with loose wires that wildly stuck out from it. It didn’t move, and that made Asrinia feel assured.
Kiram noticed how Asrinia looked at him, with questioning eyes. “Those cyborgs were punished,” he explained. “Then they tossed them out here.”
Asrinia wasn’t sure why anyone would chop up cyborgs after killing them. She thought that it wasn’t necessary, and only people with a cruel, cold heart could do that. Asrinia kept her questions to herself, and waited for Kiram to talk, because he seemed devastated by the view.
“My parents had cybernetic body parts,” he started. “They both fought cancerous disease, but it got the best of them.”
Asrinia stepped closer to see his face, “I’m sorry.”
He regained his determined self and said, “Let’s go.”
They walked again, with Roma behind, and suddenly something beeped. They stopped in their tracks, and turned both ways to check where the sound came from. And there it was, the beep again. Then something moved behind them.
When Asrinia first turned around to see the source of the noise, she identified an arm moving towards them, crawling with its cyber fingers.
“It can’t be. They’re supposed to be dead,” Kiram suspected.
The arm beeping somehow woke up the other parts in the graveyard, and the others came crawling as well. That made Asrinia stop breathing and ready to scream, but when the parts emerged into a moving creature with arms and legs, and a face, that’s when she screamed.
Asrinia and Kiram stared at the creature with wild shocked eyes, and their feet were glued to the ground. They couldn’t move. The creature sprinted and the three of them started running.
But the creature kept getting closer, and closer by leaping like a giant wolf. Asrinia shrieked and ran with Kiram and Roma.
“Roma, do something!” Asrinia shouted.
Roma wrapped her robotic arms around Kiram and Asrinia’s middle, and activated her wings carrying them upward into the air out of harm’s way. They flew above the graveyard. Asrinia looked at the creature below, and the graveyard they flew above. She was scared that she should fall; yet, she felt free, like a bird.
When the coast was clear, Roma descended to the ground with both Kiram and Asrinia in her arms. The first thing Asrinia did when she landed was to pull the knife from her boot, and try to stab Kiram with it. At least that was her plan.
She pulled out the knife and threatened, “I’m going to kill you,” pointing the knife was at his throat.
He slowly raised his hands in the air. “I’m not the enemy here,” he reminded her.
Asrinia’s hands shook and she couldn’t hold the knife for too long, and eventually, her hand dropped to her side. Kiram dropped his hands and with hesitance and care, he snatched the knife from Asrinia’s hand, and tossed it away, to where the lake was. The knife dropped like a rock on the water creating ripples.
“No, weapons for you then,” Kiram warned.
“Why did you do that?” Asrinia asked.
“You almost stabbed me with a knife!” Kiram scolded.
Asrinia placed her fists on her hips and bit her lower lip, “This is your fault, you brought us to this mess.”
“I’m just trying to help you get your father back,” Kiram shot back.
“Why are you helping me anyways?” Asrinia doubted, “You could have said no.”
Sorrow took over Kiram’s face, then Asrinia regretted asking. She never planned for that to happen, it wasn’t her fault that her world was ruined.
“I’d have wanted someone to save my parents,” He uttered.
Asrinia silently watched Kiram turn his back to her and walk away, and she followed. Her eyes searched the empty land, with dead, leafless trees and dry ground. Everything was dead there.
They kept walking, the three of them, silently watching the view around them. Asrinia feared that there would be another creature to avoid. She gathered her courage and walked behind Kiram into the unknown.
They reached a city where humans no longer existed. The buildings were made from metal, and the chimneys were working, looking like productive factories. The smoke rose to the toxic sky and made the city dark. There were cybernetic creatures strolling in and out of the buildings, like they were miners in a dark tunnel. They all seemed busy, too busy notice the three humans standing there.
Asrinia coughed in her fist. “What are they doing?” she asked Kiram.
“They’re workers in the Lost City,” Kiram replied without hesitance. “They’re the ones who make cyber parts.”
“For cyborgs?” Asrinia questioned, and she felt that she started annoying him again.
“And people,” Kiram answered.
They walked between the buildings and dodged the robots on their way. None of them noticed them at all. They were probably operated from a control center, Asrinia thought. Otherwise, they won’t operate by themselves, because they don’t have human minds. The robots were bulky, with arms and wheels as legs. They moved mindlessly with metal parts in their arms, carrying them from one building to another, like they had planned the entire process beforehand.
Then there was the thunder on the sky, and lightning that made the robots return to their buildings to hide from the unexpected rain. Suddenly, dribbles of rain fell heavily on Asrinia’s head, as well as the others. The doors of the buildings closed shut, and the three of them stood there as the rain poured down on them. Asrinia noticed that Kiram’s fire-red hair became a dark shade of berry, with the dampness. She felt cold from the rain, and couldn’t stop her body from shivering. Kiram took Asrinia by the hand and pulled her into the shade of a building entrance. Roma followed to stand with them under the overhang.
“ It’s going to be a long day, “Kiram stated.
The control center was visible from a mile away. It was a large metal building with triangle-shaped red flags that hung from poles on the walls. Asrinia thought it was a prison for a second, then she convinced herself that Kiram would not take them to prison and that it was a silly idea.
They moved with caution towards the building of the control center. The land was dry and had no trees, grass or bushes. The sky was darker than ever. Asrinia felt dreadful with every step she took, and the wind blew on her face.
When they reached the gate, a robot greeted them and asked, “Can I help you?”
“We would like to speak to the queen,” Kiram requested.
The robot moved away and they entered a long hallway with walls filled with robot eyes, staring at them.
Asrinia felt discomfort about being watched by all these mechanical eyes. “What would you say to the queen?” she questioned Kiram.
“Can you trust me?” Kiram asked.
“No,” Asrinia snapped.
There were other robots guarding the hallway, and when they finally reached the big room where the queen resided, Kiram knelt down on his knees and when he noticed that Asrinia was staring at the queen, who was sitting on a thrown, he pulled her to her knees. Asrinia lowered her head as Kiram did.
Kiram, with lowered head, said, “My queen, would you allow us to request a favor?” Then he raised his head to look at the queen.
The queen was partially human and partially robotic. Her crown was big and made from metal, with various gemstones. She had big green eyes, and her lips were red.
“You may speak,” she ordered.
“Asrinia lost her father to some cyborgs, and we ask you to help us to get him back,” Kiram pleaded.
When Asrinia met the queen’s eyes, she saw the pleasure and the sinful smile that she had.
“Does your father happen to be Kurin?” the queen asked.
“Yes, he is,” Asrinia replied.
The queen snapped with her fingers, and the guards came out of nowhere and surrounded the three of them. Asrinia was confused as to what was happening.
“What’s going on?” Asrinia whispered to Kiram.
Kiram’s face twisted with anger, “We’ve been ambushed.” He said with gritted teeth.
Later, the door burst open and her father came in the vast room, with guards behind him, pointing guns at him as he walked and kneeled down next to Asrinia. He looked at her with despair. “Asrinia!”
“Father!” Asrinia yelled.
The queen laughed at the scene, “Oh, love.”
“Let us go!” Kurin shouted.
The queen stared at her robotic hand, with sharp fingernails and closed it firmly. “No.”
“What do you want from us?” Asrinia yelled.
“I want your body, Asrinia,” the queen said, and when she saw how confused Asrinia was, she laughed and continued, “You are a cyborg, Asrinia. Your father built you, and implanted memories to make you real. I want to know what makes your body tick.”
Asrinia was baffled. “How? Why?”
“You were born a real child, until you had a rare fever. We lost you two years ago my dear, and the only solution was to get you back as a cyborg, with a real heart and a real brain. With your own memories,” Kurin explained.
Asrinia took a moment to think about her life. All she was, was a lie?
“And I’ve built Roma to protect you, so we wouldn’t lose you again,” Kurin said.
“Oh, family sacrifice for their child. How nice,” the queen mocked, “Unfortunately, you are all going to die, except for her.”
“No!” Asrinia refused, “Roma, do something!”
Roma activated her senses to analyze the danger around her, and pulled guns from all over her body, then she started to fire at the guards.
Before the queen pulled her gun, Roma shot her head, and she collapsed on the ground. The four of them ran in the hallway as Roma shot the other guards.
They ran to the outside, and they were free. No one was chasing them, because the central body of commands to other robots and cyborgs had died, the queen.
Asrinia ran as she held her father’s hands and said, “We’re going back home. We’re going back home.”
to be continued…
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