The city was a ghost town. Smoke rose from the still-smoldering ashes of blasted city-blocks and toppled skyscrapers. The inhabitants had put up a good fight, but it had been ultimately futile. None could resist the onslaught from above. It had been a reckoning.
From above, the destruction seemed to stretch forever in every direction, and though defeated, survivors yet remained hidden within the ruins. They were now the objective of Stage Two’s mop-up crews. Foot-soldiers prowled the empty streets rooting out their quarry and the nights were haunted by the screams of those they found.
For T-117, his role was simple – survey the South-Eastern quadrant of the city from above and assign units as necessary. Equipped with an array of sensors and detection mechanisms, the quadrant had been cleared block by block. It was his single purpose.
T-117 floated above the city, observing all below. He was suspended by a propulsion system, the technology of which was far beyond the understanding of the primitive local species. It allowed him to glide effortlessly and without so much as a whisper. Like a breeze upon the air, he could approach a target before they even knew he was there.
His form was sleek and elongated, covered in a fine silvery sheen. Within his armored exterior, biology intertwined with machine such that the two were one. He was the pilot and the craft, there was no distinction. The craft’s sensors were his eyes and ears, and nothing escaped his notice.
His present target was a group of three locals who crept from cover to cover amidst the empty streets, oblivious to his eyes. This particular district had gone relatively untouched by the fury of Stage One’s assault, by comparison to some of the other districts at least, and survivors were a more common sight. As such, the area had required extensive cleansing by the clean-up crews over the past several days. Like ants, for every one that showed its face, a dozen more lay out of sight in need of uprooting.
T-117 didn’t mind though. He enjoyed his work, and found the persistence of these creatures fascinating in a way. It was perhaps a flaw in his breeding that he took more interest in his quarry than was intended, but as long as he met his quotas, his superiors paid his eccentricities no mind.
He liked to toy with his prey; watch them scuttle about in their fruitless efforts to evade capture before springing his trap. These specimens were no different. They had been looting supplies all day and he had allowed it. He was in no rush to send in the hounds just yet; let them writhe in their last hours of pitiful existence. If he possessed a mouth, he would have smiled.
His targets entered a building, yet another stop on their circuit, but he anticipated it to be their last. He had seen enough. There was no need to drag out the inevitable any longer. T-117 moved in closer, descending from the clouds to street-level at impossible speed.
His sensors scanned the building. At this range, every detail was revealed before him in the minutest of details. He saw their every motion within. Their movement was erratic as they stripped the bottom floor bare. After a while they stopped to relax. His ears overheard their words, a harsh and inefficient language which offended his sensibilities.
His superiors had deemed it unnecessary to interpret the languages of these primitives, being unworthy of any cultural assimilation as they were. T-117 on the other hand took certain liberties. He analysed their speech patterns as he had done so many times before.
It paid to understand one’s prey, regardless of their status, and it made the hunt all the more enjoyable to listen to their desperate pleas for mercy when at last he came for them. The language these three spoke was different to most of the others, but no less crude. They said nothing of substance and he soon tired of mere observation. It was time to watch them squirm.
He powered on his search-light through the windows in a sweeping pattern and his sensors detected their vain efforts to hide. The light passed over their hiding places but he pretended not to see. Pathetically predictable he thought of them. Which would be the first to run?
to be continued…