Cara Riesling – 1 hour until impact
They stood for a moment, shocked into silence, before more firing forced them into action.
“Aren’t there more escape pods?” Valyria asked, building a thick wall of vines between them and the approaching robots.
“There should be…” Cara started, before pointing to the deck on the other side of the bay, at least another hundred feet higher, “There. But I don’t think we have the-“
“-I’ll go.” Valyria said, stepping to the edge of the deck and to the railing.
A tree sprouted sideways beneath her feet, and she walked down the trunk as it grew.
“Valyria!” Cara shouted, “There’s no time! You can’t make it!”
“Just go!” she shouted back, glancing momentarily over her shoulder.
Cara felt the breath catch in her throat. There were tears in Valyria’s eyes.
“Cara? Some help here!”
She turned to see the robots had broken through the wall, and pushed them back, gesturing towards the shuttle with her head.
“You get it running. I’ll hold them off.”
“Okay.” He replied, running to the pod and inspecting it.
There was a whirring sound and Cara turned to see an ocean of robots with propellers on their backs, rising towards the deck.
“Raygo, I need you to speed up the process.”
“Already at full speed, Cara.”
She punched a robot that had come too close, focusing her power behind her fist and warping the metal.
“If I get the robots away from here can you manage on your own?” she yelled, rising into the air.
“I’ll be fine. Just keep them busy!”
Cara flew down to the floor, raising her hands and drawing the robots to herself.
Metal scraped against metal as they were all pulled towards her, down from the stairs and decks and air and to the ground.
Cara felt her palms starting to crackle.
When the first robot came within arm’s reach all she had to do was brush her fingers against it and it fell to the ground, lifeless.
Something clicked in her mind as she weaved through the machines, touching them and rendering them useless.
The training was coming back. The part that had locked itself into a corner of her mind.
Channeling electricity came naturally to her. But with her memories…
She knew exactly how to absorb it.
There was a horde of death machines all being pulled towards her, but she was calm. The push and pull of metal was familiar to her as she danced and leapt through them, her touch like that of an angel of death.
The more energy she stole away the faster the remaining swarm was pulled towards her, and the faster she propelled herself through them.
Her eyes had quickly flushed silver, as cold as her expression.
In those moments she was invincible. She was a god.
Cara’s body rippled with lightning, the bolts dancing under and above her skin as she methodically swam through the ocean of metal.
She was moving at breakneck speed, visible only as a blur of electricity. But in her mind, the world was moving slowly. Symphonies played only to her as she twirled and flipped through the air.
And in the space of a split-second, another memory blazed into her vision.
Cara sat on her cot, watching the mirror from the corner of her eye. The scientists didn’t know, but if she sat on just the right spot, looking from just the right angle against the light, she could see their shadowy forms moving.
When she saw the silhouettes waving their arms at each other in what appeared to be anger, she felt her curiosity peak.
She moved stealthily towards the wall beside the mirror, pulling a loose brick from it and putting her ear against the space.
Entertainment was hard to come by. Cara had learned to make do.
“It’s all gone, Adam! All of it!”
“You’re telling me we don’t have a single backer-“
“The Pentagon called to say they’re ‘no longer interested’! Even Russia wants to keep their hands clean after that fiasco!”
“But the technology was perfect!”
“The subject almost stabbed the President with a piece of the wall!”
Cara resisted the urge to snicker. That had been a plan long in the making.
“Don’t call her that!”
“What? The subject?”
There was a pause before the woman’s voice continued.
“I told you from day one, Adam. Don’t get attached.”
“She’s our daughter!”
“She’s an experiment. Born in the pursuit of science.”
“What happens now, then?” he replied, exhaustion in his voice.
“We’re shutting down. For good.”
“We’re abandoning the project?”
“The Ark bigwigs don’t expect a profit. At this point, they’re just cutting their losses.”
“What happens…to them?”
“They’ve reached the end of their usefulness. Put them down.”
Cara felt the same combination of shock and rage wash over herself, and ripped off the head of the next robot in the queue.
She had made a considerable dent in their numbers, but it came at a cost. Cara was buzzing furiously with electricity and it streamed from her eyes, creating a volatile magnetic field wherever she went.
The energy stored inside of her became more and more concentrated, begging to be released.
Her head threatened to explode.
Cara stopped moving and stood, closing her eyes, as robots started to pile on top of her.
Raygo, who had been glancing downwards anxiously every few seconds, rose to his feet and gripped the railing of the deck.
"Cara!" he roared, preparing to launch himself into the chaos below.
He didn't have to trouble himself.
A moment later there was the sound of thunder and a blinding flash of light and he fell back, covering his eyes.
The horde of robots flew into the air, glittering and mangled like tinsel.
Cara rose up as they hailed down, spiraling around her as they fell.
Electricity slowly crackled around her, giving her an unearthly aura as she came to rest on Deck 15 once more.
Raygo watched, in awe, as she walked towards him.
It was then that the lights flickered out and the bay was pitched into darkness.
All of it, except for Cara.
She looked at the escape pod and put her hand against its flank.
There was a crackling as she shot electricity directly into it, her aura dimming.
There were a few moments of silence before it hummed to life and the hatch pulled open.
Cara climbed in wordlessly and Raygo did the same, still watching, gape-mouthed.
The hatch pulled shut over them and the interior lit up, but the dashboard had only a screen on it and no obvious controls.
Welcome, Valued Passenger. An automated female voice began, the same one as the announcement loop, You will automatically be directed to your designated landing site on Earth. Please remain calm. When the vehicle is entering light speed you will be lightly anaesthetised for your comfort. Please find refreshments in the back compartment. Thank you for your patience. Ark Corporations wishes you a safe and restful journey.
The shuttle started moving forwards and Cara felt a set of safety restraints lower over her shoulders.
"Crap." Raygo said suddenly, "The generators are out, right?"
"The door to the loading bay is shut. If we're out of power..."
"We'll become pancakes."
Cara looked forwards, at the impenetrable darkness, and focused.
She was jerked back as the escape pod pulled up into the air, picking up speed.
"We have maybe thirty seconds before we reach the door." Raygo offered, panic on his face, "What do we do?"
"Sit back and relax."
Cara shut her eyes and started gathering force around the shuttle. If she could do the same thing to the door that she had done when she punched through the robot, their problem would be solved.
Cara's hands pulsed with energy.
Raygo looked horrified.
"Cara, what do we do?" he asked again, his voice urgent.
Cara opened her eyes again, and this time they were silver.
"We blast our way through."
There was the deafening sound of metal tearing.