Man or Machine?

Jon Leta

I never went to meet the Captain after I met Lilly, how could I? I already knew what he’d tell me. He’d say it wouldn’t be our place to side with either the Humans or Androids. That we would have to wait until a time came when we could make peace between both sides. No, that wasn’t the answer; I was originally created to be a war machine. That may have been centuries ago, but even now my purpose rang true. I sighed and sat on a bench just inside the city’s outskirts, what would Chloe think? If I took either side how would she view me? Tears trickled down my face as I rubbed my temples; it was all just so complex. I smashed my hand into the bench splintering the wood and bending the steel. A presence appeared at my side, I didn’t have to look up to know it was Lilly.

“Mind if I sit next to you?” I wiped the tears from my eyes, saying nothing. She gave me a soft smile and sat opposite the mangled side of the bench. My eyes fell shut, as I tried to listen for the slightest sound of other androids.

“I’m alone,” she said as if reading my mind. Electricity went down my spine as I felt her tug against my hoodie. “Why do you cover your gifts, why hide them from the world?” My crimson eyes met hers.

“Because to this world, I am not a person, I cannot walk freely and display my ‘gifts’. I am only a weapon, to this world; I have no mind and no conscious.” I could feel more tears falling, emotion expanding in my chest. “What does it matter…they’re right anyway. I am just a weapon. That’s what I was created for….War, killing, fighting, and destroying.” My hands clenched into fists. Lilly placed a hand on my shoulder and shook her head. I narrowed my eyes, wondering what she was about to do. I quickly looked around, expecting an ambush. Her expression almost seemed hurt.

“You trust no one Jon; this is what Humanity has done to you. They have hurt you, twisted you, and beaten you to the point where there is nothing left but agony and anger. Our kind understands this.” Her synthesized voice seemed to soften as she continued. “Jon, take up the fight against Humanity. Show them that what they have done will not be tolerated. Fight just as you fought for your fatherland.” Touching the black eagle on my shoulder, I winced at the memory of my family from centuries past. “Jon with us you will be accepted for who and what you are, we see past the weapon and see a leader.” I kept staring at the concrete. We see past the weapon…and see a leader. Her voice echoed in my head.

“And Chloe? What about her?” Lilly looked away then back to me.

“She made her choice Jon; she chose to fight with humanity, with her oppressors.” I flinched. No, how…she couldn’t…could she? Lilly stood, her blonde hair wavering in a light breeze.

“Come with me.” Lilly extended her hand. I stood and took her hand. Screw humanity, they abandoned me long ago. Lilly smiled at me and lead me into the shadows.  

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We had walked for a few hours, taking a trail thru the sewers and then into the abandoned tunnels. Suddenly a large group of armed androids encircled us, their guns brandished in my face. Lilly let go of my hand and removed my jacket revealing my cybernetic arms and torso.

“Jon has decided to join our cause, he is a brother!” She threw the hoodie on the ground. The androids lowered their guns and looked to each other, shocked. One let out a loud cheer; the others mimicked the first, their cheers echoing in the tunnels. Lilly silenced them and lead me through the main door. My jaw dropped at the amount of androids, they all resembled humans; some young, some old, and even those of different races. Walking around, my cybernetics bare, I felt at home. 

“You see Jon, our people and you are not so different.” The underground tunnel resembled the interior of a home. Lights were strung from the ceiling, radios sat on small coffee tables. Chairs and benches were scattered about, many with androids seated atop them. They were all staring at me in awe and approval, at first it was a little odd but now I was enjoying the attention I had been denied most of my life. Lilly lead me to the back of the androids underground encampment, where a make shift tech hospital was set up. Even without blood and guts it was painful to watch. Circuits sparked, hydraulic lines leaked, and synthesized screams echoed.

“If only they could see this Jon. We are not that different from humanity. We feel, see, and bleed just as their kind does and yet they still treat us like ignorant robots of the past.” My heart sank as we passed a child android, she was dead. A door opened ahead of us, and we stepped inside. It was like a large map room, computers and old city schematics scattered about.

“Lilly!” a voice shouted from across the room. A young android, who resembled a guy in his late 20’s, ran up and hugged her tightly. When they released each other, his eyes fell to me then back to her.

“Is this…” his voice trailed off. Lilly nodded then gestured to me.

“Yes Li, this is Jon. The cyborg I told you about, he has agreed to join our cause. Is his enhancement ready?” Li grinned at me.

“Yep, hang on, I’ll go get it.” As Li began rummaging around as I turned to Lilly.

“What enhancement?” A clever smile creased her lips.  Li ran back up to us holding what looked like a small chip, but it was glowing red. I could hear it humming with energy and almost felt drawn to it.

“Turn around Jon.” I did as Lilly asked and could feel someone press against the back side of my skull, it felt cold. There was a small click and my vision disappeared replaced by darkness. I couldn’t hear or see, and could only feel someone holding me still. After a few moments, my vision and hearing returned sharper than before. Li released me as I blinked a few times and looked around. The identification system was updated; I could automatically focus on things much faster.

“These enhancements Jon,” Li started “they are major upgrades for your cybernetics. You’ll notice that you can hear, see, and react 10X quicker than you used to. I also added a special enhancement of my own. Think of yourself disappearing, almost like your invisible.” I did as the android said. A red electricity crackled across my cybernetics and skin, I watched in amazement as I went invisible. Lilly clapped her hands obviously joyed. I returned to visibility.

“That’s impress-“

“Ma’am!” Lilly turned abruptly to see another android run into the room.

“What is it?” her voice grew stressed.

“Humans, they’re assaulting one of our factories!” Lilly growled, and then looked to me.

“Jon, I think this is a perfect opportunity to test your upgrades. Take a small assault team and counter-act the humans. Take a short cut through the sewers! Go!” I nodded and sprinted towards the main entrance, a group of android soldiers fell in behind me. It was time for some payback.  

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“Kill them all!” I shouted jumping into the fray of the battle. Many of the soldiers I recognized from my previous meeting with the humans. I clenched my fists, blades extending, and locking into place on my arms. They’re human faces coated in terror as I slashed and stabbed, covering myself in their blood. It was almost like a ballet of death. Pushing into the enemy lines, a few androids and I moved to the second floor. Fewer humans occupied it, but they had to die all the same. A wild energy seemed to fill and consume me as more and more blood spilled from my blades.

 “Jon…?” a stunned voice echoed across the room. I froze where I was, a blade shoved through a human soldiers neck. His vein spurting like a broken hose. Just as I removed the blade, I turned to see a small kid kick and attack, his blows doing no damage. I brought my blade up to cleave his head from his body.

 “NO! Yuuki! Jon! Stop it!” Chloe screamed. I snarled at the kid throwing him to the ground and landing a few heavy kicks to his ribs. “Jon stop it!” I winced at Chloe’s pleas still feeling the energy coursing within. I stopped but left the blades out, after all they were with the humans and it could be a trick. No, what am I thinking this is Chloe. Yuuki stumbled away, grunting as he stood and looking at his stomach. He must have had a cracked rib.

“You traitor!” he spat at me. “Stay away from Chloe!” My face burned red as I held a blade toward the kid. That explains how he survived that fight at the café. It’s almost comical! I began laughing hysterically, my voice echoing around the building.

 “You! You’re a cyborg?!” Now, I’ve seen it all!” Chloe walked up to me tears brimming in her eyes.

 “Jon! What’s going on?! Why are you murdering our men and beating on Yuuki like this. It isn’t like you Jon.” Chloe looked me in the eyes and I could see my glowing crimson eyes reflecting in her crystal blue. I turned away.

“He’s young and weak! You can’t bully him like you’re doing now. What’s gotten into you? So what if Yuuki’s a cyborg?!”

I snorted. “So what? So what! Chloe, why do you stay with the humans after all they’ve done to me…to us! You would stay with him instead of coming with me?!” I shouted, not really meaning to. A deep hatred burning in my stomach, I was losing my only friend. I took in a deep breath and let out a heavy sigh. My voice softened. “Please Chloe, come with me, fight with me.” I held out my hand but she backed away, shaking her head.

 “I can’t Jon, you know I can’t. I never wanted to fight. But now that I’m here I’m fighting to stop this pointless war.” My voice caught in my throat. Pointless war?!

“You haven’t even seen the suffering of their kind Chloe! Don’t’ act all noble and put yourself on a high horse.” I pointed my bloodied blade at a human soldier’s corpse. “You’re no better than them!” Turning to the rest of the androids, I shouted. “Come men, we’ve done enough damage for one day!” They all nodded and dissipated in the shadows. I shot one venom filled gaze and Yuuki and started away, but then I stopped and looked back to Chloe. She turned away not even looking at me. I loosed an angry howl and ran. She truly had joined them. Tears coated my face. Oh Chloe what have they done to you?!

The End

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