Pythia enters, her face pale and she looks at Diomedes then me, Alvii enters behind her. “What is it?”
“A great fire ball fell to the earth.” She starts “Then the world shook. Diomedes, this isn’t good. This is a bad sign.” He nods and frowns, eyes locked on Alvii standing behind his wife.
“Machine what is going on?”
“It is the end times, life form. This world is out of time to rise up.”
“Explain.” The word is harsh but the machine doesn’t notice the tone.
“I cannot. I do not know why I know what I have told you.” There is silence “It is quiet now, though. The one that speaks is silent, perhaps it is what fell from the heavens.” Diomedes’s frown deepens and he looks away, staring into the fire as though the flame will give him answers. “I will go forth and locate the great calamity.”
“Why would you do that?” Pythia asks, turning to face him.
“Because I cannot allow ill to befall you all. I have watched over you for decades, keeping you safe, finding food for you in the winter, and fire wood in spring. You are my life forms and I will protect you.” Diomedes turns his gaze back to Alvii.
“You were not going to kill us?” He quizzes, voice soft and distant.
“No life form, I was not. I am fully capable of it but I have not had to kill for many, many years.” The chief nods and turns to me.
“You will go with him.”
“What? Why? I can’t survive out there!”
“I will see no harm come to you if you wish to join me.” Alvii attempts to comfort me.
“You are going because I told you to.”
“Diomedes, don’t be unreasonable.” Pythia tries but her words fell on deaf ears.
“I cannot send my men on this quest, I won’t rely on a machine, you are the only one who can go.”
“What if I don’t want to?”
“Then don’t” He shrugs “Then explain to everyone what’s going on and how you refused to help.” I think about it for a moment, then sigh.
“Fine. I’ll go. But after we fix Alvii. I’m not gonna go out there with an injured being.” He nods and waves us away, we step out and I politely hold the flap for a number of people as they flood in, demanding answers from the chief. “What do you need to get yourself all patched up?”
“I need a segment of tube, adhesive, and coolant.”
“Come on, we got tons of stuff. I’m sure we can find you what you need.” I lead it through the village, most people turn away from us, Alvii seems oblivious to it but I’m sure not. I just ignore it and enter the supply hut, we don’t find tubing but we find a patch, and only a little container of coolant. It secures the patch with pressure then downs the fluid, for a moment it waits then it nods.
“The alarms have stopped. But I recommend we wait for dawn before setting out. I must enter stasis and you must as well.” I can’t help but agree, it doesn’t follow me home, I assume it is going into stasis outside the supply hut, I wouldn’t but then again he is a killer machine. My hut is cold but I flop down on to the bed anyway, sleep over coming me quickly.
Stasis is welcomed, my batteries recharge and before long I am awakening, the sun rises not long after. I remain seated, waiting for the life form called Hera to come for me, it is not a long wait before she appears with her warm winter clothing on and a small pack. She smiles at me and I rise. “It is time to go now?”
“Yep, where do we head?”
“East.” She nods and we head off, the sparse trees turn into dense forest as we walk, she can barely keep pace with me but she does not ask me to slow down, I assume she understands the rush of this situation. We progress easily, nothing seems to cause us trouble but there is a rushing that is building and building. Finally we stumble upon what is causing the noise, a large river. She makes to cross it, reaching the half way point on the large rocks embedded into the river bed before looking back at me.
“Come on Alvii!”
“I cannot. I am not water proof.” She returns with ease.
“What do you mean?”
“Water will harm my circuits. I cannot cross.” She stares at me, then rustles through her bag, producing a tin cup. She looks back at me before going to the river and dipping it in. “This is no time for a drink, Hera.” She returns to me silently. “Hera?” she tosses the cup onto me, water splatters everywhere and I jump back. She watches closely, no smoking, no glitches, nothing “I am alright?”
“Seems so. Must be water proof.”
“You did not know that when you threw water on me.” She packs the cup away and shrugs, crossing the river with ease. I follow, choosing my path carefully, when we reach the other side she smiles at me.
“See? You’re fine.”
“I was right to be worried.” I respond as she walks on, it is easy for me to catch up, this side of the river is unknown to us, the greenery is dense and the snow is difficult to walk through but we press on till we reach a clearing. In the center are four Dragon’s Teeth, two are open, door rusted nearly off, one is still tightly sealed, and a third looks newly opened. “We must be careful, Hera.” She looks up at me, I cannot read her expression.
“I’m sure we’ll be fine.” She steps into the clearing carefully and I follow close behind. The branches rustle around us and she gives me an uneasy look before her keen eyes snap up and she jumps out of the way, leaving me to take the full brunt of an aerial attack. An Amazon, one still connected it would seem, falls on me. We grapple, rolling in the snow as he fights for the upper hand.
We were built for this, when it becomes clear we are evenly matched he shoves me down and jumps off. He crouches down and I mock him, ready for another attack; Hera is forgotten by the both of us, when her arrow flies and hits its mark its startling for the of us. He spin, arrow lodged in his back and advances toward her, I jump on his back and drive him into the snow. I slam his head into the ground till it shatters below me and I roll off. “Are you alright, Hera?”
“I’m fine, how are you?” No alarms going off, but I do a visual check anyway.
“I seem to be in perfect working order.” I rise up and grab the Amazon, she watches and I pry the arrow out and flip him onto his back. The chest plates give easily and I harvest his batteries. Hera watches in horror as I pry open my own chest plates and pop out one battery then replace it with a new one. I do this till all four are replaced. “Shall we rest? It is nearly sunset.”
“Wha- oh yeah. No fire though, I don’t want any extra attention.” A reasonable desire. Her small hut is easy to assemble, popping up nearly instantly. She crawls in and I start up stasis, I know not if she is still awake as my system adjusts to the new batteries.