Chapter 1:

Chapter 1

FORCES


In dark cornered hallways where flutters of frightened sentient creatures felt fear and urgency, followed by even darker portions of which there is no sound or light, as if it were the far reaches of space. Panning down empty hallways; one might not know exactly what happened in them for not much of a trace would be left. Walls dingy, and dusty. Were this world to be a nightmare within your dreams, you would still wake up to it.Bookmark here

In that dark hall in a room Far East of the building remains a light in the far corner of a room, there sleeps within a cryogenic chamber a man soundly for to him an unbeknownst amount of years. A man whose dreams have been anything if not pleasant, awaiting to see the world and what it has become. An A.I. calculating system awakens “Year 2084 A.D. subject 01 Mason Wright still alive, ready for awakening. Subjects 02, 03, 04, and 05 are undetected.” A ray of smoke rose from the thawed ice surrounding Mason as the door to his pod began lifting. After a couple seconds he grunted and opened his eyes, though having perfect vision he could not see, almost as if he were wearing a pair of prescription glasses. Bookmark here

“Miles?” He sat up. Bookmark here

“Miles?! Doctor Crews!” He said then when it clicked in his brain. He remembered that it’s possible that his friend and coworker doctor Miles Crews may in fact be deceased. After all anything could happen in a short amount of time.Bookmark here

Mason crawled out of his pod and tried walking but immediately fell, he began choking and as he stopped he panicked. “There’s nobody here!” he thought. He looked around but soon found that he just couldn’t see well enough to know for sure. He wiped his eyes from the rest he’d awoken from like a child waking from a nap. Mason starts choking. He shuffled through the dark hoping a lounging chair he may remember the location of would be in the office and would still be there. He found the chair and decided to sit down. He wiggled unable to find comfort. Bookmark here

“Ha, ha, ha, of course it’s a different chair. What was I thinking? It has been way too long.” He said uncomfortably.Bookmark here

Mason face palmed and giggled. His vision was slowly returning to him. Most asleep or incapacitated as long as he would find difficulty in walking and seeing but the tech was so good at preserving him that his minor hiccups were wearing off fast. His eyes quickly wandered back and forth across the room. Panic now quickly filled his gut. He was starting to realize the true weight of his situation.Bookmark here

“Where is everyone? Hello! Hello! Hello! Only the emergency lights are on! And there should be someone on station at all times. This isn’t right?!” Mason calmed down for a second. “What’s going on?” He thought to himself.Bookmark here

Mason ran out of the hibernation room. He kept running. His breath was shortening, and his dry throat caused him to collapse on the spot. “Where is everyone?” Mason was so dried up he couldn’t shed a tear. Mason’s eyes wandered again. They then widened. He couldn’t see but not because of his slumber but because it was too dark. Bookmark here

“Where is everyone? Why is it so damn dark!?”Bookmark here

He stumbled to the mess hall. The water cooler was still there. He grabbed a Styrofoam cup. He filled it two, three, five times before he was done. Drinking cup of water after cup of water. Not knowing when to stop. Doing his best to wet his dry lips that haven’t felt moisture in years. Mason’s head then began to spin as his stomach turned. His vision was blurred as he was hit with a vision bordering present, and past. Bookmark here

“You always drink a lot when you are nervous.” Mason looked up from where he was sitting in the mess hall. Bookmark here

“You know you don’t have to go through with this.” He saw his friend Miles standing right in front of him. In a well-lit but almost empty mess hall. Bookmark here

“Yeah, you’re right.” Mason replied. Bookmark here

“You are one of my best friends, you have sacrificed so much for my research already. If you really don’t want to go through with this then that is fine.” Miles told him.Bookmark here

Mason smiled and retorted “Nuh-uh no way, our research.” Miles stopped smiling, Bookmark here

“Because of me you lost so much and if you go through with this you will be asleep for ten years.” Miles said.Bookmark here

“I didn’t lose anything. I gave up on them, and they gave up on me. I’ll be fine as long as you wake me up, and don’t change too much okay?” Miles chuckled a bit upon Mason’s request. Bookmark here

“Sure thing man, but you never know.” Mason looked up at him after that was said.Bookmark here

“You never know what the future holds.” Bookmark here

That was the last sentence Mason remembers Miles saying before hibernation happened, and it echoed through the now dark empty hallways of Mason’s former workplace. The last he remembered, not the last he heard of course. Mason’s ears were ringing as his head ached but was no longer spinning. His stomach was no longer turning, and Miles was no longer there.Bookmark here

“So nobody was here just now?” Mason asked himself that question while wiping his eyes. “You know how I know I’m alone?” he says to himself. Bookmark here

“There is so much damn dust! And the water tastes stale! Nobodies been here for years!” Bookmark here

Mason threw the Styrofoam cup on the ground with the rest. Mason started tearing up. He then laid on the floor curling up into a feeble position. Gun shots started going off. He gasped as he heard loud squeals that sounded like a dying animal, only at an incredibly high pitch. He heard the shots coming from down the hallway. Gasping for breaths from fear alone he began running in the opposite direction. Reaching out in front of him as if waiting for someone to pull him out of the darkness as he ran.Bookmark here

Mason was not sure what he was more afraid of, the gun shots or the thing screaming like it had just clawed and screamed its ways out of his nightmares. He tripped and as he looked back behind him, his esophagus tightened up and he couldn’t breathe as his hands shook. If he had anything left in his Blatter from the past he would have pissed himself right then and there. Bright green eyes lit up in the darkness, just staring at him. Four pairs of them. Bookmark here

Mason thought himself to be surrounded but that was not the case. One eight legged creature illuminated itself as it charged forward breaking tiled flooring as it stomped. It had eight legs similar to a spider but with hands, and opposable thumbs, and fingers at the bottom, using four of its legs like arms most of the time with palms flat enough to justify their likeness to feet. Its face was like an oval but the mouth was as if it were a human jaw with the bone showing. Lastly the eyes shined like looking at night vision goggles from the opposite end.Bookmark here

Mason stood with his jaw dropped, and in a split second he ran faster than he ever had in his life. The creature was much faster than he for in that instance the creature latched to his leg with a firm grip but quickly let go as it was being fired upon from behind as it sounded of bullet shells hitting the floor. Mason couldn’t identify the shooter but saw the flashes of light from the other side. Bookmark here

“To hell with this!” Mason yelled as he ran down the hall than around the corner to the right straight for the janitorial closet with salty tears falling from the face then falling to the floor. Bookmark here

He swung the door open then shut it without so much as looking back. It was too dark to see anyway, and he felt as though he were being swallowed while breathing very heavily. He felt around picking up what felt like a broom stick. It was stuck to something and he gave a good tug and ripped it off the ground. He could hear pounding in the pattern of footsteps stomping outside his room. It must have been the monster thought Mason. He held his unsteady breath as he prepared to attack. He found it odd when heard clanking as if a machine had been active. Bookmark here

The thing had hands so the possibility of opening doors wasn’t too farfetched. A silhouette was visible under the door. His eyes widened as the door was opened, and flew toward it swinging the object he had in his hand though he could only see a crevice of light. As a giant shadow emerged he swung down hard hearing a “Tink” as well as a “Crack” and what he was holding cracked apart.Bookmark here

The massive monstrosity was unveiled and there stood a massive metal suit that stood far bigger than that of the average person. Jet black paint and a Gatling chain gun as a right hand as well as a metallic left hand, and squatted legs like a raptor though much thicker with tank treads wrapped around them. A woman began speaking through the speakers with speaker quality that crackled as if it were being emitted from a Walkman, an old cassette player. Bookmark here

“Come hither little man, unless you want to die.” Mason looked at the suit while paused until gathering the lingering courage floating in the air to speak back. Bookmark here

“You’re insane if you think I’m venturing out there!” Bookmark here

The woman yelled back through the speaker. “Keep your voice down! They can’t identify a voice through a speaker because the vibrations are different. Besides I don’t think you want to stay in there with him do you?” Mason looked back in the closet gasping as he saw a rotted skeleton with a missing rib. His eyes widened from the terror. Bookmark here

“What the hell?!” he thought to himself as he looked at his hand then gasped as he threw the broken rib he was holding as weapon down as it busted further. Bookmark here

Walking through the hallways with the woman in the armored suit as she had a blindingly large light radiating connected to the suit. Walking along and keeping pace with the suit Mason was starting to feel a numb pain in his left leg from when the monster grabbed on. He then looked at the radiating light as it had clouds of dust being discovered with each brief movement forward revealing the dust from the dark hallways. Bookmark here

Mason’s body felt 10% pain, and 90% fear while he walked shivering. On the other hand his mind felt 50% mass confusion, and 50% fear. The two were separate. People say humans fear what they don’t understand but in Mason’s mind he was far more extreme in this case. He became a scientist full-time so he could quote on quote understand that which he previously did not. He had a lot to learn.Bookmark here

“What’s your name?” Mason asked the woman.Bookmark here

“Rust Moore, I know I am from the future to you but trust me it’s not a normal name now either so don’t worry. And you are Mason Wright, subject 01, and longtime friend and longest partner to doctor Miles Crews correct?” Bookmark here

“She knows me?! What the hell is this?” Mason thought.Bookmark here

“Commander Crews is looking incredibly forward to talking with you.” Bookmark here

“Wait, commander who?!” Bookmark here

Large screeches come from behind the two. Rust checking the monitor of her rear camera she bends the left arm of the suit urging Mason to sit down. He climbs up on the arm and holds onto it as the mechanical suit gets on its knees which has treads. The suit then began driving at a wicked 50 miles per hour. Mason sat trembling. Rust navigated through the halls with speed, accuracy and never once slowed. The creatures had kept a steady pace with the suit. Crawling on the ceilings, and the walls never tripping up. More of the creatures up ahead proceeding toward Rust. Rust focuses the suits large flash light on them as they recede. Bookmark here

“Why the sudden retreat?!” Bookmark here

While continuing forward Rust explained that the creatures glowing green eyes are night vision that is a nocturnal ability only, as such their eyes need time to adjust to bright lights. The creatures screamed, and even went so far as to cover their eyes. Flanking maneuvers, properly reacting to bright light as well as calling for back-up. These creatures intrigued Mason. For beasts they had remarkable intelligence, and sharp combat skills. A hatch opened in the back of Rust’s armored suit, and the tint of her windshield darkened. Bookmark here

“Shield your eyes Mason!” Rust yelled as he obeyed. Bookmark here

A bright flare exploded from the back of the suit, temporarily blinding the creatures while rock, and fallen ceiling tile are crushed to dust by the treads of the suit while Rust looks for an exit. She sees a corner down the hall but Mason has a different plan. Spotting a cracked up wall, Mason urges to ram the wall. Bookmark here

“Ram the what?! These aren’t built like tanks ya know!” Bookmark here

“I don’t care! It’s made of steel right?! If so then on your right side of the suit, ram that damn wall!” Mason demanded. Bookmark here

Mason gripped, and held on tight. Rust gripped the controls. Rust sped up slightly shifting to her right side then forced herself through the wall. The wall was blown apart from the power, and speed of the mobile suit. The two of them were now riding along the outside through the urban streets. Water pipes in alleyways were broken with the little remaining water dropping out every hour on the hour like clockwork. The sky was like an oil painting covered in grey. Bookmark here

Mason took a deep breath as the crisp cold air of the night blasted his face, a strange stinging sensation that the tired, confused man actually enjoyed. Enjoyment faded at the realization that the outside was an urban wreckage with most skyscrapers collapsed within themselves. Slowly but surely ripping themselves apart as the towering buildings slowly dropped chunks of debris. Streets cluttered with newspapers that looked wrinkled as though they have been rained on and pushed through the dirt hundreds, no thousands of times with practically all the ink faded. The streets were unsuitable for life as though they were ancient ruins. It looked as if the streets have been raided by angry mobs countless times.Bookmark here

“What the hell happened as I slept?” Bookmark here

Rust looked out through the tinted windshield at the man with a bewildered look on his face, and felt sympathy for him. It was due to this sympathy, and pity that she felt he deserved an answer whether he wanted one or not. Which he did want an explanation. As a scientist he hates being left in the dark. Lost data to him is the equivalent to a lost organ. To him to throw away or deny information would usually hold the same weight as chopping off your own hand. Bookmark here

“War happened. A crazy dickhead scientist with a god complex and a firm hatred of humanity created those creatures. ” Bookmark here

“But by what means?” Mason replied in disbelief. Bookmark here

“With a project that not only included the genetic twisting of DNA but hybrids of spiders, mice, and lastly… humans. Though it was publicly open that immediate human testing would be implemented due to the point of the project being advanced human evolution. It was a failure, and or a success depending on how you look at it. Though everyone left alive now realizes it was a failure. It was one of the greatest truths but it was also a lie.” Bookmark here

Mason sat with wide, open eyes, and faded pupils. He was smart, but too sane to comprehend what was going on or what was being said. And he wondered just in that moment if he were dreaming or not. A quick cheek pinch proved it was for real. And those creatures were in fact real.Bookmark here

“How did this mad scientist get authorization for immediate human testing in the first place? That isn’t something that would happen in my time.” Mason then thought about himself being tested on with cryogenics. “Not without permission at least.”Bookmark here

“The good doctor was renowned for his work on cloning, curing cancer, and finally cryogenic sleep.” Bookmark here

Mason’s heart sank. He knew it must be his friend Miles. He felt this brief sense of happiness at that thought in regards to the cancer research but with the world in shambles that mattered very little. Rust aimed the Gatling gun towards an oncoming creature, opening fire the gun took a second to spin up, then upon firing the creature was splitting apart all over. It’s human like hands, and limbs were blowing apart with a final few rounds splintering, and blasting up its face. The blood splats making sharp points pointing in every which direction all over brick walls and concrete road.Bookmark here

Mason let a slight gasp but not loud enough for Rust to hear. “No! Miles, from the sound of things it has to be you. Cancer was our project, and so was cryogenic sleep.” Mason thought to himself.Bookmark here

Not willing to believe it, but also not willing to argue due to his lack of knowledge on the subject pushed the idea of Miles Crews being responsible to the back of his mind. He then focused on many questions at once. Spit firing almost too many of them towards Rust all at once. Bookmark here

“What are those creatures? Where are other people? What is this suit? And finally, is commander Crews related to my friend Miles?” Mason asked. Bookmark here

While still riding away from the wrecked, ruined city, Rust explained in one long strung out sentence. The creatures were called iron-arachnids or “irons” for short, and they were fast breeding creatures that were a large scale successful splicing project, and amongst the ingredients were mice, spiders, and humans as well as others. They were incredibly more formidable during the night with more speed due to the colder air as well as eyes that adjusted to night vision, and stealth sometimes spotting you before you spot them. During the day they are still challenging with their pupils tinted as well as hardened skin that hardened due to their sensitivity of roasting under sunlight.Bookmark here

Other human beings are hauled up behind cities walled off by large walls, and some are underground but the one that Rust is from is in the east, and it is protected by a large Moat 32.5 feet deep, filled with salt water from the ocean, and no incline around the city. It is fitted with five draw bridges at the North, North-West, West, South-West, and South exits. The city is called Requiem. It has electricity, farming, and housing opportunities. The military armored suit that Rust has is dubbed the “mechanic”. Bookmark here

Originally not made for combat version 3.0 was fitted for battle but the one Rust has is version 5.0, And there is a 7 foot tall rectangular shaped armored truck fitted with a grenade launcher, night vision, and thermal vision, two fifty caliber machine guns, a four round Rocket Propelled Grenade launcher, and a torpedo with a targeting system that will spot and dodge small objects on land as well as act as a traditional torpedo in the water though it is not amphibious unless specially equipped by a military mechanic (Not the armored suit) and in fact each one of these vehicles could differ due to budget cuts.Bookmark here

This next vehicle has eight off-road wheels, is aerodynamic, and the wheels adjust to bumps and different terrains, making them the most deadly force in the military arsenal. This particular armored vehicle called “The death bringer” but the troops just call it the armored DB. And lastly Commander Crews is unrelated to Miles Crews.Bookmark here

The long strewn out explanation left Mason with a head ache. Mason then simplified, and relayed the explanation back to Rust “So giant fucking ant-spiders, holy safe havens, mecha straight out of an anime, and no blood relation with crew’s. I have missed a lot over the years.” Bookmark here

Rust was actually impressed by Mason’s ability to understand and retain that info. Mason looked at the ground that looked as if it were moving under them. When in reality, they were moving while the ground was motionless. Mason gave off a sigh but dropped it as Rust started talking to him. Bookmark here

“I don’t exactly know why but my good friend, partial mentor commander crew’s is very interested in you in particular, and it took two and a half years of ass-kissing on his part to fund this operation in order to find you. That being said he generally has a silver tongue and can talk his way in or out of anything without giving straight answers so it was only a matter of time before he got what he wanted.” Bookmark here

“Why me?” Bookmark here

“Because of your connection to Miles, nobody knew how his mind ticked more than you. We have the bastard’s notes back at Requiem and it is all poetry, basically garbage to us. We can’t make anything of it. Clive was hoping you could help.”Bookmark here

“Do not call him that! He isn’t a bastard!” Mason yelled with a screech.Bookmark here

“Why not call him what he is? I mean it is what he is after all.” Bookmark here

“Shut up! He was my friend, and a good person!” Bookmark here

After that last statement the suit stopped driving and the mechanic just slid a bit pushing gravel. The glass in front of the cockpit emitted steam as it slowly rose. Out from the steam emerged a tall, tan, beautiful, and short haired woman with a fiery stare in her brown eyes. A diamond in the rough due to her beauty. A diamond that will more than likely never be polished. Mason stared in awe until getting punched in the face knocking him off the mechanic and onto the ground as he lay on his side choking, and holding his eye while his nose dripped with blood. And the dust from the fall clouding around him didn’t help his breathing. Bookmark here

“Did you share his ideals Mason? Because if you did it might be more productive to kill you here rather than let a man like you poking your nose in a man like Miles’ research! You better hope he was tricking you or I’ll blow your brains all over the ground of this lonely, gravely road!” Rust yelled as she pulled her sidearm from her hip and into her hand.Bookmark here

Mason lay on the ground moaning in pain, then he looked up at her once he gathered the little bit of courage he had to do so. There she stood over him. Staring at him with such conviction. Mason could see it in her eyes. She could really go through with shooting him. He knew no way to get out of it either, completely at her mercy in a future he doesn’t belong in. Bookmark here

“Ya see that man killed two-hundred thousand people overnight. In a week it was two-billion human beings! Are you interested in hearing what it was after a month?” Bookmark here

Mason looking at her with eyes of rage spun his index finger in a circle as a hint to keep going. He hated hearing but he felt as though he had to. After all he hates lacking knowledge. Bookmark here

“After a month of the initial judgment day humanity had suffered a grand total of 7 billion people almost exactly. Mark that day on your calendar because even Pearl Harbor and 9/11 doesn’t touch it. Hiroshima and Nagasaki, just chaos.”Bookmark here

Barely millions of people left in the world, and what was left as a refuge wasn’t an option for most. Planes were infiltrated by those creatures, evacuations of North America only spread the irons all over the world as babies hid in different areas of the plane. Nations fell to the onslaught. In the United States giant safe haven cities were conceived. Some with giant walls, some underground, and one that fended of the creatures like a castle from the Middle Ages. Using a moat of deep salt water to keep the city safe as well as a brilliantly designed water purifier that cleansed the salt water for people to drink, and to grow vegetables. Three-million people on the earth and three-hundred-seventy-thousand people, sit in waiting at requiem, sit waiting for humanity to take back its own. Or die trying.Bookmark here

Miles wanted to usher in a new era of dominant species. At a lab with virtually no high technicality or advanced security. What seemed to be his intention? Human extinction. It happened to the dinosaurs, many other species, but would any human have believed that they could go extinct. They do now and they keep clawing themselves out of that hole, more battered and beaten almost every time. Humans are the bottom of the food chain along with deer, and cattle. Although one phenomena after another, humans are and always will be the only endangered species to bite back so hard.Bookmark here

“I’ll do it. I will decipher Miles’ notes for you.” Mason said half-heartedly. “Though more for myself than for you so don’t get any notions! I hate being left in the dark.” Bookmark here

Rust looked at him for a second in contentment, but it slowly grew into a half-smile. “No Mason, for humanity.” Bookmark here

Mason also half-smiled as Rust extended her hand toward him to pull him up. As he grabbed her hand in both their minds they just somehow knew that they were going to be great friends. Once they get past their differences. They had a lot of differences. Before re-entering the mechanic Rust pulled out a pair of binoculars, after circling while searching Rust came to a conclusion. Bookmark here

“It’s too dark to search for my team now, so the only thing to do is take refuge somewhere. And in the morning we will search for Wayne, my team’s commander.” Mason nodded as they headed for a small rubble ridden, and roofless structure.Bookmark here

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Rust sat up for an hour staring out for signs of her team. Mason lay staring at her while she looks onward. He was shivering, and not from the cold. He put up a good front but he felt immense internal fear. His stomach turned without even thinking about the situation he was in, and maybe that was his problem. He wasn’t thinking, and not in the slightest. Science he thought made those things, science could remove the irons from this world. Just maybe. Bookmark here

“Rust.” Mason said as she glanced at him and grunted.Bookmark here

“Why is that your name?” Rust then took a small breath before speaking. Bookmark here

“Believe it or not my family was incredibly rich at one point or another. But money didn’t mean too much if you were a useless human. My mother wasn’t born into poverty but she sure lived it for the rest of her life. My mother, and father were both farmers on one of requiem’s three plantations. My father became her soul provider and basically out of pity. He came to love her but it took years my mother said. Dad was used to poverty like me but mom wasn’t.” Bookmark here

“And just like steel. A metal that in its glory was strong and profitable, it would eventually rust. So my mother named me after what had happened to our family. We had rusted. And so as it was I am Rust. At the time I was nothing more and nothing less. My mother didn’t even want me at first.” Rust said as Mason stared at the ground for a second until he then spoke. Bookmark here

“Well it’s not a stupid reason you have that name, just a selfish one I guess.” Rust smirked at that statement, because she knew just how true a statement it was. Bookmark here

“Mason is a pretty common name so I won’t ask how you got it but it only feels right that I ask how your childhood was for ya?” Rust then asked trying to be light hearted.Bookmark here

Mason surprised by her seemingly genuine interest spoke. “Alright. Let’s see.”Bookmark here

“Well I had a good childhood, a nice dad, and an interest in science.” Bookmark here

“Okay…” Rust said dissatisfied but accepted the vague answer. “Well that was incredibly vague.” Rust had said while half-smiling not to upset him.Bookmark here

“Where did your love of science come from?” she asked.Bookmark here

Mason scratched his head in slight confusion with himself. He then kicked a few rocks while grunting in such a way making him seem heavy with thought. His stomach growled a bit as his stomach did the speaking for him momentarily. After all he hasn’t eaten for years. He was bound to be hungry even if only mentally.Bookmark here

“Have any food? I haven’t eaten for who knows how long.” Bookmark here

Rust throws him her canteen as well as a chocolate bar. The chocolate was gone in seconds flat. After a few sips of water he threw the canteen back her way but was off, she caught it anyway. “Nice catch!” he whispered with enthusiasm before continuing. Bookmark here

“When I was younger before my double digits I was a bit of a pyro-maniac. I loved playing with fire.” He told her. “I loved doing the typical stuff, roasting marshmallows, torching insects, spraying flammable fluids on surfaces and letting it burn, you know the typical stuff.” Bookmark here

“It got to the point that.” Mason now smiling. “To the point when my awesome Dad tried everything from fishing, sports, video games, to anime, you know any hobby to get my mind off the dangerous stuff. Then he brought home an ant farm. One of the coolest things I had ever seen!” That last sentence was said with absolute enthusiasm that was coupled with agile arm motions that now had Rust invested.Bookmark here

“I spent hour’s online researching ants, and I was then taking my own observations down on paper. Before you knew it there were microscopes, telescopes, and chemistry sets by age eleven. When I was twelve years old I created a wind turbine that powered a light bulb. My dad was so proud of me, my mother too. I was always winning second place, and the occasional first place at science fairs all over the place!” His smile diluted and Mason was once again avoiding eye contact. Bookmark here

“My mother was diagnosed with cancer while I was fifteen and I dedicated many years after the fact to curing cancer. A silly dream I know.” The last sentence was almost said sarcastically while a slight smile was kept on his face before souring once more. Bookmark here

“I was age 17, and my mom died. The last thing she said to me was that my notes were very impressive, she said that with the biggest smile of hers I had ever seen. She was usually bitter.” Mason said as Rust jumped in. Bookmark here

“She didn’t want her last memory to be sad, for her and you Mason. I know, because dying soldiers do the exact same thing. Battlefield goodbyes are weird and melancholy. Any goodbyes really…” Mason nodded.Bookmark here

“Well that moment was when science really took hold of me, I was going to bring my mother back… back to life! A silly naïve, and childish dream. A defiant act against God.” A moment of silence was necessary, Rust took time to think about what he said. She then squinted at the idea of something, and changed the subject. Bookmark here

“You said you always got second at science fairs? Hardly ever first?” Bookmark here

“Well actually that honor everytime had gone to Miles.” Mason was steadily laughing about that but Rust’s face immediately soured. Bookmark here

“You see me and…” Bookmark here

“Stop talking!” Bookmark here

Mason jumped a bit inside from Rust’s roar of anger. Bookmark here

“B-but why?” Bookmark here

“I am not ready to hear anything about that man. It’s time to sleep.” Bookmark here

Rust turned on her side laying as Mason timidly did the same thing. “It’s a shame, I was just starting to like you too.” Rust said, and before Mason fell asleep that sentence was the only thing that Mason could think of. But then his vision blurred as he started to pass out. His stomach started turning again, and he acquired a headache. One of vein popping proportions.Bookmark here

“Wake up Mason, wake up.” Bookmark here

Mason opened his eyes and looked up, he was in a hospital bed, and sitting next to him was his friend Miles. Miles sat there smiling, and talking. Though for a few seconds Miles’ speech was muffled as if he were under water. But Mason could then start making out the words.Bookmark here

“We are the smartest people on this planet in many respects, I truly believe that.” Bookmark here

Mason recognized the conversation but not the place. Noticed the dialogue but not the setting, the sweet nothings but not the scenery. It was odd. Mason couldn’t make out if it were just Déjà vu or the present. Though he was sleeping Mason didn’t know that. Because it felt all too real. Bookmark here

“Don’t worry Mason.” Miles putting his hand on Mason’s shoulder giving reassurance, and comfort. Bookmark here

“We can surely bring our mothers back to life, so don’t worry so much. We are geniuses after all.” Smiling Mason puts his hand in Miles’s and shakes it with great force, with tears and smiles on their faces. Mason was now sitting in front of a lake. Skipping rocks with Miles.Bookmark here

“What the hell?!” Mason thought. He knew he had too much awareness for it to be just a dream but it wasn’t reality either. Bookmark here

“But you know Miles? We are going to need to accomplish amazing feats before then!” Bookmark here

“What am I saying?” Mason then thought again. Mason almost unwilling but still very much so was just going along with the conversation as he remembered. Miles then smiled patting Masons back roughly. “Damn straight man, damn straight!” Bookmark here

With these two, who have been friends for years before they were out of high school both lost their mothers. One by cancer, and the other from a car accident. Miles always felt mortified, believing he was responsible for his mom’s death… since he was the one to blame.Bookmark here

Through science they experimented with many things. Over the counter drugs, and even the weapons industry. Nuclear weapons. They at only age twenty-three had been funded to be the first to cryogenically freeze someone. At age twenty-five Mason had successfully cryogenically frozen his first subject, himself. Miles had chosen to let Mason sleep for fifty years though Mason was told ten. And by then Miles had hoped that he would have brought Mason’s mother back. Though Mason was only supposed to sleep ten years, in reality he slept 67 years. Bookmark here

Seventeen years later than even Miles himself intended him. The cryogenic hibernation chamber that Mason was in was the first model. You could set a certain year but that didn’t guarantee the machine would register that year, though this wasn’t considered a problem since there was a manual release. Miles had intended to be able to either move or release Mason himself if need be.Bookmark here

But now Mason is strewn into the future with no knowledge but the previous hours he had just encountered, and in this world he is no longer an established scientist. But he is that of an infant or that of a fossil. Both equally helpless. With the memories of his old friend swishing around in his mind. Mason could barely sleep. At the same time though it was almost as if he were knocked out from having so much on his mind.Bookmark here

There were then many repeated slaps to the face before Mason woke up. Freaking out Mason was clenching his fist and regularly looking all over in confusion. Rust then calms him down before handing him a 9mm pistol telling him if anything gets in to run first then shoot. Jumping into the Mechanic Rust turns on all systems. She reloaded her mini-guns chamber. Rust switched to driving mode before rushing from the building, and by nearby rubble were two irons. Using their opposable thumbs to move the wreckage.Bookmark here

She immediately opened fire. The gun taking a second to spin up Rust and the mechanic had to grapple with one of the irons with Rust struggling using one arm while the mini-gun began blasting and zipping past the first iron hitting the second as other bullets sped off tearing away at debris. The second iron wounded crawled quickly toward cover. Rust then grappled with both of the mechanics hands (one being a mini-gun) on the first iron’s hands while the other irons ripped at the glass and the shoulders of the mechanic. Cracking the cockpits glass windshield.Bookmark here

The second iron was on a hard flank toward Rust. Rust started spinning up the gun and at point blank it decimated the first irons top side left hand with a spray of blood and veins splattering them on the windshield. Mason then from behind cover unloaded a fifteen round magazine upon the second iron. Distracted, the creature turned and frantically searched for Mason to no avail. Rust then immediately pulling back a lever in the cockpit which controlled the left arm. Pushing forward with immense force she then collapsed the creatures face with the mechanics steel fist. After the first one collapsing she quickly unloaded on the second one splitting it apart until it died.Bookmark here

Rust sat back to take a breather. Then looking over at Mason she feels relieved when he is running toward her without a scratch on him. She inhales then exhales slowly as sweat drips down her face. At that moment her heart skipped a beat when another iron climbed over a structure nearest Mason.Bookmark here

Mason glanced over his shoulder quickly falling to the ground soon after then screaming in fear. He was only human so fear was a natural reaction. Rust put the mechanic in driving mode speeding toward Mason while shooting but after a few bursts the gun ran dry. “Shit!” she said as the iron reaching for Mason is rammed on its left side by the mechanic. The creature speeding into the air fell smacking the ground like a dead fish, and Rust’s mechanic started leaning to the right as she leans all her weight to the left in order for the tech not to topple. It then regained its footing, and stood sturdy on the ground. Bookmark here

“Out of ammo! Mason look for cover!” Bookmark here

“R-roger that…” Mason said moving slowly, seeing the unfolding battle. Bookmark here

Rust then disengages the barrel of the gun from her suit. Then connecting a right arm to it as a replacement. She pulls a giant sized dagger thrusting it at the iron. The iron grabs the mechanic’s arm then grabbing the other one right after. It then grabs the legs with its third row of arms. With its second row it starts pulling at the windshield in an attempt to rip it off.Bookmark here

Crack” After hearing that ripple Rust changes the Mechanic into a standing position breaking the grip of the iron then stepping forward allowing her to swing the knife as it splits the air then slashes its cheek. The beast retracts and Rust switches to driving mode then driving in reverse pushing an immediate 20mph. Rust props the back of the mechanic against a flat surface. She then prepped a colt M16A1 assault rifle equipped with a grenade launcher. She did have proficient firearms training.Bookmark here

The creature made a second round grabbing for the windshield once again. Pinning the legs down with its third row of arms then grabbing the arms with its first row of hands. Now with the second row tucking on the windshield. Rust then heard multiple cracks until the windshield finally got ripped off and hurled to the side actually forcing Mason who was watching from cover to duck from the flying debris.Bookmark here

Now aiming at the skull shaped bastards head Rust unloads a thirty round clip forcing the iron to cover its face and exposing its stomach. She blows off the grenade round as it penetrates the creature’s stomach before exploding splattering mass blood into the cockpit of Rusts mechanic and all over her. The blood steamed off Rust as she flailed her arms, and head to get the blood off then wipes her eyes, and mouth. Mason taking another look at the scene throws up. Bookmark here

“I’m going to need more food.” Mason said staring at the pile of vomit.Bookmark here

“Like moths to a light those things crowd structures during the day looking for people, and it’s a wonder they don’t destroy them.” Rust said.Bookmark here

“Well actually I don’t think they would resort to destroying the structure, they seem smarter than that.” Mason said looking back over toward the shelter they stayed the night in.Bookmark here

“What do you mean?” Bookmark here

“I mean they know people out here will hide in structures it seems, and you did say that these things are partially human. Those creatures are not the brightest but they aren’t totally stupid. To say they were just mindless killers wouldn’t be doing them justice.” Bookmark here

Rust picked up her M16 then began to clean it, scrubbing out the inside of the barrel, and in every crack and crevice. She was now slightly scared if only slightly. Though she would never show it. She didn’t even want to think about them being slightly intelligent.Bookmark here

Rust stood up and pointed north. “That direction!” Bookmark here

Mason looked at Rust curiously “how far north?” asked Mason. Bookmark here

Rust took a sip of water then threw the bottle at him. “Halfway across the state.” Bookmark here

“To Lake Erie?” Bookmark here

Rust nods as she throws her unloaded rifle up into the cockpit of the mechanic then proceeded to climb up and in. She then extended her hand to Mason then smiled. Bookmark here

“I think you’re going to make it out of this.” She told him.Bookmark here

Those were the kindest words Mason has heard so far. It was a bit of a rough start but it seems he has at least made a friend. Once again sitting on the arm of the mechanic with Rust driving they can now quietly communicate between each other with the windshield having been destroyed. Bookmark here

“Hand me that 9mm I gave you.” Bookmark here

Mason hands the pistol to Rust, in which she continues to reload it with one hand on the wheel using her teeth to cock it then returns it to Mason with a few more magazines. Bookmark here

“Um… uh where do you want to put these?” Bookmark here

Rust looks at him then notices that he is only wearing hospital scrubs that he had on while sleeping, she then smell’s her own clothes that had been drenched in the blood, and she cringes. Bookmark here

“I guess we could both use a change huh?” Mason says. Bookmark here

Carrying her rifle with Mason walking right behind her also his pistol at the ready, Rust lightly opens the door to a suburban Columbus house aiming down each hallway. They then head upstairs to the master bedroom, opening the drawer’s she finds a pair of jeans and a red and green long sleeve plaid button up with some socks, it was so dusty that Mason began coughing reminding him of when he first woke up amidst the dust building. They sat on opposite sides of a queen sized bed changing with Rust replacing her military garb with jean’s and a girls medium T-shirt, then putting back on her bandolier and supply satchel. Their clothing reeked of mildew but they persisted. Bookmark here

Mason deciding to wear his scrubs underneath was advised otherwise by Rust because it would have been too hot. The stairs were creaking, the house was falling apart. Back down the stairs they search for good food but cannot find any. They didn’t even bother opening the fridge. Rust headed into the basement, “come on.” Said Rust as Mason began looking at her a second before swallowing and saying. Bookmark here

“All I have for shoes are these slippers that I had in the cryogenics chamber, I think I’ll look up here for some shoes first if that is okay?” Bookmark here

“Fine. But don’t leave this house!” Rust demanded. Bookmark here

“Okay, okay!” Rust then continues on down to the basement to look for supplies.Bookmark here

Mason checks the front door, then the hallway. He found a pair of boots. He slid the boot on in a split second, no resistance. “Damn it!” The boot was a whole size and a half too big. Mason then looks outside the window and doesn’t see an iron anywhere. He looks over at the basement door seeing no sign of Rust. He then opens the door slowly, and cautiously looks every which way. He heads over to the house next over. He searches all over the neighboring house but couldn’t find a single pair of shoes. Bookmark here

“What was I thinking?” Mason proclaimed while chuckling. Bookmark here

“Who in the hell is going to leave their shoes behind? I was lucky to find those spare boots that didn’t fit! I may have to check yet another house.” Bookmark here

Mason then heads upstairs checking a bedroom that seemed to once again belong to parents. There were no photographs left behind, something he noticed was the case from the last home. He then went into the room that seemed to belong to a young man, a teenagers because there were clothes poured out all over the floor, and not in a panic to get out sort of way but in the he was a slob sort of way. Bookmark here

Mason sees a gaming console as well as baseball trophies. He sees a picture of the young man, blond, muscular and tall. He is holding up a dead buck smiling, in another photo he is with a young beautiful brunette, and in the last one he is holding up a baseball bat posing for his baseball for youth picture. Mason stares at that particular picture for a second, “Baseball!” Mason immediately jumps into the kid’s closet pulling out a pair of baseball cleats. After some squeezing, Mason was finally able to get the baseball cleats on. Bookmark here

“An uncomfortable fit at best but a fit nonetheless.” Bookmark here

He begins to exit the room when the most chilling feeling goes down his spine, revealing through a mirror on the bedroom door exposes in broad daylight an oddly somewhat skull faced shape with round black eyes looking through the bedroom window. With his back facing the beast Mason feels so much fear that in that moment his legs gave way as a tear streamed down the left side of his face.Bookmark here

With Mason staring at the face in the mirror with the face in the mirror staring back at him Mason knew. It was an iron. Its eye caught his attention, during the night they had a bright glow in the dark with having neon green color, and the ones that Rust was fighting earlier had dark black eyes that protected from the sun, but this one’s eyes were very pale in comparison, and it had been a solid fifteen seconds with still no attack. Mason turned around then stared for another five seconds until it finally turned tail and walked away. Mason scrambled his brain for an explanation but couldn’t find one, he even pondered the possibility of it being sick.Bookmark here

Mason hurried back to the other house. He got in and was relieved not to see Rust but unrelieved at the same time. Then from the corner behind him somebody grabbed his mouth so he couldn’t speak then plunged a knife at his throat with Mason screaming with his mouth covered by the person’s palm with all that’s coming out being muffles of what used to be a scream. The knife stops before actually drawing blood but broke skin showing Mason that this is business. Bookmark here

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