(So Max and fam go out to enjoy a rare holiday. But moral choices arise anyways. Read on to see what I mean.)
The next day was the annual Founders Celebration in Columbia. The day remembered as the mark of Independence, when the mysterious Zachary Comstack single-handedly defied the monstrous government of the United States and freed the city to be its own sovereign nation.
Or else that was the propaganda spewed out by the Founders. Descendants of true, hardworking patriots, years of stagnant isolation made them insane with ruling the hovering city. Their rule harkening back to the tyranny that Great Britain held over the ancestral 13 colonies of North America. Over the years, they grew more and more oppressive, disregarding the laws established by the Founding Fathers they worshiped in order to better their own needs.
Many a group rebelled, but all were either destroyed….or taken alive. Save one. The Vox Populi. The Voice of the People.
Max growled internally at the thought of them as he passed one of the hundreds of signs dotting the city with their symbols. All the Vox did was kill rape and steal. Never working, but demanding more rights than those who worked themselves to the bone just to eke out a living. He had brought his family for the day to the colloquially named “Pleasure Island” in order to enjoy the games and Ferris wheel. He had felt horrible all day prior for running his mouth like the donkey he was. He hoped that today would cheer everybody up from the gloom that came down before.
That was until politics came arrived and wouldn’t shut up and leave.
Max gave a glowering look at a young man dressed in red, holding a large sign and ranting. Normally illegal near Battleship Bay, where the festival was being held, this young guy had serious nerve to show up in public with counter-political notions. Already he was drawing a crowd of gawkers and protesters as he yelled to the passing crowd.
“IGNORE! That is the word of Daisy Fitzroy! Ignore this day dedicated to the haters! Ignore the lies spread by the monsters in patriot clothes! Ignore the sense of peace they try making us swallow! Look around at our city! It is of the same evil that harmed the natives of the world below!”
The crowd shuffled, some rolling their eyes. Others were herding children away from the crazy youngster. One man, dressed in a freshly pressed suit and wearing a bowler hat tipped to the side, sneered at the younger man.
“How about we just ignore you? It’s the only vacation we get this time of the year. And I know I don’t want to waste my time listening to a green horn wanting compensation for just breathing. If you hate it so much here, go down below! I hear this talk is the cat’s meow down below.”
The crowd murmured in agreement, a few advancing angrily towards the younger man. The young Vox Populi follower threw his sign aside and unsheathed a sky-hook rom his arm, displaying it threateningly at the crowd.
“I didn’t come to his diseased circus you call a holiday to start a fight. But if it’s a fight you want, bring it on! Daisy Fitzroy’s words will keep harm from bestowing upon me and my beliefs!”
The crowd started becoming unstable, several brandishing their own skyhooks as they pinned the rebel behind the walls of a ring toss arcade. A small boy, foolishly tottering away from the protection of his parents as he was curious about the bright rings and colors of the game area, was seized by the Vox youth. The young man put the large hook against the thin skin of the little boy, the toddler screaming as the electrified metal stung him like an angry hornet. The people immediately halted in their tracks; the mother of the little boy screamed, trying to rush forward, only to be held back by the crowd as the protestor began to inch the hook closer to the toddler’s jugular.
“Back the Hell away. Even think of messing with me, and you’ll have only yourselves to blame for what happens to this kid.”
“PLEASE! Let him go! He’s all I got! Jacob! JACOB!”
The toddler cried harder, reaching for his hysterical mother in the crowd. The hook began cutting into his skin, bright blood drops forming, causing to scream harder. Suddenly, metal squealed from behind the Vox Populi supporter. The arcade game structure split and bent from the inside, a rift ripping it in two. Massive hands, built like human hands, but tipped in huge sickle nails sliced effortlessly through the wood and metal. With a squeal loud enough to shatter nearby windows, the hands grabbed the Vox in a vice, immobilizing him like he was nothing more than an insignificant bug. One hand released its hold on the Vox and very carefully plucked the toddler from danger, holding him in its monstrous palm as it slowly swung over to the mother.
The mother grabbed her son, sobbing as she watched the hand retreat with a strange sort of gentleness…just before wrapping themselves around the protestor’s head. Max grabbed Sera and covered her eyes just as the hand clenched, blood and brain matter spraying through its steel knuckles and dripping copiously onto the rocky ground.
The crowd screamed and bolted as the hands relaxed, dropping the twitching decapitated body of the rebel, the corpse’s blood spraying from the torn neck like a geyser. A low growl sounded as a body began to move from inside the crack.
The creature that the hands belonged to.
A massive beast pulled itself free from the wreckage, shuffling to the ground on all four limbs. Structurally it was human, with a head and visible beating organs that betrayed its past history. But the rest of its body…there was nothing human about it. Wires imbedded in metal joints. Gears flexing with each shift of a joint. Metal claws sliding in and out from peach colored porcelain hands. Max was frozen in place; it was one of those…things. Internally he screamed as the massive body lifted up onto two legs, towering over everything in the area. The arms, gorilla-like in build, where curled up against the chest, as if the creature was nervous about all the attention. Hanging off of its frame was the remains of a Civil War Confederate costume, complete with a scabbard hanging loosely from a looped belt on where the hips would normally be.
The little boy the creature had saved though did not fear the beast’s presence. Instead, he giggled, much to the shock of his stunned mother. In her weakness, the baby wrenched himself free, teetering towards the metallic brute. The beast watched cautiously, slowly lowering himself onto his haunches so as to hug the ground and prevent hurting the curious boy. Pulling a quarter from its shredded blue clothes, the beast flicked it at the arcade game owner, grabbing a stuffed eagle from the winning rack.
It then handed the toddler the eagle, the little boy laughing as he tried holding the toy. The eagle stood as tall as he did, but that didn’t stop the baby from trying to carry it with him. The creature let out a chuckle, although it sounded more like a dying automated stallion, then slowly propped its giant hand next to the little boy. The toddler grabbed the thumb that was as big as himself and began dragging it along with him. The cyborg followed at a snail’s pace, although its footsteps felt like the suspended plateau was going to tear itself apart. The mother shook in fear as the giant stood in front of her, but was shocked to see the beast nudge the boy to her with the barest bump of the index finger.
The mother quickly grabbed her son and backed away, despite the boy’s struggles to get the toy eagle. She then lifted herself up and ran out of the area, her baby wailing for his new toy.
The creature looked sullen, swooping the eagle off the floor and squishing it slightly between its claws.
The crowd grew quieter still, and Max wondered what the Hell was going. That was until the still air was shattered.
A whisking sound was heard, and then a loud bang. A bright flash appeared behind the metal beast; where a circuit breaker was installed, was now a large crater.
The creature screamed in pain, electricity flowing out of the shattered wires in its back and through its exposed skin. The pale flesh immediately began to burn and split, revealing thick lines of bone crisscrossing the top of its bald, pale head. Water from above was dropped and the creature collapsed, smoke billowing from its face and neck. A noose grabbed its form and tightened it around the throat, choking it as it feebly tried to pull it away.
All this occurred, and still nobody moved.
Police swarmed the beast, massive guns aimed at it. One, possibly the leader of the battalion by the way he held himself higher than the others, began to speak to the crowd.
“We’re sorry for the incident folks. The freak here got loose from his display, but even then we couldn’t stop him from hurting people. We’ll make sure he’s put down so as he can’t attack anybody again.”
The beast whined, struggling to right himself. But his joints where too weak; the electricity fried his control over his own body. He wouldn’t be able to move himself, even if he tried.
The monster then looked up at Max, his eyes…they were begging. Pleading. Intelligent eyes desperate to get away and dipped in fear.
But Max felt nothing for the beast. It was like his body was blanketed by a soft darkness; it chilled him to the bone, yet was not cold. His heart stilled at the sight of the creature, but it did not stop. Part of him didn’t understand why he raised a hand to the police as they began dragging the wounded captive away.
He couldn’t figure out why he stepped forward to the…thing.
“Leave him be. It’s not your call to kill this thing off.”
The captain tilted his head in confusion.
“I’m sorry sir, but we’re under very strict orders to eliminate anything beyond average humans that show significant threats. Besides, whose call is it anyways to kill or release him?”
Max pointed a thumb at himself.
“I’ll make the call.”
The officer opened his mouth to argue…but then he saw how dark Max’s eyes where. Like…possessed. Slowly, he backed away, a younger, lower level officer stepping forward with a pistol as Max waved over to him.
Max lifted the gun, a massive hand held object that felt like death just holding onto it. He held the nuzzle directly onto the forehead of the injured mechanized beast.
But instead of a monster…he saw those eyes. Human eyes. They now showed betrayal.
The giant creature looked betrayed. Ashamed.
Like it had nothing left to live for.
Staring at the barrel of the pistol, Max could see silent tears flow down its large eyes. Silently, it bowed its head, closed its eyes.
Part of Max wanted to stop as he cocked the piston, hearing the bullet inside prepare for release.
Shoot or not shoot. His body operated without his control as blind hate filled him. Yet he could see Lynn and Sera looking at him.
They stared up at him holding the gun to a defenseless beast.
Like he was the monster.
His arm shook violently, but he didn’t lower it.
Yet…he still did not know what to do. Pull the trigger and kill one of the things that destroyed part of his family.
Or let it go, to live another day.
(The choice here is simple: Kill the Beast or let him go? Hint: One will lead to a positive outlook, the other...well, Max won't have a future ally.)
A. KILL HIM!
B. Let the poor thing go.