Refresh: How They Came to Be – Part Three
Read Part One
Read Part Two
Armed guards broke down the door and came in single file, breaking off to cover the room. Their laser-sighted weapons pinpointed the heads of both Wex and Paragon. The two raised their hands as a show of surrender. Remus walked in behind them. His face held an edge of disappointment. With a frown, he said, “You’re the property of the Artificial Intelligences Division. Your freedom is what I say it is.”
Two guards cuffed Wex, but left Paragon well alone, still as a frozen lake. As one motioned to her, she kicked out. A deep crack resounded as a guard crumpled to the ground. He clutched his knee and howled. Wex stole the opportunity and jerked his head backward. It connected with a guard’s nose. Another cry mingled with the first.
Paragon danced through the guards, dodging and weaving, light on her feet. Each met their fate on the floor, writhing in pain. Wex finished off one with a punch to the jaw. Both he and Paragon then circled Remus, knees bent and arms spread in a battle-ready stance. Remus sighed.
“Notice not one of them fired? There’s no need for violence, Wexir.”
“No. You’d rather we be complacent in your bullshit utopia scheme.”
Remus lifted his hands as a sign of capitulation. “A utopia that could be fully realized if you just fucking cooperate. Come with me. I can explain everything.”
“Why would we believe anything you tell us? You’ve done nothing but manipulate from the start.” Wex inched closer. Remus, despite the situation, masked his emotions well. His lips formed a thin, straight line. Only his eyes betrayed a deep-seated rage. In a snap, he whipped out a hand quick as a blur. Wex felt his neck twist before he could register what had happened. The world upended. He rolled across the floor over several unconscious bodies. Paragon leapt to action. For every strike from either one, a counter reversed the momentum. They slipped between blows and parried. But then Remus broke ground, gained an advantage as he stepped little by little through Paragon’s defense. He caught her wrist, then kicked her hard in the stomach. She careened. The floorboards beneath her cracked and splintered as she crashed unto her back.
Wex struggled to stand. To his eyes, the world flickered in and out of existence. Pitch black one moment, the office reappearing in fragments the next. Remus hit him hard enough that his systems overloaded. His cybernetics began to fail him. Paragon had not moved since Remus subdued her. Her violet eyes splayed open, and she carried a small smile.
“Not to worry. You can fix her,” he heard Remus say. Footsteps approached. Foreign to his ears. A woman’s voice spoke.
“Are we shipping them off to the island, sir?”
He heard nothing else as he shut down.
Dreams again. Visions trapped in memory or fabricated from wishful thinking. Paragon wept on her knees. Ashes poured from her hands like a grey waterfall. And her eyes bled tears. His son, full-grown into a man, leading a war party in the deepest folds of the night. A hundred thousand torches snuffed out. Himself, on his knees, as a storm brewed, a great burden like a weight upon his shoulders. Sobs racked his body and anguish fell from his lips. Then as the sun turns to usher in the light, so too did these nightmares flee.
Laughter echoed in his ears. Paragon walked with their son down a long stretch of gravel road. The day burned hot, sweltering even, but they cared not: smiles stitched upon their faces. He grinned.
The disembodied voice lingered as a whisper that scratched at the back of his thoughts.
Wexir. Wake up!
She smiled in his direction, bright and warm.
Fields of golden wheat spread out like a sea before him, swaying in the breeze. He waded through. The sun began to set, and light receded. It shrank into the dark. Under the silver glow of the moon, he journeyed from one field to another. Every field he discovered, he would look up at the sky and watch a star fall from its highest perch.
When he came across the last field, a single star hung in the black. This fell slowly beneath the horizon. Once out of sight, it burst into a barrage of color patterns, streaming like a rainbow.
Please… Please wake up.
He felt her hands on his cheeks. Metallic. Cold. His eyes flit wide. She stared at him. The violet in her eyes seemed somewhat duller.
“How long was I out?”
She glanced away then, unable to look at him as she gave her answer: “Fifteen years.”
A young man stepped into view. Violet eyes shot with flecks of crimson. Brown hair, close-cropped. He did not blink, nor did his gaze stray from Wex.