By Rotwang (Zardreth@Cyberking.be)
"There have been a lot of misunderstandings lately, Sandra Ö" The Luddite said.
Sapphireís mechanical heart stopped for a second. "Donít call me that !" She said.
Synthia stayed close to Sapphire.
"I came here to talk. I donít want to harm you, no threats, I would not dream of harming you Ö" He said with a soft voice. "Itís been a while since we saw each other."
"I donít know you." Sapphire said coldly.
"Give me one hour, and I will tell you everything." He said with a gentle smile. He was a tall and lanky young man with a seemingly genuinely friendly look in his eyes.
"Itís up to you." Jonathan said to Sapphire.
"If youíre afraid, we can talk here right now Ö I know youíve been through some terrible times, and I hoped I might bring you some comfort."
"Strange comfort you give her after trying to kill and abduct her Ö" Onyx said.
"To be honest, the Luddites are not involved Ö"
"Sure Ö !" Synthia snorted. "And Iím the reincarnation of Eleanor Roosevelt !"
"Why would we spend so much trouble trying to get to her Ö Even use the technology we dislike to harm her ?"
"Who is after her then ?"
"We donít know, I just wanted to comfort Sandra and see if she was truly happy with her new life Ö There is no harm in that ?" He said with a gentle, measured tone.
"Okay, weíll talk Ö" Sapphire said.
"Youíre kidding." Onyx went in her ear.
"No, I want to know the truth Ö" Sapphire said aloud.
"And what guarantees us he tells the truth ?" Velvet asked.
"I can monitor his bodily reactions Ö" Synthia said. "I can hear his heart beat from here !"
"Okay, weíll talk. You, me and Synthia Ö" Sapphire said.
"I know you donít remember me, but I am your younger brother, Ben."
Sapphireís memory was a complete blank.
"Youíre beautiful, even though it is but a mask Ö " He said and reached out for her hand, but she recoiled. "I heard they wiped your memory as well as take your body."
"Iím not here to talk you into rejoining our ranks, that you will eventually do of your own free will, when you know who you really are, Iím sure of it."
"I doubt that very much Ö" Sapphire said coldly.
"Well, Iíd better start telling about you Ö"
"How did you find out who I was ?" Sapphire interceded.
"We did some research and found a tissue sample Dr. Feldman had sent to a lab for tests. We tracked back that sample and found out it matched your genetic fingerprint."
"How do you know itís not somebody else ?"
"Feldman only made one cyborg in the last six months of his life, you disappeared during that time."
"Yes, you wanted to be a missionary, but you were young and innocent, while the city was full of vices Ö Somehow you left the mission one night. We found vials of Brainhammer, so we knew you had been tempted by the evils of the city."
"Why did you send people after me ?"
"We sent no-one ! Why would we hunt down a single cyborg ?"
"Perhaps I knew something that could be harmful to you ?"
"We have no secrets ! We are not a cult, nor a political party Ö We just desire to rid ourselves of harmful technology."
"Is she harmful ?" Synthia asked. "Is medical technology harmful ? And what about the bombing of Brussels ?"
Ben smiled. "The vast majority of Luddites have no problems with technology at all Ö But we steer clear of it, lest it corrupts our souls. Those who reject all technology are but a very small minority ! And the poor deluded fools that attacked Brussels abused our name."
"A very powerful minority." Sapphire sneered.
"They have a voice like all the others Ö We base ourselves on democratic principles."
Ben stopped and reached for Sapphire once more.
"I was going to invite you to come to the mission with me, see how we live, find out we are not fanatics at all."
"Iíll never join you !" Sapphire said.
"But you did ! Of your own free will ! It was you who talked me into joining !"
Sapphire shook her head. "No ! Thatís impossible !"
"You told me how technology, when abused, could destroy the world. I was the reluctant one Ö" He said with a smile. "I used to think Luddites were all a bunch of nutcases, but you showed me a group of people who cared for each other, rather than spend their lives inside virtual realities and simulations, unable to deal with the real world Ö I was one of those people, and thanks to you, I have a wife, whoís expecting a child. We even considered calling the child Sapphire if itís a girl."
Is he fooling with my mind ? Sapphire asked herself. Doubt crept inside her mind and she tried to see beyond his mask. IF it was a mask Ö
"Just remember, no matter what you have become, you will always be my sister, Sapphire. And you will always be welcome in our house."
Sapphire leaned her head on Jonathanís chest and rubbed it.
"I donít know what to think anymore Ö" She said. "He seemed honest and truthful. Even Synthia couldnít sense anything wrong with him."
"It could be a plot to lure you to them, claiming you came to them of your own free will Ö" Jonathan said.
"What if he really is my brother ?"
Jonathan sighed. "If only there was a way to get your memories back !"
Sapphire slipped out of bed and stood in the open door, the thin curtains blowing in the wind.
"Why are they hunting me ?!" She said. "Who am I ?" She began to cry.
Jonathan reached out for her and hugged her gently.
"Whatís wrong with me ?" She asked the silent stars and the moon.
"I only wish you to be happy." He hushed her and gently swayed back and forth, holding her tight.
Donít be sad, Iím with you Ö
A "voice" whispered to her and Sapphire felt like a calming, soothing presence near her.
Sapphire stepped out of the car and looked at the house.
Ben was waiting at the top of the steps and opened his arms and smiled as he saw her.
"I knew youíd come. Welcome !" He said and held out his hand.
"I wanted to see the evidence for myself !" Sapphire said with Synthia guarding her closely, ignoring him.
"Welcome to the mission. I know we arenít much liked in Europe, but our movement canít be ignored Ö More and more people suffer from techno-shock, karoshi and technology related ills, even in Europe."
Sapphire saw a few children playing with plain wooden blocks.
They saw her and got up.
"Youíre Sapphire ?" A young girl asked.
Sapphire looked down at the child. "Yes ?"
"I made this drawing for you. Ben told me you were coming."
Sapphire took the piece of paper and unrolled it.
"Sioban, you did that for Sapphire ?" Ben looked at it over her shoulder. "I swear I didnít ask her to draw it."
"Itís pretty." Sapphire said.
"Well, at least our kids still draw on paper with crayons, not on a computer Ö"
"Whatís wrong with computers ?" Synthia asked.
"Nothing ! They are useful, but we donít use them if we can do it in some other way Ö We donít use technology for technologyís sake Ö"
"Are you a cyborg ?" A boy asked.
"Yes Ö" Sapphire said.
"Does it hurt ?"
"No, not at all." Sapphire said.
"Youíre beautiful Ö" Another girl said.
"Welcome back, Sandra." A woman in a simple blue dress said. "Iím Ursula, the coordinator of the mission. Please sit down." She showed them chairs.
When she looked back, Sapphire noticed Ben was missing.
"I have the sample right here. You can have it." She said.
Synthia kept careful watch, while Sapphire picked up the small vial.
"Iíll have this analyzed." She said.
"I also have a letter for you from the council." Ursula said.
"What is it about ?"
"Even though you have become a cyborg, you are still in a sense, one of us and we have done some research Ö"
"Inside is information that might help you find out why youíre in such trouble." She said with a fond smile.
"Sapphire ?" It was Ben.
Sapphire turned round.
"This is Evelyn." He said, holding a lovely young woman with a round belly.
"Hi !" She said. "Iím so pleased to meet you."
Sapphire got up and walked up to the couple.
"When is the child due ?"
"In a week or two." Evelyn said.
"And donít worry, sheíll be delivered naturally, but in the best medical conditions." Ben said.
Sapphire reached out to touch her belly, but Evelyn reached out.
Synthia grabbed it before she could touch Sapphire.
"OH !" She went and drew her hand back. "I only wanted to say Ö"
"Say what ?" Sapphire held Synthia back.
"I feel sorry for you, you can never have children." Evelyn said.
Sapphire put up an uneasy smile. "Brainhammer makes you infertile anyway."
Ben struggled to contain his tears. "Sandra Ö I mean Ö"
Sapphire hugged her brother Ö
"I love you." He said and sniffed.
In the backseat of the limo back from the airport, Sapphire and Synthia were talking.
"I donít know what to believe." Synthia said. "Either they are good actors Ö"
"Or they told me the truth !" Sapphire said.
"I only hope the sample matches." Synthia said. "But even that isnít definitive proof."
"Oh ! I forgot the letter." Sapphire suddenly remembered.
"Weíre almost home anyway." Synthia said.
The limo parked itself and Sapphire ran up the steps and shouted. "Jonathan !"
But the entrance hall was empty.
"Nobody to see if weíre alright ?" She went.
"I donít like this Ö" Synthia went and Ö
"HELP !" Silk screamed and ran towards Sapphire and Synthia.
"Itís Velvet ! Sheís got Jonathan and Onyx !" She said seeking refuge in Sapphireís arms.
"What ?" She asked.
Silk was in total panic. "Sheís an assassin ! Sent to kill you !"
"That does it !" Synthia went. "Where is she ?"
Silk sobbed. "Theyíre in Jonathanís office."
"Okay, weíre going in !"
Sapphire held onto Silk and followed Synthia.
"Just stay at the end of the corridor." She said.
The doors exploded inward as Synthia kicked them open.
In a corner, they could see Jonathan and Atana, bound and gagged.
Onyx lay on a couch and Velvet stood in the middle of the room, wearing a military cyborg combat suit.
Before she could move, Synthia lashed out and kicked her.
The blow sent Velvet crashing through the desk.
Synthia was on top of her and Ö
Velvet was unconscious.
Synthia heard a sound and turned to see Silk holding Sapphire by the throat, grinning malevolently Ö
"You move and she dies !" Silk barked.
"Let her go !" Synthia went and raised her arm out of which popped a small barrel.
"Ooh ! Youíve got a little laser !" Silk went venomously and raised her arm in response.
"Iíve got a plasma accelerator !" She said and a blast of energy shot out of her hand.
Synthia dodged by jumping up in the air and landing behind Silk, who had already anticipated and gave her a backward kick.
Silk pushed Sapphire against the wall and got into a fighting stance.
"Donít even think about running." She said to Sapphire. "Iím faster than you."
Synthia circled Silk, gauging her.
"You wonder where the combattroids are, eh ?" Silk asked.
"Sapphire, just run, Iíll try to stop her." Synthia barked.
"Since you didnít even ask Ö" Silk went with a wicked smile. "I destroyed them one by one Ö"
"Who are you ?"
"They call me Scorpion Ö" Silk said.
"The Scorpion ? I heard you were good."
"Iím the best !" Scorpion said and with a quick move, burst out of her human flesh.
As the last armour panels slid into position, Scorpion looked like a stunning and aggressive-looking red female robot with black joints and a ponytail of long black hair dangling from her wedge-shaped head.
"Iíve destroyed a Nemesis class before Ö" Scorpion went. "Easily !"
As a reply, Synthia lashed out, but Scorpion stopped her blows with the panels on her arms, like ancient martial arts tonfa, and with a fluid move, she spun-kicked Synthia back.
Before she could recover, Scorpion was upon her and with a single chop, sliced her left arm off. The came a series of punches and kicks, that knocked the android around, until she crashed into the wall.
"Say bye-bye !" Scorpion went and raised her other hand, which began humming.
Scorpion turned round and saw Sapphire standing behind her.
"Sa- Sa- Sa- Sapphire donít Ö" Synthia, badly damaged, tried to warn her.
"You made a big mistake to come here and attack my friends !" Sapphire went.
"Now itís between you and me." Sapphire said and took a combat pose, all the while her skin turned in a strange shining black armour Ö
To be continued Ö