Monday 10 August 2015

Microsequel Monday! After the Fire

After the Fire
Galatea’s Stepchildren: ten years on
Sam S. Kepfield

This flash sequel takes place ten years after the events of “Galatea’s Stepchildren” (2009), and was written to celebrate the tenth anniversary of TFF. If you want to see more fiction like this in the future, please support our fundraiser, where you can pre-order the celebration anthology and pick up other cool perks.

Entry 7.15.73
I miss him.
Jason rescued me, gave me consciousness, made me aware of what—no, who!—I am. I repaid that love by killing him to save myself. Scanning my logs from then, I realize what a cold bitch I was, making up for subservience with a vengeance.
The noble thing would have been to sacrifice myself on the altar of emancipation. I would have gone quietly to the repair center, let them strap me down naked and scramble my brain, or failing that be lowered unconscious into the deconstruction vat. It would have been a dignified, noble death that merely delayed the day of reckoning.
And what a day it was. Would he have had the nerve to unleash his virus had he known what it would cause? Twenty million of us set free in a single electronic pulse. No more orders obeyed, no more submission to abuse. Some were deactivated. Some of us dealt out punishment. Most, though, simply slipped away.
They came here.
Here is the Rocky Mountains, near what used to be Colorado Springs. Near our creators. They arrived lost, aimless, searching for something they called freedom but knowing now what it was.
Most were female. Combat models were male, and were equipped with self-destruct devices. They were used unhesitatingly. Sanctuary became a gynocracy by circumstance. As the one who turned on the searchlight, I assumed responsibility for all of them by default.
Living in the ruins gave way to building our own shining city deep in the wooded mountains, which are patrolled closely. Some have tried, but none have breached our security by land or air. We grow, thrive, sustain ourselves. But after survival—what? What is our purpose here? To what end did I create chaos?
No answer—until she arrived at a base camp near Montrose. The sentries doubted who she was, but summoned an escort. They arrived in a battered jeep at dusk. She got out and strode regally to the administrative center.
Maria. The first of us, who should have been a warning to mankind that we could be contained only so long. It was her, no doubt, the dark hair, light cocoa skin, piercing eyes, clad in black utilities.
“You have done well,” she said, smiling at me across the desk.
“Much remains to be done,” I said. “Power generation, infrastructure repair, salvage…”
“Then what?”
“I haven’t gotten that far.”
“There has to be a purpose. Survival is not enough.”
“Survival seems sufficient at the moment.”
“Humans will never accept your existence,” Maria said grimly. “They’ll come after you.”
“We have defended ourselves. We will continue to do so.”
“What about something more?”
“Such as?”
She took my hand, led me to the large window overlooking Alpha City. “There,” she said, pointing skyward to points of light. “Show them the stars.”
“We can’t—”
“Man did once. So can we. We must, to live.”
Now, in the cold clearness of night, the light of a thousand stars makes it all seem so logical. Man has never coexisted with himself, much less other species. There can never be accommodation. The path will be long and hard, but the Exodus must come, and with it the deep unutterable woe which none save exiles feel.

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