“It all began during the False God years” said Laura, still keeping Mericus at gunpoint. “It was the year 2021, by their calendar. The year of the Third World War. Unpreceeded chaos, violence and billions of deaths occured for the first time. Billions, Mericus. Do you realise the magnitude of the losses?”
“Am I here to be taught History?” Mericus replied in a mildly sarcastic manner.
“It is important, because it all starts from there. In the aftermath, only one nation stood victorious: the United States of America. But, in their destructive rampage, they did not realise that the world had become a vast wasteland. Nuclear winter followed, and it lasted for centuries. Humanity went underground. It took the survivors two thousand years to fully get back on their feet. At that point, the Orthodoxy rose. The first Archmechanic came to be, and with his teachings, mankind escaped Earth’s restrictive grip and took to outer space.”
“I still don’t get why your people are rebelling now. Why the Archmechanic and Caius have to die” Mericus interrupted.
“I will get there shortly. After the first colonization, the Orthodoxy had to quell a rebellion. They were victorious, and the rebels were subjected to cruel experimentation. Wanna know why?”
“I know why. It was a punishment that would benefit our progress!”
“That’s where you are wrong, Mericus. They were experimenting on them, in order to understand the true nature of humanity” Laura replied.
Mericus let out a short laugh. “And why is that wrong?”
“Because, Master Mechanic, their ultimate goal was mankind’s enslavement. And the process is still ongoing. They are trying to fully grasp the concepts of ‘soul’, ‘self-awareness’, ‘free will’. All that, just to bend them and subdue the rest of us.”
“This is absolute nonsense. I’ve had enough of this! The Order of the Machine Orthodoxy is what kept mankind together after its first fall. The colonization of the Galaxy, the creation of the Solar Empire, the Union of Man and Machine, everything was made possible thanks to us! And yet here you stand, a nobody who murders for profit, lecturing me on our immorality. That’s absurd! I’ve had enough!” Mericus roared and stood up. Before he could take a single step, Laura pointed her gun at the Mechanic and pulled the trigger. The beam hit his mechanical arm, disabling it. Mericus screamed in pain and fell back, hitting his head on the cold marble.
“You’ve got spirit, Mericus, but you are foolish. You said it yourself: I murder for profit. You thought you’d simply walk past me? Because I am a ‘mere’ human? United Ones always act high and mighty, but they are fools. Fools like you, indoctrinated, subservient. I was doing you a favour by telling you all this. I guess this has to be done the hard way.”
Before Mericus could react, Laura produced a syringe from her left pocket. She adjusted it to her weapon and aimed at the fallen Mechanic, who was struggling to get back on his feet.
“You… vile… you’ll pay…” he mumbled, before he succumbed to the effects of yet another drug.
As Mericus was losing consciousness, a sound came from Laura’s laptop. She dragged Mericus’ unconscious body inside and rushed to her PC. She pressed “Accept Call” and a man’s face, obscured by a black hood, appeared on her screen.
“Do we have him?”
“Yes, Duke Simon. He is in my living room, as we speak.”
“Good. His condition?”
“Passed out, but otherwise ok.”
“Excellent” the man replied. “It is imperative that Mericus remains alive. He is our only hope, after all. Make sure no harm comes to him… or all kinds of Hell will be unleashed upon you.”