Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer

Into the gaping maw of death we strode. Legion stacked upon legion, a tidal deluge of unstoppable military might. Battle chants booming from mass-produced lungs as we called out to and pulled down our gods and we swallowed whole the machismo drip of their wrath.

I am a cyborg, even after all this time it’s strange to hear myself say it out aloud. Don’t know why. Maybe I remember how in ancient times they made entertainments about zombies but shied away from calling them just that. A zombie is a zombie. The world turns, fictions become fact. I am cyborg. We are what we are.

They lit us up hard. Very fucking hard. Hard enough to stop the unstoppable. And here, now, I lay.

We prize our true flesh. Though mostly redundant we wear it, I guess, to remember. To keep hold of the humanity that constantly dims at our core.

I’d lost both arms, a leg and a large portion of the back of my torso in the second Wai-tara incursion. I died. But I came back with a new leg rammed chock full of ordinance. Such a rush as it jigged up and rolled into the breach of the canon that protruded where once my arm had stretched out.

I died again on this nondescript ridge. This number on a contour line on a map that now means nothing, to no one. I remember spiralling backwards as my leg vaporized and I lay and I watched and I felt as its pink mist floated down and stuck to the growl of my lips. I died but, again, I came back.

The processor in my head spun as it tried to find a ledge upon which to grasp. It called for help. Nobody answered.

Nobody, until you.

Your words flowed into my head and mine into yours. Your body ruined and non-responsive and your head fixed, gazing up into the sky but five hundred metres from where I fell.

You’d had more luck. What with being able to shut down your pain receptors. You didn’t feel the white phosphorus burn as it ate of my skin and you didn’t feel the stab of the crow’s beak as it pecked away the plump globe of my eye. But you steadied me while I screamed and you cried with me as the grass and long stemmed blue flowers grew up through the rot of my flesh.

You found me.

I saw nothing at first. The vision of my one synthetic eye obscured by the charred limb of a great tree. I didn’t need to see, you described the heavens in such beautiful detail. But, then, as time snapped the tendons in my neck and my head lolled away from my body, I was finally offered a view. The horrific remains of a folly of ignorance and power, the stench of our comrades through the wreckage of their forgotten remains.

I love you.

It took me a very long time but I finally told you.

I did, didn’t I? tell you.

It’s weird, I can’t quite place your name. Isn’t that strange?

You went silent a few days… Weeks… Years… Centuries ago. I miss you. I miss the songs that we sung. I miss how we’d make love in the rain though we only touched with our words.

I don’t know why I’m here. Do you?

“Frank, can you hear me? The most wonderful thing has happened. My power-cells are re-routing. I’m crawling. I’m coming. Through the blue flowers, they are just as you described. Through the rust and the bone. Frank, say something…”

“I am no longer what I am…”