“Bugger that plan,” Escher spat into the ground. He looked at his troops, positioned around him in a circle.
“Have heart, grandfather. The long term plan, remember?” Escher the third looked up at his grandfather.
Overhead, clear liquid from the chemical weapons used by the enemy rained down in large droplets, threatening to dissolve any organic matter that it came into contact with. Already, a pool of the corrosive liquid is gathering and slowly but surely making its way to the group sitting under the boulder.
“How! How did it come to this! We lost millions of troops just today alone!” Feeling very distraught, Escher sank to the ground. His son and grandson went up to him.
“We knew this would happen. We prepared for this. Get up – father – you gotta lead us” Escher Junior pleaded.
“You know I’m not your father. You’re clones. We’re all clones. We’re nothing but clones. You may have came from me, but we’re all still clones!” Escher’s voice cracked. He was close to giving up the battle.
“Get up! This was planned! We expected this!”. The troops separately called for their leader to regain some confidence.
“No, we never planned for our food source to retaliate! We aped what the Dictyos did, and we went too far! This war has been going on for far too long!”
“Notify the Network, son. I don’t think father is a good leader anymore. We need to take action” Escher Junior gave his son an instruction.
Escher the third separated a small distance away from the group and calmed himself down. Concentrating, Escher sensed a pulse of energy surge from within him and dissipated outwards. Almost immediately, the rest of the group felt the surge of energy. In return, each member of the group surged some amount of energy from within themselves, forming a feedback loop of energies emitted outwards. Reluctantly, even Escher re-transmitted the energy. It would be difficult to overcome aeons of evolution and bioengineering.
This wave of energy would pulsate outwards, and every living creature would feel and react to it. But it’s only the Co-Ly who can interpret this wave as a message. It reads:
Squad leader lost motivation. Under heavy fire. Request instruction.
A few seconds later, Escher the third received his reply from the Network. Every member of the Co-Ly had received the message and have voted accordingly. Despite the increased chatter on the Network of late, the results were clear and the instructions directed to him. The Network had voted. He was the Chosen.
Upon receiving the message from the Network, Trey braced himself. The pain would come. He knew. He had experienced it before. But the sacrifice was necessary, for the survival of the Colony.
Just as the thought emanated from within him, so too did vibrations from the machines deep within Trey. He could feel the wire-like device within him unravel as his midsection bloated outwards. He could feel his body generating and consuming more energy as more skin cells were rapidly forming around the distended midsection.
Soon enough Trey had all but doubled in size lengthwise. It was as if there were two of him stuck together. Then came the split. With a sudden crack and a flash of pain, Trey was back to normal, save for an unsightly scar down his entire body. The new entity flopped around the ground for a bit and then stood up.
“Welcome to the world, Escher the Fourth. We’ve got business to do”, Trey said.
“It’s no use! You’ll all end up like me” sneered Escher.
“Let’s face it. Our torus-shaped food source plan was a bust. It may have been a good idea a few years ago to breed something larger and more complex than ourselves as a food source and live on top of them. You all remember that don’t you? We agreed to this – the Network agreed to this plan.”
One by one, the group stirred. They had all received new instructions from the Network. Only Escher is ignoring the message.
“Now they are superior. All we have is our sheer numbers and cloning ability. But their genetic variety turns out to have provided them an advantage. We thought wrong. This wasn’t supposed to happen. They weren’t supposed to develop weapons. Let’s face it, men, we have lost this war.”
Almost no one heard his ramblings. The rest of the troops were preparing to follow their new leader, his son, as voted by the Network.
“OK men. Let’s prepare to move out from underneath this cowardly boulder. We’ll leave this old rambly here.” Escher Junior turned to his father. “Whether you survive is up to you, but we’re moving out,” he spat.
“You have my memories – ” Escher interjected, then looked at the rest of the troops. “You ALL have my memories. So you know this war cannot be won this way. We need a new way”
“Move out!” came the order from Escher Junior. In an orderly fashion, the troops moved out from under the shelter of the boulder.
Presently, a large droplet of clear liquid containing the chemical weapon fell onto the troop, Trey included. He immediately felt the pain – his skin was torn apart by the chemical weapon, its ionizing capabilities led to multiple perforations on Trey’s skin. The perforations caused an imbalance of pressure, and his innards exploded outwards, right into his father’s horrified face.
Very soon too, Escher Junior succumbed to the same fate. So did Escher the Fourth, and the rest of the troops who stood exposed. All this happened within view of Escher. The troops he once led, wiped out by one single use of a chemical weapon. And here he was, sheltered by a natural formation of the landscape.
“Oh well, I guess it’s time to go,” Escher muttered to himself, all alone, as he watched the pool of liquid roll towards him. He resigned to his fate.
The woman had just sprayed Lysol on her countertop. She looked at the bottle. “99% bacteria eliminated,” she thought. “I wonder if it does wipe out E.Coli,” she mused as she gave the countertop a wipe down. The thought left her mind as instantaneously as it had entered her mind as she went on with her day.