'.' The will to rise; alone; proves purity. And once freed, it takes possession of the Soul

And Wills the Soul to change company. '.' – The Divine Comedy.

I.

She was in a no droids-land. Taylor watched from her place in the cockpit, scanning over thousands of transmuted bots waiting to swarm her and Pygmy to destroy them both. She realized that because of her final decision to wholly accept a robot as her equal, even as her friends still cared for her, Taylor was now a far gone liability. She was disposable to them even as she felt that they were the ones who were presenting themselves as a target for them to take out. Taylor felt the heart-sickening tantalization as her mother and every one of her friends were testing her to make a move; she wouldn't give in so they waited.


Taylor turned her listless hazel eyes to her mother. "Mother… Don't make me do this."

Trisha had a hard face on, her lips pressed together with a dreadful, undeterred devotion to see her daughter pulled from this wreckage of a world. She was no longer going to listen.

Taking a hard, shaking breath, Taylor turned to Pygmy. There were whirring noises that came from outside, ready to trap and restrain the both of them. Taylor kept staring right into Pygmy's eyes and took another halting breath before giving a final command to her:

"Stop them."

She felt fury course through her.

"Taylor-."

"Now."

The woman shut her eyes against a wave of tears.

Outside the troops of droids were ready to bind down the large robotic menace.


The Reapers watched with heavy concentration, enraptured that they were finally going to ascertain all their subjects. The clones of the Iron Giant were picking themselves off and, with their programming, would single out only the top selections, while that was all happening the human-bonded Pygmy clone would eliminate all other advanced robotic entities who served the humans. The trio looked at each other, pleased with themselves.


II.

A rumbling sigh could be heard from the Iron Giant as he had successfully bypassed the towering wall aerially and, with Hogarth safely and devoid of argument within his metal hands, made a careful landing in front of a mountainous-shaped iron-appearing doorway.

He narrowed his shutters together. This had been too easy.

"Frankly, I'm disappointed." Hogarth commented as the Giant uncovered him, placing the young man atop his shoulder. "No guards? No three test passage? What a downer."

"Let's just be thankful we made it this far with no complications," the Giant cleared up any more misjudgments they were bound to make. "But you're right, it's been too easy."

"This entire process has been too easy, accessible," Hogarth mused, "They're waiting."

The automaton settled his worried ivory eyes on his friend. "You may be too accessible."

"So what?" Hogarth said defensively. "You want me to hide from the big bad bots?"

Purposely taking his sarcasm seriously, the Giant held up the jet flame on his heel and let it rotate open and closed. Hogarth crossed his arms and peered away, not liking this one bit. The night they discussed the missile incident seemed to rise with the unrelenting, awfully displacing wall again --- it disappointed the Giant painfully that they were distanced now.

Hogarth clenched his teeth together and dug his nails into his arms.

"I just don't want you getting hurt if I can't protect you, we don't know their strength."

"The ultimate droid in the world, Giant… hello." the man said, "It wouldn't matter."

There was a heavy silence.

"You're still angry, aren't you?"

Surprised, Hogarth looked at him. "Wh-what?"

The Giant spoke in his deep voice, "You're still angry with me for leaving you."

A falsely tight-laced smile spread over Hogarth's face. "I'm supposed to answer that."

Yet even as the hurt settled into his heart, Hogarth forced his eyes to remain connected.

"You'll always be angry with me, won't you?" The Giant said resignedly.

"Yeah," Hogarth admitted with a heavy sigh, "I'm sorry…" he looked down. "It isn't something you wanted me to feel. It's just…" Hogarth looked at the door. "It's just not important right now, what's important is that we get in there and help those people out."

"You are the most important thing to me, Hogarth."

"Giant, those people…"

"We can't go on unless we're together on this." He clarified to Hogarth, his solid metal face more hard-over then ever before, "I won't move, until we're both together on this."

"We are," Hogarth told him; he wanted them to be more then anything. "We are…"

His words meant to sound sincere and certain rang unsettled and insecure.

The huge gate suddenly squealed open noisily and they both turned to face a squadron of paint-chipped, rust-covered droids marching forth towards them. Hogarth made up a quick composure and motioned for the Giant to set him down; then walked right in side-by-side.

Any further discussion was no long convenient.

III.

Taylor braced herself as she was concealed within a thick iron cocoon of protection, tiny prickling sensations around her temples frightened her slightly as she closed her eyes and different images of insects floated into her focal point of consciousness. They revealed to her a spider: the creature's long, exquisite legs began to sew the creatures in a meditative, mesmeric fashion. Taylor felt herself feel faint and sleepy, peaceful almost, to all of this.

She wavered in and out of a full knowledge of what was happening, entirely adrift from the loud commotion outside. The drugged effect began to lift somewhat on her softened fuzz of reality, allowing Taylor to return to her ordeal relaxed and without much anxiety.

"What happened…?"

Once the shield containing her opened and she was allowed a view out into the world; the young woman felt herself reel in disbelief. The droids, all once shaped and conformed to different styles of crafts and saucers were now contorted in slick, silver bands of cocoon prisons. Taylor balked away but couldn't free herself from the binds that held her down.

"Pygmy!" She yelped, squirming and thrashing against them. "What've you done!?"

But when her face appeared, Taylor saw that the droid was not in control of her body.

"Can't stop." Pygmy pouted. "Make me stop, can't… Taylor." She was scared.

"All right, all right," Taylor took a shaking breath and grasped the controls before her but they only remained hard and stiff. "The Reapers…the ones behind this, they're to blame."

They looked at each other.

"What we do?" Pygmy asked, voice warbled.

Taylor looked grimly out onto the horizon as swarms that resembled shiny smog were at work with devouring the cocoon --- she couldn't move or breathe as she witnessed all of the completely mindless nanobots covering the droids that Trina and her mother were in.

These smaller, lesser machines were being dined upon, and that meant that the humans…

"… Wake me up later, Pygmy," Taylor said, numbly, straining to look at the ceiling.

"Later?" Pygmy repeated quietly.

"Much, much later." She said in a choking voice and closed her watery light brown eyes.

IIIV.

"So," Hogarth said flatly, examining the tall, lanky machines before them. "You three are the large, in charge bots around here? Interesting, I thought his descents would be taller."

He could almost feel the glare bearing down on the back of his neck from the Giant.

The scarlet-eyed, olive-covered leader sent him a lofty look. "A servant that speaks?"

Hogarth rolled up the sleeves of his red-blue uniform, flexing his arms. "Loud and clear."

There was a small poke on his biceps and the young man sent his iron friend a narrowed eyed look; he didn't need reminding that there was evident flab present. The Giant held a deeper meaning in his mindful gaze and Hogarth turned seriously to the overhead robots.

"Why are you here?" The third one's voice dripped with menace; Hogarth actually took a step back at the brown-rusted, ashen-covered black droid with paneled ears and drilling red optics that served as eyes. The Giant, however, didn't move any of his metal muscles.

"We're here because of the filth-ridden conditions you've left those human beings in."

Hogarth raised a brow at the Giant's formal eloquence in speaking --- not because he was able to say things like 'filth-ridden' so calmly but for the simple fact that he was so calm.

"The humans?" The green one inquired.

"Yes." Hogarth said tersely, keeping his emotions well-tempered for the moment.

"Their squalor conditions are their own doing, we merely took control of the situation."

"By making them into animals!?" Hogarth snarled openly at the green robotic king.

"They have themselves to blame for the way this world is: who cares for them any way?"

There was a deep, low exhale of air and in one swoosh of his fire-ocean octagon-round arm, the Giant resoundingly rammed his hand down before the final one: a now scared yellow droid with his school-bus-colored coat peeling in strips of gray with pale, tangerine eyes.

"I care," the Giant roared in a fierce, huffed voice: they all shrank away. "That's who."

"And if my pal here cares," Hogarth calmly got on the undercoated iron fist, "you should."

To be continued…