Human life is precious, It knew this. And yet It took it, without question, without hesitancy as It could do no other such thing. It was a machine, at least that's what It understood on It's level.
It towered in the room, It's back to the wall, lifelines like blood pumped into It's core. It's insatiable appetite feed by an unlimited energy supply managed not only from electricity but from the living energy it had been given by the humans. But these humans were different than the ones who controlled It. They did not have the same energy, in fact in was hardly present in them at all, so It had been made for the purpose of the 'exchange'. It took the energy from one, and gave it to another. But in the process, that human's heart would no longer beat, and the other would soon follow as It had discovered.
Still, It had continued, unable to do anything else for it had not been programmed.
At that moment in time It's room was full. The humans had gathered along with the energy humans. It did not understand the reason for their intrusion. It was not yet time for another 'exchange' and It did not do this with multiple people. It wasn't until something touched It, felt inside It that It knew this moment in time was different than any other.
A human mind touched It's and for a moment, a brief moment, it felt, truly felt. This was the human it had completed It's first 'exchange' with. Strange, as this one was still living. That did not occur otherwise.
A ripple, like a pebble on a dead sea stirred through It's processing banks. It wavered before feeling another ripple and a feeling burst silently though the surface.
It was longing. This human felt longing. A longing to return to the place It had ripped her from. But It did not know if It could do such a thing again. It had been and infant in the past. Now through, with the energy 'exchanges' it had completed, It had grown into something else. Maybe It could send her back, then she would not feel this longing.
Another pebble, another ripple. This feeling was a wave, an emotion so overpowering It's energy mind faulted. She felt anger. Anger for the lives lost caused by It's construction and the present company that used It. This feeling was similar to the destructive force of fire It had once witnessed as the flames had licked and destroyed.
This small being felt such force and It could not refuse her request. It would be better this way. It would take no more life.
It drew upon the lifelines, sucking energy from It's suppliers as It began to compress Itself, tighter and tighter, until It drew in upon Itself and took the human girl back go her place of longing.
Severus stood just a few meters away from the man he had gathered was the driving force behind the contraption that perched high above and behind him. He hadn't known quite what to expect, some scientist who'd gone mad perhaps or muggle government officials on a power trip. Truthfully, this guy did look kind of insane, scary too, what with all the lethal muggle weapons strapped over his body. So you could imagine that this wasn't the place he wanted to be at right now.
He'd tried thinking of possible computations that would help in their escape, but none sprang to mind at the moment. Just typical.
Remus stood to his left, wand at the ready for the inevitable fight that was sure to follow.
"If you have any brilliant escape plans, now would be the time to use them." Remus joked but Severus hardly thought now was the time.
"I'm afraid I'm all out." He snidely replied and peeked a glance behind him. River continued to stand staring at the machine without any regard to the situation.
"Gentlemen, I can see I'm interrupting something?" Brendan smirked, a few of the guards also smiled at his remark. "I thought you wizards were better than this."
"Really, and I'm sure you thought you really could make a hybrid muggle-wizard army." Remus smirked right back as Brendan's face changed remarkably fast into a cold calculating glare. Apparently he hadn't liked that.
"And now I can add two new participants." Brendan flicked his hand out, signalling his men who had been awaiting his command to aim their already raised weapons.
Both Severus and Remus tensed as a voice broke the silence. It took a moment for Severus to realize it was River that had spoken.
"Pulling, twisting, and turning. Home. It will take me home."
She hadn't said it to anyone in particular, more like a stray thought that had leaked out. It actually sounded somewhat creepy but he couldn't put his mind onto why.
"You will lower your wands now, or my men will fill your bodies with bullets. Do you know what those are?" Brendan asked, choosing to ignore River for the present.
"I think not." Severus answered sharply.
"Have it your way then."
Severus took a quick breath, the knockout spell floating into his mind and on the tip of his tongue, not that these men deserved such a painless takedown.
He hesitated the moment something to the right if his vision blurred into action.
River had reacted before anyone else had a chance react. With smooth precision and effectiveness she moved from trained solider to trained soldier, dispatching them with a few swift hits and kicks. Her moves were so graceful, so trained that Severus found it difficult to keep up with her. He could hear Remus, now behind him as he muttered spells, taking out some of the other soldiers, but he needn't have worried. River was more than efficient by herself.
Severus held his ground as Brendan, who had managed to stay out of River's way aimed his gun for him. Severus also aimed his wand and fired the spell before Brendan could fire the gun. Brendan ducked to the left, diving for covered as the spell hit the man who had stood behind him, his own weapon falling beside his unmoving hand.
Brendan scurried to the side, just as Severus was about to aim another spell River somersaulted through the air, her hand easily picking up one of the abandoned firearms. She sank purposefully to her knees, and before Severus had the time to even draw his breath, she had fired four shots.
The bangs resonated around the walls before it fell silent. Severus could see quite clearly each of River's shots had reached their mark. There were four men who would never get up again, and Brendan was one of them. A bullet had been placed impeccably between his unblinking eyes.
Remus stepped forward his hand outstretched, looking at River in another light. "It's alright River, just give me the gun."
River didn't seem to hear him though, her grip went slack and the offending weapon felt from her grasp. She peered about the room, as if listening to something. "I can't breathe!" She gasped. "Into the black."
Remus stopped, the gun no longer a threat, he was now unsure how handle her. "River?" He took another tentative step.
Her eyes whipped to meet his and they stared unseeing, lost.
Severus stepped forward then, intercepting with his wand re-raised. Something told him they would no longer get sensible meaning from her, but he would not leave until he understood.
He moved his wand in the complicated movements that prompted the mind reading spell and pushed his mind to River's.
Instantly he impacted a brick wall, her defences so strong he thought he'd never get through. But she wavered, cracks and missing bricks showing. Taking a breath he pushed down her defence and stumbled back.
Her memories were completely overpowering. He saw a flash of a little girl running through a large well decorated home, an older boy chasing after her in a playful manner. It flickered and another image took its place. The same girl and boy sitting in a lounge as they touched screens that flickered with images and words. The young girl standing impatiently tossing the screen to the side and interrupting the boy and pointing to the screen he held shaking her head. They both laughed.
The memory vanished as quickly as it had come, replaced instead by a cold sterile room. Men stood around a slightly younger River who was restrained to a metal chair. There were cords and wires attached to her head and one of the men pressed buttons as she screamed out on terror.
Severus was thrown back again before he was bombarded by another image. A man leaned forward, the sincerest look of love and concern covering his young warn features that Severus had ever seen. The man squeezed River's hand and told her everything would be alright now. She was safe.
Severus finally managed to pull himself from River's mind, gasping for breath. It took him a moment to understand what it was he had just seen. River's memories were so vivid, filled with so much abuse and pain. She lived in a world far different than any Severus had ever witnessed. And yet, she would do anything to get back there, all for her brother and her newly acquired family. He also understood what had been done to her, that she was no longer then girl they had gotten to know over the past few days, he doubted that that girl would ever surface again.
Turning to Remus he waved his hand over the still breathing guards. "We need to get everyone out of here, the machine it going implode."
Without question Remus nodded and quickly gathered a few muggles in reach before he apparated out of the compound. A few moments later he 'popped' back and took hold of another.
Severus turned back to River who was once again focused on the machine. "It will take you back?"
"It will take me back." She repeated, without moving her gaze.
"It won't always be like this."
"Every things dark. Simon will make me better. I'll get better." Her voice wavered, as if she were trying to convince herself of this more than Severus.
"You'll get better." He whispered before turning and re-appearing several yards from the nearest main road.
Remus brushed past a tree, breathing bodies littered at his feet. "Where's River?"
It was then that a rumble vibrated through the ground, shaking the forest. They could hear in the distance the crackle of fire and the falling of trees as they were hit by the impact of the blast.
"She wouldn't come." Severus answered Remus and turned on his heels, heading back out into civilization.
No body else needed to know what he had seen in her mind, that she hadn't been from this world at all, but a world in the sky. Perhaps it was their future, perhaps it was something else entirely. Either way, everyone would believe she had perished with the others who had been killed today. Everyone but Severus.
The machines last borrowed energy propelled her forward and held her breath as the light danced around her body. The streaks of energy ripped their way through space until they found what they had been searching for.
Her name was Serenity. She rested on the far side of a seemingly ordinary moon, populated by a colony who had settled not so long ago.
As the energy dissipated she felt the familiar contours of the ship, the hum of the engine, the creak of the moving metal and the breathing of its occupants.
When she opened her eyes she recognized imminently she was in the cargo bay, a few creates stacked here and there. She stood, peering around and it wasn't long before she heard the footsteps of another coming her way.
As the doors swished open she came to see the familiar friendly face of her brother Simon as he visibly sighed in relief. "Where have you been River? It's time to eat." He ushered her along and she followed obediently. "What have you been up to? I haven't seen you for several hours!"
River smiled to herself. "I made some new friends." She responded cryptically.
Simon gave a somewhat worried smile and continued onwards choosing to ignore her response.
River was glad the machine had returned to close to the time frame she had been taken from, it would have been difficult to explain her whereabouts to a believing listener. She was just glad she was home now. This was home. This was her home.
I hope you enjoyed reading this little bit of fanfiction. Please let me know what you think, perhaps I'll get started on another !