AN: Here begins my obsession with Cifex. He only appeared in one episode of the series, but it happens to be one of my favorites. His existence alone really tickled my worldbuilding fancy, and the android guy ends up making major appearances as the story goes on. Also, credit for the poetry bit at the end goes to Robert Frost - specifically the poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening."
Prompt 7: Muse
The wind howled with unabated fury, tearing at his cloak and trying to dig its way into any exposed surface of his skin. Sandstorms were a common thing in these hellish deserts. They scoured the mountains into dust, and carved great valleys. But this storm was particularly brutal, and it matched Cifex's mood perfectly.
He could remember everything – the machine that built him, the technicians who repaired him after every mission, the comrades he had lost in the war. And of course Cifex remembered the Great Cataclysm of the 31st century. How the skies across the Earth had turned bright, then black as night. How earthquakes and tsunamis demolished every coastline across the world. The fields full of the dead.
And the mutants. He could never forget the mutants born of the Cataclysm, for they plunged what was left of the world into an everlasting hell.
The wars had always been between those who viewed technology as the key to progress and enlightenment, and those who sought perfection through genetic engineering. Cifex was a so-called "genetic construct" – though he was covered in synthetic flesh, his bones were bio-alloy and his brain a neuroprocessor. He had fought with thousands of android soldiers who shared his face for ideals he was programmed to believe, cutting down "genetic freaks" like wheat in a field.
But the Cataclysm had put an end to all of that. His memory files didn't say who was responsible, and now more than a thousand years later, Cifex found he didn't much care. Cifex didn't remember how long he spent in the bunker fighting off mutants and other creatures who ventured too close. But he was certain he had to have spent at least part of that millennium in a stasis tube. Without anyone to repair him, Cifex had transferred his neural net and memory engrams from shell to shell until something had gone corrupt and caused him to forget that he had never been a human.
And then he had met her, and everything changed. Cifex's hand moved instinctively to his pocket, feeling the dried petals of the flower he had found in the desert upon awakening in the last of the android bodies. He was lucky his emergency neural net transfer protocols were still in place, or he would have died on top of Warnado, burnt by Blackheart's flame.
Maybe it would have been better that way. Or maybe it would have been better that those Dark Dramen killed him in the desert before they had met. Better than to have hurt Apex.
Though he never truly slept, sometimes Cifex could have sworn he dreamed of her. Her auburn hair hovering around her face underwater in the ocean biosphere, her fuchsia lips tugging to one side in a wicked grin. He tried to tell himself it was better this way, as he had told her at their parting; the truth was she had shown him what it meant to live, and Cifex would carry her face with him as long as he wandered the desolate remains of Old Earth.
Cifex had made it his mission in life to seek out any remaining human survivors on Old Earth. He knew the Dragon Flyz were busy gathering amber crystals to keep the city of Airlandis afloat; that the scouting mission they had found him on had almost been a fluke. Apex had told him all about the Airlandean's search for a new terrestrial homeland; their near misses like the beautiful valley and Mount Alayas. And she told him of the daring Captain Elias Bristol who had spoken of an oasis twenty-five years after the Cataclysm, and of her father's glimpse of such a place in his youth.
Cifex thought that if he could find some way to help Apex – help humanity – he might in some way atone for his past atrocities. He might be worthy of Apex's love.
And along the way, he would destroy any remaining 30th century weaponry he came across. Better that the world never have access to that kind of destructive force ever again.
The bunker where he had spent the better part of a millennium was only one of a series of military buildings. Cifex had downloaded all pertinent data he could recover from the bunker's computer system, then used a plasma grenade to blow it up. He would never go back.
Cifex walked for days through the burning deserts, his hooded cloak hiding his human semblance from any passing mutants and Dark Dramen. Cifex knew he was slowly but surely making his way to the main compound where he had been stationed. There, he hoped to pick up some kind of vehicle to speed his travels and offer some kind of protection from the elements.
When he saw the tops of the buildings emerging from the sand, at first he almost believed it to be a mirage. Closer inspection proved that acquiring a vehicle would not be as simple as he had previously thought. The compound had had over a thousand years to be buried by the shifting sands of the desert. Cifex frowned, unsure of how to access the building's interior. He searched for some time, finally locating an access hatch on the roof of one of the buildings.
The keypad and electronics that had given the lock power were long since dead. Using a laser cutter he had taken from the bunker, Cifex sliced through the access hatch's locking mechanism, then used his hands to pull back the door on completely rusted hinges.
The interior of the structure was dark and forbidding, and Cifex felt lucky that he didn't require oxygen, as the air was still and undisturbed for centuries. Cifex activated his sonar mapping system, which sent out periodic energy pulses that reflected the tomography of the building as he moved through it. When he had first arrived here as a combat android, Cifex had seen very little of the command center before he was shipped off to areas of heavy fighting.
Strangely, Cifex found the metallic hallways and severe design choices somewhat…comforting? If not that, then nostalgically familiar at the very least. Airlandis had been all curving lines and tall shapes. Here, things were regimented and squared off. Military precision at every turn.
After hours of exploration and mapping, Cifex reached what he believed to be the compound's command center. It was laid out in a circle surrounding a central holo-unit used for viewing the battles. Using a few spare power cells he had recovered, Cifex booted up one of the computer terminals and began his search. Oasis, not unexpectedly, brought up no results pertinent results. Galileo got him several hits on the space station, which he downloaded to his central data storage unit. Military installations got him so many results he didn't even know where to begin, though most of the data required a far higher clearance level than he had ever possessed. Cifex tried accessing the military satellites that he knew had been in use during the 30th century, only to find that he could not make contact with any of them. They had likely all crashed into the Warp Winds centuries ago.
Trying another search for Settlements was like finding a gold mine. Complete with latitude and longitudinal coordinates, he had found a list of all known human settlements left in the wake of the Great Cataclysm. Oddly, he had also found references to a Starship Explorer, which sounded fascinating. Downloading the information to his central storage unit, Cifex set the computer to calculate a pathway to exploring as many of them as possible.
While the terminal processed his request, Cifex began his search for transportation. Something that ran on amber crystals would have been prime, considering their abundance on Old Earth's surface. But that kind of technology had been science fiction in the 30th century. Cold fusion had been the technology du jour of the day. Cifex located the hangar and made his way down.
The hangar was a huge building with a ceiling that opened to the sky (Cifex hoped it still did, anyway, and that he wouldn't have tons of sand pouring in on top of him). Looking over the vehicles that were still left, his steel heart sank a little. Most were rusted-out hulks, and whatever wasn't was obviously battle damaged. The best had likely been taken in whatever evacuation the compound had gone through. But back in the corner, a glint caught his eye. Picking his way through the wreckage, Cifex found a small four-soldier hovercraft that appeared to be in working order. Opening up the back, he found he was in luck! The cold fusion reactor was still operational.
Cifex returned to the command center and collected his downloaded data. At the last minute he grabbed a stray holocube and downloaded a mental image he had saved of Apex. It projected the image in crystal clarity, and for a moment Cifex forgot that he was alone.
Turning off the cube with a sigh, Cifex stuffed it into his pocket and started back to his hovercraft. He would not fail Apex and the people of Airlandis. A stray bit of poetry ran through his head:
"But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep
… And miles to go before I sleep."