Mythili finished checking the airlock on the Triceratops habitat cell of the Honeycomb. Everything was functioning perfectly. Satisfied that her newly made friend would be safe and in good health in his new home, she turned around to walk out of the hexagonal room. The transparent walls of the Honeycomb did very little to hide the naked green below her and the blue around her. It had been dizzying at first. But she was confident she was slowly getting used to the feeling of walking on the sky. In deed, this was definitely not how the Honeycomb was when she had first entered it. It had changed. It was constantly changing. Evolving. Actively trying to survive old and new parameters. In its current form, all the walls were transparent. It appeared as though none of the dinosaurs minded. They didn’t seem to notice anything once they were inside their habitat cells. Cells. Small hexagonoidal ships that were interconnected to form the honeycomb. Well, they may have been tiny in comparison with the Honeycomb, perhaps. But they were definitely not small in their own right. They were housing full sized dinosaurs with room to spare, after all. She noticed that the cells would occasionally detach from the main structure, dart around and reattach themselves in another spot on the mass. Perhaps it was because of changes in the winds. Perhaps it was because of the position of the sun. Whatever the case, the Honeycomb’s computer worked constantly, calculating new configurations every few minutes as well as different materials for walls to go with the new configurations. The old materials were not wasted. In a mechanical process that almost seemed magical, the older walls were transported to the core cells in the middle of the structure while new walls replaced them in the outer cells. It was as if the Honeycomb was a living, breathing organism which grew by eating itself.
She noticed something unmistakable after a few hours. The Honeycomb was becoming more and more bird-like. Its various cells had rearranged themselves to resemble a Lego block bird of sorts. Except, these blocks weren’t cuboids. They were, and I apologize for pointing this out for the millionth time, hexagonoids. There she was, standing on the inside of a giant, electronic, transparent bird. Surrounded by birds in the making. Birds. She recalled how birds were a symbol of freedom in her childhood. A grin crept across her face as she remembered the solemn bald eagle and its quest for freedom and oil. She also swept aside a murder of bird-related sayings and stories. The Thirsty Crow. The Crow and the Fox. The early bird gets the worm. Kill two birds with one stone. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Bird is the word. She wondered where that last one was from. She could not remember.
She found herself back in the control room with the talking computer. “You know, I am constantly monitoring all the cells. You don’t have to keep checking on them. It is a waste of your time and energy.” said the invisible mechanical voice.
“We humans function better when we know that the things we deem important to us are safe.”
“But all you have to do is ask me and I will display all their data on this screen.”
“Ah, it works better if I see it with my own eyes.”
“There is a live video feed from every cell if that is what you want.”
“It’s just-! This is just how I work, okay? I get a little paranoid when things are going too smoothly. Besides, I have nothing else to do, being the only human around.”
“You are supposed to be coming up with a short term strategy that will give us an advantage when the aliens send another fleet. You are also supposed to be coming up with a long term strategy to relieve the Earth from their invasions.”
“I… I’m working on that. But as I said, I work better like this.”
She had not been entirely open with the computer. She did not understand how it worked. How it made decisions. She knew the computer had a purpose. The purpose given by whoever programmed it. One last punch from humanity… Which would hopefully at least hit the aliens on the nose. They may have brought us down to our last woman but they were still not gonna take our planet from us without a fight.
The First Invasion had only been driven back because the humans had the element of surprise and the element of carnage. The aliens had expected and prepared countermeasures for everything the humans could throw at them. Guns. Tanks. Nukes. Poison. Disease. Lightning. The very Sun itself. It was all cast aside like arrows of rain on a riverbank rock. The humans were helpless. Their tools were broken and impotent. But then, they did something the aliens did not expect. They stopped looking to the future. With every last bit of their laughable wisdom, the humans had realised the harsh truth: The planet was lost to them. They had no future. And so, they gave up trying to rule the planet themselves. With no heir to inherit their throne, they returned the planet to the previous kings. Old kings. Savage kings. Something the aliens were not prepared for. These creatures of the past did not use weapons that could be countered. They were weapons. These would-be birds overtook the land, the sea and the sky in a matter of weeks. For all their physical superiority, the aliens of the First Invasion were broken and beaten by relics of the past. And thus, they fled. Chastened by their humiliating defeat at the hands of beasts, the aliens limped back to their home world on broken legs, flew back on torn wings. The sky was open again. The sea was being fondled by the free winds again. The grass grew wild on the lands. But there were no humans to rule the planet. The last of them had been killed despite the dinosaurs. Truly, a good number of them had been killed by the dinosaurs but the true genocide stained the cracked claws of the aliens. They had succeeded in killing all the humans. And that frustrated them the most. They had dominated and killed the rulers of the planet. Despite that, they had lost it. That wound burned more terribly in their ego than any weapon the humans used against them.
Men may have been erased from the Earth… But their tools were left behind. Most were broken beyond hope. But not all. Two tools yet remained. Somewhere in an airtight box at the bottom of the Indian ocean, there slept a tool waiting to be awoken. She was a broken and patched up tool. But it is said that a blade is most beautiful once it has been broken in battle and reforged. She had been put to sleep before the First Invasion began. She slept long after it ended. When she woke, she did not remember the decades of sleep and a good number of decades before her sleep. She had been tampered with and altered. She did not know her purpose. For that is the curse borne by all Gods. We, who give purpose to all else have no purpose ourselves. And then there was the Honeycomb. What was meant to be floating grandly in the heavens had been lying in the dust and smoke for decades, waiting for the one who would allow it to fulfill its purpose. It was the one tool the aliens could not break. For it was the culmination of humanity’s talent and hard work. It represented a single instinct: Evade danger. It is whispered even now, in the home world of the aliens, that if the humans had just one more structure with the same capabilities as the Honeycomb, a handful of them might have survived the First Invasion. The Honeycomb was not a weapon of destruction. It was a weapon of survival. And survival was the greatest blow Mythili could deal them for now.
Surely, the aliens knew by this point that one human still survived. The defeat of their scout fleet had proved that to them beyond the shadow of a doubt. She had survived the first stone they had thrown at her. They would come to regret it. Everyone knows it’s stupid to throw stones at a hornet’s nest. Well, this was a honeycomb but I suppose the metaphor still works. The day had gone by without incident. I suppose I am wrong to say so. I suppose having sex with a Triceratops counts as an incident. But that is something that happened before this chapter began. I must apologise for being such a chicken about this. It seems I just cannot bring myself to describe things of sexual nature these days. I shall try to include something more substantial in the next chapter. For now, let us leave that bridge uncrossed.
“What would you do if I decided to give up?”
“Give up the war? But that is my purpose. My purpose is to carry out the will of humanity.”
“What if the will of humanity is to fade away without a fight? I mean, I am the last human on Earth. What will I do even IF I defeat the aliens and save the planet? How long will I live? Even if my body lives, what will I do? There is no reason for me to exist after the war. If that is the case, would it not be easier and simpler to just die right now?”
“It is my purpose to carry out the will of humanity. The will of humanity is to strike out against the aliens. Without that purpose, there is no reason for me to exist.”
She could not exactly understand what the computer meant. She slowly began to understand and then stopped herself from understanding. This computer. Whatever it was. It wanted her to fight. It wanted to exist. It wanted a reason to to exist. If she gave up and decided to die, it would lose that reason. Was it implying that there would be consequences, adverse consequences, if she chose to end it all? She had often wondered if the Gods were being forced to exist by humans. Whether or not the Gods were real was a meaningless question. She was real. And although she was inside a free bird, flying across the sky unchallenged, she could not help but feel just a little bit trapped inside a cage.