16th September, 2765,

As one of those in the Elite Cure Corp, Dan supposed he should not complain about the job he was sent to do, but hell, he did complain. This wasn’t the normal job he was used to as part of the now defunct World Peace Corps. Then, he was assigned to maintaining order in the Eclipse Sector of the planet, which involved hassles with drug dealers, pimps, and the occasional religious uprisings.

Now, he and his ten-man team were on a manhunt, or more aptly put, a robo-hunt. On a search for the most dangerous of all the infected robots. According to reports, it could interfere with the normal electro-biological communications, which was developed during the first wave of the contagion. And as team leader, he had the double task of taking out Vamp H¹, as the robotic virus was known, and making sure he got his team back, well, most of them.

“ETA is in twenty minutes!” Burly Jack, their command pilot shouted over the whir of the canon jet. They did their final equipment checks and primed themselves for what would be the most crucial mission in the history of humanity. Should they fail, it would spell the doom of the human race.

All this could have been prevented, Dan thought, if the first generation of humanots were exterminated as decided by the United Nations. Instead, a group of fanatical scientists had hidden seven of them—the Seven Sisters of the Apocalypse. This was discovered when they had been infected by an electro-biological virus. This virus turned those robots against humans, transforming them into the perfect killing machines.

This had started in the year 2457, and over the next two hundred years, the population of humans reduced drastically. It was now seen as the end of humanity, the long-awaited Apocalypse. Humans went into hiding, constructed intricate tunnel systems to keep them safe. But these strongholds were infiltrated nonetheless, and humans were on the brink of extinction.

How did these robots evolve so quickly and out of control? Speculations were that the contagion was an elaborate design by the elites of the world to curtail the exploding human population, others opined that it was a plan by some techno-extremists to establish a New World Order. Whatever the case, it was a situation that demanded immediate action. Thus the Elite Cure Corp was inaugurated. Their task was simple—bring an end to this threat.

As Dan recalled, they would have succeeded, had it not been for the final evolution of a rogue robot, the Vamp H¹. That was two years before he enlisted as a member of this Corp. But before the humanot could be killed, it went underground. All efforts to locate it were futile. Yet it had such an intricate network of operations which continued to wreck terror on humans.

They had received intel that it was holed in the Vance Plains in the Antarctic. This would be the last mission, Dan vowed. It had taken too much. He looked at the glassy white desert that suddenly appeared below and his blood pumped with adrenaline. The jet hovered at about fifty feet in the air as they climb down using a ladder. They would have landed, but they were cautious in not alerting the robot. Though they had high-tech surveillance blocking techniques, still, they didn’t want to take chances.

As they touched down, they immediately arranged themselves into an attack position in the form of a pentagram, with two people side by side. Each person had a variety of sensors designed to locate their foe. And at the moment, it was pointing towards an unknown part of the vast ice desert. They broke into a sprint, all the while, maintaining their formation and relying on their health dials to keep their body regulated.

Shortly, they arrived at the place where their geo-locator pinpointed. It was dome-like structure constructed like a twentieth-century church. It had high columns and a sturdy base. It looked too ordinary to harbour such a menace. But it did, Dan was sure of that. He had dedicated his life to making sure these viruses were eradicated after his wife and son were killed in an attack by one of them. After their death, he had joined the Elite Cure Corp and had quickly risen through the ranks.

He signaled his members to circle the building and locate other entry points. He and his assistant team leader, Jasmine would enter through the front door. As they reached the door, they had their backs on the walls on each side of the door. Dan signaled her to cover him as he counted to three and barreled through the door.

Inside, he was surprised by what he saw. It was a long hall that contained nothing else except a large table with assorted computers and a humanot, about four feet tall. It didn’t move as the others stormed in and surrounded it. Was this the legendary Vamp H¹? It looked nothing more than a toy. His other team members were waiting for him to give the kill order. But he was rooted to the spot. It appeared to be ordinary. Yet there was something about it that didn’t seem to fit. But this wasn’t the time for such contemplations.

He brought down his right hand on his left palm, mimicking a knife cutting through something. It was the kill order. But they couldn’t react. Instead, he felt his head was exploding from such a pain that was impossible to withstand. He glanced at his mates and they were clutching their heads in their hands and their mouths were open in silent screams.

Then as he watched, their eyes bulged out of their skulls and then, their heads exploded, spraying blood and tissue all over him.

“I knew there was something about you that seemed strong-willed,” someone said behind him. In his pain, he turned and saw Jasmine smiling at him. What was happening? Why wasn’t she in the same pain as he or dead as the others? Could it be—?

“Welcome home Mistress,” the four feet humanot exclaimed as it curtsied before her. Was Jasmine the Vamp H¹?

“Yes, I am,” said Jasmine, “and don’t be so shocked. It was easy to fool everyone back at HQ. Now, I am one step away from annihilating all of you filthy humans.”

“How were you able to—?”

“Deceive you? Quite easy. I just cloned myself as a human—preferably, a woman—and infiltrated your Corp. The Corp was a major threat to my plans and it needed to be destroyed. Now, with all of you here, I have reason to congratulate myself.”

He had been hoodwinked, simply and flatly. And to think that he had feelings for this… parasite! He had even had one or two coffees with her. Dan knew that he was done for. This was the end. And he didn’t fulfill his vows. What a shame. Forgive me, Maryse, he thought, as he slowly slipped out of consciousness.

Jasmine drew nearer, taunting him and showing him how feeble… how human he was. She came close, ran her fingers down his face, down his torso, and as she brought her fingers back to his face, Dan knew what he would do. It was the only option. His only prayer was that he would be remembered in history.

With as much quiet as possible, while in great agony, he reached into his knee pocket and brought out the pulse canon. He depressed the detonator and with one final breath, removed his hands.

He didn’t feel the explosion that rocked the Antarctic region because he had joined the darkness.

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