A hard jolt woke me. I blinked my eyes a few times and tried to get my bearings. Exhaust fumes were in the air and I heard an engine straining. It was dark and I was in the rear of a large heavy vehicle. The road was bumpy and the ride was very rough. Metal gears were grinding and tires were spinning in thick mud. Other soldiers were in the truck, but I couldn't make out their faces. No one said anything.
The brakes squealed and the vehicle came to an abrupt stop. I heard a door open and slam shut. A warrant officer walked to the back of the truck. He had a clipboard under his arm. He poked me on the knee with a long metal rod.
"You. Get out."
I grabbed my weapon and jumped from the truck onto the dirt road. He looked me over, then pointed to a bunker a few hundred feet away.
"Move!" he yelled in my face.
It was night and the sky was clear. The ground was damp from recent rains. I scrapped the mud off my boots and stepped through the small entrance to the bunker. The three men inside glanced at me, then quickly turned their eyes away. One was studying a picture magazine, the other two were seated on the floor, backs to the wall, smoking small brown cigarettes. I waited, but no one greeted me.
"I'm the replacement," I said. "Where.."
"Where's the other one?" asked the solider who was reading. He had sergeant stripes on his shirt. He must have been in command.
I shrugged my shoulders.
"There's just me, no one else. Where.."
"Aren't we supposed to get two?" the sergeant asked one of the men sitting on the floor. "Didn't I ask for two?"
"We're lucky to get this one," was the terse reply.
"Hey, where do I put my gear?" I asked.
"Sit down and shut up!" the sergeant barked in a very annoyed tone.
The floor was littered with spent shell casings. An automatic cannon was in a ready position, with its long barrel pointing out one of the many firing slots. There were fresh blast marks on the walls. It was obvious this bunker had changed hands several times. The many empty cigarette packages on the floor were Baluvian. The magazine the sergeant was reading also came from the other side. I rearranged a few empty ammunition boxes to clear a place. I was about to sit down when I heard a woman cry out.
"Help me! Please help me!"
I looked around trying to determine the location of the voice.
"What the hell was that?" I asked.
"Shut up!" the sergeant yelled.
He never took his eyes off the magazine. The other two paid no attention.
"Please help me! Please! I'm hurt!"
The desperate cries were coming from an open field in front of the bunker. I looked through the firing slots but it was too dark to see anything.
"There's someone out there," I said. "She needs help."
"No one is out there," the sergeant said. "Now sit down and shut up."
The woman continued to cry for help.
"I'm trapped. Help me!"
The tone in her voice was so pained, so desperate.
"Goddamn," I said. "How can you guys just sit there and listen to her? Doesn 't it bother you?"
One of the men on the floor shook his head and gave me a disgusted look. He flipped his cigarette to the other side of the room. The red ash bounced off the wall. His dirty shirt bore the insignia of a corporal. The tips of his fingers were dark grey. He'd been firing the cannon.
"You stupid shit," he said. "Don't they teach you replacements anything?"
He stood, brushed the dirt off his pants, and carefully peered through an empty gun slot.
"It's a new slant on an old enemy trick. The wicked bastards. They put an android on the battlefield and program it to cry for help. Naturally a male solider wants to help, right? Pretty girl in distress. You help her, she helps you? Know what I mean?"
He looked at me with a half grin. Most of his front teeth were missing.
"Sounds good, right? Yeah, except there's one little problem. When a man walks up to it."
He leaned over into my face.
"KA-BOOM!" he yelled. "Big ass explosion, nothing left but red mist."
The voice cried out again.
"Please! Please won't someone help me!"
"Damn," I said. "It sounds so realistic."
The sergeant lifted his eyes and glanced to the corner.
"Yeah, very realistic. That's what Captain Mathis thought. He went outside to help the last one. Those are his boots in the corner. His feet are still in them."
The pleading voice would not let up.
"I'm thirsty. Please bring me some water."
The voice was getting to me. I put my mouth the gun slot.
"Shut the fuck up!" I screamed.
"That's nice, very nice." the sergeant said. "Now we can expect a few rounds of high yield dropped on our position. I told your dumb ass to sit down and shut up!"
"Fucking idiot," the corporal said.
I went to my place and sat down. The voice from the field kept begging for help. The cries didn't bother the others, but they bothered me. Those cries were so desperate. She sounded so alone and frightened. Hard to believe a machine would cry out like that. I tried to rest, but I couldn't.
"Hey sergeant," I said. "If I put a pulse round in that robot, it'll blow up? Right?"
The sergeant looked over to corporal who was leaning against the wall smoking.
"Maybe," he said.
"Why don't I slip out there and put a round in it? At least it'll be quiet."
The sergeant rubbed his chin with his fingers.
"What do you think?" he asked the corporal.
The corporal blew smoke in my direction and shook her head.
"As stupid as he is, who'll miss him?"
The sergeant kept rubbing his chin and thinking.
"You know how to shoot that thing?" the sergeant asked pointing to my weapon.
"Of course I do."
"Well then, be my guest," he said.
I was about to move out when the corporal took a last jab at me.
"Hey replacement, what size are your boots?" he asked and started laughing. They all had a good laugh.
"Assholes," I mumbled as I moved into the darkness.
The field was littered with huge blast craters. The scope on my weapon had excellent night vision. I used it to survey the battlefield. Each time she called out, I moved toward the voice. The sound was coming from the other side of a large crater. A tall tree had fallen over and there was a figure pinned under the trunk. In the scope I could see what looked like a woman trying desperately to free her leg from under the tree. She looked around and cried out.
I lined the crosshairs on her back. My finger was squeezing the trigger when I noticed she wore a Baluvian uniform. If she was a bomb, won't they dress her in one of our uniforms? Why was she struggling so hard to get free? The look in her face was so genuine. Something didn't feel right.
"Please, please help me," she said while she tried to pull her leg free.
The tone in her voice was too real. She wanted to live. I could feel it.
"Please, I'm scared," she said and started to cry.
I couldn't believe her pleas weren't real. Why would a machine cry when there was no one looking?
"Hey!" I called out. "Who are you?"
"Thank god you're here!" she said. "My leg is pinned, please help me."
She was looking directly at me. In the scope I could see her face. She was very pretty. She was young with clean skin and beautiful hair. She knew exactly were I was.
"What's your name?" I asked.
"Kree," she said. "My name is Kree."
The enemy opened up with automatic weapon fire all along the battlefield. The soldiers in my bunker returned the fire. White and red tracers lit the air. Kree ducked and tired to avoid getting hit. She looked directly at me.
"Won't you help me?" she pleaded.
She couldn't be a bomb. She was too real, her cries too believable. When there was a lull in the firing, I ran over to her and used my weapon to pry the tree from her leg. That I was still alive meant I was right. If she was a weapon, she would have detonated.
I helped her to her feet, but she immediately stumbled.
"Carry me," she said.
She was much smaller than me and weighed very little. I lifted her onto my back and carried her toward my bunker.
The automatic fire resumed, and I had to dodge the rounds. We had to get off the battlefield. There was a half destroyed building away from the main lines of fire. I ran toward it as fast as I could.
I let her slip off my back onto the floor. She looked up at me with those big eyes. There was enough starlight to see how beautiful she was. She had no weapon, not even a knife.
"Thank you," she said. "Thank you so much."
The tone in her voice changed. She wasn't pleading, yet there was still a desperate, longing quality to her words.
"Obie? Is that your name?" she asked.
OBIE was written in big letters on the front and back of my uniform.
"Let me look at your leg," I said. "It might be broken."
"My leg is alright."
There was a loud explosion not to far from us. The flash of light and the sound seemed to terrify her. She wrapped her arms around my legs.
"Please don't leave me," she said. "I want to live."
I knelt next to her. I ran my hand over the side of her face. She seemed to want my attention.
"I won't leave you," I said.
She put her hands on my shoulders and looked into my eyes.
"Will you hold me? Will you put your arms around me and hold me close?"
Her voice was so soft. She wore the enemy uniform, but she was no threat to me. I put my weapon on the floor and wrapped my arms around her. She did the same. She put her head on my chest.
"Oh.," she said with a deep exhale. "You feel so good."
Her fingers ran up and down my back. She took deep breathes and pressed her face to my chest.
"Hold me tight. I want to feel you hold me. Like you care for me."
I pulled her to me.
"Oh.. ", she gasped. "That's wonderful. Thank you," she said.
The gunfire faded away. There were no more exploding shells. The night air was cool. We sat on the floor of that wrecked building, locked in each other 's arms. After I held her for a while, she pulled her face from my chest. She looked at me and I looked into her. She was so amazingly beautiful.
"Will you kiss me?" she asked. "A real kiss, as if.. As if you cared."
She licked her lips and gently parted them. I could see little stars reflected in her eyes. I put my lips to hers. When I did, she really kissed me. There was such passion in her. She gripped me and worked her lips and tongue all over mine. We kissed as if we were the very best of lovers. As if we had known each other forever. There was a deep yearning in her. She wanted all the passion I had. I fell into her and we melted together.
She ran her mouth over the sides of my face. She gently kissed my closed eyes and affectionately caressed my face. She pressed her mouth to my ear. She softly whispered to me.
"Please tell me you care about me. Tell me I'm important to you. Even if you don't mean it."
I made her look at me. She tired to turn her eyes away.
"I do care about you. I'm glad I found you."
A warm smile came to her face.
"Do you really mean it?"
I ran my palm over her warm face.
"Yeah, I mean it."
She looked to the open sky.
"How much time do we have?"
"What do you mean?"
"Before sunrise. Before they come to get me."
I really didn't know. I made up a number.
"Four hours," I said.
She took a deep breathe and sighed.
"Four hours, that's not very long."
She rested her head on my chest.
"Hold me tight. Tight as you can."
I held her and she held me back. She moved to get as close to me as she could. She raised her head from my chest and kissed me. Each time was better than the last. We were sharing something very intimate. I didn't think about it, I just enjoyed it. She put her lips to my ear. She softly whispered.
"Will you make love to me?"
She kissed my cheek and looked into my eyes.
"Hold me like I was your lover. Even if you don't mean it."
There was a section of the building which still had a roof. I cleared off the floor and removed my shirt. I laid it down and she laid on top of it. I unbuttoned her shirt and held her warm soft breasts. There was no fear in her face.
"Do you care about me?" she asked.
"Yes," I said.
She smiled and took off her shirt. Her skin was perfect. Her nipples were round and hard. When I kissed them, small goose bumps rose on her flesh. I slipped off her pants and underwear. She was naked and so sensuous. Her dark hair was free and loose about her shoulders. Her knees were slightly raised. I slipped out of my pants and laid on top of her. When our flesh met, she shivered.
"You're so warm. so strong."
She parted her legs and wrapped her soft thighs around me. She was very wet and I easily slid inside of her.
She quickly sucked in her breathe and tightened her grip.
"Oh.." she gasped.
"Are you okay?" I asked.
"Yes, I'm fine," she said and kissed my face. "You're so hard and big and hot."
I slowly rocked back and forth on her. A soft smile came to her face.
"Tell me you love me," she said. "Even if you don't mean it."
I tired to say it, but I couldn't. She saw I was having a hard time saying those words.
"Tell me you care about me."
I pushed all the way inside of her. Her tender flesh surrounded me. I looked into her eyes.
"I do care about you."
That seemed to satisfy her. She pulled my head to her and bit my ear.
"Enjoy our time," she said. "I want to please you."
We settled into a slow powerful rhythm. She moved her hips with me, she held me and did everything she could to please me. After a while, I felt myself start to build.
"Give it to me," she said. "Let it go."
I couldn't hold it any longer. I pressed into her and let out a gasp. My eyes closed and I exploded inside her. She was open and took everything I had. I laid on top of her and all the tension left my body. She blew on the side of my face. She lightly ran her fingers over my back.
"Did you enjoy that?" she asked.
"Yes," I said. "Very much."
I pulled out of her and laid on the floor. She rolled on top of me and rested her head on my chest. She ran her fingers over my skin and though my hair. She gazed into my eyes.
"Please say you love me. You don't have to really mean it. I just want to hear you say it."
I tried, but I couldn't do it. She rested her head on my chest and kissed me.
"I love you," she said. "I feel it inside. It feels good."
We held each other, but we didn't talk. I enjoyed her warmth and she seemed to do the same.
"How much more time?" she asked.
"I honestly don't know."
"Will you make love to me again?"
She rolled under me and I slid back inside. This time I wanted to please her. I slide very deep inside of her. She was so open and hot. I didn't stop and I didn't rest. I varied my movement until I found the angle which seemed to please her the most. She began to tighten up. Her knees raised and she held me tightly.
"I want you cum," I whispered in her ear.
"Would that please you?" she asked.
"Yes, cum for me."
I slammed her as hard as I could.
"Oh.." she gasped.
I could feel her holding her breathe. I kept giving it to her until she exhaled and relaxed. I held her in my arms. Our bodies were pressed together.
"That was good, very good.." she said.
I pulled out of her and she lay on top of me. We looked at each other.
"Thank you," she said.
We held each other for a little while. I enjoyed her warmth. The sky began to fill with light. The sun was rising. I sat up and she sat on her knees next to me.
"We should get dressed," I said.
She looked at her uniform.
"There's no reason for me to get dressed. I have nowhere to go."
I put my hands on her shoulders.
"No, Kree, that's not right. You can come back with me, no one will harm you."
She put her warm hands on my face.
"No, they won't hurt me, but I'll hurt them."
She guided my hands down her belly. She pressed my fingers hard into her abdomen. I felt a flat plate, like metal. I jumped to my feet.
"No!" I said. "That can't be. The charge would have detonated."
A horrible thought flashed into my mind. A cold chill ran down my spine.
"Wait a second.. The corporal said it would go off if a man approached.."
I picked up my uniform and feverishly looked through it. Inside my shirt, in small black print, the following words were written: Organization of Biological Industrial Engineering OBIE REPLACEMENT SOLIDER.
I grabbed my knife and sliced my wrist. A dark green fluid seeped from the cut. The knife fell from my hand and I dropped to my knees.
"Shit," I said. "I'm not real."
Kree put her warm arms around me.
"I'm sorry," she said. "So sorry."
I looked at her beautiful face and soft eyes. I thought about the time we had shared. How she had held me and cared for me.
"Don't be sorry. You gave me something I was never going to know. Something real and true. For a while I was really alive."
"We were both alive," she said and held me tight.
I could hear voices approaching.
"You better leave," Kree said.
I held her warm breasts to my chest. I kissed her and she kissed me back.
"I don't have anywhere to go," I said.
She looked into me with those big eyes.
"Tell me you love me."
"I love you. I truly do."
A big smile came to her face. The sounds of footsteps grew near.
I pulled her to me and we locked onto each other. She was smiling and so was I. Voices and footsteps were inside the building. Someone was approaching us.
She put her warm lips to my ear. Very softly, she whispered.