It was the only feeling Kara Jensen knew.
She was a 20 years old orphan who shared the smallest bunker of the district with Miles Turner. He was the neighbors’ oldest son… They lived in 11 square meters and only had one air vent that let bomb fumes invade the space.
Fear was also the name of their city. Its inhabitants had petitioned and established this change after the town, formerly known as Chicago, had been destroyed during the first phase of the Cyborg Era.
This war had started twenty years before Kara’s birth, in 2025, when terrorists diverted the military cyborgs from their mission and turned them against the citizens. At first, they would only kill people who weren’t ideologically in line with the radicals but after a decade, their vile personalities took over and they would kill every living creature who wasn’t a cyborg.
They invaded every single country and people all over the world started building bunkers, burrows and underground cities to escape their fury.
One night of 2036 – “The Night Of Fear”, as it is called now – cyborg armies began to bomb everything. After a month of obscure terror, a rebel force started growing in several districts of the world and the Rebellion started.
In 2037 when the Rebellion Army was full and successful, people started believing in a possible future. They would build gardens on top of their bunkers, allow themselves to go out during the night – the brightness of the sun had soon become a painful sight for most of them – and even gather inside the ruins to teach the kids about peaceful times.
Kara and Miles’ parents were friends and rebels. They had built their bunkers together and fought for the same district. Unfortunately, they didn’t belong to the “Wealthiest” (the part of the community that could afford to build underground flats) and had to share a 36 sq. meters bunker. But they were optimistic and would often take part in outdoors teaching sessions or play with the neighbors’ kids.
Miles was born during this peaceful time when the 4 friends had decided to separate the bunker in 2 so that both families could grow as neighbors. But this calm period only lasted 8 years.
Mid-2045, 3 months after Kara’s birth, cyborgs came back with more weapons, stronger armors, tougher technologies and a mighty will to wipe out Humanity.
Learning sessions became fighting classes: by the age of 5 Kara and her friends knew how to hold a weapon, dodge an attack and disconnect a cyborg. Miles was following the same education and both kids were inseparable.
In 2056, when Kara was 11 and Miles was 13, Kara’s parents died in a fight against a cyber-spider. Together with Miles’ parents, they decided that both friends would live in the Jensens’ bunker, leaving the Turners with their 2 other kids in the 25 sq. meters bunker.
Ever since this Second Cyborg Era began, survivors were living in fear and would occasionally have to fight a cyborg at their doorstep.
Miles and Kara lived a quite normal life, they were only attacked once a month and thus had time to earn pencils (the new currency that had taken place at that time) by teaching fighting techniques to the young kids.
They could thereby provide food, clothes, weapons and shields for the Turners and themselves.
On Miles’ birthday, the two friends decided to go on a night trip to the beach. It was dangerous, of course, and the Turners would’ve been against the idea, but they didn’t warn any one and waited for the town to fall asleep. They prepared themselves with a strange tranquility:
They put on their fighting suits, those were very rare and useful: it fooled the cyborgs for a few seconds and gave the human fighter the time for a surprise attack; they each took a bag of fully loaded weapons; and Miles carried a picnic for the breakfast they had planned to share before dawn.
They arrived on the beach painlessly – they only had to kill an obsolete cyborg – and chose an elevated hill from where they could see the waves, the shore and the fumes emanating from the deep brown water without being seen. They reminded each other about the stories they used to love as kids… when their parents told them that the sea was blue, and that people could swim in it.
They fantasized about what it was like to lie under the sun and feel the warmth on their skin… they joked about the potential sunburns Miles would get on his milky white skin.
They spent the night on the hill, alone, with no sign of cyborgs: it was a perfect birthday celebration. When the very first ray of light started to show, they figured that it was time to move before the cyborgs could notice their presence. Kara descended first. As her feet reached the ground, she felt an electric current vibrating through her body.
When Miles saw this new prototype of cyber-crab aiming at Kara, he hesitated a second between shooting and being discovered as well, or silently watching the scene. Unfortunately, half a second is what it took to the crab to shoot properly. Suddenly, her members were petrified and her jaw hurt, and Kara fell onto the ground, seemingly lifeless. Miles was devastated.
A patrol came to fetch her body and all the machines left the beach after scrutinizing its soil. Miles got down the hill soon after dawn and ran towards Fear.
He was less than a mile away from the city’s entrance, when he found two cyber-dogs blocking the way. One of the dogs noticed him before he had time to activate a weapon.
Miles was confused and thought that maybe the cyborgs had improved their sight technique; he promised to warn the warriors and teachers when he’d get home.
The dog opened his maw and a deafening sound disoriented Miles for a minute. It allowed the other dog to jump on his back legs and load his taser-paws. Luckily, it wasn’t the first time that Miles had to face a two-hound attack alone. He got out of his confusion before the paws were ready and got his electric net out, but it didn’t completely grill the dogs’ system as it usually did, they were just knocked out. He used the strongest gun he had to destroy them and crawled back home with one of the carcasses, knowing that cyborgs wouldn’t notice the loss.