Ophir stood on the edge of the lake, well below the captured tactical stronghold of the humans, above. She was amongst the many boulders next to the waters edge, near the small blue lake, searching. With her two M-ray-beam pistols drawn, she wasn't fooling around.
Ophir was looking as well as listening. The prisoner had escaped and she was the last one, at the moment, to be in pursuit of him. She was determined to acquire the human and not get damaged as the others were. There had been seven after the cunning and resourceful man. Now there was only her.
The prisoner was key to the invasion. Without his uploaded knowledge, it would fail, even though those in charge didn't see it, she did. The mathematics was too certain and too precise not to trust for they were her own algorithms she had configured.
Transferring from the annalitics division, a year before, she had told no one of her midnight downloads, going to the records division of the military archives, when there were less of her kind in attendance that would interfere or question her minor authority.
She was one of them, the androids, half human, half machine, and downloading everything she could on the purest of human conditions seemed to be the only way to defeat the human population, learning how they thought, as well as loading any and everything pertaining to tactics. Humans were too cunning, too devious to predict, and each individual contained a mixture so different, it made it all too critical to have a fleet of her kind of thinkers to outwit them, but she was the only one that could see it, and to be that alternate key to the solution, of winning this war outright was her mission, plus, helping herself to some of the glory, eventually.
She often thought it would have been wise for the human's to have gone fully robotic, in their slaves, instead of allowing androids to reproduce humans, as they did, and then have these android children transformed to serve them, when they came of age. But they hadn't created full robotics and that would be their downfall, she knew, if she could get this one man, this unique individual who was her counterpart to cooperate. He knew her, but she knew him better than anyone on her side of the war. They had met once, years before, and he had impressed her greatly. Then following his flow up through the human ranks of power, before the conflicts had started, there was no doubt in her mind that this man was the one.
It killed her that she could not tell anyone about him, or the details she had on him, and why it was all important, or, her plans to get herself into power. They would have simply decommissioned her service as a disruptive force, or stuck her in a position of none effectiveness, so closed was the android leadership to listening about independent thought. They would just have likely placed her on a farm in some distant solar system to serve as a support unit for the more important war machine they had built.
Someone, the temporary guards of the invasion force, had not swept the capital compound well enough. The fortress had been surrounded and yet, he, the single most import individual that could end it all, in his side's favor, had gotten away, unless she found him first. Ophir couldn't believe it. How good a chance did androids have when one human could escape their best laid plans with thousands?
A stone whirled out of nowhere, dropping almost straight down out of the sky and could not be determined from where it had originated, just seeing it feet from her head. If it had hit her cranium, it surely would have disrupted her thought processor, or put her in a non functional state. But she merely blasted it out of the air, turning it to dust with one pistol. It was set on disintegration while the other was set to stun. She needed him alive. He was very close, Ophir knew, but could not see in what direction the rock had come from. Curses and rotten luck.
In societies, there are always key players that are pivotal points to the success or failure of that society, or mission, or any kind of organized management, in any system. Remove that pivot point, that key player, and it was curtains for that society, unless a quick replacement could be made; which almost always never happened throughout history, though, she knew it was possible.
To be on the safe side, the nearest replacement to this man, her first choice, had already been killed by her to be certain that couldn't possibly occur. Now there was only him, and she had to know what he knew, how he thought, what his peculiar algorithms were to help her in her own rise to power. That's why he was key to the invasion and to her, personally. If he got back to his troops on the far end of this galaxy's outer arm, were the front still raged, there was no doubt in her mind he would lead them to victory over her kind, and the androids would be finished for good. If she could get to him, she could whisk him off to a small world, she'd prepared, to interrogate and befriend him, learn all she could from him before killing the man. He was too dangerous to let live after that...
"Darrin. I know you can hear me. It's Ophir. Do you remember me? We met eleven years ago as young people at the Celebration of Kai science convention, in the Quintock'ta center. I hadn't been changed over yet. I wasn't yet nineteen. I only want to save you from this conflict. I fear you will be killed. I have a vessel standing by where we can leave this place of war and get away. Please. I am not here to kill you. I am your friend."
Ophir went on like this, lying, for several more minutes. She continued to search but only found footprints. She smelled them, of course, and it was definitely him, but he was too elusive, too good at this game.
"I already took care of your family. That was my second most important part of my mission. You are my first priority. Your family is already in route to the safe haven. It is a long journey, but we will be just fine there. Won't you let me help you? The longer I stay out of the conflict, the more suspicious I look, and if I am questioned and found wanting, I won't be able to help anyone. Please—come out."
Apparently he wasn't buying it and then she saw another stone thrown up into the air, simply by chance. He'd gotten two others this way. She disintegrated the rock while jumping thirty feet in the air over the boulder, and there he was, scooting away below the vertical fall line of it. She stunned him in mid-crawl with her other pistol. He was out of it, laying unconscious. She had got him.
She landed on her feet and easily hopped next to his prone body, laying beautiful and devoid of thought in the dry gray sand. Quickly then, she placed restraints over his hands, in front of him, and buckled the binders, slipping a strand of wire around his waist and between his legs, then rejoining it to the binder on the other side. Touching a button, his hands were surrounded with a semi metallic liquid that inflated then hardened instantly in the air. He was bound but he could still walk. She reset her one pistol, shot him to wakefulness, groggily, and replaced the gun back to its magnetic keeper.
"Stand up, Darrin. I meant what I said. I can't help you if you don't come with me." She pulled her pistol, immediately resetting it to stun and stuck it in his side.
"I remember you, now, Ophir. Strange to meet like this, isn't it? So you're my friend, huh?" he asked suspiciously.
"It could have been much easier. Why didn't you come out when I asked you to?"
"Because you're lying."
She got a disgusted look on her face, secretly disappointed that he'd guessed right, or, at least thought he was. She knew this wasn't the time for debate and told him, "Move," pushing him towards the way where the boulder field lessened.
"C-command, this is special agent Pam-325," a made up I.D., "requesting a two man transport to rendezvous with the hill top east of you on these coordinates, as soon as possible." She was lying again to prevent herself as being the one who was acting independent of command. "High priority prisoner transfer, authorization, SK791Alpha 1791. Confirm, over."
"It should arrive by remote in three minutes or less, PAM-325, over."
"PAM-325 out." The call letters were for Prisoner Arrest Military. The often had priority.
A small craft, just big enough to carry two androids hovered just above the ground, presently, and Ophir motioned her prisoner into its clear bubble, though clearly he did not want to get in. "I can always stun you again," she warned. He had to bend his knees to the extreme to curl himself into its tiny bubble and then the padded saddle, he was so big. She bound his restraints to the frame of the craft with another connect and shut the hatch, then got in on the other side. Her saddle was no larger but she was used to cramped spaces for transport.
She depressed the one, two, three, buttons and waited for manual control. The bar came up green in less than three seconds and looking at the smallish screen for a straight up ascension trajectory, Ophir let the ship rise slowly and then accelerated fast, when the path was clear, exiting the planet's grasp.