In a world where machines rule,

and living beings are the ruled,

a cyborg will always be an outcast.

- Unknown

He'd always been here, ever since his mistreated brain could remember.

He didn't know when or why he'd entered the world.

A world of pain and daily struggle for survival.

A world where the machines hunted the living and polluted the air.

His world.

He was a monster in every sense of the word. Years before his time there were others like him, living in partnership with a prospering humanity, fighting friendly battles, travel through a clean world without dangers. Today, both humans and his kindren were at the brink of extinction and retreated to hidden underground facilities to escape both the machines and their fumes. Nobody knew where or when the machines had appeared the first time. It's said some mad villain of old had started building them to take over the world. Who knew.

Back in the old days there'd been places of quick healing and recovery. Items that would even heal paralysis, burns, frostbite. Today, there was nobody left to heal the sick and injured or build these red and blue balls the humans of ancient used to keep his kindren safe from harm. The weak were left behind as soon as they couldn't keep up anymore. It was enough trouble to find food and resources, he guessed. Figured.

The monster looked down its body. What was left of it. In their struggle to fight back the machines, his creators not only cloned a long extinct creature, but implemented countless life-supporting, cybernetic things in his body until he was more machine than lifeform. He remembered the name they'd given him, but it didn't matter. Just the species name with a number behind it. Like the prototype of some experiment, one of many. They'd put hope on him. It didn't save them. When the machines came, the laboratory burned to the ground, the scientists and any devices that might've served his survival, with it. He'd barely survived this first strike when their EMP burned through the one device that'd produced power for his body, leaving him with depleting energy cells.

Today, he scavenged half-full batteries from broken down machines to restore them, every day. Like a stray dog looking for food. He knew inside their factory, he'd find chargers that could renew his own cells easily, but this factory was heavily guarded. Impossible to get in there, for a single monster anyway. Now there was nothing left than to roam the wastelands, hoping he wouldn't find the day where no dead machine crossed his path and life-support would break down, letting the last remains of his body die in the toxic air.

A few weeks ago, he'd found he possessed special abilities.

Back then, a machine had found his hideout. Ready to call for its companions, it had closed in on him, its clicking and surring motors menacingly growling at him, the visual sensors glowing an omnious red light as the thing approached. He had striked out at it, in a fit of panic and rage, unleashing a wave of blue light at the machine, which promptly exploded, destroying his hideout in the process. He couldn't know it was what the scientists of old called "Psyche"-attack or that he was one of the most powerful psycho-type monsters ever to exist. All he knew was that it saved his hide that day. It'd never worked again though, no matter how much he tried.

Trainers, as the ancients had called humans with monster partners, would've taught them new skills and unleash their full potential, according to their knowledge. Even if his creators had survived, scientists were no trainers. They couldn't have helped him grasp this strange power to turn it against his enemies. And as time passed by, he started to believe no one but himself could.

Today though, he didn't feel like training. Not even like going outside his cozy cave. Acid rain fell in streams since he woke this morning. Yesterday there'd been one of these lucky coincidences and he'd found a whole group of machines, incapable of moving or resisting, when he removed their lifeforces. Who knew what'd been wrong with these. They hadn't looked damaged at all, yet all they'd do was flinching and desperately trying to stand on broken limbs as the batteries were ripped from the corresponding sockets, leaving their dead shells motionless.

So he wasn't forced to leave. He could sit here all day, recharge his energy cells and hope for better weather before he ran out of stock. If it wasn't for that one sound cutting through the contaminated air. A cry, almost desperate and too near for comfort. The monster stood – joints snapping loudly into place - and stepped outside, following the wailing sound. The forests had long since died. So when he entered the woods, no leaves were here to keep the rain off. He knew he soon had to seek shelter, but that crying was so close now he couldn't just stop. When he finally did, he found a bundle on the ground. Too naked for a monkey, too well shaped for kindren. Soft steps brought him closer to the creature which had promptly stopped and just stared at him. It was alive alright. Drenched in poisonous liquid but vivid enough to stretch its tiny arms toward a total stranger, giggling when his paws took it up.

Was this a human? It was different from the humans he knew though. The humans he knew wore bright, white coats and lived in packs. Maybe other humans wore different clothes but they were pack animals nonetheless. So where was this one's pack? Maybe it was a trap and they were somewhere closeby, waiting for him to lower his guard? He looked around and snorted. No way humans would survive out here nor wait for prey in rain that could eat away even his armor. He decided to take the little creature with him. Wether it lived or died wouldn't depend on its resistance against acid anymore. Also, it gave him the strangest feeling ever since the laboratory burned down; a sense of companionship.

Back in his cave he found a dry spot where he unceremoniously dropped the bundly, which promptly resumed crying due to the rough handling. The monster stood beside it, then bowed down and gently touched the creature's belly. It was amazed and stared at him, again, and while it did, the monster felt overwhelmed by a sense of hunger like he had never known it. So powerful was the sensation, like an electric charge cursing through him, he stepped back in shock, hit the wall and sank to the ground, staring at the bundle which had resumed its tirade of hunger. How the monster wished he knew human speech so he could tell the creature to look for food if it was hungry! Even if he could muster a few human words, he knew there'd be no way to speak them. He was mute, probably thanks to the experiments. Even when in pain, his cries would be silent. It was as if the scientists had ripped out his voice – which, given their cruelty, they probably had. All but a whistle would leave his throat and he knew humans didn't communicate this way. They used their voice to form sentences, words, laugh. The creature wouldn't be understood and all he'd achieve would be hurting his throat. Besides – would this little thing even know what to look for? Or where?

If he didn't plan on letting it die, he would have to look for nutrition. To find such, he'd have to seek out it's kindren, whereever they were. He had to find the closest underground hideout of theirs and maybe let them take care of the bundle. But not in this rain – the naked creature wouldn't survive long enough. The monster settled down beside it, thinking. He couldn't leave it here either, in the cold. Almost instinctively his tail curled around the shivering humancub. Good thing they hadn't cut off that part as well, otherwise cold metal would greet the creature instead of velvety comfort. As he laid down to rest and was halfway sleeping already, he thought he saw the blue light again, surrounding them both in a protective sphere..

In the evening, the rain had died down. The clouds were glowing in their most vibrant green as the sun set, as if greeting the cleaner air, even if the higher spheres would always be polluted, for now every lifeform with lungs could breathe more freely again. As the monster stirred, he immediately noticed something missing. Where was the small human? It couldn't have gone far, right? After all, it didn't exactly walk on its own legs.

As he pondered on this, something else alerted his senses; a strange presence nearby.

He looked up; in one corner of his cave sat another human – more typical and a female – holding his companion! Immediately he stood, stomping towards the female, teeth bared in a voiceless snarl. But the human wasn't the least bit impressed, just lifted one hand holding something long that only could be a weapon and mumbled something in a threatening tone. The monster stopped, not really intimidated rather than calm and collected, turned swiftly and used his tail to knock the object right out of the hand that held it. The human seemed startled by that, screamed and held the smaller human closer to her, terror evident on her face. More voices called from outside the cave and the monster decided it was wiser to desert the place. As he was about to run, a pawful male creatures already blocked the entrance. The monster stepped back, unsure on what to do. The males seemed angry and scared at the same time, closing in on him, filling the space between the female, the small human and him, holding all kinds of sharp looking objects. He couldn't possibly fend of all of these.. In expectance of incoming pain he closed his eyes-

- nothing happened. Carefully he peered through one eye to see the humans had gone. Not a trace of their presence left, as if they'd never been here in the first place. The monster sank to its knees, panting. His small human was gone. They'd taken it. Not that he hadn't planned to give it up to them in the first place, but the manner how it happened didn't sit right with him. By instinct he knew they'd be back to take the prey they'd left. He had to go, now. So he turned to pick up the few belongings he owned; Just to find they were gone as well. They'd taken it all; the beautiful, shiny rock (that, in fact and unbeknownst to him, was a diamond) he'd found in a dried out riverbed long ago, a few dirty, goldcolored round plates with pictures of ugly male humans and numbers on them and most important of all; his loot. The energy cells of the fallen machines were gone. Now the monster didn't panic easily. He didn't even then, since he knew his cells were still good and charged and would hold up for at least another day. It also was less panic than blind rage that started to fill his being. How dare they take what was rightfully his!

As he stepped out of his cave, he immediately found their traces and a silent grin spread across his features. The hunted would become the hunter. They'd rue the day they messed with him. He fell into an effortless trot as he followed the clearly visible tracks.

The environment changed as the monster tracked the human pack. Barren wastelands and dry forests were replaced by ruined buildings, broken streets and things he didn't recognise, fenced trees that had long since died, skeletons of humans and unknown, four-legged creatures. This must've been a florishing society once, the monster mused, not even that long ago. Now the area reeked of spilled blood and death, machine oil and burned concrete. He felt he really shouldn't be here and fastened his steps until the tracks finally gave out. He'd lost them on a patch that was too hard and too clean to leave prints so he started looking around for other clues. A lost patch of clothing maybe, a whiff of leftover scent, but nothing could be found.

He was half about to go back – still unsure wether he should return to his cave or start looking for a less known hideout – when a sound caught his attention. A cry. He knew this voice. Before he knew it he'd started running and stopped in front of a pretty rundown, secluded building, standing in the midst of a fenced yard which might've looked beautiful once, with grass and fruit trees and flowers everywhere. Now there was all but a single tree standing, stubbornly fighting the diseased air with a couple of crippled branches and brown leaves. The monster proceeded into the yard, always carefully watching if there was anyone who might spot his approaching form. Thankfully he reached the house undetected and put a paw on the half-open door, gently pushing it in.

A loud noise, smoke, blinding pain in his abdomen, burned flesh and the hard ground crashing into him was what he came to realise seconds after he'd fallen. He knew it probably wasn't a fatal hit, as the artificial organs could take quite some damage – he knew that from previous experiences and encounters with mankind – but the pain was there. Whatever hit him had effectively shocked his whole system, reminding him just how fragile his life could be at times. One malfunction of the dreaded technology these damn scientists implemented might just kill him.

As he tried standing – more or less successfully - he more felt than heard steps approaching, probably the one who shot him. Looking up the monster recognised a man of advanced age, his face covered over and over with black beard, gaunt, his eyes hardened by who knew what kinds of hardships. Most evident was the hatred that stared right back into the monster's eyes.

"What are you doing here, beast?! Get out before I lose my temper!", the man bellowed, once again pointing his gun at the monster who had barely made it to his knees and didn't understand a word the man said, just returned a toneless growl between bared teeth. This seemed to anger the man even more and he stepped closer, poking the gun right against his enemy's head.

"I'll fry you and feed my children with your meat, you monster!", the man growled as his finger grew tense on the trigger. The monster still couldn't move and desperately wished to be somewhere else. When the gun sent another wave of deadly magnetism, the target was already gone in a blue flash.

It was dark when he came to. Dark and cold. The pain running through his nerves indicated he wasn't dead though. But where was this place? Rock-hard ground beneath his prone form, the smell of home all around. Gathering his will the monster slowly stood, caught himself on the next wall and took a look around. It was his cave alright, but how had he gotten here? This man certainly hadn't carried him home, he'd rather seen him dead.

Then how..?

His head suddenly declared protest against his tries to unravel this mystery. With a vengeful pounding it sent the monster right back to the ground, where he rolled together, waiting for the wave to pass. As he did, he felt something new. Loneliness. This utter void that could only be filled by companions. Ever since he'd lost the small human it was all that had driven him. It had forced him to follow the human pack, even if it was plain suicide, had made him neglect his search for a new battery and even now this feeling made him miserable. He missed his companion, even if the small one was completely helpless and as speechless as he.

Then again, he wouldn't dare go back again. Who knew how many hits he could take until his lights went out for good. He wouldn't always be this lucky and just disappear when it got dangerous. Wait.. was that what had happened? The monster sat up when realisation hit him. If he could master this power, maybe he'd be able to regain his belongings and – maybe – that one? Maybe he'd even be able to finally get past the factory guards and never fear for his energy cells dropping off again? Worth a try anyway. But how had he done it? Last time was a life-threatening situation and he'd barely had time to think. Was that it? Would he need that man's help to unleash his power? More important; was it worth the risk? Next time that man saw him, that gun of his might prove fatal. Then again, if he didn't find replacement for what he'd lost, he'd die a worse death. This would happen sooner or later anyway, so maybe this was the perfect opportunity to grow..

Again he stood – his legs barely supporting his body's weight – and slowly made for the cave entrance, every step slow and painful, when a shade in the deep night in front of his home made him stop in his tracks.

"You must be hungry, right? That is why you attacked us, right?", said a voice and the monster recognised it as the female who'd taken the small human. She didn't run away, nor come closer. Her fear filled the air around her slim form. She held something, which was neither weapon nor the small human. Almost smelled like food. Old, probably half decayed food, but food nonetheless. She couldn't know he didn't need this kind of nutrition – otherwise he'd have starved long ago – but the gesture was well-meant. That female wasn't threatening him in any way, so the monster stayed where he was, just staring at the human, who was seemingly unwell.

"This is all we have.. please don't try to kill me, okay?", the female said and put something down a bit closer to the entrance, then stepped back. "I w-will feed you every night, so don't follow me, okay?" As she stumbled over her own words, she retreated further, then ran off. The monster looked after her, one question replaying over and over in his mind.

How had this human known he'd be here?