Friday, June 13, 3124.
"Myria, I look like a flower store threw up on me." She whined, pulling at a rose on her cream dress, which she loathed with a deep passion.
"No se metan con él!" ordered the tall Latina, fluffing out the dress once more on the tiny girl standing before her. Arms crossed and a scowl set on her face, a face many complained was much too pale to be normal for a Mexican. Not that anyone would ever dare say that to her face. "One last touch, Tanabeth," grinned Myria, pushing a rose into the soft dark curls of the no-longer-a-child before her.
"Why," inquired Tanabeth, "do jou have to make such a big fuss over this? Es sólo mi cumpleaños," she huffed, staring at herself in the mirror with hatred. Tanabeth Angelina Zorro-Lopez in a fluffy dress with a rose in her hair was not a sight you would normally see, and not one she ever wanted to see again.
"Tanabeth, niña tonta, this is jour quinceanera! Jou are una mujer, a woman now!" Myria stepped back and admired her work. After a long hour of fighting, whining, and begging, she had finally gotten her little sister into her old quinceanera dress. It took another hour to tailor it to be two sizes smaller. "Jou look much better, jou little muchachota, always scrapping in the streets."
"Sí, but I'd much rather fight than look like a wedding cake topper." She muttered, absentmindedly pulling at a curl that just passed her shoulders.
"Don't touch!" Myria cried, swatting away Tanabeth's hand. Through the thin floor, a shrill voice cried,
"Myria, Tanabeth,es el momento!"
"Sí, mamá!" the called back in unison. A loud crash thundered in the distance, capturing both girls' attention. If only they had known then…
"Hmm, let's hope it does not rain," mutted Myria. "Oh! One last thing," she dove down under her bed, returning with a long red sash. She quickly wrapped tightly it around the niña's waist, tying it in the back into a bow. "Vamos."
Tanabeth sighed and complied, reluctantly, as the two made their way out the door and down the stairs. "Te odio por esto, jou know."
And those were the last words Myria ever heard.
A shrill scream cut through the air, followed by a small explosion that shook the entire house. Horror flittered over both girls faces' as they sped down the remainder of the stairs. There, lying dead on the floor was their mother, a camera still in her hands, horror etched forevermore on her face. Standing in the doorway was a cold, heartless, emotionless replication of life.
It raised its metal arm, a zapper where a hand should have been. Tanabeth, being the tiny shrimp she was, ducked and ran through its legs. Myria, at a height of 5' 7", 5' 9" with her heels on, was not as lucky. "NO!" screamed Tanabeth, watching as that hijo de puta…
Tears threatened to fall from her eyes, but she wouldn't let them. She turned and ran, picking up a rake as she did. Autobots, everywhere. Screams rang through the air as she watched friends and family, foes and strangers die all around her. Loved ones, gone; ripped right out of her heart. Coughing in the dust and mayhem, she broke off the head of the rake, leaving her holding a long wooden pole.
She turning, facing that damned autobot that had killed her family, her everything. Rage filled her veins; something sparked behind her eyes. Letting out a battle cry filled with passion and fire, she charged, sprinting at the autobot. Using the pole as a lever, she jumped, kicking the robot in its cold, metal face.
She dropped to the ground in a huff, blowing her hair out of her eyes as she watched its head spin. Growling, she raised the pole, and prepared for hell.
He was too late. It was three minutes since he had touched down on Earth and already, his entire team, and everyone else in the village, probably, was dead. He was alone, left with at least fifteen autobots. He pushed himself off the ground so he was on his hands and knees, glancing through the dust and smoke. Houses burning, corpses scattered without care in the streets, and no signs of life anywhere.
A high scream pierced the air, pulling his attention to somewhere to his left. Scrambling to his feet, he set his zapper to 'pew' before stealthily running after that horrible sound, a sound he had heard too many times before. Images of his family filled his head, but he pushed them away. He couldn't lose focus. There was someone left, someone alive. He intended on keeping them that way.
He heard it again, a high piercing noise that pulled at a heartstring. But it was different, slightly. It was filled with passion, not terror. Determination, not hopelessness. There, off the left, was a small girl in a torn dress, sitting on top of an autobot where shoulders would be. He blinked and squinted. She wasn't just sitting, he noted, she was pulling at its head. He watched in awe as she pulled it clean off, and stabbed it with a wooden pole.
Like hotdog, not hamburger.
It shook violently as she scrambled, trying to get off of it before it fell, but failing. He stood, frozen in place, watching as if in slow-motion, as she fell with the robot. It crashed to the ground, jerking him back to reality. He ran, searching in the dust for the girl, that brave little son of a bitch. He found her a few feet away from the rubble of the autobot, coughing and clutching her side gingerly. He bent down and brushed her hair out of her face. She turned to him, her chocolate eyes wide, her mouth slightly open.
He tried to put on a dead goddamned brave face, but how brave could he be at a time like this? "Are you alright?" he asked in his southern drawl. She nodded once before turning away from him, tugging off a red sash that was squeezing her waist, grabbed the wooden pole and using it to push herself up. He rose with her, only to find her walking off to a group of four autobots. "Where do you think you're going?" he called, taking three long strides to reach her. She spun around, reached up and pressed a small warm hand to his mouth.
"Shh!" she hushed desperately, feeling his stubble tickling her skin. Her eyes were in a rage as they met his confused crystal blue ones. "I'm going to go finish off those hijos de puta!" she smirked before silently running off, running to her possibly death.
"Not alone you're not." He muttered, pulling out his zapper and running after her.
Suddenly, he was in the air, in the claw of an autobot, his zapper pressed up against his back and he struggled to take a breath. He never thought he would die like this, chasing after a little Mexican girl. WHAM! He fell to the ground, reaching for his zapper. Standing in front of him was that little girl, wooden staff raised, breathing heavily, bleeding. "Watch jou're back, ese." She warned, before turning on her bare foot and ran into the abyss.
"Where are you?" he called, squinting through the smoke, searching for the little stranger he felt compelled to save. He heard it again, that fierce battle cry. There was a flash of cream running before him, three loud crunches of wood hitting metal before another autobot fell with a crash. He looked down. Once again, she was standing in front of him.
"Jou want to help, idiota?" she gave him a push backwards with her dainty hands before running off at another group of robots. Mentally shaking himself, he grasped his zapper and headed off in the other direction towards a group of autobots.
PEW PEW PEW PEW PEW PEW
Six more down. Rage flowed his veins as he thought of the sons of bitches that had killed his family four years ago. He could never be rid of the image of his mother lying in the street, dead, as a Starship Ranger had taken pity on him and was leading him towards a drop pod. He remembered passing his father, dead, about ten feet away from his mother.
'Wait,' he had said, pulling away from the Ranger. He took his father's bloody arm and dragged him carefully next to his mother, blinking away tears. 'There. At least they're together'. He looked up at the Ranger, who smiled sadly, wrapping an arm around him.
'It's ok,' the Ranger had told him, giving him a squeeze, 'everything will be ok.'
"Take this,hijo de- AHHH!" a bloodcurdling scream echoed through the air. He whipped his head around, desperate to find the noise and stop it, and started running.
It was nothing he had ever seen before. There she was… that girl, that strange, badass little girl, tied up with the rope of a tire swing and hanging from a tree, spinning and weaponless, her wooden staff in one out of the three autobot's hand. He ran faster, breathing heavily as it raised the staff and…
She let out another scream, trying to fight them off, but only to have the air knocked out of her. He raised his zapper, but he didn't shoot. He didn't have a clear enough shot; he didn't want to shoot her. It raised the staff… She let out a small "oh!" before becoming limp.
"HEY! METAL BITCH!" he called. All three turned around as he raised his zapper.
PEW PEW PEW!
CRASH CRASH CRASH
Smirking at his success, he turned his attention towards the petite girl hanging limply from a tree. Being sure to stomp on the autobots, hard, he made his way over to her. He reached up, took her small shoulder in his calloused hand and gave her a shake. "Hey, c'mon. Get back up, c'mon." he muttered, desperately trying to wake her up.
He didn't know what it was about her, but there was no way in hell he was leaving her here if there was a chance she was alive. He searched her face for any sign of life, tracing a scar on her cheek, first with his eyes, then his thumb.
Slowly and painfully, her eyes flittered open. Brown met blue, fire met ice, and for a moment, two worlds collided and made one. He looked away, abashed. He turned his back on her, raised his zapped and 'pewed' the remaining robots. As they crashed to the ground he reached into his pocket, pulling out a switchblade. "Um, you have to cut yourself down." He reached up and pressed the knife into her hand. She gave him a reproachful look, an eyebrow cocked as she bit her lip. He smirked. "I'm gonna catch you." He held out his arms as if to prove himself.
With a noise somewhere between a scoff and a laugh, she slipped the blade under her stomach, and cut the rope. She tumbled into his outstretched arms, wrapping one arm around his neck, the other on his shoulder. For a moment far too brief, he studied her face. She was oddly pale for a Mexican and was framed by large, dark brown curls. She had cuts, bruises and dirt all over her face. She had big, brown, almond eyes.
Blue. His eyes were blue. Tanabeth, having grown up in such a small Mexican village, had never seen blue eyes before. They were… enchanting, to say the least. His hair was a messy light brown, ever so slightly flecked with grey. Scars were scattered lightly over his face and behind the stubble that covered his chin. He was bleeding profusely from a large cut on his cheek. Slowly, trance-like, she reached up a small hand and cupped his face, her thumb gently wiping away some of the blood. His eyes widened slightly; she pulled away, heat rising to her face. Dios mío, ¿qué hay de malo en mí? she thought.
"Jou- jou were bleeding." She muttered.
"Bleeding, right, yeah." He mumbled, shaking himself mentally and placing her down softly. He rubbed the back of his neck with his hand. "C'mon." he started walking off in the direction of a hill on the outskirts of the village, if you could even call it that anymore. She quickly caught up to him, limping and trying to match his strides.
"What's with the getup?" he asked in a southern drawl. She scoffed, as though he asked why god was dead.
"Es mi quinceañera," she explained, stepping over a fallen robot, not caring if her dress ripped.
"Mi quinceañera. It's my fifteenth birthday, a celebration of becoming a woman. It's estupido, really." She clarified, look up to face him, only to find hind squatting down at the autobot that lay right in front of her house. They same one who had- no, she couldn't think of that now. He stood up, holding the red sash that she had pulled off earlier.
"What?" she stepped over to see what he was pointing at; a tag stitched into the fabric. She snatched the sash out of his hands.
T.A.Z López, mi hermana. Te amo, tener un feliz cumpleaños, hermosa.
She felt tears falling on her face. No, she couldn't be weak, not here, not with this stranger. He didn't even know her name, not that she knew his. "Sí, Taz. That's my name… What's jours?"
"Up." She looked towards the sky, expecting to see more robots. He chuckled. "Lieutenant Up, of the Starship Rangers; it's my name."
"Never heard that one before." She smirked, rubbing tears from her eyes. He smiled at her, wrapping an arm around her shoulder and giving it a squeeze.
"C'mon." They head out towards the hill; she limped slightly, wincing every now and then. "You gonna make it?" She glared at his and he felt his breath catch in his throat. Why, he didn't know. Her eyes were unreadable, but filled with something that almost seemed to burn him.
"I'm fine. I'm tough," she snarled; he chuckled.
"I'll say. You took down six or seven autobots with a stick," she grinned at this. But a mere few minutes later, 'Taz' was biting her lip to keep from crying out in pain, limping up the hill. Unfortunately for her, or possibly fortunately, he noticed. He was vaguely reminded of himself, and the Starship Ranger that had brought him to the academy.
Suddenly, she was in his arms again. "¿Qué carajo? What are jou doing?" she protested, weakly trying to get out of his arms, though her (most likely) broken rib was making it a bit painful to move.
"Stop," he ordered calmly, marching up the hill, "you're hurt yourself more." She sighed, giving up. It hurt too much to try.
Approaching the drop pod, he looked down at the little girl in his arms. Her dainty arms still around his next, big eyes closed and her face nuzzled against his chest. That same girl who was so badass enough to go kick robot ass in a party dress. He knew from that moment that his life was going to change for the better.