“The Last Recourse” – A Flash Fiction

Arthur had never known true fear before. Courage came naturally to him in ways his comrades found inhuman. It was why he hadn’t feared taking on this mission. It was why he hadn’t feared his possible death. So long as the ones who mattered most were safe, he could be anything.

But the sight of Vanessa Caldwell standing over him, her eyes burning into his helpless form with a determination he knew too well, taught him the true meaning of fear.

“You can’t do this!” Arthur screamed, straining desperately at his bonds.

Vanessa’s eyes shone as she looked down at him, her fingers gently rotating a small, square activation key. The key that would mark the end, and now, his greatest failure. “Yes, Arthur. I can.”

“NO!!!” he howled, arms struggling uselessly against the steel locking them in place. But the weld lines held firm, the wall clutching him as if determined to make him a part of this wretched ship. “This is insanity! You use that key, and it’s all over.” His voice hitched as he stared up at the dark-haired woman, desperate appeal in his orange eyes. “For both of us. Just let me go.”

“I am letting you go,” she said softly. Her voice was music, a harmonic contrast to the doom she carried. “This is the only way to do it. It’s not the end for you.” Vanessa plugged the key into his chest, one hand caressing the cold steel of his cheek. She smiled, and a tear rolled down her cheek as she kissed him one last time. “Just for me.”

R4 screamed, but his despair couldn’t stop the key from turning, or the circuits that flared to life throughout his body. In a moment, lightning blazed from his systems. Power engulfed the room, piercing the mothership to its core in seconds, ripping it asunder – the last alien threat, ended in the span of a woman’s final heartbeat.

Just as they planned, when he was made to be the enemy’s destruction.

Just as they planned, until he was captured and prevented from activating the bomb built within his chassis.

Just as they planned… but R4 hadn’t planned for this cost.

When the lights in the sky had faded, all that remained above a war-torn Earth was a mass of mangled debris and bodies. And one floating android, orange eyes flickering. Clutching the small, burned form of Earth’s liberator to his metal chest.

“For both of us,” Arthur whispered, stroking the remains of his beloved’s raven hair. “Because I can’t live without you.”

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