Chapter 8 A Match
It was so hard. He would have moaned, if he could. It wouldn't fit. Why did it have to be so big?
The PED was almost out from under the roof, into the cleared path Dustin had made only a short while ago. He was holding up the roof over the kid, Jake, who had awoken during his attempt at getting the PED out. Thankfully he couldn't hear the kid's screams of terror. The way he was propping the roof up, kept the kid from trying to dig out, and every time the kid touched him, he would draw back in fear and scream some more.
Dustin honestly felt sorry for the kid, but there was nothing he could do at the moment, other than inch the roof up higher, and try to shove the PED through the gap.
As it finally slid in, he wanted to let out a sigh of relief. Dustin pushed it all the way to Olivia, then focused on getting the kid a path to freedom. Every time he touched him, Dustin tasted the kid, and he was getting more and more hungry as time went on. When a path was finally cleared, he expected the kid to scurry down it like mad, but instead, he curled into a ball and wept.
"Damn! There's no light for the kid to know I've made him an escape path!" cursed Dustin. He was going to eat the kid if he didn't get out of that damn hole.
Moving slowly, to give the kid a chance to escape, he started to move closer and closer to him. Jake freaked, and scurried away from the slime, just as Dustin wanted. Using himself as the motivator, he was able to direct him down the path, and to Olivia. Once everyone was in the same space, he released the roof that he had been holding up, with relief. He could feel the vibrations as things settled, but no sound. This intrigued him.
The entire structure was still settling, bits here and there, even now, an hour or so after the collapse. Dustin wondered if there was a reason the buildings had collapsed, or if they were helped along. He knew that it was precarious anyway, with the river running through some of the buildings, but they had remained standing for so long, surely it would take more than that to cause it to collapse?
He really wanted to just change back to his previous form, but something was nagging at him, to check out the area before he did. Leaving Olivia and Jake in the cavity, he moved through the last of the debris to look outside.
Standing almost on top of where they were, was a group of robots. Their four arms were flexing and fluctuating between different tools and shapes. He counted nine robots in all. With Olivia unconscious and Jake just a kid, he knew there was no chance of escaping that many of them. He would have to deal with them first.
Flowing towards them, he spread out as fast as he could, wrapping around their feet. The moment he came in contact with them, there was a shock.
-"Dustin? I need you to come here, please. It's your turn for testing," came a female voice out of the void.
-He was being lifted up, out of a crib, and a woman's neutral face came into view. She was pretty with red curly hair, and a smattering of freckles across her cheeks.
-The table was a metal doctors table, and it was cold. He started to cry.
-"Hush little baby, this will only last for a moment." Her voice was warmer this time, with a hint of sympathy.
-"He's a match. The device works for him." This was a male voice, colder, more clinical.
-"I'll take him to the isolation ward," she said immediately.
-"Make sure he's marked. His genes are superb. This ancient tech will need extensive study."
-He was carried down a hall, and his arm felt heavier. Turning his head, he saw a tiny box wrapped against his arm. It flashed lights in various colors.
-"Sorry, little guy. I had hoped you wouldn't react to the tech. Looks like this is goodbye." Her normally neutral face was etched with a hint of sadness as she placed him in a different crib, then left.
Dustin was aware of pain. He was being eaten, or absorbed. The robots' nanobots were working overtime, trying to break his slime down and assimilate it. As soon as he was aware again, he immediately turned his own acidic properties to the max, and played a highly entertaining game of catch the robot, as they scrambled to avoid him. Unfortunately for them, he refused to let go after catching them, and they had all been involved in attempting to break him down.
After stripping them of their arms and legs, he paused to consider his options. Something had drawn them here. Why were they trying to kill him so bad? And why did he have one of those visions again? He wasn't anywhere near the Josagn or the crystal man to have this happening again. If he was a clone, why was he dreaming of being a baby? It made no sense to him.
Maybe if he found the military base, he could find some answers? He dragged the heads and torsos back to where Olivia was, and reaching inside, pulled the last of the debris off of them. Olivia blinked and covered her face as the sun reached her eyes. Jake trembled next to her, too afraid to move.
Dustin reached a tendril down to the PED.
'Initiate evolution to change me back to my previous form.'
Dustin let go of the robots, as his slime body convened over Olivia, near where the PED had been. Jake watched, with tear stains on his face as Dustin reformed above them.
Dustin glanced down at himself in concern, but as far as he could tell, he was back to normal. Jake launched himself at him, almost knocking the two of them back down.
"I thought you were gonna eat me!" he hiccupped.
He thought about telling the kid, he had been tempted, but refrained as Olivia moaned again.
"I have a splitting headache," she complained, sitting up slowly.
"You probably have a concussion." Dustin turned to look at the robots. They were trying to form legs or something, in order to crawl away, but he had reduced them to next to nothing. They had no extra nanobots to do that, without sacrificing their central processes.
Jake let go of him, and looked around in a bit of a daze at the destruction. The entire city, that had been built in the crevasse of some great chasm, had collapsed. It looked like a chain reaction, once one building collapsed, all the rest followed.
Kneeling down, Dustin was determined to figure out as much as he could, as he reached for the first robot.
'PED did you store the genetic information from my form as a slime?'
(YES, IT WAS UNLIKE ANYTHING I HAD STORED IN MY DATABASE)