Caleb’s attention was caught by muffled barking. He went to the house and peered through the window. There was movement. Fast and low. This was a dog, and it was something he still knew about, somehow. The knowledge was fading but it wasn’t important. The animal was not a target. He was in no position to state how he knew this. It was absolute knowledge, the only kind Epsilon Rex offered. There were no questions. No doubts. It was a blissful state. But it was also frustrating. Every inch towards his goal made him happy. Any lack of progress made him sad. He felt the loss like an addict feels the minutes without drugs.
There was a short screech, a human cry. It was a child. She moved. She’d been hiding behind something. When she saw him looking in the window, she panicked. He spotted her. The movement was sharp and bright. The shape was undoubtedly human. Without the aura of life, he knew the person was not like him. Ep Rex had kept over a tiny part of its host’s brain function to allow it to recognise human beings by their shape (upright, two arms, two legs) and the position of the components on their faces. It had also programmed him with an instinct that told him human beings were targets.
Caleb’s priorities rapidly flipped. He was compelled to infect this human. To add it to the Epsilon Rex life pool. That was the only thing in existence. The Cause could wait. That girl was a resource, a massively important one. She was potential.
There was a window between him and the girl. It was a barrier, but an insignificant one. He pounded it with his fist. Nothing happened. A groan of frustration escaped from his throat. He threw his head against the glass. It went through. He reached in and pulled glass from his path, then crawled through the opening. The girl was long gone but he knew what direction she had gone.
He followed her through a door and saw the dog halfway down a corridor. It was barking strenuously, a sound that impacted on Caleb like the sound of beating a cardboard box: hollow, repetitive, nondescript. He took a step into the corridor. The dog shed light as it ran at him. It ripped some clothing from his body. Then it was bit his leg and didn’t let go. Caleb was aware that the ripping, pulling action of its teeth was damaging his host body. This would prevent him from carrying out his function. Again, his single goal in life changed. The girl was forgotten in less than an instant. He was now charged with a duty to prevent the dog from destroying his host body. He grabbed it by the nearest part, which was the head, then he threw the weight of his body on top of it while he tore it apart with his hands and teeth.
It was not a clever plan, but it worked. His weight pinned the dog down and his fingers tightened like hydraulics on the animal’s face. He squeezed and wrenched and everything he was grasping crunched like chalk. He ripped at its throat with his teeth (guessing where its throat might be in relation to its head). It was easy to pull off parts of it. As long as it was moving, he kept biting, clawing and ripping.
His first kill was irrelevant, then. When he got to his feet again, he had forgotten where he was and why. Just like a senile old man. He put his hands out, looked and listened. He sensed the Cause, and some noises. He headed towards them.
He was outside when he saw another human. This one he knew immediately as one of his own. There was a soft glow, like sunset. It popped and flashed. It was pure, it was the banner of Life. He could feel it within himself. This one was him, and he was it. They were one, together. It was beautiful. Like a child with its twin, he felt complete. The other Wreck sensed his presence. It turned and saw him. They moved towards each other. Their auras merged and became a single glowing torch.
Caleb could not speak, and his body and face were no longer calibrated for language. But he felt communication happening automatically between himself and the twin he had found. They both asked and answered the questions at the same time. Do we sense any targets? No. Do we sense any more of us? No. So then, what is our goal? Move towards the Cause. Where is it? That way. Move now. Yes.
It happened in an instant, simply and effectively. They walked.