Tyrannosaurus Mechs

Gregory L. Norris

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T he giant’s roar carried over the time-eroded landscape, confirming Drumm was close to Tyrannosaurus Mechs territory. She withdrew the cloak’s toggle. Not yet. Soon.

The palms ahead thinned beneath an overcast sky whose clouds were edged in rust. In the clearing stood relics from an earlier time—the remains of a small windmill, a statue of a beached whale with a rudimentary human face and cartoon smile, and a generic predator dinosaur on two legs, its cement hide painted a long-faded orange. It, too, flashed a kind of human smile that showed no teeth. The predators living beyond that line of palms were considerably toothier.

The temptation to scan possessed her. The area had already been metal-mined, judging by the remains of tires and plastic refuse left in piles. But the T-mechs might pick up on her location sweep. Better to find the creatures through safer methods, especially if, as she hoped, they were breeding. The irony of such a wish! The flimsy cowled cloak rigged with light-refracting projectors wasn’t much of a defense and wouldn’t hold power for long.

Drumm snuck past the whale and then the dinosaur, whose cartoon eyes tracked her into T-mechs territory like a sentry on the lookout for intruders.

Orbit-sml ><

J agged piles of rubble littered another clearing—proof of a nesting cow. The remains of houses and other structures had been mined of all metals, the raw building blocks for new generations of self-perpetuating artificial life forms like T-mechs. Drumm risked a smile and studied the area through slitted eyes. Palm fronds stirred in the late afternoon breeze. Nothing else moved and she understood why—she now stood at the outskirts of a mother T-mech’s killing zone. Nothing was permitted anywhere close to the nest. Even the bull that had sired the clutch and courted the female with offerings of scrap metal was wise to keep its distance.

Drumm skirted the closest of the ruins. The configuration wasn’t right. The rubble was stacked too high, too helter-skelter. Again, the desire to scan the area tempted her, but the risk outweighed the benefit. What was the point of coming all this way to attain what Ilsa desperately needed only to be discovered before reaching her target? Or worse, being gutted open and devoured by a female T-mech in the throes of mother-madness?

The air grew heavier with a metallic tang, a smell of factories and T-mech nests. Drumm tensed. That fecund note told her she was close. She rounded an obelisk of fractured concrete and froze. The nest was two-dozen meters ahead in a hollowed-out depression that had once been an in-ground swimming pool surrounded by chunks of torn-up asphalt.

Her gaze homed in on the center of the nest, but the angle prevented Drumm from seeing the prize. She’d need to get closer. But even as the thought crossed her mind, the ground trembled, and the T-mech lumbered out of the palms.

Drumm fell back against the obelisk. Her brief glimpse of the giant left an impression of a horror more reptilian in design than machine. The cow showed little of the gears and clunk of earlier models. It strode on legs that flexed synthetic muscles more than hydraulics, its skin a plated lead-gray. Any illusion to biology broke, however, when a moment after its appearance the cow’s eyes lit up red and it scanned the area surrounding its nest for intruders.

Drumm flattened against the obelisk. The beam swept past.

Beyond the jut of concrete, the T-mech plodded toward its nest. She tracked its sounds, chanced a look and peered around the rubble. The T-mech was bent over the nest. Hope filled Drumm. She could tell by the cow’s movements that a clutch of eggs had been laid in the depression.

She thought of Ilsa and waited.

Orbit-sml ><

T he mother T-mech shrieked its deafening metallic roar at the overcast sky before moving away from the clutch again. Steeling herself, Drumm activated the cloak’s light-bending properties, crept out of cover, and hastened across the distance to the pool’s edge. To her great relief, she counted five eggs neatly clustered over a layer of chewed metal.

Drumm hurried down the pool’s cement stairs, crossed the shallow end, and, at the deep, gently lifted one of the eggs. It was lighter than she expected, which told her it was infertile. She set it down and reached for another. Considerably heavier, proof that it contained a T-mech embryo.

Working quickly, she force-pierced the textured metal shell. Once punctured, she was able to crack the egg fully open with reasonable speed. The thing inside was coiled into a fetal curl, a much smaller version of the killer giant that had birthed it. As Drumm cut into the embryo’s chest, seeking the treasure located between its metal ribs, it struck her how even less robotic this specimen appeared than its mother.

The embryo jolted and uncurled. It hadn’t formed fully, but still reacted in pain to her surgical explorations. Drumm located the pulser. It beat beneath her fingertips, proof of life. Guilt briefly stilled her from detaching the mechanical heart… then Ilsa’s face materialized in her memory, and Drumm pulled.

An instant before the pulser gave, the T-mech embryo let forth with a plaintive yowl. Then it stilled.

She pocketed the pulser, turned, and hurried back up the cement steps, convinced the embryo’s cry would haunt her going forward. But it had to be.

She was still well shy of the obelisk when the T-mech cow broke through the palms, mother-rage displayed in its red eyes. The T-mech charged toward its nest, saw what had been done, and fell silent,—worse than if the giant had roared out in fury.

The T-mech turned its head and activated scans.

Drumm’s cloak held as the beam washed over her, but with the pulser hammering in her pocket, seeking to remake severed connections, she froze. To move now would mean discovery, death.

The ground trembled at her back, and Drumm peeked behind her. The T-mech’s giant head leaned down, its insane smile showing plenty of metal teeth. The cloak was holding. But…

The pulser, Drumm thought. The cow sensed its cadence.

Apart from the embryo’s heartbeat, the world fell deathly still. Drumm waited, the anticipation almost worse than the danger. Right when she thought the silence would break her, sound exploded at her back.

The T-mech charged its head at the obelisk. Concrete shattered and flew. The cloak shorted out beneath the rain of particulates. Drumm darted away and the enraged cow pursued. In a moment of her own madness, Drumm risked a glance behind. The T-mech drew back, slashed with its metal limbs, and cleanly severed Drumm’s right arm at the shoulder.

Orbit-sml ><

O nly its madness had spared her. The blinding, red-hot rage drove the T-mech to focus on the grisly prize of her sacrificed arm and allowed Drumm to escape from the cow’s territory. She made it back to the hillside sanctuary despite her injuries and staggered into the nursery. Ilsa’s body was where she’d left it, swaddled on the table. Struggling to maintain focus, Drumm removed the pulser from her pocket with her remaining hand.

She opened the infant’s chest and removed the inoperative heart. The T-mech embryo’s pulser was larger, but even as Drumm worked it into place, the life-giving organ adapted, activated, made connections, and Ilsa’s torso began reconfiguring to accommodate and close around it.

Drumm assessed her injury, her shoulder a mess of severed wire and jagged metal. The repairs would be extensive. But they could wait.

Ilsa opened her eyes. “Mumma,” the child sang, reaching for her, and

Drumm swept up Ilsa in her remaining arm and rejoiced in her daughter’s embrace.


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Gregory L. Norris

Author image of Gregory L. Norris Raised on a healthy diet of creature double features and classic SF TV, Gregory L. Norris writes regularly for fiction anthologies, magazines, novels, and occasionally for TV and Film. He once worked as a screenwriter on two episodes of Paramount’s Star Trek: Voyager series, and his story Tyrannosaurus Mechs was a finalist in 2022’s Roswell Awards competition in short SF Writing.

© Gregory L. Norris 2022 All Rights Reserved

The title picture was created using Midjourney, the AI image generator.

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