They've only been running another ten minutes before they hear what people have dubbed 'robo-speak'. It's some kind of language that not even the programmers understand, some kind of language that robots can understand.

"Oh, fuck me," Jarek mutters.

By Dash's mental calculations, they're about fifty feet away.

The robo-speak stops. They heard Jarek.

Dash starts running again, grabbing Jarek by the collar, but Jarek shakes his hand away.

"Go," he tells Dash.

"What do you mean?" Dash asks. He couldn't have heard Jarek right.

Fourty feet...

"G-O. Go. Run. I'll keep 'em off."


Thirty feet...

"They're too fast for both of us. It's not like I'm a huge criminal, but they'll still want me."

"They don't want you," Dash says.

Twenty feet...

"I'm on the blacklist. Just go."


Ten feet...

"Don't be an idiot."

"Jarek, please," Dash says, but the bots round a corner and spot them.

They're big MACdos. Masculine Android Criminal detection operating systems.

Not good.

Five feet...

All Dash's survival instincts kick in, and he starts running. He looks over his shoulder at Jarek as he runs, pumping his arms farther ahead of him so he doesn't crash into anything.

Just one MACdos is standing in front of Jarek, they probably don't realize how big of a threat he is.

Jarek smiles sweetly at it, saying something Dash can't hear before aiming a kick to its head. The bot doesn't see it coming, and chatters something in robo-speak before its head starts emitting a bit of gas. All robots have sweet spots for disabling them, and Jarek's always been good at finding them.

Another one comes, then another, and pretty soon Jarek's surrounded.

He's fiercely kicking, taking a few more out.

He yells 'Take it, bitches!' right before Dash has to turn a corner.

He runs until he throws up. He can't hear anything from where he is, and he figures he's safe to walk. When he was running, keeping going was all he thought about, but now everything sinks in.

He left his best friend to die. What kind of a person does that? But he can't think about that now.

He keeps walking before he realizes he's in the neighborhood he and Jarek and Joss live in. Well, lived in for Joss and Jarek, and probably for Dash too.

He sighs. He has to find the bar near their house, something to drink would help enormously.

When he gets there, it's empty. Everyone's probably at work.

A female android is standing behind the bar, powered halfway down.

Her sleek, white, naked body arouses him. Androids always have. There's a sort of perfection to them that none of the ones made to look human have.

She's not powering up, so Dash hops over the bar and finds a beer, completely forgetting that he hasn't eaten in a day and that he recently threw up everything he had.

That thought hits him when the dizziness starts.

He immediately stops drinking. If he's going to be running, he needs a clear head. As he goes back over the bar, the android grabs his hand.

"Dash," she says. "Pay."

She knows him.

Everybody and everything around here knows him. It's not like he's ever tried to be inconspicuous. He's the one no one wants to be around, the dangerous kid.

All because he tried something once. He barely even remembers what it was, the doc-bots drugged the hell out of him afterwards.

He just remembers a fire. He remembers his mind was gone that night, he doesn't remember why.

He just remembers standing among the flames, laughing because they were like humans, burning bright for a second and disappearing.

He rubs his forehead with the hand not slowly losing all circulation from being grabbed.

"Hey, I'm sorry, I got nothing," he tells her. "Please just let this go?"

She glares at him, sighs, and lets go, realizing it's not worth it. Fighting humans is never the way the fembots work. They sit, look pretty, and do a few useful jobs.

They do a very good job of that.

Dash leaves. He doesn't know where exactly he's going, but five minutes later he finds himself on his doorstep, unlocking the door.

The place is a complete wreck. Joss always tried to make Jarek clean it, but he was 'too busy' as he claimed. Jarek didn't work, just didn't. He was raised with luddites that believed in doing everything for themselves, the prototype of the Old Town, but he realized after he left that human jobs were pointless, just ways to pretend that they were somehow contributing to society.

Dash had a job, not a great one. He liked it because it involved running. He was basically the one-man postal service for people who hated technology but were too scared to run for the Old Town.

He gave them messages from each other, conspiracies mainly. He thought it was interesting. Sometimes, just to spice things up, he came up with the messages himself. It just gave him something to do.

Joss was a programmer for a bit, before she was fired. They said she knew too much, and because she was raised with Jarek and the luddites, they thought she was going to use the information against them.

And she did. After she got fired she sold information to people looking to shut robots and nanos down. She ranted for hours at a time about things like that, but Jarek and Dash never really paid attention.

Now Dash wishes he had.

He falls onto the couch in their living room before realizing it's covered in blood. Joss's blood, probably.

Dash rolls off. He doesn't like blood very much at all.

He goes up the stairs to Joss and his room, and lies on the bed there.

If he closes his eyes and doesn't breathe he can almost hear Joss downstairs on the phone with one of her clients, and Jarek in the next room either watching porn or playing video games.

He can't stay here.

He misses them too much.

He gets up and leaves the house before he starts running again.

He's been doing a lot of that.

A/N: Please review!