Cerberus missed dreaming. He used to have the most vivid images flash through his mind of picnics in scenic parks and gazing at the world from a sea of stars. There weren't any pictures left in that fleshy part of his brain to see with his eyes shut. He found it both fascinating and terrifying, but this was his life. He accepted it long ago. Some sounds still made their way to his mind. He generally heard a lot of whirring gears and the static of charging bolts and mechanisms. He could smell too. He caught whiffs of dank pools of spilled oil or the sweat of furiously typing scientists who worked through their lunch breaks.
Most importantly he could feel. The cool touch of where metal met skin never failed to rouse him from the deeper layers of slumber when he twitched in his pictureless dreams. Below the shell of his armor, he felt the pins and needles where his legs had been still for too long. Even further below, he could feel his heart beating to a steady rhythm that reminded him of who he was.
There was something else. Somewhere far off he heard what he could only translate as a twinkling sound like a bell. It stirred the gears that powered the motors to activate his pumping veins. With some effort, his eyes fluttered open.
The gel in his pod was too viscous to see through clearly. It was a pale yellow ooze the made his eyes numb. Immediately he knew he wasn't supposed to see the restoration gel this close. He was awake before his protocol alarm. A tapping sound tried to reach through the muck that ate each reverberation as shadows loomed outside of the pod. His lips parted to tell the scientists that they were in for a scolding at their lack of attention, but he ended up with a mouthful of sour tasting gel.
Cerberus began to sputter and choke, but he couldn't take another proper breath as an unfamiliar panic rose up in his chest. His arms reached out to find an exit, but he was locked in place by protruding mechanical claws. Cerberus struggled even as the tapping grew louder and became a full fledged thundering. He couldn't see how, but the gel began pouring away from his body. His numb eyes could see and he could breath, but he was bombarded by the sudden shrill of a warning alarm.
The fortified glass of the pod shattered and Cerberus found himself limp in now dysfunctional mechanical arms. As he slid to the ground he heard a few groans as hands wrapped around him. Then came the familiar buzz of flesh on metal.
"Papa, you're heavy," said a young man as he tried to separate Cerberus from the locking mechanism. It was slick and heavy. Cerberus blinked away the restoration gel that was numbing his body and could finally see the face staring at him with shared eyes.
A woman on his other side started helping the boy. She had a soft, round face and bright brown eyes that the cyborg hadn't seen in years. The memories of them remained, but not while he was shut down in a pod. "Hurry, love, you must stand up."
Cerberus tried to make sense of what was happening, but the blaring sounds muddled the human half of his brain. His wife's dark hand took his pale one and both she and their son hoisted him to his feet, groaning through clenched jaws. They all knew what the siren meant. An army was at the door and Cerberus had to flee.
Questions poured out of his son's mouth as they left the research lab and all of its remaining pods and half lives behind. Cerberus let his wife lead them through the facility as she quieted her son before peeking around another corner. Some of the hallways were silent as the grave except for the buzzing of fluorescent tube lights and the repetitive chipper drone of the CGI woman greeting everyone in Pluto's Forge. Other halls had men and women in stark white lab coats bustling towards an exit that the family needed to find.
They moved as quickly as they could behind the fleeing scientists, but had to be mindful of the clunk! of every metal footfall that Cerberus couldn't avoid. They waited and then moved and then waited again and moved again. The pattern wasn't any more reassuring as it continued.
A harsh voice rang out behind them that made the family freeze. "Stop, you abomination!"
Bullets of glaring light rained down on the three fugitives. Cerberus scooped his wife and son into plated arms and let each strike hit his back. Although he was protected, the sting tore through him. He heard his family groan as he clung too tight, but it was a better fate for them. He started to run.
Cerberus charged down the halls, ignoring the cries of shock from the scientists leaping out of his way. A few weren't fast enough and were barreled over. As he regained his bearings, Cerberus knew where he was going. He tried to duck and weave around the spray of bullets, but each strike that found its target left him that much more out of breathe as it wore down his powered suit.
Finally the end was in sight. A giant steel door was pried open and what few scientists were still alive flooded through. It was a human sized hole and Cerberus didn't have time to stop. He pulled his wife and son close to his chest and felt them hug him as he leaned forward with his right shoulder. The contact rattled the entire wall and he punched through the steel like it was foil.
"Start a ship!" Cerberus demanded of his wife. She nodded and took her rebellious son by the arm, dragging him away from his father. Cerberus ripped an already bent slab of the door and folded it in his hands until it was a warped cubicle mass. A few beams from the rebel soldier struck Cerberus in the chest where his plating was much thinner. He was no soldier himself so he was unprepared for the pain that battered him. He dropped his makeshift weapon and fell to his knees.
"You won't hurt those people," the soldier said as he approached with his gun still aimed. "You never should have been created."
Cerberus kept his head down, looking as submissive as he could. "I never asked to be taken and made into a slave."
"Too bad. Your old life is gone. Now you're nothing."
As the soldier spoke, Cerberus launched himself to the side where the steel cube waited. More blinding pellets struck him, but he gathered his strength of body and will and scooped up his makeshift cannon. With a cry, he lobbed it over his head and watched as one moment the soldier was grinning menacingly and the next he was a splatter of broken bits against the far wall outside the hangar.
Cerberus ignored the rest of the chaos as scientists hobbled like him towards their escape. He saw his wife flag him down from inside a glass dome at the head of a small jet. Her eyes were wide as he approached and Cerberus knew he was a sight of blood stains and oil streaks. She and his son helped him up into the back of the jet that was humming in wait.
"This is it. You know what to do," she said to the boy. He nodded and ran up front.
The jet rumbled as it began taxiing forward. Then it picked up speed, lifted into the air, and shot out of the hangar door. In the back, the woman stayed with her husband and let her hand rest over a small meter on his chest. It glowed with a yellow light and a small arrow sat about halfway up. As her husband rested in her arms, she pried the little meter from his chest armor and threw it aside. He had less time with them, but any time was enough. They were free.