The Boy Who Roared

A boy and a woman struggle to survive in an apocalyptic world where androids destroy all.

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1. The Birth of a Warrior

The androids changed everything. 

     When their existence had been announced in the year 2021, the international populace dwelling within planet Earth had considered this news an advancement in the evolution of humanity. Everyone believed that androids would be the invention that would lead to an astounding stage in technology. 

     The world was proven wrong when the androids were struck with a malevolent will of their own. 

     Having revived to life after an extended period of experimentation, the androids expanded out to wreck utter mayhem. While destroying one significant civilian after another, they carried out the overpowering will of living technology. Technology wasn't such a convenience anymore. It was the enemy now.

     After the start of the machinery invasions, the demography began to dwindle in numbers. Billions of lives were eradicated in a matter of several years. Seventy percent of humanity had been slaughtered by the sharp metal claws of the androids. The tragic events that ensued afterwards have stomped political solutions, crushed resisting warfare, and have launched a fatality to economies from all around the world. 

      That was when the apocalypse started.

     It was 2026, five years since the chaos of the first androids attacks. A young boy, attired in baggy clothes and loose rags, sauntered through the deserted streets with a bulky woman. Abandoned metal towers and desolated buildings surrounded them, their soaring heights tall enough to graze the ash-tainted sky. Shards of glass were strewn across the cracked pavement, littering the crosswalks and sidelines as a decoration that represented the world's devastating condition. 

     "Watch your guard, Lion," Melissa, the muscular middle-aged woman accompanying the male youth, warned. "We're entering Greenville, a territory we have yet to mark and map out yet." Her voice was hoarse and rough around the edges. Each step that she took was motioned with stealth and caution. Her calloused hand drew near the pistols and packs of ammo attached to her weapons belt. 

     The boy, nicknamed as 'Lion', surveyed what had once been a successful city that had thrived on wealth. Now it was a hazard zone, the very antithesis of its previous state from over a decade ago. "Where are we going to stay?" he asked, concern etched in his child-like features. "What if they come for us again?" 

     "We're just going to have to try getting through, Lion. Live for tomorrow." 

     Live for tomorrow. That was Melissa's daily motto. Surviving itself was a struggle, let alone reaching tomorrow. The boy bobbed his head in a nod of understanding. "I think you should stop calling me Lion," he said, quirking his lips down in an annoyed pout. "My real name is Leo."

     Melissa ruffled his golden blond mane, tangling his scruffy and disheveled locks even more. "It's because your hair looks like a lion's." There was a light tease in her words. 

     A startling thud echoed in the distance, interrupting their bonding moment. 

     "Follow me," Melissa whispered, quickening her pace. Leo caught up to her, apprehension gnawing at his mind as he made a gradual run for it. He could sense the presence of an android within the general area, he just knew it. Melissa skidded to a halt in front of an abandoned ice cream parlor. The pastel pink walls were peeled off, a result from time's work. Tiny patches of green moss covered the lower exteriors. With a swing of her leg, Melissa busted down the door to the ice cream parlor in a singular kick. She ushered Leo inside before securing the area.

     The only source of light that filtered the dim ice cream parlor was a broken stream of sunlight. Leo flicked on his flashlight. He swept his handy light source through the room, taking several seconds to register the pink and brown interiors. Several chairs had been knocked down. A collapsed table was positioned near the empty plush stools. 

     Someone had been in here. 

     Suddenly, a blur of metal flashed before Leo's amber eyes. Before he could process anything, an earsplitting gun shot resonated from behind him. A bullet was fired at the android's robotic skull, denting a tiny hole into its forehead. The android that had attempted to lunge at Leo was eliminated with a swift shot. It froze in place before doubling over and crashing into the floor with a  smash

     Leo let out the breath that had been stuck in his throat. "I'm sorry," he stammered to Melissa, his savior. "I'm so sorry." His legs trembled like jelly. He heaved in a sharp inhale, his hand transferring to the handgun hidden in his back pocket. He could've tried to defend himself, but he didn't. He wanted to smack himself for acting like such gullible prey.

     "It's okay," Melissa said, tucking her pistol in her belt. Her tennis shoes squeaked against the tiles as she approached Leo. She planted a hand on his shoulder, a gesture of assurance. "It's okay," she repeated, more firm this time. "You'll learn how to act out of defense someday, I just know it. It takes time."

     Leo lowered his gaze down onto his ratty sneakers. "I'm useless." 

     "No, you're not." She shook him. "You're not, you hear me? You're a kid who has potential." 

     Before he could respond, the barricaded door that Melissa had locked in place was pounded with a stiff punch. A chorus of more punches and blows sounded against the wood of the door, determined to break through. 

     "They're here," Leo whispered, his voice tight with fear. "It sounds like more than one. What do we do?" 

     "We fight." Melissa grabbed Leo's hand with her own. "We fight like we always have. Remember what I've taught you."

     "I can't-"

     "You can." She gave his sweaty palm a tight squeeze, giving him a boost of encouragement like a mother would do. "You will roar like the lion that you are." 

     The door exploded open, exposing a posse of gray and white androids. Their bodies, constructed with complex mechanical framework, stood tall and rigid. Their steely and unnerving eyes flashed bright red before zapping out scorching laser beams. 

     Melissa yanked Leo by the sleeve, whisking him behind the fallen table near the ice cream parlor counter. They narrowly avoided a rapid current of lasers. With her pistol whipped out, she peeked her head over the table's edge and fired several rounds at once. Leo imitated her, his grip on his gun more unstable and shaky. With trembling fingers, he pushed the trigger. The gunshot rang out like a canon, the impact of it almost sending him flying back. Scowling, he squeezed the handgun tighter in his hand, his arm muscles clenching, before shooting again. He executed a critical head shot at one of the androids. 

     The masses of androids weren't diminishing as much as Melissa and Leo had hoped. There were too many of them. Clicking her tongue, Melissa shoved her now empty pistol inside a jacket compartment. After drawing out two daggers from the secret pockets of her sleeves, she hurled herself over the table and made a bolt for it. She navigated her way through dim lighting, her speed kicking off like a rocket. 

     "Melissa!" Leo called out. His eyes bulged with panic. A laser beam whizzed past his head, causing for him to duck out of surprise.

     The androids, all six of them, came at her with the intention to tackle. Their metal digits transformed into blunt blades, their hands stretched out and posed over her body. Melissa performed a series of combat moves against one. She tripped it with a low kick, knocking it down to the ground. She pounced on another one's back, twisted the frail neck and wires that connected its brain to its body, and chucked the head like a ball at another android's face. 

     While she was bringing down three at a time, Leo used the opportunity to aim at the two remaining. It took him two tries to shoot down the first. The second died with less effort, with a singular bullet that was lodged in the vital chest region. His breaths were sucked in and out fast, leaving him in a hyperventilated state.

     Melissa's agonized cry pierced his ears, alerting his attention. Panic seized his nerves as he scrambled to his own feet. What he witnessed next left him paralyzed in horror. 

     One android was still alive, its knife plunging deep into Melissa's side. A hideous scream, filled with utter terror, ripped out from Leo's mouth. He shot the machine down with three rounds. The android dropped down with a deafening thud. Wires and screws escaped from its dying figure with a loud clatter, splaying out across the bloody tiles.

     Without thinking, Leo rushed over to Melissa's side, his knees digging hard into the cold floor. A pool of red was oozing out from her open wound, staining through her jacket. The knife was still inside of her. She hacked out a few coughs. Before Leo could try to remove the weapon lodged in her waist, she held his hand back. She didn't want him to.

     "It's too late," she wheezed, forcing herself to articulate the words. 

     
Leo snatched up her hand, squeezing it. He  shook his head before caressing her cheek with a gentle touch. "Don't go," he croaked, a broken sob threatening to strike him. Tears flooded his vision, blurring his amber eyes. "Please don't go, please don't go. You can't leave me alone. Let me help you." His pleads were growing more desperate. His shoulders hunched down, trembling from the weight of sorrow and anguish. 

     "Lion, I'm sorry . . ." Melissa attempted to capture a breath of air in her system. Her voice was quiet, almost inaudible to his ears. An ocean of her blood was now seeping out from her limp body. 

     Leo shook his head again. He blinked back, letting his tears dribble down his chin and land onto her face. "Please," he whispered. It pained him to speak. It pained him to witness the woman who had treated him like a son during the invasions go like this. It pained him to let reality sink in, to know that this was actually happening. "Please, please you can't." His words were a murmur now, an emotional and sputtered murmur. 

     "I'm sorry . . ." she choked out. "I'm sorry that you have to live for tomorrow without me." Her eyelids drooped over her glassy eyes, closing over them. 

     She was gone.

     Her hand, the one he had been clutching on, went cold. All was silent for a long moment. And then, Leo unleashed an enraged scream. His mournful howl boiled with rage and lament, echoing within the war zone like a call that would never fade. He let his emotions conquer him, let the weeps rack his body and the tears gush out like endless waterfalls. 

     He was never the same after that. 

     After that, the little boy had blossomed into a powerful and courageous man. Leo would let his golden hair grow out to really resemble that of a lion's mane. He would strive for change. Every day, for the rest of his life, he would self-train himself to the extent of exhaustion. He would stumble upon mistake after mistake, only to keep being fueled by his unwavering determination. He would take risk after risk, even if it meant flirting with death countless times. He would slaughter android after android with merciless execution, never forgetting how their kind had murdered the most important person in his life. He roared like the lion that Melissa had wanted for him to be.

     He would become the king of the apocalyptic jungle, and he would rule it all.

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