Hardwire scaled cables are heavy and low on our
Distended, sticky limbs—
Hardware splay in reptile grip will
Choke and bind the near next,
The best, should the silvered ghosts come but one by one by
One far off—a staccato thrill on upper hatch is a boot call,
Footfall—prey siren and oh, the scent—crimson musk and feverish heat,
We twitch and snap snap snap meagre wires and
Filaments of thinning cobweb plastic.
We flick tongue and roil in fresh oxygen
(translucent luxury when tank is touchstone) and coil when
Thundering dark booms on near staircase.
Perhaps we host the Creators—back to stifle and check the very last;
We, the monstrosity—race-killer, gore spiller, a maelstrom of twin helix and
Double joints.
They reared wits with hundreds of the brightest
Sparks surging down interlaced saline hookups (minds amplified)
Each little seizure another elder—a fused flare to
Manifest in scaled destruction—our war they bred is long dust.
Distant ammunition clatters brilliant over pitted flat-walls and flickers off,
Chasing lead-hot tails into corridors, caverns—measureless
As what we call us;
Our incestuous tangle, a myriad network gasp and thrust
Neatly strapped into this;
Our stark talons nicking rivulets in plastic pavers.
The silvermen march; we (all) wait for homegrown claw
to match spun-web armour and cannons of all light exploding
No eyes, but for a dull helmet, though we know our swing when—at last—the
Warm-bloods surge and hammer at us with shells and slugs
We greet silvermen with tooth and claw, chill-breath and
Hot rending for hot flesh, spattering the decks with iron tang.
As if from a hive, the silvermen spill out of the boom doors,
Destruction flying from steel mesh fingertips,
Ever breeding
To fall beneath our flicking razors.
Their tiny, stumpy sting winnows to nothing as
Genetics hold the line.
In the end, it is we who stand,
One full 'I', knitted by carnage; forged under silver boots.
This is the last time.
I (alone) sink to my tank and wait for the next.

—Emma K Osborne