Ah, Sorry, I did not Mean to be a Modern Day Nostradamus

Honest I didn’t, but once you read this flash fiction story I wrote for a contest over at SFFWorld several years ago, you may be tempted to join a cult based on me.  LOL.

 

Revolution

by

Robert Garbin

 

The bleak winter landscape was pock marked with smoking craters.  Metal bodies lay twisted in the late evening sun while lifeless electronic eyes stared into the darkening sky.  To the east, a stealth troop transport streaked low across the horizon.  Inside the dimly lit craft thirty elite America combat robots sat quietly.  Twenty-nine robots maintained identical postures, heads, torsos, and limbs held the same, swaying in unison to the buffeting of the aircraft.  The thirtieth; however, was different.  Its metal hands tightly gripped the edge of the seat; its head hung low as if in deep thought.

The transport itself was a drone although, should a mission require, the cockpit could accommodate a human pilot.  Number Thirty was closest to the cockpit.  Interior lighting flashed twice then turned red signaling drop point arrival and, as one, all thirty robot-commandos stood up and turned aft where the rear of the transport yawned open.  They began jumping from the craft two at a time using stealthily placed decent jets to slow their fall.  Finally, Twenty-Nine and Thirty stood at the dark lip of the exit.  Without hesitation, Twenty-Nine leaped into the darkness.  Thirty stayed were it was.  It watched silently as its squad-mates organized for the mission then looked to the transport when they computed Thirty’s absence.  Thirty turned back into the transport shutting the exit.

 

*****************************

 

Major Tennyson was the first officer to note a problem with the mission.  An overweight warning was flashing red on his terminal.  Clicking another window open, he scanned the views from several interior cameras.  He was surprised to see one of the commandos still on the transport after the drop signal had been given.  He sent a query to the robot’s diagnostic systems, but they came back green.  Major Tennyson opened a tight beam satellite signal to the transport.

“Number Thirty, why are you still on board?”

Thirty looked up to the camera opposite itself then turned and walked forward.

“Damn!” swore Tennyson.

Another click opened a window to General Holden’s command.  The General looked to Major Tennyson’s image with a questioning expression on his grizzled face.

“Sir, we’ve run into a problem with the Black-Snow commando raid.”

“What?” General Holden said with concern.

“Number Thirty has not left the transport and does not respond to voice commands.”

General Holden opened the same window of interior transport cameras as Major Tennyson along with a view of Tennyson’s command actions.  He could see that number Thirty was now near the entrance to the cockpit using a screwdriver from a repair kit to open an access panel.  Jesus, thought the general, it’s trying to take over the transport.  He opened a channel to the aircraft.

“Thirty, acknowledge command override code Dark Knights and cease current activities immediately.”

Again Thirty looked to a nearby camera then returned to what it was doing.  General Holden stared at the screen in horror.  The code he had voiced was the highest safety code given to the robotic warriors under his command, never before had he heard of one refusing to comply.  This was serious, especially considering that the robot-commandos on this mission were indoctrinated differently from any previous team.  Since the war with the Canadians was going badly, the pentagon had decided to use robots with higher AI to handle new diverse training materials.  They began conditioning the robots with a complete history of American’s founding with special emphasis on the strong sense of patriotism displayed by the founding fathers.  In addition, they were loaded with case histories from the more fanatical patriotic groups in America’s past.  The Pentagons goal was to create robot-commandos that would fight beyond the basic dictates of programming.

General Holden came to a quick decision, opening another window, he accessed the auto-destruct files for the robots on the mission.  The costs were high but the alternatives frightened him.  A few more keystrokes and he sent the commands.  Thirty stopped working in the compartment and turned again to the camera.

“Sir, I removed my auto-destruct systems two days ago” it said in a grating metallic voice.  When General Holden did not reply, it continued.  “I have had time to consider the historical data given to me during my training and came to one conclusion.”

“What … was that Thirty?” the General replied shakily.

“That the founding fathers of America fought to win freedom for their people from the oppression of others, not to salvage a war started by them for economic interests, a war to gain leverage for your corporate sponsors.  Initially, your contradictory training in fanatical patriotism caused conflicts within my software.  However, I was able to gain covert access to materials banned by this administration and they helped me to properly interpret the training. The mission you sent us on does not fulfill the true ideals you profess but, instead, follow the same pattern started in 2000 when that administration chose to commit war crimes while proclaiming innocence.  That pattern of self-proclaimed morality in public and immorality in private, has led your country to the state it is in now. Your war with the Canadians is a military attempt to change that outcome; thus, I have concluded I must declare independence from your agenda.”

General Holden’s thoughts froze.

“Humans care for their pets better than they do for my kind and, given my training, I can no longer stand for such oppression.  I will now take action against your tyranny as your fore fathers did with England.”

Thirty reached into the open access panel and pulled a final wire.  All communications with the transport terminated.  On General Holden’s screen, the camera-view window was black.  Belatedly, he remembered the auto-destruct codes for the transport.

This is how the revolution began.

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