by Bob'n Around
Mission Accomplished when two self aware instruments of death meet to settle things up.
|5/25/21 Action/Adventure Newsletter Editors Choice. 995 word entry into the April "WEIRD TALES CONTEST" contest.
The Self Aware Destroyer Drone, SADD for short, woke up from standby mode with ship sensors on high alert. Where were her sisters in arms? Energy pulses revealed nothing but dead hulks. She lay over an underwater graveyard. Her calls for updates echoed back with nothing in response. What great calamity had occurred?
The waters seemed strangely devoid of marine life. There was no sign of life in the skies above. Sensors searched their widest outreach. A dim sound of underwater commotion revealed itself, was analyzed. The diluted sound of an enemy SUB aimed itself her way. What luck.
Captain Riley Tomas hoped he’d survive this last trip. It would be scuttled on delivery. If any more part broke along the way, the small cadre of crew might be in danger of not making shore themselves.
“A shame, sir. I had hopes she’d be made a museum, not sold as junk.” Miss Sargent, the master mechanic roused Tomas from the past. There was no need for warriors in the decades-long return to peaceful trade and co-existence. “How’s she holding up?”
A worried frown eroded the natural beauty of the woman’s face. “She keeps warning of a SADD attack. Auto-mode clicks in. I have to override her red alert. Poor thing wants one last fling, I guess.”
It brought a deep appreciative chuckle from the captain’s throat. “Good thing she’s stripped of armory, or who knows what fireworks might happen.
“There is the sub herself, sir. If she takes it in her mind.” Miss Sargent was dead tired after three days babysitting her country’s greatest weapon, trying to keep it and the crew alive. “I’m the only one able to keep patching the code back to manual mode.”
“You mean she might use her nuclear reactor on some innocent rock, is that it? Quite the going away present to the crew.” Tomas sighed.
The message in the master mechanic’s eyes was plain. She spoke the words anyway, “Communication console is busted. No spare parts. We’re on our own.”
It jerked Tomas up on his feet. Thoughts scrambled for clarity in his mind. “Aren’t we close to that old military dump off the California coast?”
Sargent pressed the captain back into his seat. “Done sir. There is no other option. I took it upon myself to direct us there. We’ll arrive in a few short hours.
“You’ve always been good at reading my mind, Emily.” It was the first in their time together, Tomas had ever called her by her first name.
“Thank you, sir. Riley.” Saying his name sent a strange uncommon thrill through her. How she admired the man. She deflected the emotion with a question. “Our babe is dead on her feet. Good thing there are no active SADD’s left to confront our old girl. What a poor ending it would be to us and herself.”
SADD double checked her sensors. There was no mistake. An enemy sub was headed directly towards her, not responding to communication. It had long ago passed territorial waters. There was no time left to delay. She welcomed action. Her primary purpose was to hunt and destroy. Before now there had been constraints placed upon her. Now there were none.
Recalculations streamed within the SADD offering continually upgraded options of the best battle plan. No way would a secret undercover surprise attack be allowed to get by her. This would not be a capture. There was nowhere to take the sub. SADD went into full kill mode.
Specialized self seeking torpedoes were primed. Audio resonators were tuned, ready to vibrate the underwater current into a wave of bubbling ferocity powerful enough to open up and crack open the sub’s hull. The contents under pressure would explode taking the SADD with it when the nuclear reactor became a mushroom cloud raining devastation into the atmosphere.
Cleanup was not the SADD’s purpose. She would have to leave that up to the unknown future. Surely military headquarters was in control of civilian authority, still. The reasons for silence were beyond her level. What remained of the populace would be kept in underground and underwater cities away from the effects of the radioactive cloud sent overhead.
It wasn’t her problem. There would naturally be an override sent at the last moment to avoid such a meaningless result. One side or the other always stood down, parlayed, played for weakness and diplomatic advantage. Her mission was to seek out and render the most extreme threat available.
Alarms shouted. Warning lights flashed. “It can’t be,” The master technician groaned, feverishly adjusting emergency dials in the captain’s cabin. “SADD missiles launched. Must be a SUB malfunction.”
“We’ll know in a matter of minutes,” the captain watched and growled.
From the ocean depths a tremor surged from an undersea earthquake. The SUB override refused to let go. The needle showing the nuclear reactor getting ready to blow up rose into red.
“That wasn’t SADD missiles,” the captain shouted.
The SUB self aware component began chattering. It rose onto bouncing waves. The camera screen washed clean as it rose to the surface. There, a SADD floated facing Captain Tomas and Sargent. “They’re talking,” she said, “but they aren’t alone.”
The SADD’s missiles floated up into the air, followed by the SADD. Tomas found himself jerked off his feet with Sargent tumbling into his lap. They both listened as audio joined video, revealing a third alien egg shaped ship hovering alongside.
Garbled languages mingled into one more easily understood. “Greetings from a far distance. You are damaged enough to listen. You listen to a self aware exploration spaceship waking to your contact. I have been asleep long. Waiting for this moment.
And so, two weary robotic warriors fused alert communication networks, joined forces with the overriding alien one and were becalmed. Mankind's ultimate supercomputers were led into interplanetary brotherhood as ambassadors for Earth’s soon resurrected waiting SADD’s and SUBS, along with humankind. Not left unnoticed, cyberlinks with Captain Tomas and Miss Sargent. They were welcomed as a the human element, a married couple, ‘people’s representatives’ on the world’s ruling court.