Retry

Posted: July 24, 2011 in Fiction, Steel

The structure didn’t quite tear free of the fuselage. The clawed hand tore the skin of the aircraft to shreds, and the plane pitched to the left. The mechanical beast latched onto the plane once more and kicked its legs overhead. The sudden shift in weight sped the rotation of the crippled aircraft so that it pitched nose-first into ground that was suddenly above it. Stainless fingers released the crashing plane and the robot rolled and bounced clear of the wreckage. The plane continued to grind against the runway for hundreds of feet, sparks fountaining from every point of contact. The sound would have been deafening for human ears. This concerned the machine not at all.

<contact operator>

The chrome heap sorted itself out and stood. Wisps of black smoke made the breeze visible. In the distance, crash response vehicles came into view. The outlines of the cars wavered in the heatshimmer from the tarmac.

<operator not responding> <retry?> <Y>

The camera cluster looked back at the hangar where the jet had been parked. The crumpled form of a man hung embedded in the wall by a hurled bag of cement. Sirens were becoming audible.

<operator not responding> <retry?> <Y>

The camera cluster rotated to face the wreckage. A smear of broken runway and blackened debris described a path between the chrome giant and the downed passenger plane. The machine took one step, then another toward the crash.

<operator not responding> <retry?> <N>

The robot was not capable of anger. Intelligence software analyzed recordings of the last hour at high speed. Hull breached. EMP weapon deployed. Operator injured. Pursuit. Suggested course of action: incapacitate target. The cameras stared at the jet. The operator wanted them stopped. The operator had used the machine to crush one into the hangar wall. The machine stopped at the remnants of the nose of the plane. It hunched down and scooped its claws under the nose cone. Arm servos locked into position. Leg pistons hissed, and the robot lifted. Claws tore through aluminum skin until finally they caught on support structure. The front of the plane lifted clear of the ground. The camera cluster shifted down to peer through the front viewports.

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