technology

War Machine

Siege droid 10 fired another shell from the massive cannon on his back and the blowback pressed hard against his shock absorbers and dug his titanic armored legs deeper into the ground. The heat from the day’s worth of fighting radiated across his body and strained the circuits and gears within.

 

The digital orders from his masters came in clear and concise across his mind, ceasefire. Siege droid 10 was thankful for the break. He had stood in his firing position since before the sun rose, taking withering return fire from the enemy. Pockmarks and dents covered his limbs and a particularly painful hole in his chest from an unlucky rocket strike.

 

Cheers from the humans told him the battle was over before the orders did. The haggard warriors and soldiers that lined the trenches before the enemy fortress embraced each other and fired their rifles into the air.

 

“They’re calling it quits! The war’s over boys!” someone shouted over the radio. Siege droid 10 watched quietly as the officers, once sticklers for protocol and order, succumbed to the revery and euphoria of the moment.

 

“Finally cracked ‘em.” an older voice said over the radio, relief present in his voice. The military police pressed forward, still stern-faced and sour, to take charge of any survivors and prisoners before the celebration began in earnest. Even in the midst of war, the law would be observed.

 

Siege droid 10 stole a glance along the battle line and paused on the scars of the siege. Craters and felled trees covered the landscape and punctuated by the charred hulks of destroyed tanks and his fellow droids. Their corpses had lost their sharp uniform colors and now all that remained were the blackened sheets of steel that hung off their emaciated frames. The pain from his rocket wound seemed to grow sharper when he looked at the remains of the only other siege droid that the army had brought down to the planet.

 

Siege droid 15 was an older model but a proud one. She’d seen several tours of duty across the galaxy and wore her past victories with pride. The names of fortresses and cities she’d cracked were painted in bold and bombastic colors along her arms. When they’d approached the fortress and dug their heels into the earth to start their bombardment, Siege droid 10 could ignore the pain of his labor and pushed himself to fight harder, to be more efficient in his actions, as long as he was alongside her.

 

Now, she stood dead in place. Her 12 years of service ended with a single round that punched right through her head. The humans might have nursed her back to health had that been all she’d suffered but a firebomb had burned away many of her circuits and ravaged her frame. Now she’d linger on the battlefield for a while until the humans finally took her down. They’d dissect her and see if any of her metal or gears could be be salvaged. When they’d reclaimed what they could, Siege droid 15 would be laid in a scrap heap, with only the remains of both enemy and allied vehicle her company.

 

“Tell the engineers to take a look at 10 before they start celebrating. Command wants it ready for departure ASAP.” An officer commanded. Siege droid 10 stood still, unable to express his groan or exhaustion.

 

It was an order Siege droid 10 knew well. It was a thankless journey to the landing pad to be tended with the rough hands and tools of army mechanics. Circuits would be replaced and plates replaced, always with expedient efficiency. His internals would be quickly examined to make sure he could still carry on and then the hole in his chest would be patched. Once he was cleared for departure, he’d be packed onto a freighter and carried across space to a new battlefield and before long, he’d be dug into the ground, his cannon blasting away.  

 

One of the observers who’d spent the battle atop of Siege droid 10’s head in a tiny sandbag bunker climbed out. He removed his ear covers and patted off some of the soot that had collected on him. He smiled at the brief moment of calm and patted the hulk he was sitting on.

 

“Glad that’s over.”

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Desires

“Do you always travel this light?” Venus asked as she scanned the room. Misha locked the hotel door behind him and tossed his keycard on the coffee table.

“This is business, not a vacation.” He responded, observing the droid as she continued her inspection of his room. He’d be lying to himself if he said that she wasn’t an impressive design. Her hair was raven black and sat in lush waves just below her shoulders. Her body was designed with professional grace and precision, not like the Barbie-doll prostitution droids you’d find on in a brothel. She had enticing curves that gave her an organic quality. But it was her face that stuck with him. Something about those synthetic golden honey eyes. He liked that there was a touch of artificiality to her.

“So what do you do when you’re not working, Mr. Businessman?” She turned and asked him, a coy and teasing smile hanging from the corners of her mouth.

He ignored the flirtation as he removed his suit jacket and hung it up, careful to avoid any wrinkles or damages. He noticed her staring at his pistol and holster hanging by his shoulder. “Is that meant to impress me?” she asked, her smile unchanged.

“Do I have to impress you?” Misha retorted, “I thought you were programmed to be impressed by me.” She sat on the coffee table and crossed her legs.

“That’s what your employer sent you to purchase isn’t it? Programmable compatibility? Besides, if Mr. Patel believed you just wanted a pretty escort, he’d have given you a different model. He guessed that you might want something a little more…complex.”

“And that’s what you are? Complex?”

“Something like that.” Misha opened the bottle of vodka and poured himself a full glass. The whole time, those honey eyes stared straight at him.

“So you won’t do what I say?” He asked.

“You haven’t told me to do anything” she replied without skipping a beat.

“Stand up.” He said. She complied.

“Sit down.” She made her way to his bed. “Not there. On the couch” She raised an eye brow but complied. “Not feeling adventurous?”

“Not looking for pleasure” he answered, satisfied that his point had been proven.

“What is it you’re looking for then?” She asked, stretching out on the couch. He took a sip of vodka and held it in his mouth until it burned. He kept repeating in his head that this was only a program, nothing more than an imitation of reality. But it was a very convincing one.

“I’m not looking for anything.” He said after swallowing his drink.

“Yes you are.” She responded, standing up. “Maybe it isn’t pleasure but you are looking for something.”

He tensed as she came closer and closer to him, her eyes burning with electricity. His pulse quickened and he didn’t know whether to reach for his gun or her.

“All that precision, your suits, your manners, your control: you’ve bound yourself up.” She draped an arm around his neck. Misha’s stomach knotted and he braced with every muscle in his body. “You want to come out.”

Her face was millimeters from his. Her lavender perfume reached out and hooked into his brain. “You want to unwind” Each word was seductive and warm on his ear. He felt a vein of desires rising up in him. They pressed so hard against him that his very skin ached and itched. He wanted to rip her skin-tight dress off and fuck her until he couldn’t move. He wanted to lay in bed with her and hold her. He wanted to talk to her, not about business or some coy game of verbal chess but just talk. He wanted her to be real.

“You’re not real.” Misha said, trying to bring himself back in control.

“This is real.” She said, drawing a finger from the back of his ear across his neck, “This is real.” She guided his hand first from her breast to her cheek. “This conversation is real”

“But you’re not.” She wrapped both arms around him and stared him square in the eye.

“I can be real for you.” Misha looked into the eyes that had intrigued him the minute he saw her in Mr. Patel’s club. Designed and customized to react the exact same way human eyes do, behind them was a complex web of circuitry and wire, all working seamlessly and invisibly to produce the perfect woman. Programs and algorithms, constantly adapting and totally focused on him from every word he uttered to the smallest facial tick, burned away to serve and seduce him. A synthetic succubus, ready to play lover, confidant and therapist all at the same time and she could be all his.

“No.” Misha removed her arms from around his neck, “You can’t”.