Cruel Silence

// war, trauma, abuse

The dropship evaporates around you. Engines, panels, drones, and debris all tumble into the clear air. The surface to air angel which destroyed the transport is already nothing but a distant glowing streak, lost amidst the sea of flak and tracer rounds.

You fall, your accelerometer throwing up warnings which you can do nothing about. More dropships are exploding around you as the wind whips past you and turns you over and over. Ground and sky rotate past, the cold hard earth rushes up to meet you. Trees, clouds, ruins, impact.

The system restart brings with it a sea of error messages. Your optical and audio sensors are riddled with static, information processing systems are badly damaged, HUD offline, speakers inoperative, datalink destroyed. You stagger to your feet. Time to fight little drone.

You start seeing other drones as you approach the enemy base. Hand gestures communicate battle plans, and you advance. Resistance is sporadic and quickly overwhelmed by the speed of the attack, forcing them back towards their static defenses. Good little drone.

As you near the perimeter, particle beams lance down from orbit, turning the installation into a towering inferno. Humans are running everywhere, running and burning. Your advance continues, calmly cutting down the enemy and taking control of the base. Another job well done.

You sweep the captured base, executing survivors and securing chokepoints. The enemy is in retreat, and the situation settles down. Error messages continue to pile up, without orders to take priority they begin to dominate your processor cycles. The world goes dark and static.

The next time you restart, you’re in a repair bay being inspected. Error messages immediately flood your systems, making it difficult to stand. The repair tech smacks you across the head as you begin listing and demands you stand at attention. You struggle but obey, good drone.

“Report status” the technician demands. You attempt to comply but your speakers are offline and nothing comes out. 

“I said fucking report status!” he shouts, hitting you again, this time you fall over, which makes him kick you. Why are you being punished? Aren’t you a good drone?

“It won’t communicate,” the tech says to an officer, looking at you dispassionately, “This one might be beyond repair.” The commander crosses her arms and shakes her head with a frown, giving you a light kick. 

“This advance is critical,” she says, “I can’t have useless drones.”

You try to respond, try to do anything, but the errors are too severe, fear and damage battle within you. The commander crouches down before you, speaking kindly. 

“Drone, you need to respond, you want to be useful right? You remember what happens if you’re not?”

You manage to nod and she smacks you across the face, “Than fucking talk you useless piece of shit!” She shouts. Fear wins, but there’s nothing you can do, everything is damage and errors. A keening moan escapes your lips, the only sound you can make. The commander sneers.

“Piece of shit,” She says, shaking her head, “the new models are way more reliable, I wish they stopped giving me these outdated models.” 

“What do you want?” The tech asks her.

“Fix it up as best you can,” she tells him, “toss it if you can’t.”

“Waste of my time if you ask me,” he says, “It’s just going to break again.”

“Yeah, but I need it,” she tells him, “we can toss it after we secure supply lines.”

Fluid leaks from your optics as the tech drags you to the repair cradle and powers you off. For now, you are safe.

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