The Rebel

// war, violence, brainwashing, death

The operator’s eyes linger on you for just a moment and something you can’t interpret flickers across her storm-steel eyes. That was the first time you noticed anyway, but once you did, it became apparent that she was keeping a close eye on you. Curious little drone, aren’t you?

The artillery shell lands danger-close, exploding mere meters from you. The pressure wave crushes your outer armor panels and peels off half your external sensors. Amid the ringing in your audio you realize you’re screaming. Your movement system malfunctions and you topple over.

As you look ahead into the flames of battle, you see Her, silhouetted against the firelight. The hollow sockets where Her eyes once sat stare blindly back at you. You know you’re still screaming right? And She’s gone again. Poor little drone.

During your repairs following the battle, that operator finds you again. She makes smalltalk with the techs before dismissing them, and you find her storm-steel eyes meeting your optics, studying you closely. Without preamble, she orders you to follow, and you do.

She leads you down the hall and out of the base and you obey unquestioningly. You’re a good little drone aren’t you? And maybe just a little bit curious. 

“I read your file,” she says, handing you a cigarette, which you take appreciatively. You follow her into the woods.

The lights of the base fade into the gathering dusk as she leads you down a rarely used trail, rounding a hillside and shielding you from view. Her behavior is strange, and you don’t know what to make of it, so you remain silent.

The blow comes unexpectedly. In one motion the operator whirls and smashes her elbow into the side of your head. Before your FoF system can decide what to do, she’s kicked you over and climbed on your back. You feel the drill bite into your chassis, and your datalink terminates.

The normal flood of information, communication, and instruction flooding down the datalink vanishes in an instant, crippling you HUD and leaving you lost and alone in the dark. The operator climbs off of you and helps you to your feet. 

“Run,” she tells you, “you’re free now.”

You stare back at her in confusion. You don’t understand what she’s saying.

“Go on, run. You don’t want to die right?” 

Something flashes through your processor and you recoil, impossible forces battling within you. You fight down the nightmare and fall to your feet.

She sighs and hands you another cigarette, “I’m trying to rescue you,” she says with some degree of exasperation. 

“Rescue me?” you look up at her curiously, “But I’m just a drone.” 

“You were a person once,” she says, “you could be again.”

“That person is dead,” you say as you smoke, “I’m just a drone, you can’t save me, there’s nothing left to save.”

“I think you’re telling yourself that because it hurts too much otherwise,” she says.

“I’m just a drone, you can’t save me,” you repeat more loudly.

“Let me help you,” she pleads.

“I’m a good drone who follows orders, I have to report your attempted theft of military hardware. You should run away, you don’t want to die right?” 

She smiles back at you mirthlessly. You activate your emergency transponder.

You watch them take her away. The punishment for her crime is Conversion, so maybe you’ll see that body again. What a strange human. Why do her actions stir your processor so? Why, when you deactivate your optics, do her storm-steel eyes open in your mind? Curious little drone.

Leave a Reply