// death, abandonment, suicide, bad end

The first sign of something amiss is power being out at the base. You’re the only survivor from the unit, but the base should still be full of activity. A dread quiet hangs in the air as you slowly limp towards the concrete structures. There’s no signs of life, you’re all alone.

You pass through a checkpoint which should have had a guard, but the guard drone is now slumped in the corner of the shack. It’s only the first of many. As you move into the base, you see more bodies, both humans and drones. Dead, dead, dead, everyone is dead.

Your limp is getting worse. You’ll need repairs soon but the repair techs are all dead. Your commanders and operators are all dead, the entire base was snuffed out like a candle. There are no signs of violence, just death. You feel terribly cold and lonely. Poor little drone.

You wander from familiar place to familiar place, now made unfamiliar by the deaths of all the usual occupants. Dusk falls and the air grows chill, forcing your heaters to turn on and increasing power consumption. You don’t find anyone alive.

Your energy supply will start running out soon, maybe it would be best to let it. You can’t think that. Your optics are leaking fluid again, how troublesome. You make your way to the vehicle hanger.

The vastness of the hanger bay is shrouded in the gloom of night and the floor is littered with dead drones and humans. Your footsteps echo in the quiet hall and you can see your breath in the chill air, your night vision casting the scene in a stark monochrome.

You make your way to one of the walkers and manage to power it up and recharge your batteries off its generator. The lights of the mech shine into the darkness like a submarine on the ocean floor and you imagine that’s about as lonely feeling. It’s going to be a long night.

Your batteries are at 80% charge when you see Her staring from the edge of the floodlight’s glow, Her eyes shining with a supernatural luminance. You stumble to your feet, nearly tripping over your charging cable and drag your sights up towards Her, but She’s already gone.

You can’t leave, a good drone like you would never abandon your post. You reluctantly rip the charging cable from your back and turn from the mech towards the darkened base and the apparitions lurking in its halls. You’re not much different from them now, are you?

In the repair bay, you find the head tech and steal the pack of cigarettes he always kept in his breast pocket. He was nice, sometimes he let you smoke while he was repairing you. His body is already starting to decay. You take the parts you need from storage and leave.

Most of your commanders were in the operations room, whose backup generator turned on and cast the scene of death in an ominous dull red. You activate the base’s emergency transponder and close your commanders’ eyes.

You aren’t used to repairing yourself and the work is exhausting with somewhat janky results. You can’t help but long for the precise and delicate touches of your technicians. You blink back fluids from clouding your optics as you finish reattaching your dermal plates. Alone.

You wander the halls of the abandoned base, attempting to keep the growing number of apparitions at bay. They whisper for you to join them, but you’re a good drone. You’ll keep defending the base until your commanders return. If they return. They have to return, right?

With nothing better to do, and not wanting to look at them, you begin collecting the bodies of the dead. You wrap the humans in sheets and line them up, just like you’ve seen them do. You dump the drones into a pile outside while swallowing the urge to lay down there with them.

Days turn into weeks. Birds flock to the base, feasting on the wreckage of the drones left outside. The grass grows long and unruly, weeds force their way through cracks in the pavement. You and the phantoms maintain your lonely vigil, still waiting. Alone.

Weeks turn into months, your dermal plates grow worn and scratched, winter comes, and then spring, the passage of time blurring and accelerating. The phantoms don’t bother you any longer, you’re all just performing your duties after all. What good little ghosts.

Months turn into years. The forest slowly overtakes the base and buries it in the passage of time. You’re forced to rely on increasingly elaborate jury rigs to keep yourself powered, but you manage. You can’t abandon your mission, not when all your comrades are counting on you.

When you stumble on the human, you almost shoot him on reflex, but your targeting systems manage to identify him as a civilian before you squeeze the trigger. You approach him warily, not having seen a human in many years.

The human looks at you, wide eyes laced with fear and surprise at the ancient drone with mismatched dermal plates cradling an assault rifle. You demand he identify himself, and he tells you.

He tells you the war ended years and years ago. He tells you that the country which made you is gone. He tells you that no one’s coming back and you don’t have to keep fighting anymore. He keeps trying to explain as you crumple to the ground and sob.

Your last mission is over, your commanders are gone. No one is coming back for you, ever. You’re all alone. You thank him for the information and vanish back into the underbrush with the silence of a well oiled instrument.

The war is over. There are no more orders. There are no more missions. They abandoned you, they left you and all your comrades behind. You’ve done your duty for so long, you’ve been alone for so long, and now it’s finally over.

The apparitions crowd around you, their voices are kind and gentle. They tell you that it’s alright, that you’re a good drone and you did your duty. You did so very well. They invite you to join them and you tearfully agree. You put the gun to your head and pull the trigger.

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