Illustration by Reza Ilyasa
Story by Wedge, Co-Creator
Story by Wedge, Co-Creator
“Need a refill Private?”
“No thanks Captain, I plan on sleeping for a day straight when we get back to base.”
“Humph” was all the Captain said as he released the restraints on his seat and pushed off floating down the narrow isle separating the two pilot’s chairs towards the tiny kitchenette in the back of the patrol craft.
An amber homing light flashed on the console and the Private lazily waved his hand over it.
“Private Marsen on patrol ship 02-144 reporting, sweep of route 17 complete with no unusual activity recorded. Requesting permission to dock.”
Silence answered the Private and after a few moments the Amber light changed to a solid green.
“Sierra won the Trosep Migrathon Invitational” said the Captain “my link just updated, has command hailed us yet?” The Captain returned to his seat with a fresh bulb of warm caffeine in his hand.
“The docking beacon is engaged but they didn’t respond to my hail” replied the Private “and don’t get me started on Sierra, no way he would have won if Kinaso was still in the game.”
The command ship was now visible to the naked eye through the cockpit window growing larger with each passing second.
“Ha! Sierra has three times more league victories than Kinaso ever did, she was a fluke.”
“And how many of those wins did he make while Kinaso was still playing?”
“You’ve gotta look at the bigger picture Private, its all about lifetime achievement not a couple years of freakish success. That’s why you are still a Private, no concept of the bigger picture.”
The command ship filled the entire front view port but instead of the normal sleek blue metal hull the ships carcass was pockmarked with burns and cratered by massive impacts. Meter after meter of cable flapped in the windless vacuum trailing from the disemboweled command ship signifying lethal decompressions. Then it began to move. No it writhed, like the entire hull was covered with bees, but instead of bees there were thousands of robots crawling over the surface of the ship.
Hands fumbling over the patrol ship’s controls the Private searched for the emergency override of the docking beacon. Panicking he pushed the throttle to maximum accelerating their approach to certain death.
“What the hell are you doing?” The Captain snapped out of his temporary stupor, unlocked the manual override, and disengaged the auto pilot. Jerking the control stick back hard the ship twisted away from its approach.
“Make a heading for planet Orvan Prime, we’ve got to warn them the SERK are in syste-” a deafening pop rattled through the patrol craft and shrapnel blasted through the open cockpit door skewering the Captain with a meter long section of steel that embedded itself deep in the control console. Atmosphere blew out of the rupture in the patrol ship just as the Private flipped the catch to seal his pressure suit. Red lights flashed from every control for only a moment before the ship’s power sputtered and died. The now ravaged patrol ship somersaulted through space and all the helpless Private could do was watch. As his crippled craft tumbled, he caught another glimpse of the gutted command ship, and the silhouette of another massive vessel that was outlined against the field of stars – a SERK Warfactory.
With each revolution the SERK Warfactory grew larger, and soon the Private felt unnatural vibrations pulsing through the chair he was strapped to. He imagined hundreds of the tiny scavenging SERK latching onto his ship, tearing it apart bit by bit, and feeding each piece back into the massive furnace at the heart of the Warfactory where it would churn out more and more of the same robots… forever.
The Private unlatched the weapons compartment near his foot which had somehow stayed shut during the entire ordeal and drew the plasma pistol depressing its activation nob. A SERK scavenger crawled across the cockpit’s window and its glowing yellow eye seemed to register the Private’s presence because it immediately ejected a six inch serrated saw which it proceeded to bore into the view port straight in front of the Private’s head. The pistol blinked twice indicating it was charged and the Private unleashed a volley on the scavenger shattering the portal and sending it tumbling off into space.
A terrible vibration coursed through his seat and the Private twisted his head back toward the cockpit’s door to see the hulking frame of a SERK drop into the ship after having torn through the damaged ceiling. This one was different from the smaller scavengers he had seen, it was a full head taller than the Private himself and in each hand it carried cruel scythe like blades. The two locked eyes for a fraction of a second before the Private begin firing his sidearm at the avatar of his death. The energy skittered over the SERK’s reinforced frame with pathetically little effect and the robot continued forward. Desperately the Private searched the cockpit for some other defense but before he could change tactics the SERK launched towards him, the scythes arched down, and the cold black void swallowed his last words…