[Outworld] The New Age

Author’s note: Unrelated to the Outworld saga, simply set in the same universe.

The drone was confused. And this was a problem, because it wasn’t programmed to be confused.

Normally, one advantage robots hold over people is that they never need to seek out their purpose. While people must find their reason for existence in life, a robot needs only consult its programming. And the drone knew its purpose. It existed to destroy, to pursue and hunt down its target, not stopping until said target had been annihilated. It would then be recalled to its metal berth until the next target was selected.

To most people, this would not be a fulfilling life. But the drone was satisfied. It had been given a devastating array of instruments for inflicting damage and pain, and it was very good at its job. The drone knew this, just as it knew that its purpose was to destroy its target.

One problem, though.

The drone didn’t know what its target was.

Normally in these circumstances, the drone would contact its mothership for new instructions. Unfortunately, the drone wasn’t able to reach its mothership either. It was, as far as it could determine, alone.

The drone deployed itself, unrolling from its compact ball to reveal six jointed legs, a small “head” loaded with sensory apparatuses, and three arms, each equipped with a unique method for wreaking destruction. It extended its head, scanning the surroundings.

It was located in a lush river valley. The drone could sense a small settlement of humans off to the southwest, the traces of carbon unmistakable in the air. Oddly enough, there was no sign of the drone’s ballistic trajectory, no scars in the earth to indicate how it had arrived in this place.

Robots aren’t programmed to be confused, which is fortunate, because otherwise that is exactly what the drone would be feeling. It searched its memory banks for its next action.

No answers were forthcoming. The drone waited patiently while its processors churned. Predictive algorithms suggested potential solutions, each of which was plotted against known capabilities and data. Finally, the best scoring solution was selected.

With the new decision tree active, the drone began lumbering through the undergrowth towards the human settlement. As it crashed through the brush, it began warming up its laser array. It fired a few rounds from its autocannon, making sure the chamber was rotating smoothly.

The algorithms had made clear the best course of action.

Interrogation.

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