By Wes Parish

Eight hundred hours my watch read, a quarter of an hour after we had first radioed for help from the air force, and still their strike hadn’t happened. About a third of us were injured from the small arms fire of the insurgents over the other hill, and they were keeping us from getting down to the creek in the valley. Most of us had punctured water bottles, and were feeling dire in consequence.

The radio man was down with a bullet through his abdomen, and his back-up guy had a bullet through his wrist. Still, they were trying to raise the base.

Finally we heard something. “... on its way. Repeat call-sign, and you’ll see the strike.”

Another five minutes and with a roar the strike plane swooped up the hill and down into the valley. We could just make out one of the insurgents frantically waving something while another insurgent let off a volley.

The back-up radio guy hurriedly entered the call-sign of our unit into the radio, and the strike plane turned towards us.

It wasn’t flying the way other strike planes had done, and I muttered to my second, “I’m beginning to get a bad feeling about this.”

It seemed to be coming directly at us.

Base called in to say, “Sorry about the delay. It’s that new AI strike plane we got off the Yanks. Fully automated, etc. We’ll call in some choppers to pick you up soon.”

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” I muttered to my second as the strike plane came closer. Then everybody saw weapons drop from its wings. “Duck!!!” I screamed. “It’s coming to get us!!!”


The choppers were finally able to pick us up about two hours later. We’d lost half of the unit to the missiles the strike plane had fired at us.

The choppers weren’t the usual, either. “Grim news,” the pilot reported to me over the sounds of the engines and the rotor. “We lost a couple of choppers to that strike plane. Somehow it went rogue. We laid low until someone sent manned aircraft to shoot it down.”


Recovering in hospital I was passed a newspaper by one of the orderlies. “Saw your unit mentioned here,” he said. “Thought you might like to read it.”

The headline of the article read, “Air Force AI Strike Fighter subverted by enemy.”

And one of the Air Force generals was recorded in the article as saying, “Nobody and nothing’s perfect.”

Give me a Guinness over a general any day. Guinness is pure genius; generals, well...

rocket crux 2 75

About the Author

sf pedal steelWesley Parish is an SF fan from early childhood. Born in PNG, he enjoys reading about humans in strange cultures and circumstances.

His favourite SF authors include Ursula Le Guin, Fritz Lieber, Phillip K. Dick, J.G. Ballard and Frank Herbert.

Wes lives in Christchurch, NZ, is an unemployed Java and C programmer, and has recently decided to become a mad ukuleleist, flautist and trombonist, and would love to revert to being the mad fiddler and pedal steel guitarist..  "Where oh where has my little pedal steel got to ... ?"


Issue Contributors

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antipod-show-50Our weekly podcast features the stories from recently published issues, often narrated by the authors themselves.

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Meet the Narrators

  • Michelle Walker

    michelle walker32My time at Nambucca Valley Community Radio began back in 2016 after moving into the area from Sydney.

    As a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, I recognised it was definitely God who opened up the pathways for my husband and I to settle in the Valley.


  • Alistair Lloyd

    alistair lloyd 200Alistair Lloyd is a Melbourne based writer and narrator who has been consuming good quality science fiction and fantasy most of his life.

    You may find him on Twitter as <@mr_al> and online at <...

  • Tim Borella

    tim borellaTim Borella is an Australian author, mainly of short speculative fiction published in anthologies, online and in podcasts.

    He’s also a songwriter, and has been fortunate enough to have spent most of his working life doing something else he loves, flying.

    Tim lives with his wife Georgie in beautiful Far

  • Ed Errington

    ed erringtonEd lives with his wife plus a magical assortment of native animals in tropical North Queensland.

    His efforts at wallaby wrangling are without parallel — at least in this universe.

    He enjoys reading and writing science-fiction stories set within intriguing, yet plausible contexts, and invite readers’ “willing suspension of

  • Barry Yedvobnick

    barry yedvobnick 200Barry Yedvobnick is a recently retired Biology Professor. He performed molecular biology and genetic research, and taught, at Emory University in Atlanta for 34 years. He is new to fiction writing, and enjoys taking real science a step or two beyond its known boundaries in his

  • Mark English

    mark english 100Mark is an astrophysicist and space scientist who worked on the Cassini/Huygens mission to Saturn. Following this he worked in computer consultancy, engineering, and high energy research (with a stint at the JET Fusion Torus).

    All this science hasn't damped his love of fantasy and science fiction. It has, however, ruined his

  • Juliette Cavendish

    juliette cavendish 200Juliette Cavendish was born in Liverpool UK and is of Welsh and Norwegian heritage. Juliette has an interest in Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Science and writes in both Science Fiction and Contemporary Fiction genres. Juliette was fascinated with space as a

  • Geraldine Borella

    geraldine borella 200Geraldine Borella writes fiction for children, young adults and adults. Her work has been published by Deadset Press, IFWG Publishing, Wombat Books/Rhiza Edge, AHWA/Midnight Echo, Antipodean SF, Shacklebound Books, Black Ink Fiction, Paramour Ink Fiction, House of Loki and Raven & Drake

  • Sarah Jane Justice

    Sarah Jane Justice 200Sarah Jane Justice is an Adelaide-based fiction writer, poet, musician and spoken word artist.

    Among other achievements, she has performed in the National Finals of the Australian Poetry Slam, released two albums of her original music and seen her poetry

  • Emma Gill

    Emma Louise GillEmma Louise Gill (she/her) is a British-Australian spec fic writer and consumer of vast amounts of coffee. Brought up on a diet of English lit, she rebelled and now spends her time writing explosive space opera and other fantastical things in

  • Sarah Pratt

    sarah pratt 200Sarah Pratt is an avid fiction writer and a Marketing Consultant.

    She is currently working on her first novel but loves diving into short stories to bring a little lightness, intrigue or humour to the day.

    Her work has appeared in Sponge Magazine and The Commuting

  • Marg Essex

    marg essex 200Margaret lives the good life on a small piece of rural New South Wales Australia, with an amazing man, a couple of pets, and several rambunctious wombats.

    She feels so lucky to be a part of the AntiSF team.


  • Laurie Bell

    lauriebell 2 200

    Laurie Bell lives in Melbourne, Australia and is the author of "The Stones of Power Series" via Wyvern's Peak Publishing: "The Butterfly Stone", "The Tiger's Eye" and "The Crow's Heart" (YA/Fantasy).

    She is also the author of "White Fire" (Sci-Fi) and "The Good, the Bad and the Undecided" (a